Completing the Marathon – Part III

1 Jun

Ok, I know I’ve been going on and on about my marathon, but I do want to take some time to write about what this means for me, going beyond the physical spectrum of the event.

Deciding to Train for a Marathon

What once seemed like a “one day I’ll do that” idea is now an item checked off my bucket list.

I think the thing I’m most surprised about is that I have actually done this. I’ve actually completed a marathon. It always seemed like such a far-off concept that may never happen. I imagined myself running a marathon when I was in my late 30’s in an effort to demonstrate my physical fitness after having children. What worries me is now that I’ve done one, I’ll do more!

Overall, I thought I would hate the marathon training. What once seemed like an overwhelming experience turned out to be a cathartic and timely practice, especially for this point in my life. I had just launched my own business, and though a success, it often means I’m strapped to my office desk (figuratively, of course!). Unless I’m scheduled to go somewhere, I have a really hard time not working. Or checking my Blackberry.

Having that training schedule – whether to complete a 6km-tempo run, hills or a 10-km steady run – forced me to tie up my shoes and get my butt out the door and away from my desk.

Often during my runs I’d not only release stress and ‘work-at-home-alone crazies’, but these runs also forced me to have alone moments with my thoughts, many of which brought me to realizations about my personal life or work. I don’t think completing this marathon could have come at a better time for me.

But other days, I didn’t want to go outside. Many times it was rainy, or windy, or hailing. I grew tired of the schedule, I got cranky, and was always hungry. But I never regretted a run, and the more runs I completed, the more my confidence grew in knowing I could complete the 42-km race.

 

Before the Race

The Friday evening previous to the race, Jamally, my sister, Sue, and I headed to our former high school’s Relay for Life opening ceremonies. My dad was there to walk the Survivor’s Lap. I thought it would be a great way to show him our support. I was NOT, however, expecting to bawl my eyes out. My former teacher, who is also a cancer survivor, was stepping down from the RFL organizing committee and spoke about his experience both with cancer and the RFL. He spoke about Terry Fox and how each day, Fox completed the marathon distance. Every day. With a prosthetic leg. Every day. For 143 days. After bawling my eyes out and walking the survivor’s lap with my dad, I felt at ease about my race. I know, it’s cliché and predictable, but given a quick reminder about Fox’s story can easily humble a person. Walking around a track with your dad helps, too.

From left, Father Uncle Brian, Sue, Dad, Cat, Jamally

The day before the race, I was thinking about how one friend suggested I run a kilometre in honour of someone. I liked that idea, especially after attending the RFL ceremony. There are many people I can think about to run a kilometre for who either inspire me, or who I would like to pray for to some extent. “Ya, I thought to myself. I will write on my arm the names of some people who I can run this for!”

But then as I was about to go to sleep Saturday night in our dodgey hotel, my sister sent me this text: “GOOD LUCK!! I AM so effin PROUD OF YOU. Do it for Cathy!!! Write that on your arm. U deserve this! Love u”. How did she know I was thinking about running it for other people? Stupid sisters and their foresight. She was right, and so the next day, I just said to myself, “This is for me”. There is no pressure to impress anyone. There is no expectation other than to just give it all I’ve got. And that’s what I did.

During the Race

As I said before, I got emotional at times during the run. I thought about how hard I trained for this day, but I was also just proud of the fact that I didn’t let nerves overtake my thoughts and that I embraced the race.

I think one of the best moments of the race was seeing Jamally at kilometre 32. I was smiling and I could tell he was shocked. He told me afterwards how he has seen me beat myself up so many times before, during and after a race. He simply loved the fact that I was enjoying myself. As weird as it sounds, I’m glad to have made him proud of me for overcoming that obstacle in running. And quite frankly, it’s fun to surprise husbands!

After the Race

I do have a confession to make. I have speed envy. I can hammer out a 22, 23 minute five-km, but when it comes to longer distances, I have speed envy. So when I got a note following my race from a speedster telling me how I put my race experience into perspective for her, I was SHOCKED. I ran a 4:45 marathon. I ain’t breaking records, and here was someone much faster than me telling me how I’ve changed her point of view with her own racing history.

I knew I could complete the race at 4:30, and I’m somewhat self-conscious about my 4:45 time. I also knew if I did try to run it in 4:30, I wouldn’t enjoy the experience. I also know there will be other marathons where I can run to complete against my old times. But if I don’t run other marathons, I don’t care. I allowed myself to enjoy the race because I didn’t place these expectations on my shoulders.

I’ve become a Twitter geek and receive daily Running Quotes. The quote I received today was “Running and life are much the same. A fantastic support system of family and friends can make a big difference.” That resonates well with me as I felt very much supported throughout the marathon training. Jamally understood that pasta dinners replaced drinks out on Saturday nights. After every single run, he would ask me how it went. To have a partner’s support, I feel, is crucial to the training. I’d also often be asked by my family at Sunday night dinners how my long run went that day. And my friends often checked in to see how training went, and were good to listen to me complain about my ailments. And of course, my blogging experience has been a great way to put my feelings down on keyboard and I felt the internet love (in a good way, not in a creepy way)!

I think when it comes to putting ourselves out there and accomplishing goals – whether they be fitness, career or relationship-related – we have to think about how much we accomplish when trying to reach that goal as opposed to focusing on the bad stuff. Jamally often says to me, “focus on the 80%, not the 20%.” So if 80% means fully training for a marathon, having fun during the race, but not hitting my goal time, what would you say is the most important point of focus? Overall, it’s about growing as a person, which I have felt that I have done for myself through this experience. And that’s worth every single one of the 285 minutes it took for me to complete the marathon.

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6 Responses to “Completing the Marathon – Part III”

  1. Madeline June 1, 2011 at 8:15 pm #

    Well down, Cat. On both the marathon and the fantastic blogs! I only wish there was a Part IV. 🙂

  2. Amy June 1, 2011 at 9:15 pm #

    Father Uncle Brian…. cute! 🙂

    I’ve loved reading these Catty, and echo so many of your thoughts.

    I think I’m finally over speed envy though. I’m never going to be fast. Ever. But I can run, and I’m proud of that alone.

    You worked so hard to train for this race, you finishing strong and smiling, and had a great time while doing it. Embrace that my friend!

    xoxox

  3. Jill June 2, 2011 at 5:21 pm #

    I love Jamally’s “Think of the 80% instead of the 20%.”

    You deserve to feel great about what you’ve accomplished.

  4. kristinesimpson July 7, 2011 at 11:46 am #

    Hey Cat,

    I just read all three parts to your marathon race report. Thanks for reading mine by the way.

    You said one thing that resonated with me, that like is like running, a good group of friends and family can make all the difference. I have to agree with you on this 100 per cent.

    My partner and love of my life has followed my running and supoorted me every step of the way, even though he is not a runner. He has never, and I mean never, in the two years I have been racing, ever missed a race. It means so much to have that support.

    I will keep my radar on your blog. But I wish you all the best of luck on your future runs and maybe future marathons?

    Good luck!

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