half-empty or half-full

November 15, 2010 at 1:42 pm 4 comments

what an amazing weekend! side-by-side once again with the bunny ~ my running partner in crime ~ i could have expected no less. after a long tiring drive up, thursday evening was all about us. girl talk and toenail polish. outback and silliness. stories of makeups and breakups. all filled with the laughter we never lack. we packed. we prepped. we resisted the temptation to open the wine ~ not to mention the patron ~ and start the post race celebration early. gatorade toasts with ice-water chasers would have to do. and though for me it seemed not such a big deal given i was only running the half, i knew the bunny was going for her fourth full and i understand the advil regimes and pre-race routines.

after a good night of sleep, we left macon mid-morning to head to fort oglethorpe, georgia. i admit i hadn’t really googled the exact area we were going to beyond basic race info so i was a bit surprised to learn that we had a three-and-a-half-hour drive and that our hotel was actually in chattanooga. and it wasn’t far into the drive i began to realize what that meant … hills! lots of them. rolling countryside and looming tennesee mountains. i found myself a tad bit intimidated. there simply aren’t hills in florida at all! but the gorgeous fall colors and comfort of small town america was refreshing and after checking into our hotel and breathing in the crisp clean mountain air, i found myself more and more remorseful my run the next day was going to be a mere 13.1 miles.

on the way to packet pickup that evening i made a decision and i voiced it to the bunny. if ~ on the absurdly off chance ~ they hadn’t gotten my swap form i would take it as a sign and run the full marathon. the bunny just laughed. as much as she knew i was disappointed in my (intelligent) decision she also knew that there was just about no chance that my form was somewhere lost in the u.s. postal world. but walking into the school where pickup was made me hope for a mailman mishap even more. though there certainly wasn’t a huge expo, there were a handful of vendors and the excitement and nervous energy radiating from all the other runners was infectious.

the woman behind the check-in table asked my name and which race. she found me on the master list ~ runner number three hundred and something ~ but when she went to pull my packet it wasn’t there … in either the half or the full. we went through every packet in the A-C last name bins. and it simply didn’t exist. flustered and unsure what to do (missing packets were obviously not something she had ever encountered) she led me to a guy at another table. he remembered my not-so-common last name and he remembered specifically getting the swap form but for the life of him he couldn’t figure out why my packet wasn’t anywhere to be found. and with a sold out race, he didn’t even seem to have extra packets with him to assign last minute entries or replace the unexpected missing. but a duplicate registration yielded a packet he could assign me ~ runner number 4! and then … he asked the fateful question! “do you want to run the half or full?” my mind raced. was i letting the atmosphere and race energy cloud my better judgment or was this the sign i was looking for? i hadn’t run more than 14.7 miles since february and i’d only been back running for eight weeks and still wasn’t 100 percent physically. to attempt a full was stupid. unrealistic. but i know myself and i knew what i needed to do.

that night i felt surprisingly relaxed and slept much better than expected given the fact i’d just decided to run a full marathon with 14 hours notice. though i did have a random dream about running the race and stopping mid-course to eat lunch but when the waitress took forever to bring our menus i freaked out about my time not counting if i took such a long break so i ran out of the restaurant back to the path but then couldn’t figure out which direction i was supposed to be going. ok so maybe there was a little race anxiety going on in my subconscious. but i woke feeling rested and ready to run.

the weather was gorgeous! ideal race temps. start was going to be about 42 degrees and noon expected to barely break 60. i felt strong. energized. ready to face whatever i was about to find in the next 26.2 miles. i vowed to take things slow and cautious. regardless of how good i felt at the starting line, there was going to come a point where sheer stubborn pride was going to have to replace non-existent training.

from the very beginning i knew this was my race. i was awed by the beauty. within the first mile we were surrounded by amazing golds and reds. colors i forgot leaves could be. though not on trails per se, the paved path took us through woods into open fields. past old cannons and statuesque war memorials. over railroad tracks and across little bridges. with mere hundreds of runners on course there were moments i almost felt as though i was running alone. lost in my escape. for a runner who needs the cheers of a crowd and the support of spectators, this would never be the right choice of race. for a runner who needs to disappear. who’s running away as much as she’s running toward. there could not have been a more perfect 26.2 miles.

i made myself only two goals; make it to mile 20 before walking and beat my gasparilla time. surely even lack of training and less then 24 hours of mental prep time could outrun the food poisoning i ran that marathon with. i held strong for awhile. kept with the 4:30:00 pace group for mile after mile. but as expected, by about mile 18 i was exhausted. the entire course was rolling hills and they took a toll. i held on until 20 and then switched to an alternating walk/run. one song on the ipod walk. an attempted three song run. though admittedly if during those three songs i came to one of the larger hills i allowed myself the walk. a little past mile 24 ~ halfway through a walk song ~ a girl came up behind me and asked me to run with her. we could help each other through. she was a galloway runner of sorts (a race-long plan of timed runs followed by timed walks) but she was barely hanging on. i fell in beside her and we ran until the relief of her next walk. when her watch beeped time for her to run again she couldn’t do it and she encouraged me to go on without her. but i couldn’t leave her. physically i probably could have pushed through but it seemed more important to stay together. i assured her we could do it and she found the strength to run again. we stayed side by side trying to mask the pain with idle chatter. we took one more brief walk stop at 25 1/2 and then vowed to run it in. and we did. together.

chickamauga marathon 4:41:47

eight minutes better than gasparilla.
26 minutes worse than my marathon pr.
by far my favorite marathon … so far.

p.s the bunny has a very different marathon approach than me. she’s simply there for the experience. often running with her phone and stopping to take pictures. she finished in 6:11 … a pr.


Entry filed under: fear, injury, life, running. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

georgia on my mind shutting down

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. KitKat @ Pursuit of Happiness  |  November 15, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    I just couldn’t stop smiling when reading this.

    I’m so incredibly happy that you got to do the marathon and that you had an amazing time doing it. It’s just too funny (and perfect) that your packet was lost.

    I still can’t believe just weeks ago you couldn’t run at all. And now you just ran 26.2 miles again. And it’s clear you have many more 26.2 mile runs in your future. 🙂

    • 2. becelisa  |  November 15, 2010 at 2:25 pm

      in spite of my comment on the way to packet pickup i really had accepted the fact that i was going to be running the half. never in my wildest imagination did i actually believe there would be some weird mishap that would even give me the option to run the full. but the world works in mysterious ways and i truly believe everything happens for a reason.

  • 3. TH  |  November 16, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    I have to laugh at Bunny! The thought of stopping to take pics along the way, just there for the experience…I can just see her doing that! Good job Beccs!! i can’t believe u did it that well with hardly any training…I hope all is well with the body!!! The race seemed like a good one to race and the beautiful scenery it possessed!!

  • 4. 30:11 « becelisa  |  February 21, 2013 at 11:16 am

    […] may have something to do with the fact that i ran marathon number three with food poisoning and number four on 14- hours notice! MCM was a powerful race for me. born and raised in DC the run was a journey through my life […]


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the best of times

5k pr ~ 24:23
10k pr ~ 52:49
half marathon pr ~ 1:55:10
marathon pr ~ 4:10:41
half ironman pr ~ 5:57:50
50k pr ~ 5:33:23
50-mile pr ~ 11:32:39



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