Now that I finally have a moment to think. To just sit and reflect. Here's what the last 3 weeks have been like...
The training began when the lottery ended pretty much. As I joined the Semper Fi Fund charity team, Team Semper Run, I began to work on lots of strength training as well as a base mileage build up. First was Insanity Max 30 and second was the first half of Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide.
By June, I started the advanced Hanson Marathon Method with my running partner. It was nice at first. A big change from previous training to say the least. As the training went on through the summer I managed to fit it in with life but when kids' school started, my husband had to do Marine things and I began my final two courses in college...I began to go down. All the juggling became too hard. I did what I needed to but mentally I took a hit.
As race day rolled around, I was excited but it was bittersweet. My mental strength was not there. I had to think about quizzes, multimedia projects and a final paper. My Marine was not there and he is the reason I would even want to be running this race. I pushed on through it all and lined up to go but before I knew it...the everything surrounding the race ate me alive.
It was cold but it was hot. My thyroid had been taking a downward swoop for a while and I was not feeling 100%. It was emotional seeing injured veterans running and the blue mile. And all of the Marines. It was a race that I love that I did. But for me...very crowded and mentally hard to love the run.
This was a long time coming for me! I had first heard about the race when I was trucking on through C25K in the fall of 2012. There was obviously no way I could pull that off that fast...or heck even wrap my head around the idea of doing a half marathon at that time! Fall of 2013 came around...I wasn't cleared to run yet and about 4 weeks postpartum. Fall of 2014 came around...OBX Marathon came first. This year...registered in January LOL!
As for where I was post-MCM, I was better. Much better. My Marine came home. I completed everything for my final college course. And I was finally starting to feel better. BUT going into this...I have a fear of heights. I have a fear of bridges. I have a fear of the depth of water. It was a great race and experience. I thank God that Shannon was with me as always. She locked arms with me and talked me through the very last huge bridge with a large portion of grating where you could see the water below you. Needless to say...that was terrifying but it was amazing too.
The end game arrived this past weekend. All the miles were leading to this very moment. I am sure that my family and friends think that I am crazy for reaching for this goal but I have to in my heart of hearts find my break. Never in a million years did I think that I would be a runner. Never imagined that I would run A race. Never thought I could do a 5k...10k...10 miler...half marathon...full marathon even. But an ULTRA!?!?! Gosh that does sound a little crazy still. If less than 1% of the population completes marathons, how many go on to ultramarathons???
Leading up to race day...everything was good! It was great actually until 48 hours before when plans began to go wonky. The outcome was waking at 2 am the morning of to drive to Shannon's, jump in with her and drive 3 hours to the race. We arrived early and there was only one problem. I forgot my camelbak in my car that was sitting at Shannon's house 3 hours away. Runner fail. Figure out a way to make it work. Get up to the start. Go.
...then came the hills!
The race was beautiful. The people were so nice and welcoming. Doing 5 loops of a 6.25 course actually helped A LOT. I was able to continuously replenish the water in the bottle. We could stop at the car and grab more clif shots for me to jam into my sports bra. After 2 rounds of the hills, we could stop to roll out muscles and find other little comforts like chapstick or adding nuun tabs. It was rough. It was really rough but it was a great achievement. At the end when all was going down, one of the other runners joined us for a couple miles. Completely renewed everything. Officially an ultramarathoner now!
Also...my ultramarathon marked my 40th race ever! Total awesome coincidence! I sit here today looking at the last 36 months and am in awe of what I have done. My husband asked me this morning as I hung my bib up and realized I need to find a home for the last 2 medals... "What do you think my wife of 3 1/2 years ago would say about this sight? Do you think she would have said this was possible? Do you think she would have believed she would lose almost 70 lbs since starting this? Do you think she would believe this is her life now?" The answer to all of that...no. I never believed any of it would happen. I never believed this would be my life. I am thankful the good Lord has decided to help me down this path. I am humbled by those who have endlessly expressed how proud they were and who have become inspired by my actions. I am overjoyed that this is my life and I have the people I do to spend it with.