As I lay in bed staring at the clock it’s 2:45am! I am restless and staring at my ceiling. My thoughts are consumed with how my brand new, basically un tested running shoes, that I had just purchased only a few hours earlier would treat my feet. I usually run in Spira’s but they were unable to fill my order leaving me essentially barefoot. After owning about 20 pairs of Spira’s I have become quite attached to them. Having no other choice I had to fight back tears and cheat on my favorite shoe with some other brand. How would my new shoe mistress treat my feet? Would they be cruel and cause blisters or would they take pity on my bad planning and cushion them to the finish line? Only time would tell!
The day before the race was an extremely hectic one, there is no rest for a small business owner! My day was packed with 6 clients, errands to run, house chores to do and a laundry list of other things that needed to be taken care of! My number one priority was to get new running shoes. Fleet Feet in Seattle is one of the best running stores in the city in my opinion, so it was imperative that I got there before they closed. Fast forward to 3pm, as I walked into Fleet Feet, a rush of excitement came over me! I felt like a little boy going to the toy store, they had so many cool gadgets, pieces of brightly colored apparel and above all else SHOES!!! Instantly I spot the ones I want! The multicolored Saucony Zealot ISO’s! All I had to do was try them on and hope that they felt as good as they looked. As I slipped my feet into the shoes a sense of calm came over me, they felt fantastic. My mistress may turn into my wife! I bought the shoes and wore them out of the store to break them in as much as possible.
I crawled into bed at 10pm, that should have given me plenty of that sweet sleep that I was craving, for the upcoming marathon at 7am. I tried everything possible to fall asleep…nothing worked! 4:30am rolls around and my alarm clock lights up my room with both noise and bright light. Well time to get up and get going! My clothes and equipment are already laid out so I did not have much to do. As I am putting on my running shorts,shirt, running vest, bandana, heart rate monitor, running watch, and my new shoes I start to feel like a warrior getting ready to head into battle! My breakfast consisted of 2 Banana’s, 2 cups of Yerba Mate Tea & one bowl of overnight soaked oatmeal! My belly was now full and my mind was sharp as a machete, I was focused and ready.
I arrived at Seattle Center an hour before the race, sipping on some raceday coffee I walked around watching all the other people’s faces. The sense of calm that I have gained from years of endurance racing was in full effect. I felt fantastic!
I was assigned to corral 17, in the long line of anxious runners waiting to start their runs. I found my spot in the corral and setup my watches GPS. 3…2…1 BOOM and we’re off the run begins. My main goal was to finish! I signed up for the race 6 weeks prior and did 2 20 mile runs to prepare. My other goal was to find someone to run with, to help pace me since there was no pacer for my goal time of 4 hours. Luckily the vegan gods were looking out for a brother! The one person who I decided to strike up a conversation with happened to be vegan! We instantly hit it off and started chatting! Her name was Alina, she runs the amazing website veganrunnereats.com. This was Alina’s 3rd marathon! Having Alina there really helped to alleviate any doubts I had in my mind about the long day ahead of me. The constant pain I feel in my legs seemed to go away as we chatted the miles away. Luckily we were able to run together for 19 miles before we parted ways. It was fantastic meeting her and I know I will be seeing her again.
Soon after Alina left me to finish her 3rd successful marathon, the day became a lot more interesting. After exiting the I-90 tunnel my feet started to throb. The main issue came from running on a slanted concrete road for just a little too long. When you drive over the bridge and through the tunnels you don’t feel how harshly the road slants. Running is another story, you feel it… a lot! Blisters started to form on my left big toe and my second toe on my right foot. The right foot blister was pretty gnarly. I could do nothing to alleviate the blisters on my right foot because I cannot move my toes. My pace began to slow! I was ticking off a consistent 9 minute mile pace before my feet began to ache.
Cracks slowly started to form in my iron clad confidence and focus. The pain that was slowly overtaking my body was becoming too much to bear. It was time to start blasting the pain out of my mind with music! Daft Punk’s “Human Robot” is the first song that randomly starts playing! The beat starts thumping! Over and over again a mechanized voice repeats “Human Robot”!! I start to focus on that, I am a god damn unstoppable “Human Robot”. Music is now my savior, it is keeping me upbeat and not letting my inner demons come out and tear me down. A few songs go by and I am doing ok, but then the song “Glory” by Common comes on. This song opens up with the John Legend belting out the lyrics:
“One day when the glory comesIt will be ours, it will be ours One day when the war is won. We will be sure, we will be sure. Oh glory”
Then Bam!!! Common comes it with his verses like a damn freight train going a 100 miles per hour!
“Hands to the Heavens, no man, no weapon
Formed against, yes glory is destined
Every day women and men become legends”
I start to lose it! I feel tears beginning to form in my eyes, I choke up a little bit. I am attracted to endurance events because of emotions like this coming out of me. This song hits me square in the chest. I need to keep my composure and keep moving forward. All I want now is to talk to my brothers Bryan & Jonathan, two of my biggest supporters. I call my brothers… Bryan tells me to keep pushing, he can hear the pain in my voice as I try to get coherent sentences out to him. My abdomen is cramping along with the rest of my body. Following the quick pep talk with Bryan, Jonathan gets on the phone. Jonathan is one of the most caring people I know. We haven’t always been the closest, we went years without talking, which is a waste of too much damn time. Things are different now, we talk regularly. Jonathan is beginning an unimaginable battle with brain cancer. He has become my motivation to keep pushing and to never stop! Jonathan tells me “Keep pushing, I am so proud of you”, I yell back to him “keep fighting Jonathan, and never give up, I will always be here fighting and so will you”. At this point I need to hangup or I am going to become a blubbering mess. I tell my brothers I love them and continue on towards the finish line.
My 9 minute mile pace is a thing of the past, I am now hobbling along like a 3 legged dog. My pace has slowed to about a 15 minute mile pace. I am gritting my teeth and just trying to go another 5o feet. I start setting very small goals for myself, run to the next street light, run past the 3rd cone! My so called run has now turned into some sort of gallop. I was “running” as if I had a broom stick between my legs and I was pretending it was a horse. It was all I could muster.
With my form of CP my whole right leg is effected. All the major muscle groups barely fire as they should. My poor hip flexor has to do way more work then it is intended to do. The hip flexor is designed to lift the knee. My hip flexor is one of the few muscles in my leg that actually works as it is supposed to. Unfortunately it doesn’t get the help it is supposed to. The muscles of the quadriceps are extremely important when running, but mine do not participate. My hip flexor says “Screw this, I am done”. It basically shuts off, so now I am just dragging my right leg as if it is a sack of potatoes.
My resolve is still strong, I keep my head up and the music blasting. I limp along through to mile 26. The finish line is in sight, I see the people and the finish shoot. I start galloping as fast as I possibly can to the finish. As soon as I cross the finish line, I hunch over let out a much needed scream and smile! I have done it again, I have proved to myself that I can still push myself to my mental and physical limits. I passed another test in my mind.
Endurance sports are not for everyone, I know a lot of people who tell me how much they hate running. For me endurance sports are my way to test myself, they give me a sense of calm and confidence. Endurance events feed that chip I have on my shoulder. All the years of being forgotten about on the playground as a child, not getting picked to play the sports I so desperately wanted to play. Participating in endurance events lets me say “screw you, I am strong now”.
Everyone should have that one activity that gives them a feeling of strength, confidence and a little bit of swagger. Find what that is a dive in head first!
I hope you enjoyed my race recap of the 2015 Seattle Rock & Roll Marathon!