I love the marathon; I hate the marathon. Much of this has to do with me personally, and this post is where I might try to sort it all out.
I have known intense pain in my life: 1) the birth of my first child and my second child and 2) when I broke my right foot. Both times I knew that something in my body wasn't right, and my mind could not just ignore or correct it. The four times that I have run a marathon and the one time I ran a trail ultra relay have also met those criteria.
I have written that I did not have a runner's high after I ran the marathon. In fact, if you read all my other posts about running a marathon, like here and here and here, you will see that I have never felt good when I finished a marathon. On the contrary, I almost always feel powerful and happy when I finish a half marathon. I think I can pinpoint the reason for this; it is all due to time. You see, it took me more time to run any one of my marathons than it took for me to birth BOTH of my children. Together.
|Punkin and Butterbean|
|Akron Marathon. It took me longer to finish this than to birth BOTH Punkin and Butterbean.|
So what? you ask. What does this have to do with anything?
Well, I think it has to do with our relationship to pain. For both of my children, although I was in labor for days before entering the hospital, I did not feel extreme pain until my water broke, and that was minutes before I actually delivered. (Here is my gratuitous bragging: My daughter took five pushes; my son took 3.) When I finished delivery for both, I was ecstatic as a result of adrenalin, endorphins, a beautiful baby to hold, and various drugs being pumped into my body to compensate for my pain. I distinctly remember saying to my sister-in-law after my daughter's birth, "God, I could kick down a tree right now! I am SO POWERFUL!!!"
|This is EXACTLY how I look when I feel like I could kick down a tree. I did NOT look like that after birthing Punkin and Butterbean, though. Or this morning. Or, well. . . at all, actually.|
I repeat that any one of my marathons took longer than it took to birth both of my children TOGETHER. So, let's take it back to pain management. Many people run long distances with the promise of the "runner's high." I am one of the lucky people who almost always experiences that high after the second mile. Here is the problem with a marathon or ultra-marathon distance: The endorphins and the adrenalin go directly toward your will to survive this run. They no longer make you high; you don't even feel good. Their only purpose is to get you to the finish because you are out there so f-cking long.
As I ran three marathons before the 2018 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon, I knew that I would not necessarily be a happy runner for this race. I was worried because I was running with Marta, who is possibly the kindest woman I know, who signed up for the race to RUN WITH ME, and whose feelings I did not want to destroy around mile 18. I decided that the best strategy for this race would be steadiness: no highs, no lows. I didn't want to be elated at mile 15 only to decide to list everything I hate about life and people two miles later.
I wasn't pleasant to be around Saturday, when I took a few pictures with Marta and her mother at the expo. I was less pleasant to be around at dinner with Marta and her mother on Saturday evening after my volunteer shift. I was trying to fake some happy excitement at the starting line on Sunday morning. The truth is that I was just trying to hold on to some human decency at that point.
I think I did pretty well. Marta is a fabulous running partner; when I wanted to talk, she listened. When I wanted to listen, she talked. When I wanted to be left alone, she left me alone. And after all that, she even agreed to train with me on my long runs for the upcoming Burning River.
|We ran with Kelly and Carolyn on Sunday. Notice my smile? It's before we started.|
|I'm still smiling after 18 miles. Actually, I think I'm squinting because we are facing the sun. I dunno.|
So, I guess my next goal is going to be to try to feel better at the finish line. This means I may have to figure out how my head deals with pain that lasts more than two hours. Or it could mean that I develop super-powers which enable me to finish a marathon in two hours or less. Either way.
Whatever your relationship is to pain-management, I hope you (at some time) run happy, Peeps!
Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @itibrout!