I am four weeks away from marathon #3. I have had the joy of completing a marathon on two feet, and on three wheels. My last marathon was when I was still in a wheel chair after having three expander bags placed in my left side. The pain was outstanding, however the desire to have the journey was much greater. Running is an activity I have always embraced. Running has never been easy, and because of that my desire to run persists.
On August 5th, I had the incredible honor of turning 43. Every birthday I have celebrated since my brain surgery has been special. After the trauma each birthday has become even more precious and colors my soul with gratitude. I decided a few months ago to work with a local running coach whom I respect for his athletic accomplishments and commitment towards being a good human. Finding a good fit for a coach is vital. I am supremely stubborn and often struggle with what I WANT to do, versus what is best for me in the long run. As a strong-willed trauma survivor, I find myself wanting to take on as many things as possible because, “One never knows when life will collapse”. It has taken years of therapy, public speaking and writing to work through the impulsivity of wanting to control what is not controllable and then check off any and all bucket list items in a day. Just to clarify, I am far from “over it”, rather I now understand my actions & reactions and own them. When we own our “issues” we need to take accountability to work on changing behaviors. Needless to say, this journey of marathon training has felt like one therapy session after another as I put one foot in front of the other monitoring my Garmin and talking to the deepest parts of my soul. You cannot hide from yourself when you run, there are no downhills to stop pedaling and coast. There are no tides that will push you as you move forward in the open ocean. Running is the hardest of the three disciplines in triathlon, as it forces you to be honest inside your core.
As the Via Marathon registration opened up for the 2018 season, I knew my “soul” needed to take that journey. Via was the last marathon I ran on foot. My final time was 6 hours and 24 minutes averaging a 14:38 pace. I felt pain everywhere. I felt alive. I felt closest to my true self that I had experienced since waking up from the coma. I knew every breath, every step, every sound, every crunch under my feet, every breeze that swept through my hair, or sweat drop that trickled down my arms, legs, and everywhere was REAL. I never questioned my reality. After spending days and nights in a coma while going in and out of surgeries there are times when I question if what I am doing is actually happening, or if I am dreaming and hooked back up to machines keeping me alive. Running has awakened me in ways I never dreamed, and I give so much gratitude. Bart Yasso once told me that if I run, I am a runner. My pace isn’t as important as my drive and souls passion to run. Those words have helped me so many times when I would question my place within the running world and my worth as a “runner”.
A mile is a mile, whether you are sprinting, running, jogging, walking, or wheeling. We move forward. What a metaphor.
This season I started track work outs. My “assignment” was to run 200s 8 times with a minute break in between. Instructions were to “go all out and see how fast I could run”. The First assignment I held a pace in the low 7s for all 8 sets, the next assignment a few weeks later my pace slowed for all 8 sets. My legs were fatigued from building miles on other training sessions. I first felt frustrated, until I was able to experience building mileage on a weekly basis.
My frame has been greatly compromised, and although put back together by an amazing team it is left with major scar tissue, extra bone calcifications, hardware, muscle damage/loss, a lymphatic system that gets blocked up, and organs that need to work quite a bit harder than they used to. Tomorrow is an 8 -mile run and then a day off, a 6-mile run Sunday, then a 19 miler on Monday. The heat and humidity has been extreme which means I will be waking up at 3:45am Monday so I can be off by 4:30am and absorb as much run time pre-sun as possible.
So why Via? The LVHN Via Marathon raises money for Via’s services for children and adults with disabilities like autism, cerebral palsy and Down syndrome. Knowing that I am running for someone who needs services is a powerful motivator. Why do I run when my body has been damaged and experiences such pain and fatigue? I run because it keeps my roots watered, it helps my soul stay authentic. Training is a way to hold myself accountable to maintain adequate rest, as well keep my body moving and healthy. September 9th will be here very soon, and I hope to run each and every mile thanking my creator and my soul living each breath to the fullest. We all run our own race, and at Via Marathon we celebrate this life journey together for a cause greater than a medal. We run for life.