I’ve decided I may possibly, if everything works out, if I can get it together, if I have the time, do the LA Marathon. The course looks beautiful this year http://www.lamarathon.com/course.html . It starts at Dodger Stadium and ends at the beach. I did it in 2007 (when the course was not so beautiful) and trained with the LA Roadrunners for 9-months. It was an incredible experience to run 15 and then 18 and then 22 miles and then a marathon! My goal was to finish in 5 and a half hours, and I managed to finish in 5 hours 29 minutes. I was so proud.
You would think that because I did a marathon before, that I could easily train to do another one on my own. I went running three times this week (3 to 4 miles each time) and today I can barely walk across the room. I have the feeling it won’t be easy.
Anyway, here’s an essay I wrote about the 2007 marathon training. It won second place in a humor writing contest for moms.
Jerry scanned our small group and urged us to stay together. “Now remember,” he said. “Don’t start out too fast. If you want to sprint at the end, go ahead, but be careful. You don’t want to burn out.”
Burn out, right. It was a warm Fall day. The 5K race on a mostly flat course through Santa Monica, couldn’t have been easier.
“I did a half marathon and two sprint triathlons before I had my babies,” I told Laura, the 20-year-old blonde in my marathon training group. She seemed nervous, so I assured her, “This little bitty race is no big deal.”
The buzzer sounded and I was off. I didn’t listen to Jerry. I ran alone and as fast as I could. I waved furiously at my husband and two little boys as I zoomed by. I was desperate to catch up with the giant Nordic man in my group, forgetting that he was younger, nine feet tall, and in much better shape. After five seconds, all I could catch was a glimpse of his head shrinking in the distance.
I continued on at a sprint. I passed mile one. I was thrilled when a race volunteer shouted out nine minutes, 32 seconds. I’ve never run that fast in my life, even when I was 19 and in the best shape. I was determined to keep it up. By the end of mile two I was unstoppable.
This is it, I told myself. This is the where it all changes. I’ve lived my entire life in a state of half ass-itude: I would try, but never too hard. I would go a mile, but no extra. I would diet, but still eat a dozen donuts. This time was going to be different. “I’m going to do the best that I possibly can. And not just in this race, but in everything I do. From now on I’m going to be the best mother, the best writer, the best athlete. No more half-ass for me. Yep, this race is going to change my life.”
This was my mantra until around the end of mile three when my breath started coming out in short pants like I was in labor. My ample, child bearing hips felt like they might shatter with each step. Suddenly, people were flying past me. Did they start the race in the middle? Were they former Olympians? I tried not to let their awesome speed bother me until 20-year-old Laura caught up looking just as fresh and perky as she had at the start line. I, on the other hand, was red as a tomato and sweating like it was 110 degrees. I passed her, resulting in her passing me; our two-woman race was on.
There’s no way I was going to let this little chicky beat me.
“Let’s challenge each other,” she said kindly.
“Okay,” I said, but weren’t we already doing that?
In an instant she was gone. Instead of eating my dust, I was choking on hers. I had to catch up. I pumped my arms and moved my legs as fast as I could. “Only two more blocks to the finish line,” I said to myself. “I can do it. I can. I know I can. I know I can. I know….I think I’m going to throw up.”
Oh my God. I can’t throw up. I’ve thrown up plenty of times, but it usually involved a box stamped with the word “wine.” I stumbled down a side street and ducked behind a Dumpster where I began to dry heave.
Something interesting happens after you have a couple of kids; you’re not in control of your body the same way you were before giving birth. The force of the dry heaves made me pee what felt like a gallon. It was everywhere: on my shorts, down my leg, on my shoes. I’d heard of marathon runners getting diarrhea during a race and just cleaning themselves off to keep on running. This wasn’t a marathon; it was a 5K with a happy, happy carnival at the end.
If I were my hardcore sister I would have picked myself up and wiped myself off and kept running. I would have puked and wet myself right there at the finish line, but alas the quitter in me took hold and I got the hell out of there.
I speed walked down a side street searching for anyone with a cell phone. When I called my husband, he was at the finish line looking for me. I could hear the roar of the crowd through the phone and I wished I was running toward him and the kids, dry and victorious. Instead I shouted “Help, help. I dry heaved and there was pee and you need to come and get me now! Now!! Now!!!”
When my family found me I sat defeated on the curb. This race wasn’t going to change my life, it mirrored my life. I started out strong with great potential and then I peed myself. What does this mean for my new life as a mom, as a writer, as an athlete? What about my new, can-do attitude?
“Hmmm,” my husband said as he pondered my problems. “I’ve never run a 5K and I’ve never peed myself in public. I don’t know if I’m qualified to answer your questions. I guess it could have been worse.”
I suppose. It could have happened when I was 20. I would have been found days later drowning in a pool of pee and tears, completely devastated. But I never would have tried it in my 20s. I only ran if someone was chasing me. And I didn’t recover quickly from defeat.
But I guess this time was different. I wasn’t devastated. Instead, I pulled myself up from behind that Dumpster and met Laura the next week for a 10-mile run. But this time I brought along a change of clothes.