Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A different kind of challenge...

Many of you have asked me how the Chicago Half Marathon went for me. I was soo excited to run this race! Christy, Melanie and I trained for 17 weeks to prepare for the event and it was my first half marathon.

So here is the story of my race: Saturday night Matt and I stayed at a hotel downtown and went out to dinner with our good friends Kelly and Brian Jackson. We decided to go to Carmine's, an Italian restaurant in Chicago's Gold Coast neighborhood. It was a wonderful dinner. We had the best olive oil and Parmesan cheese with bread before dinner and I ordered a penne with meatballs as my main course. We even enjoyed dessert, although I must say that I tasted Kelly's cheesecake and hers was better than mine...

We went to bed early Saturday night and woke up at 5:45 a.m. so I could get ready and get down to the Museum of Science and Industry campus where the race was scheduled to start and finish. Matt went to pick up Sam, my mom, Titi Cucha and Benjamin.

My cab driver got me to the race site just fine and so I went to meet up with Christy and Melanie. We found each other and were just so excited to get started with our race. I decided to go to the bathroom before the race and joined the lines of hundreds of people who were waiting at the port a pottys that were lined up for the runners. It was about that time that my stomach started to rumble. Ooh. Nerves? Maybe. I wrote it off and decided to start the race with Christy, but told her that I wasn't sure how I would be because my stomach was starting to get crampy.

Christy and I lined up and started the race with the group scheduled to run at about a 10:30 mile pace. I started my stop watch as soon as we crossed the starting line. No less than 3 minutes into our run I HAD to stop because my stomach was again rebelling. I told Christy to go on without me and actually managed to run across the flow of runners who were still starting their race. I had to make it to the nearest port a potty.

I called Matt and Ben to tell them that I was sick and didn't think I could do the race. They offered to bring me stomach medicine because at this point they were still on their way to the race. I was feeling sick, my stomach was crampy, and I was in tears. I was so disappointed that I had trained and was so excited for this event and here I was at the end of the race line.

I will admit that I had many negative thoughts. Embarrassed to come back and tell my family and friends that I didn't meet my goal. Disappointed. Oh. And I had this crushed pride about being at the end of the race with people who were in the just starting the race and they were already just walking!

Don't get me wrong.I admire anyone who gets out there and exercises, joins an event and goes for it. But, I knew I could do better than that and I trained for that exact reason. I wanted to run the best race I could. Believe me, I am not a really fast runner by any stretch. Just average, and I wanted to run this race in about 2 hours and 17 minutes (10:30 minute mile pace). There I was barely running at the back of the race.

Matt called to check on me. I explained that I didn't even think that I made it past 1 mile at that point. One of the walkers said, No - we had just passed the 2 mile marker. I kept running.

I found Ben at the 4 mile marker - thank God I brought my cell phone with me. I had made a total of 3 bathroom stops by then. I was crying at this point...and just felt so sick and that I couldn't finish the race.

Ben and Matt got me medicine and water, and then insisted that I go on. They encouraged me SO MUCH by saying that I couldn't stop and that I had to go even as I sat there unsure if I could make it. I agreed to go - and figured that if I felt sick or weak that I would just walk the rest of the way. If I passed out from dehydration there were ambulances waiting for just that occurrence. An hour had passed and I started running at the 4 mile marker.

As I started to run, the cramps came and went. I decided to just keep running. I passed my mom and Titi Cucha along Lake Shore Drive. It was so encouraging to just slowly move up towards the runners. Slowly, but surely I started to pass walkers, and runners and just kept running along. I took Gatorade Endurance Formula and/or water at every water stop.

As I ran along, I was thinking of this awesome new song by Kanye West - Stronger (CLICK on this one. It's a great song!) "That, that, that, that don't kill me, can only make me stronger." And then, I started getting deep...what was I supposed to learn from this experience now? Is God reminding me that I am not invincible?

What did I learn? To be thankful and persistent no matter what. Really! I started to just be thankful that I could be running, period. When you run a race this large, you start to see all kinds of people. People with Cerebral Palsy running a marathon. People limping with hurting knees and feet. I realized that no matter what that I should work to do my best and complete this race under the circumstances that I found myself in.

Matt and Ben sent a text message to tell me to look for them at mile marker 9. I passed mile 9 and didn't see them there. I called and they said that they were after 10 now. But after passing that 9 mile marker I realized it - I WAS GOING TO MAKE IT!!!

I ran all the way to the finish line (walking as I grabbed my fluids along the way). My official finishing time was 2:40:46.

So...I finished. It was not the challenge I expected - it was a different kind of challenge. I am thankful for the experience and so happy I finished the race.

Now I am looking for another Half Marathon race. I will eat crackers and water the night before and am just aching to see how I do under "normal" challenges. ; ) (No more olive oil!!)

MANY Thanks to my supportive husband and brother who pushed me when I wanted to quit. Love and hugs to you!

And thank you God for teaching me something new.

Hebrews 12:1
1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

I Corinthians 9:24
24Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.

25Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 27No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

1 comment:

Seni said...

Wow Ariana....I think you did an amazing job, not only did you keep going, you finished. It is something you should always be proud of....

You know my aunt Eleanor does walks/runs with her children. Before you know it, Samuel will be running with you!