Saturday, March 22, 2008

Facing demons and chasing immortality

20 miles on the OKC marathon course this morning. 

I was still feeling bad last night when I put out my running gear. I told myself that if I woke up feeling sick I would skip the run and stay in bed. Hah, that's a way too easy way out! Fortunately I sleep pretty good and woke up feeling OK. I got my stuff together and headed for the start. 

The start line for the marathong is in front of the OKC bombing memorial. If you haven't seen it you should at least check it out online. It is really beautiful with a reflecting pool and 168 chairs to remember the victims of the bombing. It is really a very dignifying monument and a solemn place. I have, unfortunately, never been inside the museum. It's not because I don't want too or haven't had the time either. Every since I had my first son, I am emotionally unable to deal with children suffering. 19 children were killed in the bombing, 10 children were orphaned, 219 children lost at least one parent. When we first moved here my family visited the museum and told me of the pictures of the babies who died and the teddy bears that were left on the fence after the bombing. I haven't had the courage to go there since hearing that. Even now it bothers me to think of it. Senseless violence against children, I can't take it, beings out my demons of hatred and anger. I highly recommend you at least check out the website though. It is a great remembrance of what terrorism looks like.

Anyway, at the start, I saw my hero again and we talked a little. Then we started running and she left me in the dust. I settled into a nice 8:40 pace running with my dentist and I felt pretty good. It was interesting to begin running this course again after a year. I kept recalling all the memories of my first 20 miler on this course and how painful and scary it was. I think it was a nice testament to how far I have come from my first marathong. I was so scared and out-of-sorts training for that first event because I didn't know what to expect. 20 miles seemed like a million and I wasn't sure I would make it all the way that first time. I made a ton of rookie mistakes and it really is amazing that I survived all the stupid things I did to myself. But I learned from it and moved on and that's what's great about being alive. If nothing else, being there and in the moment is a learning experience even if the actual experience is not that great. I have learned much from my failures and I attribute the successes I have had to my failures more than anything else. I am sure there are better ways to learn things and improve but not for Willie. One of my inner demons forces me to learn through experience, GO FOR IT, GIVE IT A TRY, figure it out later has been my overriding philosophy during my circles of the sun and it has worked well for me in my career and in my running. Many a person has given me the condescending look when I declare I'm going to try something new and I have learned to disregard those people. "Study up on it first", "You're not ready for that", "You have a long way to go before you can do THAT!", I've heard them all. But I must be true to myself. I know myself better than anyone else and I know how my head ticks. I'm not a crazy-go-all-out type, I consider myself somewhat disciplined, but I will never back down from a goal or challenge, and I will never delay an effort just because of the fear of the unknown. No one remembers the person who took the sensible choice and didn't try something that scared them or was daunting. Everyone remembers the person who took a chance, failed, and eventually prevailed! Those are my heros, those are the ones that make lasting impressions. Chasing immortality may be a little over-the-top but in my soul I think that's what I'm doing.

So I was recalling all the events of previous runs and the OKC marathon course when I came upon mile 24 (mile 18 for today's run). This is the turn where last year Willie's right knee decided the marathon was over and it was time to stop working. I ran through the 90 degree turn to the left where I went down in pain only a year ago. I felt those same emotions today that I did back then. I ran past the curb where I sat in tears holding my knee and wondering how I was unable to run the last 2 miles of my first marathong. I ran past the tree-lined street where I summoned up the courage to walk again and remembered how much it hurt and how I tried so hard to put the pain out of my mind. I remember the spot where I took my first running stride in tears of shear determination and anger. I ran that last mile and a half damn it, my kids were not going to see their father walking across the finish line or worse, not finish at all. By God I was going to finish this race and get that damn medal. I remembered turning my right foot out as I ran/limped around the corner where the Caribbean resturant was handing out lei's and playing Jimmy Buffet. Then I ran past the glorious turn onto Broadway where the streets were lined with cheering people and I could see the finish. Today I jogged this last half mile but a year ago I sprinted with all I had, bawling like a child, down that street and across the finish line of my first marathong. Today I finished to a cup of water and 10-12 fellow runners. A year ago I finished with my son and my mom was waiting for me. Huh.... I guess I beat those demons too....

Ran 20 miles today in 2:51:59. This is a little faster than last year but not much. Just coming off a cold and forget my Gel packs so I think I could have done better. It's OK, I'm just happy I did it.

No pictures yet, maybe later today I'll have some ready to post. 

Thanks for listening.


Southbay Girl said...

I stopped at the OKC memorial site when the fences were still up and the cards, flags, notes and teddy bears were stuck in the fences. It was quite an experience-very emotional and sad. My son and I were driving cross country from Tennessee to California and I wanted to stop, pay my respects and show him and important piece of our countries history. I don't think he really understood the impact or the seriousness of it. He was young. But I did. And then 9/11 happened.....and that happens to be my birthday and my family lives in NYC.

I'm glad you woke up feeling better and got your 20 miler in! thats' the time I'll probably run my half-but I lnow I'm slow and penguin like. At least I don't waddle-at least I don't think I do! And I do know how you feel about your knee. The same thing happened to me running NYC, but instead of mile 24 it was mile 22 and I had 3.2 miles to hobble. It sucked but I felt great doing it, as I can tell you did too! This year will be such a different experience for you! This year will put all the sad/horrible memories on the backburner!!!

I must now make some lunch. I'm not running today since I had prolotheraphy yesterday. My foor was sore and swollen-and it took me down. I was fast alseep at an early hour-there is not much of a party animal in me anymore....

RBR said...

What an awesome run, and thank you for sharing your story. It is a truly inspiring one. I can't wait to read your race report from OKC. You are going to ROCK IT!