In a previous post (Geronimo), I told you about how music plays a huge role in how I think and feel. During a race, that feeling is still there. I typically have a ‘theme’ song that speaks to what I’m going through at the moment and what gets me to the finish.
There are three points in my body that feel and think – my head, my feet, and my heart. My head is telling “I can’t believe you’re doing this again. You’re going to hurt yourself. You should just give up now.” My feet say “Again? Ok. Just one foot in front of the other.” My heart, which is the most important thing says “You love this! Don’t ever give up running! Go out there and cross the finish line. You are amazing!”
Last week I ran (& completed) my 6th marathon. And I’m so glad I listened to my heart. But back to the music part…
As much as I hate to admit what I have on my playlist, sometimes my voice can be heard through Britney Spears, Taylor Swift, Bon Jovi, Prince, Sir-Mix-A-Lot and more recent artists like Fun, Florence + The Machine, Iggy Azalea, Katy Perry, Rihanna..etc etc the list goes on and I need not embarrass myself any further. This past Sunday the voice in my head was coming through Distant Cousins Are You Ready (On Your Own). I thought it was fitting considering I really didn’t feel ready for this starting line.
I mentioned a few weeks back that I hadn’t really trained for this race the way I wanted. I was nervous. I was actually contemplating not going. But, I blogged about it, I told others I was going to do it and I had to follow through. One mile at a time, one foot in front of the other, I knew in the end I would finish – maybe not with the finish I wanted but I would finish.
A few years back, I saw Joan Benoit Samuelson at a race I was doing. She was giving a talk and the key piece I took away from her was that sometimes it’s your day and you finish strong, sometimes it’s not. Training plays a role but it’s not everything when it comes to race day. I’ve had races like that where the stars just weren’t aligned. But you know…on Sunday, May 3rd, the stars WERE aligned.
On Saturday, I was stressing about how to get my favorite race day fuel of a Starbucks Tall Hazelnut Latte and a Bacon Gouda Sandwich. But then realized I could go pick it up on Saturday, put in the fridge, and then warm it up when I was ready to leave – BRILLIANT! Sunday started super early (4 am to be exact and I headed north to Tacoma, about 45 min drive. I needed to find parking and get on the shuttle to the starting line. Even though I was anxious, everything went smoothly. I got on the shuttle at 5:00 and was at the starting line in PLENTY of time. All I had to do was wait for the gun to go off.
The first few miles were easy and I tired to pace myself. We started at the Tacoma Narrows Airport and then headed across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. After mile 2, my music died. At first I was super bummed and worried I wouldn’t be able to make it the next few hours without it. I even contemplating ditching my ipod shuffle – if it didn’t work, then I don’t need the extra ounce of weight. I decided not to throw it away and keep trying to make it work while I was running. Thankfully, it finally picked up again.
At mile 8, I heard someone yell “Hey Rebecca!” I looked over and said hello – at first I didn’t recognize them but then quickly realized it was one of my oncologist’s at SCCA. We chatted a bit and then promised to meet up at the finish line. As it turned out, we kept pretty much the same pace and cheered each along the way. The whole time I thought – I’m so glad I found these doctors – they practice what they preach –and I’m so lucky!
Mile 14-19 came with welcomed shade through Pt. Defiance Park. At mile 20, I felt strong and thought I might actually pull this off! Although, I started to think my watch was off – that was more of my head getting in the way. I had an unspoken goal that originally I thought was going to be a miracle if I could pull it off. At mile 22, I started to get hungry so I pulled out my peanut M&M’s and took a few to try to get through the last miles. The 4:15 pacer guy helped me and pushed me along for a while but I wasn’t able to keep up. My head kept getting in the way. Finally at 24, I succumbed and I fell apart. I knew no matter what I was going to blow my previous finish out of the water so I decided to walk a bit. Mile 26 came and I couldn’t wait to see the finish line. I was officially tired.
So despite my lack of long runs, I finished strong. The miracle happened. I’ve never felt so proud crossing the finish line. 4:21 – 18 minutes faster than my NYC race in 2013. It was a gorgeous day in the PNW and it was a great race.
So to quote my theme song of the day…
Today I take my own advice and make the most of it,
Too many times my choices have been guided by my feet
Into the dark and unknown water, I will sink or swim
Like a blade of grass reaching for the sun, I’m ready to begin
I keep on climbing, Up against the wind
Tonight the sky is calling, Are You Ready? Are you Ready?
To fly on your own
Today I take my own advice and make the most of it.