1st Marathon: San Diego RNR 2008.
Three years ago, I had a cold sore the size of Florida extending from my upper lip toward the middle of my face and I couldn’t dorsiflex my right foot for a week. Three years ago, the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego marathon was my very first full marathon at the end of my first season with Team In Training. My then-boyfriend-now-husband and I ran the entire thing together.
I remember being in pain pretty much all the way through – my right ankle feeling sore from mile 3 on and every muscle (neck, shoulders, arms, abs included) just aching. I remember it being hotter than hell and I remember telling myself, “Okay, sure, why not” when my interval watch told me it was time to “run” again. I got sunburned, my right ankle was bruised for a week and my stress-induced cold sore lasted a lot longer than that. So why am I still doing it 3 years later?
Well, I also remember the adrenaline rush every time I saw one of my coaches, mentors or honored teammates out there cheering for us on the course. They had signs, cowbells, cold rags, snacks and gatorade. But mostly they had a contagious energy and I couldn’t help but smile, laugh and cheer back at them and for a while it was easier to pick up my feet and just keep moving. I remember crying at the finish line because I was so glad/proud/relieved to be done/have finished/have survived. I took 5 hours and 39 minutes.
After finishing three full marathons, Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego in 2008 was still my best time for a marathon. I ran RNR Phoenix twice (2009, 2011) and was slower each time for a variety of reasons, but I always felt like the distance kept beating me, mentally, and I just didn’t have the inner-umph to push myself. I began to wonder if I couldn’t do the marathon distance without mentally giving in to the physical exhaustion.
4th Marathon: San Diego RNR 2011
Three years later, I trained for this event again with Team In Training and there were a lot of similarities. Some of my same teammates were still there. We got to hear John, ‘The Penguin’, Bingham and Tracy Sundlan give their inspiration dinner speeches, which I still enjoyed just as much. We wrote our names on our arms in sharpie to get personalized cheers from spectators. I started the race with some of the same people we had trained with in pace groups. I got another ice-cold rag to keep my temp down and bursts of energy when I saw my teammates.
A lot of things were different, however, and I think it shows that I’ve improved. This time, my body was stronger and more capable of handling the mileage- no lingering injury-esque issues, just your typical soreness. So far, no cold sores (knock-on-wood). But more importantly, I was able to overcome my weariness and push myself to run harder in the last 6 miles and beat my time by 9 minutes. Not huge but still better.
I think it’s going to be a long time before I do another full marathon, but at least I can shuffle away feeling like this one didn’t beat me.
Here are some fun “Then and Now” photo comparisons: