this was supposed to be a celebration

This morning I was planning to get up early and write a detailed race report. I was going to tell you all about the ups & downs of the marathon experience. But I’m not ready yet. It was such a hard day in so many ways. They closed the race course because of heat before I could finish. In some ways I still feel that I can rightfully say that I completed a marathon – I went 24.1 miles, during the last three of those refusing all rides back to the finish area. But then at 24 the race director stopped me and the group I was with and refused to let us go further. She conceded slightly by having them reopen the finish line for us so I have my medal.

Ultimately, I was last in my age group. I was in the last half dozen or so participants overall. That joke about “please don’t let me be last” wasn’t such a joke Saturday. I experienced the most crushing disappointment of my life when I crossed that finish line – the finish that I had envisioned during hundreds & hundreds of miles of training literally vanished before my eyes.

I have never worked so hard for something in my entire life only to not succeed.

Would I have finished if the race director hadn’t stopped me? Yes. And that’s why I think I’ll be able to come to terms with this and say that I finished a marathon.

But I also feel that I simply wasn’t good enough. If I had run the way I trained I would have finished for real, or at least been within a mile of finishing before the black flag. I would have run more than I walked.

Tomorrow I will take some time to tell you about the amazing support from my friends and family. Tomorrow I will tell you how I fell apart and what I learned about a race this long and about myself. Tomorrow I will thank my husband for dropping in by my side even when he was starting to feel sick from the heat. Tomorrow I will cry (again) as I tell you about the friends who saw me at my worst, and those who prepared to run and ended up walking miles & miles & miles. Today I just can’t.

It’s true when they say that a marathon will change you. I’m still trying to process all the changes.


5 thoughts on “this was supposed to be a celebration

  1. that kind of humidity is just brutal. I am not even sure it is possible to plan or train for it. And the really really hard thing is it is not like a 5K or even a 10K where you can just pick another one next week and feel better about it. It is a lot of time and effort and pain to even get to the starting line. I think this is why, after my last one, I have yet to feel like I want to train for another. Two years in a row I was blasted by the weather. Not to be a downer on the marathon, but I know how it feels to have that goal taken away, and not because of anything on your part, but because of something you can’t control. My very best run before my last marathon was an awesome 20 miler. It was like I should have just gotten my medal then and been happy šŸ™‚

    It does take time….and perspective….And remembering how far you have come to get where you are. And thinking about where you ARE now. And I absolutely know that you would have still made it across that finish line if you were allowed to. I am sure that there were many in front of you who may have finished, but still missing the goals that they had set for themselves. Finishing is obviously a goal, but as many slogans say in different ways “There is no finish line.” And it is actually about the journey. Take comfort in your journey. And the people close to you that still think you are amazing. I think you are amazing to push through all of that and to get so close.

    I am not sure if you have read back in my running blog or not, but this is a post from my last marathon….in 2008 and my bitter dissapointment:

    And my post from the Chicago marathon that was cancelled:

    Hang in there.

  2. I follow your column religiously and you’re my hero for even attempting the run. You did the best you could under the conditions and are a winner in my book!!

  3. You have more fans than you even know. I believe that life is all about learning lessons. You learned so much through this experience and yet continue to teach the rest of us along the way. In no way did you fail. We are all so proud. Oh and BTW, this is the first time I have ever commented on anyone’s blog. I think I made a great first choice. XO

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