Monday, October 31, 2011

Family Run

I certainly expected to break down emotionally at the end of yesterday's race. I did. But I didn't expect to break down physically during the race.

I haven't talked much about my training the last four months. It went really well. Very good long runs, few aches and sores. Quick recoveries. I entered yesterday's race calm and confident. Three weeks ago, I completed my 22-miler in 3:57 and kicked the last mile. I was going to PR, maybe a 4:40 or better.

Starting Tuesday, my muscles felt achy and I started sleeping hard, nine hours instead of my usual six. One day, I had a splitting headache and scratchy throat. I thought I might have fought off a cold, but I wasn't sure. Yesterday, thankfully, I felt fine at the start.

I had planned to tell the kids at some point before the race that I wasn't just running for their mom, but for them. Throughout my training, I prayed often my kids would see that I was honoring their mother with effort and love, and I hoped they'd find ways to do that all their lives. It dominates my thoughts. So I told them before the gun, "Today is for you guys, and I love you." Off to my PR.

Race conditions weren't the best, but they weren't as bad as we expected. The remnants of an epic Nor'easter, 30 mph winds with 40 mph gusts, were going to make the challenge a little tougher. But a little wind never hurt anyone, so off we went. I ran well for eight miles, cruising a comfortable 10:30/mile pace. I chatted with a nice lady named Linda, running her first marathon in her 50s. She said a few years ago she "freaked out" after her husband left her, so she started running. She looked happy about what she was doing. Good for her.

When I hit the first hill at Mile 8, I felt OK, but not the way I should have felt. This fall, I ran several hilly training runs because the Cape Cod course is challenging. Hmmm. At Mile 10, I felt like I was losing power. The next mile, my stomach cramped. Linda was gone. A few miles later, my legs cramped. Everything ... legs, the arches in my feet, lower back. I could barely run. What the ... !

My legs felt like they were 150 pounds each. I had trouble breathing. So I walked a little, ran a little. I'd never bonked so early. Bonking is supposed to happen at Mile 19 or 20. My mother handed me fig bars and an energy bag at Mile 21. I declined. A race official looked at me funny, like she was going to tell me to stop. I looked at her with red-deviled eyes. She knew what I was thinking. Don't say a word, leave him alone.

I managed to get up the hill at Nobska Lighthouse, but I was done. I'd run less than a half mile, walk, then run again. You probably wouldn't call it running, though. When I neared the town of Falmouth, where the finish line awaited, I saw Kathryn and Will way before the crowd. They were obviously worried, checking on me. I turned for home, finished, got away from the crowd and started crying uncontrollably. The next 15 minutes, I just hugged Kathryn, Will, Mom and Anne. Dori's uncle and aunt drove me home. That was it.

I don't know why yesterday had to be that way, but I don't know why my precious wife is gone. I do know that I have two remarkable children, a wonderful family and many more reasons to live a good life. I love you, Dori, and I always will. I'll see you when I see you.


PJ said...

You did it, Jim. You survived an awful race. Everyone is proud of you, here and in the hereafter. Big hug.

ChuckEastNashville said...

Jim, congratulations on your finish. I had runs with some of the heavy legs and difficult breathing you described, but never all probllems at once. I have a friend who ran Philadelphia Marathon a few years ago. She "hit the wall" at mile one and called it worst run of her life. That comment came froma two-time Boston Marathoner. Thanks for the race recap. Job well done.

Julie said...

So glad you finished, even if it wasn't the race you'd trained for. If marathon's were easy, everyone would do them. Congratulations on your finish - you pushed through and made it to the end.

Ann said...

Jim, you did it. You set yourself a goal and you chased it down until the finish. I think PJ says it best, everyone is proud of you.

Paula said...

You ran with such a heavy heart.
Heavy hearts are cumbersome.

Inspite of this you finished.
Yay for you!

Your kids will never forget their mom.
She is with them everyday.

Donna Clements said...

You ran for an amazing cause and you ran with great purpose. Of all the races, marathons are the most unpredictable which is why so many people won't run them. My hunch is that of all your races, this is the one you will be the most proud of. For many reasons...
Know that you were surrounded by a 'great cloud of witnesses.'
Congrats on completing a very tough race - with fierce determination.
Now post some pics please :)