I held it together for the first ten miles, keeping in close to the 4:00 pace group. I remember starting to doubt myself around mile twelve when my breathing was becoming more labored than normal. I had mentally given up before I even met up with Larry to run the second half of the race and I fought with myself over stopping until I reached the finish line. Knowing you want to give up at the halfway point and forcing yourself to run 13 more miserable miles is probably the most brutal punishment one can give themselves. I had PR'd by 8 minutes which boggled my mind because it felt like I was dying most of the time. I didn't have the 'first marathon' high that I had at Philly. My family, dressed in red shirts painted with "Go Sara, Break Four" gathered around me to congratulate me, they were so proud. But I was crushed. What had happened to me out there? Instead of making up a reason or excuse, I simply settled on the fact that maybe running a 4 hour marathon was not in the cards for me.
If marathons were as dreadful as the nearly five hours that I had just suffered through I never wanted to go through that again. If ever race all I could manage was a mere 8 minute PR, I wouldn't be qualifying for Boston until I was almost 50. I decided to take time off from running until I could figure out my life. I finally singed up for the Philadelphia Half Marathon late in the summer of 2009 but neglected to train and that race too, was a failure. Fine. The marathon clearly isn't for me, it is just too much distance and I am not strong enough a runner to finish one I am proud of so I just won't do them. I turned my back on the marathon and instead went back to my good friend the half. It started with one, just one race to prove to myself I could still do it. But with my first race being in April that left the rest of the year a little empty. Ok so maybe I could do two races, one in September, but that still left the whole summer with no goal to keep me going. That's when I stumbled across Boston 13.1 and began training with Team Challenge. It was on my first training run with this group that I really began to look inside myself and all the doubt I had been putting on my ability.
One of the common topics of conversation while running with new people is your running history. When did you start, why did you start, races you have run etc. I told my story of running two marathons, failing at the second one, and taking time off before starting to get back into it. Talking about my failure out loud, in a way made me conscious of why I had failed in the first place. I couldn't breathe. And I spent a year going to a spread of doctors to find out what had been wrong with me. But now I knew what was wrong with me, and I knew how to fix it. I had experienced runs recently where I forgot to take my inhaler beforehand and felt the same suffocating feeling from Hartford. So if I had fixed the one thing that was broken, who's to say I really CAN'T run a 4 hour marathon. Who's to say I CAN'T qualify for Boston in the next few years? In the past few days I have been doing a lot of thinking, and realizing that I have not been giving myself enough credit. I am famous for saying "No Excuses", but maybe admitting the race sucked because of my asthma is not an excuse. Maybe it's just something that happened, that I learned from and am not a stronger person because of. After all I did finish the marathon although in total agony. I have spent enough time beating myself up for it, it's time to just get out there and just RUN.
UNITE Half Marathon @ Rutgers in 23 days.