December 20, 2010

Running on Emotions (Marathon Recap Part 2)

I seriously cannot believe that a month ago yesterday, I happily completed my first marathon. It was an amazing experience and I've felt the after effects for the last 30 days, both physical (ouch!) & mental. Not a day has gone by that I haven't thought about what it meant to me & what was going through my head for the full 26.2 miles. Recap part 1 gave you an idea of what took place for almost 5 hours of my life on 11/21/2010. And although you might be able to imagine, it doesn't give you much insight into how the entire experience made me feel & what it helped me realize. Over the course of my months of training, I know my frequent posts on running & racing drove a few of my friends and family members nuts. And that's ok cause I can't make everyone happy and I don't intent to try to; I just want to be real & happy with myself. But I'm hoping those of you who would rather eat dirt than read another running post take a moment to read this one.

So... what was going through my head during the marathon. I'm going to be honest and I hope I don't get crap for this but I was thinking "this is easier than I expected." I'm not writing that out of conceit or because I think I'm some fantastic athlete; I know I'm not.  I know how hard it is to run a marathon, how painful it can be and that for some people, it feels like 26.2 miles of hell. But I didn't have that experience at all. That's not to say that my legs didn't feel like bricks, that my muscle cramps didn't suck or that having to pee for 3 miles with no bathrooms in sight didn't almost make me cry. It's just that none of that seemed to bother me; somehow I was able to ignore all those things and just kept putting one foot in front of the other.

You see, I signed up to run a marathon to prove to myself that I could survive some of the toughest moments of my life (you can read about that here). I thought, if I can run 26.2 miles, I can do anything. I was going through hell and just wanted a reason to believe that I would survive and that everything would be ok. So I signed up for a race and dove deep into the world of running; it gave me distraction, a daily high & made me feel stronger than I've ever felt. A lot goes through your head when you're running for almost 5 hours and I spent lots of time meditating on what brought me to that point. I thought about the demise of my relationship and the emotional hell I put my important people through. I remembered a young man we lost this summer and how strong he seemed just a year ago; how life is so fleeting. I recalled the day I woke up in a panic and thought "Holy shit! I don't recognize my life. Who am I?" And then it hit me; I thought I needed to run a marathon to prove I could survive but as it turns out, if I could survive all those things, I was already strong enough to survive anything. So yes, the marathon seemed easy.

Why am I telling you this? Because over the past few months, I've heard so many people say "You're running a marathon? I could never do that" and it drove me a bit nuts. The fact of the matter is, yes you can. You can pretty much do anything as long as you realize that you have the strength; you've always had the strength, you just need to find it. This pertains to anything you want to do. Want to learn rock climbing but think you're too weak or afraid of heights? Go to the gym, build that strength and face that fear. Want to write a book but don't know where to start? Start at the beginning, do the research, make a plan and take it one step at a time. Sure you'll have your good days & then there will be the ones when you want to just give up. But if you want it bad enough, don't give up because you can make it happen.

I was lucky to have so many incredible people there to support me during this crazy journey and I feel like now's a good time to give them props & say some thank yous.

First and foremost, THANK YOU mom & dad. I don't even think "thank you" is enough to express how much I appreciate all that you were to me during the last few years and during marathon training. No matter how much I lashed out, you stood by my side and told me I would be ok and that I could do it, whatever "it" happened to be that day. You never lost faith in me. Thank you for following me during my long & hot Florida training runs to bring me water, for mailing me my favorite brown rice cakes & nine pound bags of almonds so I wouldn't lose too much weight, for flying to Philly with a fabulous sign in tow to stand outside for 5 hours and scream my name. Words just can't describe....

Thank you to Avi & Debby for the support & love you sent from Israel and then England and for listening without judgement when I needed someone to hear. I love you & truly miss you & the girls every day. Thank you to Shawn & Sara for your Philly hospitality- the opportunity to run those last few long runs on the marathon course were instrumental in my success. Thank you to my entire family and especially Jennifer, for your constant support, encouragement, emails & phone calls cheering me on; I could honestly feel your pride in me. And thank you to Rachel & Michelle, the two best friends a girl could ever dream of. I am so lucky to have you both, my sisters, in my life. Thank you to Ehud who despite everything was always available to remind me how strong I was, and for bringing me orange juice when I felt like I was going to pass out after my long runs. Thanks to the Blooms for being there when you knew I needed you, for thinking of me often & letting me know just how often.

Thank you to The Laminator, for being an awesome coach, for listening to my concerns and helping me conquer them. You seriously rock and running the first few feet of mile 26 with you will always be one of my favorite memories ever! Thank you Dani for your words of advice, for your friendship and for inspiring me everyday. One day I want to be just as fast as you (a girl can dream, can't she?). Thanks to Nancy for being an incredible friend, for your wisdom and for your belief in me. Thanks to Sam, Katie & Michael for being the most awesome marathon training partners! Your company, example and encouragement helped push me hard and made me a better runner. Thank you Dori for your support and for inviting me to run the Diva Half Marathon which led to the formation of our incredible friendship- love you! Thanks Ben for your encouragement, your example, and for your help creating an awesome training schedule. Thank you to The Academy... oh wait, wrong show ;) And finally, thank you to all the folks in my world, both in person & online, who have supported, encouraged, motivated and inspired me along the way. I started to thank each one of you personally but realized that might take forever, and I was afraid I would leave someone out. But seriously, I'm constantly amazed at how incredible you all are; I'm grateful to have you in my life.

Ok, enough of this emotional sappy stuff. Have you thought about the goals you want to conquer next? Yes? Awesome! Now get off your ass & get to work ;)
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9 comments :

  1. Erica Sara you just made me cry. I love you so much and I cannot even begin to tell you how happy I am that we became so close. I was actually just thinking about this last night -- how lucky I've been to find you and Melissa Z through blogging. You are two of my closest girlfriends in the world and I can't believe how easy and natural it feels to just email/text you all day long with all my little things -- and know that you will respond with support, advice or even tough love.

    I also just saw your post on why you run for the first time and I actually didn't realize the extent of the emotional aspect of what you went through. I am so happy you found an outlet through running, and of course through blogging.

    I am always here for you and I am extra useful because I can double as a mirror.

    Looking forward to many more races with you -- especially training for the NYC Marathon together!

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  2. Erica, you are so right. Once you've conquered a marathon you feel like you have power to conquer anything that life throws your way.

    I am so glad to have met you, and had the chance to run with you this summer. You've got a great attitude, and you're a beautiful person inside and out!

    Can't wait to see what you conquer in 2011 :)

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  3. Beautifully written Erica. Congratulations!! Which one is next? :)

    The marathon is a metaphor for life and you courageously found that out in Philly. It was a pleasure to meet you there and I hope you have many more wonderful and fun marathon experiences.

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  4. After Dori's comment, I went back looking for that post. It seems like you've come so far! I really enjoy all your thoughtful comments and posts and am so excited for training for NYC 2011!!! (And my necklace!)

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  5. Beautiful words Erica!
    Very inspiring! I'm a new runner and I love to come here and read your posts. There is always something inspiring!
    Congratulations on more time on finishing the marathon! Although I have never run a marathon (YET!) I can totally relate with your feeling of 'I can do anything'!!
    I don't know you in person and I just started following your blog but I have to say I'm very proud of you!!
    Looking forward to your 2011 training posts!

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  6. Congratulations, Erica! You have captured that something so intrinsic in achieving a goal that has been set.

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  7. Congrats!! That is so awesome! I will be doing my first half in February. It's fun to see fellow runners accomplishing their goals :)

    http://amberandgang.blogspot.com

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  8. You know, I completely agree with you. I honestly didn't think the distance was that hard, it was more the conditions that made my experiences hard. Eventually I'm going to get a perfect condition day & have the marathon of my life!
    I'm glad to read that someone else felt the same, because I was sort of feeling like a weirdo :)
    Congratulations! You're a marathoner!

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  9. Love you!!!! You truly are so inspiring and believe it or not, even though I asked for a few more recipe posts, I actually do really like (and look forward to) your running posts. Getting to visualize the obstacles you face on your journey and how you manage to push through them and come out stronger on the other side gives me strength as well! I love you and miss you and hope you come down here again soon :) xoxox

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