Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Marathon Mind Games


Some of you saw a strange sight in those early dawn hours on that lawn next to the starting line for the Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon: a woman, curled up in a ball, layered in others’ jackets and trash bags, looking downright miserable. She wasn’t laughing or smiling like the other TEAM members, nor was she running around taking pictures or updating her Facebook status. That woman was me.

I am sicker than a dog!
I want my mommy!
Why did I eat that hotel food?
Why is Coach Bill writing “Cures Rock” on my arm as if I’m going to run?
I shouldn’t have ever left my hotel room!
Can’t Julie, my twin, just wear my number and run for me?
Why is Captain Gail putting a lei on my head?

Miserable thoughts trudged through my head during those pre-race hours, thanks to some good ol’ fashioned food poisoning or nerves. Whatever it was that caused my body to go into total revolt, rendered my past training, GU/thermolyte schedule, and splits completely useless. At this point, I couldn’t even move off of the damp ground.

Do you remember when we heard the “secret” to running a marathon at the very first practice: Running a marathon is all in your head.

A head game, huh?

We’ve all felt the pain and agony of those first few weeks of running. Then we remember that there’s still not a cure, or we hear another story of yet another person we know with cancer. I’ll keep running ‘til there’s a cure! says my cancer warrior sis, Julie. She’s right, I think. There’s still no cure.

Still, I was not convinced that what all the coaches, captains, and mentors were saying was true. For a moment, I did wonder about their sanity. I trained well and followed all the advice and training schedules given to me, just like a straight A student would do. There were some great runs and some horrible runs, some “on days” and some “off days.” Somehow the weeks crept by, and I realized that-- thanks to TEAM--I had become a runner.

That morning of the marathon when I was curled up tight in a ball, I had no idea what I was going to do—run or not run.

Your parents will understand.
Everyone will understand.
Today’s just not your day.
Maybe you’re just not meant to run a marathon.

And then my twin simply said, "Perhaps just try to get to the starting line.”
Coach Bill added, “Maybe just run a few blocks and see how you do.”
Mike gave me a sympathetic hug.
Kim whispered that she’d help me through it.
Erin said that she wouldn’t leave my side.
Gail reminded me to pray and even chant a prayer.

Whatever worked to get me moving.

I thought they were crazy, and didn't even want to pull my head away from my knees, but the ideas were planted.

Get to the starting line. It’s all in your head. Get to the starting line. Just run a few blocks. God help me! Those words became a chant that mingled with prayers as I got up off the ground, checked my gear, walked over to Corral 15, and ran 26.2 miles.

No one asked what my time was when I finished because we all knew that it didn’t matter. I was now a marathoner. Better yet, I was a marathoner that was blessed to have learned by practice that sometimes—not always, but sometimes--running a marathon is as much a mental game as a physical game, and that running with a TEAM can make all the difference.

****THANK YOU to all my family, friends, coaches, captains, mentors, and teammates that have run this race beside me in your hearts and prayers!


Pic #1: Angie's running group, nicknamed "the Snails" before they head to their starting Corral 15 at 6:15 a.m.
Pic #2: Angie & Julie, after they crossed the finish line together of Angie's first marathon (Julie did not run due to injury, but upheld her promise to run her sister across the finish line of her first race by running the last 1 mile with Angie)
Pic #3: The "Cures Rock!" cheering squad at the finish line.

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