Boston Marathon 2014: Getting There

"I am never doing this again." -- Me, like a 100 times after last year's Boston Marathon

(My physical therapist in MN has a recording of me saying it, promising it actually. He would have bet a whole lot of money that I was completely full of it ….I hate it when they're right.)

But really, I wasn't going to go back. Actually, I think my thought process after last year was that "if" I ever ran another marathon it would be in some unheard of place where only a few people actually even show up to run. No huge crowds. No international scene. No threat of attacks (well, unless you include the wild animals out there and then all bets are off!) But I wasn't even certain after last year that I ever wanted to do another 26.2 miles. (Stop laughing. It is true. Kind of.)

And then a week went by and another and pretty soon, I forgot about the intense months of preparation, the weight gain, the labor pains and the sleepless nights and I was chomping at the bit to have another, er, to race again. So I did a few 10 milers and then registration for Boston came up and guess who got the email? And guess who said, "Oh heck…..I have to go back. I just HAVE to. Especially since we are moving closer and who doesn't want to train for a marathon right after moving!" I'm like the Michelle Dugger of marathoning….only, I don't have to wake up in the middle of the night for like 30 years straight or potty train an army.

This year was going to be different though. I'd be running to support runners everywhere. I'd be running to show solidarity with the city of Boston and with the droves of spectators rallying the city on. I'd be running for freedom, for hope, for, I don't know, something bigger than little old me.

And I would do it with a smile and without fear and worry and maybe even without my running watch!  (Which is when you know I am full of it…..)

And I even had a plan to get past the anxiety stage during taper madness: just don't taper so much! Seriously, I was going to run a 61 mile week, followed by a 50 mile week followed by a one week taper of 25- 30 miles and somehow, by not spending 3 weeks at low mileage, I was going to avoid all craziness. (Really now, you could at least TRY to contain the chuckles.)

Insert a capital F here. The plan was going great until about two weeks pre-race when, even though I had anticipated issues and started on Prilosec and taken out most of the acid-producing foods and alcohol and coffee and anything I could think of that would make me hurt inside, it started anyway. First, the indigestion. Next up: Chest pains, topped off by uncontrollable asthma symptoms. Finally, the anxiety peaked, as if my body didn't give a rats petuny that I had a plan (gosh darn it), and I knew, without the tiniest bit of doubt, that I was doomed! I would probably never see my kids again. Or my chickens! I was going to be done for by mile 13 and probably not even make it to the medic tent before someone declared I was a lost cause and my soul had left the building…..I have a problem y'all.

As I am sure I have mentioned before, I come by this crazy propensity toward anxiety very honestly. I am fairly certain it runs down both blood lines which is kind of ironic if you think about it. Both sides of the family are God-loving Christians, both grandfathers were ministers for crying out loud and there is this extreme belief in the goodness of our Creator and in God's power to save under any and all circumstances…..We could preach a thousand sermons on God's grace alone….after all, what else does one really need? Yet when the idea of death crops up, well, let's just say we have an extreme aversion to the idea. I mean, we love God and all, but really, none of us is really interested in going home just yet. We want to delight in the goodness of creation just a little longer, act like the prodigal sons and daughters we are and plunder our inheritance and blessings as long as we can; and quite honestly, even when we are rolling in the pig slop, wishing we could eat as well as the pigs, we are STILL not ready to meet our Maker. Ok, I can't speak for the whole family but I'll take the slop, thanks.

I suppose it is the nature of anxiety though to flood your brain with irrational thoughts. And so as we began the drive to Boston, I got quiet and reflective and contemplated how I could convince God not to take me from this earth just yet (I mean, maybe a tiny car accident that left us only slightly shaken up with only minor injuries could get me out of racing to my doom! Yes, I know I have issues…and yes I know they have medication for it but seriously, who wants to risk possibly ruining their time goals with meds?!?!)

A few hours into the drive, I found myself in a restroom at some back country gas station, tears filling my eyes as I begged to have this burden taken from me. As if I were JESUS ABOUT TO BE CRUCIFIED! Only, I didn't give that whole "but only if it's Your will" crap because really, THAT TOTALLY DEFEATS THE PRAYER! Silly Jesus. He shouldn't have given God an out. Just saying.

So, after my complete and total (but very private because I don't want everyone to know what a wreck I am before the race) breakdown, and after asking Kurt if he thought I should see a doctor about my shortness of breath BEFORE the marathon and being affirmed that we could if I needed to, AND after proclaiming (again) that I thought it was time to really consider switching sports because this panic stuff clearly isn't worth it, I began to feel a little less agitated. I started to practice some deep breathing and wouldn't you know, the slightest inkling of calm began to take hold….."calm" being a very relative term of course but, it was a start and it got me there….

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