“In the realm of ideas everything depends on enthusiasm… in the real world all rests on perseverance.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Eight months ago when I decided to do my second marathon, I was very excited at the idea. I then proceeded with the training, taking it seriously, following a plan and overall I felt great. At 48, I am in the best shape of my life. Yesterday, I did the work to prepare, to finish strong. I rested and drank extra water on Saturday and Sunday, well-hydrated, I thought.
All week, the meteorologists predicted pouring rain all morning. 8:00 am start – blue skies and mid 40s, a perfect running day. It usually takes me a few miles to warm up. Mile 6, I was achy and had a headache. My brother John had dropped me off, parked near the finish line and biked back to meet me at mile 10 on the course. Mile 13, I told him I felt like I was tanking, only half way there, and I thought, “I may not make it” but I turned up the music and pushed on. I took some more electrolytes and kept going. Mile 16, calf cramp and light headed. Mile 17-20, a few light showers followed by an ankle and groin cramp (first time for this one, delightful). My legs felt like stumps. John kept riding ahead, stopping, getting off the bike and clapping as I went by. At one point, a woman looked at me and asked my name, I told her and she yelled, “you can do it, Kathie!” At least one of us believed it.
At mile 21, I knew I would finish even if I crawled in on all fours. Friends and family were gathered at mile 25 so my goal was to see them, be upright and smiling. My niece Emily surprised me coming back from school (3 hours away) to be there. Right down the line, hugs and kisses for friends and family. Emily ran me in the last mile with John still riding along the side, the longest, slowest bike ride he’s ever done. Mile 26.2 – done. Amen.
Walking back up the hill to mile 25 to see family and friends, I figured I’m too old for this. Where did I go wrong? I described what happened on the course and Terry asked, “did you drink more water than usual?” – Sure did, needed to be hydrated. Well, it turns out, you can drink too much water – the official term – hyponatremia – I washed all of the electrolytes. He did the same thing on one of his marathons. All the symptoms matched with what happened on the course, with the exception of seizure and death. Glad I missed those.
While I wanted to finish strong, I endured to the finish. Life is about showing up, trying, failing, getting back up, trying again, giving, receiving, fun, faith, family, friends – all those gifts that describe the past four months that culminated yesterday morning. Choose your “marathon” – whatever that is and pursue it with all you have.