Lessons From A Marathon…That Have Nothing To Do With Running.

These photos all taken by a local photographer/athlete Gregg Gelmis

I did it!

And I wasn’t ready.

But it has way more to do with the heat than with my training. And I feel okay because everyone struggled with the heat. December should NOT be that hot. Who do we file our complaints with?

Let me start by saying miles 1-16 were GOLDEN and PERFECT in every way. I barely struggled and I did those 16 miles in under 3 hours which is a genius pace for me. But then a lot of things happened over the next 4 miles. It got significantly hotter, I got a salt tablet hung up in my throat for awhile, and I started getting side-stitches. These three things combined or individually caused me issues, the predominant being severe nausea. I never puked (THANK GOD) but felt like I was going to off and on for about the last 5-6 miles. So, while I thought I’d meet my goal of under 5 hours for 16 miles, I tossed it out the window by mile 20 and changed my goal to “Crossing the Finish Line Without Vomiting On Someone.”

AND I DID IT! Woo Hoo!

Now…for the emotional report.

This sign right here is just one snapshot to represent the millions of friends I had cheering on the course for me.

Okay, maybe not millions…but it sure felt like it. And the most common comment made to me from another racer was some variation of, “You have awesome cheerleaders…”

Every smiling face that cheered my name along the course yesterday powered me through another mile. And as much as I tried to contain it, they made me cry too. When I ran up on my boot camp table (they had sponsored a mile) and had so many friends on one place? I about lost it. So many of the people I love piled in one big group screaming for me…it was beyond moving. I actually ran my fastest mile of the whole race soon after that, the high giving me an unexpected burst of speed. There were fantastic signs, and one friend who kept popping up where I needed her most along the course.

I can never in a million years adequately explain to all of those people how much all of that meant to me. Each of them taking time out of their day to cheer on people on the race. And how lucky I felt to be one of those people.

There are two lessons I have to share with you from all of this – and neither of them have to do with running.

  1. Put Yourself Out There: It wasn’t but 3+ years ago when Donnie and I were severe homebodies who rarely made it out of the house for anything not involving family. If I had tried this 3 years ago? None of those people out there yesterday would have been there. NONE. This is how blessed my life has become in the last three years. Me – someone who still suffers from extreme social anxieties – has built a group of friends powerful enough to push me to the finish-line of a race. YES. I’ve still had plenty of disastrous social situations that make me wonder why I bother, I still get nauseous when I have to be in big social settings, I still come home and take Tylenol PM to help me sleep after those gatherings because I’m so wired thinking about all of the stupid things I said/did, I never can sleep. All of those horrid anxieties that kept me away from people for a decade? Still there. But I keep taking chances anyway, and because of that I have supportive network that all held my hand after my miscarriage a few months ago, and they all cheered my name yesterday while I ran 26 miles. It makes all of the panic attacks worth it.
  2. Don’t Underestimate The Value Of A Gesture Of Support: Some of these friends rolled out of bed, walked out the door, and cheered me on. It was that easy. Some stopped along the road and cheered me on, probably making them late to other engagements. Others made signs and boxed up snacks for all of the racers. But all of them took some time to do something for someone else. They all had other things they could have been doing that would have been for them, but they took the time out of their life to do something for someone else and all I kept thinking every time I saw one of them was, “I want to be a better friend.” I want to be the kind of person who doesn’t turn down the chance to support a friend when I can. Because often? I can’t. We all have obligations that keep us from being there for friends when they need us. But other times? I just don’t because of something trivial like…. I need to wash clothes, or dishes or something so very dumb. At the end of the day, will I have made someone’s life better by doing my laundry? No. (My kids might disagree.) But if I show a gesture of support to someone who needs it? Then I’ve made their day better. All of those smiling and cheering faces taught me that yesterday. And that lesson is worth more to me than that gorgeous medal I received at the finish-line.
  3. All of this kept me in the perfect headspace to finish the race. Even with the extreme nausea I kept thinking about my friends on the course and I forced myself to smile at all of the volunteers and to thank them for their time. I made jokes when I could (“Anyone need vaseline?” “No! I’m trying to quit!”) and told everyone I knew that I loved them. I smiled as much as I could because I felt like I owed it to the universe. I realized those 26.2 miles how blessed I was with a husband running the race with me, my kids at the finish-line, and dozens of friends who took time to cheer me on. I couldn’t do enough to say, “Thanks!” to all of them – so I smiled the whole way. I put that positive energy back out into the universe for other people to share.

    And then when I got home I cursed my nausea and quad pain for 24 hours. BALANCE!

    My most proud moment though, came when I crossed the finish-line and the announcer called my name and then said something like, “Kim runs a lot of local races…” ME? ME! Yes I do! I have no idea who that was but MAN he made me feel like a rockstar.

    All in all? The perfect day. Who cares about the walk/run on the last 5-6 miles? I finished the race feeling blessed and that’s all anyone can ask for.

14 Comments

  • Kathy Laney

    Congratulations, Kim. Loved your race report and what you gained (besides sore legs and a queasy tummy) from this experience. You ARE a rockstar!

  • Elizabeth

    Thank you for making me cry after bootcamp! You are awesome and never underestimate the power you have in changing other peoples lives..we all stand in awe of you! Congratulations…YOU did it!!!!!

  • Laural

    Awesome! Wow and good for you. You always insprie me.
    This post made me cry (at work! geez!) because I so get it. It means so much to have people support you. And the running community is such an awesome community.
    Like you – I was becoming a bit of a hermit not too long ago (home or bar – that’s another story). Last January I decided I needed to change that.
    This is awesome!!!!
    Also – love the skirt. Love the shoes!

  • Katy McDonald England

    This made me so happy! I love your goal of “FInish happy!”. I think it’s brilliant and how I want to finish all of my future races! In fact, if i have a smile on my face every time I pass those race photographers (WHY must they always be squatting? It is THE most unflattering angle from which to shoot a picture. Seriously. JUST ONCE I would like to look like a runner instead of a hippopotamus wearing lycra) I will be winning!

  • Susan Phelan

    Kim,

    I’m proud of you inside and out. For your outstanding physical accomplishments, and for stretching and growing your world. Good job, Miss Zoot!!

    Nice blog too, Thank you!

  • Jennifer

    I LOVED this post! Great job on your run. I wondered during the marathon who “Zoot” was. I figured you must be someone famous. Heehee. I guess you kind of ARE like a rock star!

  • Suzanne

    Congratulations Kim! I’m with Jennifer about the Zoot signs. I wondered the whole time who that was when I saw the signs on the course. You really did have the best support out there! I agree about it being the perfect day even when the heat. Nothing can take away from the experience of running that marathon.