This weekend, I accomplished something I have wanted to do for quite a long time.
I ran an ultramarathon.
The best part is that I didn’t even have to PAY for it! A free run, 5 mile loops around my house. In pain. For free.
And I still got an awesome t-shirt out of the deal.
I split up time with my favorite running buddies (my dogs and myself – I know, lame – haha!) and made a super dorky t-shirt to help motivate myself to keep going.
That’s my little guy up there, almost 14 months old. My daughter was sitting on the steps with her new Elmo book, which she REALLY wanted to take a picture of, but I guess waiting 12 seconds for the picture was a little much.
It was really awesome how excited everyone was for the run – especially the dogs.
Throwback – this is me in April, stuffed into my running clothes, feeling like the wife of the Michelin Man, heading out for just a couple miles. Like, literally, two miles I think. I remember not even wanting to share this picture because I felt SO uncomfortable and chubby and out of shape, but I’m glad I did. I knew I would be.
It’s easy to share the stuff that is SUPER awesome and the pictures where we look super great. I knew that running 2 miles was neither super awesome and I didn’t look super great, but it was important to document the start. The first miles after baby, after winter. And the dogs were turbo excited to go for a run. Finally!
It’s amazing how far I have come, to be honest. From 2 miles in April to 30 miles in October. I feel really good. I feel strong. I feel healthy. I feel vibrant (and to be honest, still a little stiff today, but NOT SORE!!). I just feel better and seriously, if I’d never lost a single pound, that would be enough. Not that I would know if I’d lost weight because we don’t have a scale. It’s enough to just feel better.
Anyway, back to the run-down (see what I did there?). Ha!
It was a little bit cooler than I had initially thought and dressed for, so I had to dress up a little more to survive the chilly wind with these arm-warmers I knitted up a few years ago when doing the Bismarck marathon relay with some friends.
My awesome husband took these pictures and updated my “legions of fans” every lap on facebook. So amazing. So supportive. There is no way I could have done this crazy, CRAZY thing without him really being for it and supportive. I was also really humbled by the fact that my friends, that people I knew, actually gave a crap that I was doing this. I know that we have friends for reasons and friends take an interest in your life, but it was still really humbling to me. I felt a LOT of gratitude toward the people who cared that I was doing this crazy thing for no other reason than “I wanted to.”
So, friends, you are amazing. Thank you for being amazing. Thank you for caring. Seriously. It means so much.
It usually takes me a few miles to warm up, so at the end of 5, I was feeling pretty darn awesome. I had to really consciously keep myself going slow so that I would have enough gas in the tank to go all 30 miles. I was really amped up and wanting to truck. Ultimately, I’m VERY glad I just turtled along the entire time.
Because it was so cold, I didn’t really feel the need to hydrate all that much. However, Coach Husband really got on my case about that after 10 miles, so I tried to be better. After 10, I was still feeling really great and ready for a lap all by myself. However, I knew that it wouldn’t last, so I actually spent part of lap 3 praying for God to give me and my legs strength to finish and thanking him for my husband, my friends, just all the great stuff in my life. I think lap 3 was definitely my gratitude lap – I felt really grateful and humbled.
I thought back to my marathon and how I used that to help power through a really difficult race. I thought of all the people who have helped me finish both my marathons and the spiritual journey I’ve been on this year. I knew I couldn’t do it on my strength, but with God, all things are possible. I can do all things through him who gives me strength. If I hope in the Lord, he will renew me and I will not be weary. Gratitude is an amazing thing.
I had planned to run my 30 next week, actually, and had a small lineup of friends and family to run it all with me, however, due to some unforseen circumstances, I will be out of town. I was grumbling to this lady up here after our Bible study on Wednesday about how bummed I was that I couldn’t do it, that I wouldn’t be able to wear the sweet shirt I ordered for myself and she suggested I do it this weekend and THEN she joined me for the last 10 miles.
It’s amazing how refreshing it is to have a little pick me up in the form of a crazy, high energy friend on the last legs of a super hard goal. It’s like I was saying above, about people I know actually giving a crap that I was doing this. I still smile thinking about it.
Anyway, I was still feeling pretty good after 20 miles, so I was excited to get out for this next lap. I was feeling better after these 20 miles than I did finishing 20 miles last week AND 15 the week before. I still don’t understand it because I certainly didn’t do enough training between to justify such a huge apparent increase in stamina. All I can say is God answered my prayer – he gave me the strength I needed.
By the time the final lap rolled around, I was really starting to be in pain. My feet were hurting, my upper back was getting sore, my legs were starting to hurt, and I was just wearing down. My expression says it all. Mentally, I was excited to finish and accomplish my goal, but physically, it was tough to get back out on the road.
However, you don’t run 5 of 6 laps and then quit. No way. Do or Do Not, right?
So off we went for our final lap. It was slow, it was painful, but it was one of those ‘put your head down and run mental challenge’ laps. I knew I could finish. I had already done 25, I had already done two marathons previously, I knew I could finish. Slowly but surely, one step at a time, I knew I could do it. I told myself ‘don’t start this unless you can finish it’ and I was really motivated to finish.
As far as fueling, I had a nutrigrain bar at 5, 10, and 15 miles to help keep fuel in my body. I also started the day with a big bowl of peanut butter, nutella, honey, and mixed berry oatmeal – a GREAT prerace meal for me. I finished out 20 with half a banana and meant to finish it before my last lap, but since I’d sent it inside, we all forgot about it until about mile 27. A little late for my banana, ha!
Unbeknownst to me, a little craft project was taking place during my last lap. As I came up the road back to our house, less than a quarter mile to go, my friend was whooping up a storm and I heard husband whoop back. I didn’t expect them to be outside to be honest. It was COLD! The temp definitely dropped in the last 10 miles and the wind had picked up.
As we crested the little hill up to my driveway, my whole family was out waiting for me. My daughter was holding this yellow sign and when she saw me, she took off running at me “I COLORED A PICTURE FOR YOU, MAMA!”
She was so proud of her picture. I wish I’d had the strength to pick her up, but I was wiped. I took the picture she colored and encouraged her to run with me. Her shoe fell off immediately, but my friend scooped her up and we ran our last .02 miles together. Husband was playing Rocky from our garage stereo and holding his own sign. It was without a doubt the BEST finish ever, even with no medal, no crowd, no pictures – just having my family there was enough for me. The memory I have in my head is good enough for me (thought a video would have been SUPER cute and amazing – we didn’t know how cute she would be right then).
I’ve gotten pretty emotional at the end of both my marathons and, honestly, I expected to be at the end of this too, especially with my family there, but I didn’t. I started to, but I just smiled like an idiot the entire time. The dogs were going crazy, baby boy was sitting in his stroller all like “dude…it’s cold. Let’s go in.” and my daughter was talking talking talking like usual. It was really wonderful – much better than crying I think.
And I got to say some pretty awesome words: I am an ultramarathoner.