As we head into 5k, 10k, half and full marathon season…I challenge you to sign up and run. Even if you don't consider yourself a runner, just do it. If you've ever stood at the finish line of any kind of race you see all shapes and sizes running across the finish line…why? Because it's a head game. Everyone's body only does so much. You can only train for so long. At some point your body gives out but it's your mind that keeps you moving. And when you finish something you didn't think was possible, you look at yourself differently in the mirror. You're a superhero. You set a goal, worked hard to get there and then achieved it. It's a beautiful thing. When I ran the Madison Marathon three years ago, I did it in honor of my then one year-old nephew, Carter who was born with a congenital heart defect. And let me tell you…it helps to have a reason to run. If you just lost 20 pounds, if you recently had a major life change, if you promised someone who's now gone…there's no way you're going to go back on your word…you WILL finish. I went back and found my blog from after the marathon and I'd like you to read it and think about a person, a cause or a passion that's important enough to make you sign up and run.
Tuesday, 6/8/10 Well hello!!! I think I've finally had enough time to sort through all of the emotions that come with completing a marathon. YES…I finished. Despite the 90+ degree heat and crazy humidity I crossed that finish line with a part smiling, part crying, part total exhaustion sort of look on my face. I trained for a five-hour finish and I was pretty solid for that to be the final outcome…but there's nothing like that kind of heat and humidity to blow every single second of training you put into the last five months. I had a fabulous five-hour pacer, Beth. She was running her 106th marathon if you can believe that. She assigned a joke to one person in our pace group for each completed mile and when she blew her whistle three times we all had to growl. It was the boost I needed heading into that kind of challenge. But…around mile nine, there was a stretch of pure sun and no shade. I watched my heartrate go up to 187 in a matter of a minute and knew this was going to be a completely different race…one I hadn't planned on at all. In that minute it became more of a head game than one of what my physical body could handle. I watched my pace group turn the corner without me and I went through disappointment, anger and sadness…then it all turned to determination and I was gonna bust my butt to get through what was already seeming like the longest couple of hours of my life.
At 11am, four hours into it, the race was black-flagged. That means the conditions weren't favorable for the race anymore and the clocks were stopped. It was a little confusing there for a bit because no one was sure if the timing had just ended or if the course was actually closing. There were buses picking people up if they decided to be done and there seemed to be a constant ring of ambulance sirens as people overdid it and either collapsed on the course or manged to make it to a medic tent. Most people were either dehydrated or suffering from heat stroke…either one could happen so quickly in that kind of heat. The scene was described as 'carnage' by one on-looker and I didn't doubt it one bit. I put it out of my brain, pictured my nephew, Carter who had to fight much harder than I was at that very minute not just to finish a race but for life…. I put one foot in front of the other and knew I was getting closer and closer to the finish line.
I trained with Electrolyte cubes at every hour, but with that heat…couldn't swallow the gummy-like cubes, so I settled for Gatorade which seemed to swish around in my stomach like a giant wave in the Atlantic Ocean. At each water station I grabbed a cup of Gatorade and took a sip or two, a cup of water and poured it over my head, a handful of ice and stuck it in my sports bra and another cup of water to drink. Around mile 15 a truck passed me and I heard, "go get 'em Lanette!" It was a fellow, first-time marathoner, Robyn who I had passed a couple miles ago…her husband came to pick her up. She was done. Maybe next time.
At mile 18 I caught back up with Pam…a fabulous woman I started with in my five-hour pace group and another outstanding woman named Jessica. With a couple miles left, Pam was able to pull ahead with a sudden burst of energy while Jessica and I watched with pride from behind. With a mile left, heading down West Wash., Jessica could see my Arthritic knees were really getting to me going up the hill that IS West Wash. She grabbed me by the wrist and we finished at 5:59…exactly one minute before the course closed.
Do I want to do another marathon anytime soon…no. Do I want to do another one…yes. I want to redeem myself. I'm proud that I finished but still shake my head at the heat and humidity that put an early end to many people's races and made mine an hour longer than planned.
I asked my insanely wonderful husband, Marc, who rode his bike along side me for the entire race, if someday we can drive the course because it's really one big blur. I remember a couple things…like my amazing family and friends coming out to cheer me on. My first familiar face was Juli Hinds and her daughter Joelle just outside of Camp Randall. Her excitment and smile gave me the strength to stand up straight and keep moving. At mile 13 I saw the Sweeney/Lavik family and I got a second wind. Peggy and Ted were there with armfulls of anything I may have needed to continue on, my parents and their cowbell were downtown and at Warner Park, the Kwiatkowskis were there complete with 2-year old Elizabeth's and 4-year old Olivia's handmade signs of encouragement. I saw my parents again at Shabazz HS, then Peggy walked with me a little and I give her some credit…I was in a foul mood at that point…after that I saw my best friend, Kit at the Tenney Locks. My girlfrend Jenna ran with me for a couple blocks and then Juli and Joelle took to their bikes and we went down John Nolen Drive together with a little help from the Red Bull they brought. I remember seeing the Kwiatkowskis again, though I'm not sure where. I remember getting high-fives from the girls and it made me smile. Then…the finish line. Everyone, including my girlfriend Erin who had finished the marathon an hour and a half before and I'm sure just wanted to get home, was there. Her boyfriend, Marc was there too, taking pictures and rooting me on through the finish. And even beyond the faces at the finish line, I knew there were so many people texting, emailing and calling to find out how I was doing. I am truly blessed to have such amazing people in my life.
And in case you're still thinking, Lanette…you're crazy for doing this. I sent an email to my nephew, Carter the morning of the marathon. I think it sums up well why I signed up, why I trained, why I finished:
To my Bug,
I've been up for about a half hour getting ready for one of the hardest, physical challenges I've ever endured. Today I will run 26.2 miles. And it's all in honor of you. Today I will put one foot in front of the other time after time. And it's all in honor of you. Your beautiful face will be on my mind the entire time because just as you fought for every minute, so too will I.
Thank you for making me a better person. You are the reason for what's right in the world…I love you with all my heart and soul.
This day is for you, little man!