Saturday, September 27, 2008


This week was quite a challenge. I was ready for a big-volume week with over 40 miles of running, a bike and a swim.

And then I got bronchitis. Ugh.

I've been trying to wrestle with some pretty serious stuff the past 3 weeks, and I think it's starting to affect me physically. I rarely get sick, so when I do, I usually take it as a sign that something is out of whack. The body has a funny way of letting you know things you just don't want to admit, you know?

I ran 10 on the treadmill earlier this week, with a few pushes. Not too much trouble, as I'm on antibiotics and have an inhaler to help clear things up.

Today, I had a 20 miler. My longest run before Columbus.


I didn't have time to plan anything ahead of time, as a lot of people around here were running Akron today. Plus, Bug was up from about 2-4 last night...probably teething...good times, good times. So we all slept until 9. I woke up, looked at the clock and said to Matt, "Hmmm. I was supposed to be nearing the end of my 20 miler right about now."

Ah, yes. I am learning I need to roll with the punches here. And lately, there just seem to be an awful lot of punches.

So 20 miles gives you plenty of time to sort things out. I don't know if I have any concrete answers yet, but I'm working on it. And I felt all emotions on this run...invincibility, fear, pain, uncertainty, elation. Pretty much the whole gamut. Which, I have to say, is paralleling my life at the moment, too.

I wondered when I would get my work done.

I wondered what Bug was doing.

I thought about how I had no business at all doing a marathon in October of this year, and how this is probably the most insane thing I've tried to do in quite some time.

I thought about stopping.

I thought I might not make it.

I thought I wouldn't be able to negative split this thing.

I thought how long 20 miles is, and how lonely I felt.

I thought about how I just don't know what to do.

But I remembered a friend told me that even when we're training alone, we're not really alone. There are other friends out there, training with us. I heard an AT&T van honk at me, and saw my triathlon buddy JBird in it, waving to me. And just like that, I was reminded.

I thought about why I was out there, running 20 miles, when I could be at home with my husband and son. What is this all about? What does this mean? Honestly?

It will mean quite a bit on October 19th. I really thought about it, and I came to the conclusion that this might mean more than Ironman for me. There's less hoopla and time to write about epic stuff, for sure. But this just might mean more to me. Because this has happened on a delicate tightrope act.

I went to Miami University for my undergrad. Since I worked pretty hard in high school and my parents saved up, I didn't have to take out a loan. This meant that I didn't have to work during the school year; my job was to be a student. And I took that seriously, mind you. I got pretty stressed out over classes and finals and grade point averages and all that junk. I ended up graduating cum laude, thinking that those were the 4 hardest years I'd worked at that so-called "public Ivy" school.

But they weren't. Not even close.

The four hardest years I worked where earning my master's degree at Cleveland State--a good school but not as rigorous of an selection process as Miami, for sure. I took classes at night, after teaching all day. Three or four nights a week I drove downtown and sat in classrooms from 6 to 8:50 or so, and then spent my weekends grading my own students papers and then flipping the switch to become a student and write papers. Sometimes I fell asleep with student papers on my lap and my HIS 697 book on the nightstand, open to page 389, highlighter still uncapped. I was still very lucky, as I was on full scholarship, so money was not an added stress. But I worked my butt off those four years.

It put everything I did at Miami to shame. Miami felt like a walk in the park.

And I am proud of both my degrees, but there was a different feeling when I walked at CSU to get my diploma...I felt almost more ownership of that one. I had to really work magic for that, and it was one of the proudest moments of my life so far. I had tears in my eyes when they called my name in the CSU convocation center. At Miami, I was just beaming from ear to ear, and the only tears were when I drove away from my friends a few days later.

Columbus will be my CSU.

It's not my first marathon, first Ironman, or my first endurance event...those moments and finish lines have already happened. And they were wonderful.

But this one?

This one, I have really, really had to work for. This one has shaken me to my core more than any other event I can think of. That includes Ironman. Honestly.

There will be no Mike Reilly, no people in crazy outfits cheering me up any "M" dots anywhere, no Boston Qualifying time or anything like that. No hoopla at all.

Just me. Me, and my arbitrary goal of trying to get to the finish line while there's still a "3" in the hour's place.

I thought about that, and how much this journey has shown me about myself. How I still don't really know what to do about things, but one thing's for sure--one thing's in my control: I am going to finish this run. And I am going to negative split it.

And with that, my last 4 miles went 9:13, 9:03, 9:01, and 8:52.



Pharmie said...

Yeah! I'm glad you're on the upswing with the whole cold thing. Hopefully we'll both have healthy lungs by our marathons. You are such an inspiration to me...and you're right. We're really never alone out there.

Judi said...

I had bronchitis too, two weeks ago and the z pack upset my stomach so bad! I am doing my 1st ultra on the 19th, I feel your pain!

Rural Girl said...

Sara, you are truly inspirational! Stay true to what keeps you afloat and who you are.

Now...get rid of that damn cough!!!
It pained me to just hear you on the phone the other night.

Wil said...

Sis you are so going to hit it out of the park, you're amazing and I'm totally beyond proud for all you've accomplished. Go get it :)

tryathlete said...

I hope you feel better soon.

Inspiring writing - very enjoyable to read.

Michelle said...

Sorry you are feeling poorly, but man you are a speedy champion in my world. I was thrilled yesterday to finish my half in 2:20 it wasn't my best time but I really had fun and I enjoyed the run. I think that the endurance sports teach us about ourselves. We have quality time to solve world problems or decide what to have for lunch. For me, as long as I am having fun, I am going for it. I did decide I am no longer going to do marathons. I have done 4 but I really like the half distance. It doesn't take as much out of my body and the recoup time isn't so bad either. (I have fibromyalgia) I am still planning on a half iron next year.

Alili said...

What an inspiring post. Wishing you all the best in Columbus!

Steve Stenzel said...

Nice job finishing that run WITH THE NEG SPLIT!!

Nice post!

triguyjt said...

fantastic post..and i loved how you drew the comparison.......

you did csu alone...

now you are doing the columbus alone... and it is cutting through all the other stuff and affecting the very core of you...
and you are handling it..and that is impressive...

hope you get to 100 perecent real soon...

Jennifer P said...

One of the hardest things I've hard to relearn to do as a mama was how to do things on my own, while not being alone. It's hard when your heart is in other spots. Kick ass girl, kick ass.

Lana said...

Oh I know what you mean...sometimes it's got nothing to do with the hoopla or the mystique of a certain race...but all to do with what it's cost you - mentally, physically and emotionally. You're gonna kick butt Sara - I know you are gonna sub 4 this thing!

Kim said...

great post sara! i have no doubt that your strength and positive attitude will help you achieve your goals (marathon and otherwise!)

Josh said...

You don't need Mike Reilly, m-dots, BQ's or any hoopla.

You need to run your heart out. And when you cross the finish you'll know you accomplished something worthwhile.