Runners plan and we prepare and we practice and then we do it again. Practice makes perfect. Or does it? We attempt to perfect our fluid intake during the long run as to avoid too many bathroom stops. We attempt to figure out the perfect carb loaded meal pre race. We plan life around training a lot of the time. But is it ever really perfect? We certainly can’t control the weather. Injury or illness can come about as well.
There will always be less than perfect conditions, this is why we train in the wind and the rain. We know this will make us stronger on race day, we will be prepared. It is inevitable that sometimes life will toss you something that you are not prepared for. I had a packing list that I had checked over and over, I was prepared for the Houston marathon. What I wasn’t prepared for was the flu.
I was confident that I had enough time to recover from the flu. After arriving in Houston two days before the marathon and four days into the flu, recovery seemed bleak. I still felt weak and fatigued, not ideal for marathon running. The plan remained the same, rest and hydrate. The day before the marathon things seemed to worsen, how was this possible? I couldn’t eat without feeling nauseated and energy still hadn’t found me. For the first time I was worried and doubtful. My husband finally asked me if I was 100% sure I was going to run. 100% sure, I repeated back. I told him I was going to give it my best shot, not really knowing what that meant. Gatorade! I drank a bottle of Gatorade and I felt a surge. Optimism began to return, I felt possibility return. I will never bash that sugary drink again! Another bottle of Gatorade and I ate my pasta dinner.
Race morning came and I was terrified. Can I do this, kept going through my head. Pace, splits, etc. all went out the window. My plan was to just run as far as I could, and that’s where it ended. The first five miles felt like an out of body experience (pretty sure I had a fever), then things fell into place. I felt pretty good, I was running! I was running on pace with my just run plan. The crowd was amazing, the course was great. As I ran toward the half marathon and full marathon division point I knew I could simply take the half route, but I still felt confident.
At mile 13 I figured the smart thing would have been to take the half course. I felt myself fading. By mile fifteen my energy had deflated just like a balloon. Miles 18-25 were painful in too many ways to describe. The last mile is comical to me now. I remember stopping to walk (again) less than half a mile from the finish line and thinking, what is wrong with you, why can’t you run a mile? I finally did manage to run through the finish line. My first thought was, that’s it? I did it?
Not one of my family members attempted to ever talk me out of running. My son ran twelve of the miles with me. My reason for running is not something everyone understands and that’s ok. Running this race ill absolutely has a consequence and I knew that.
“Strength does not come from physical capacity, it comes from indomitable will”—Mahatma Gandhi