Bib #11 – My Better Half Marathon
The last time I ran in Seward Park, I was crying. I was 17 miles into the 2014 Seattle Marathon and, despite double-layered gloves and mittens, I’d lost the use of my fingers to Raynaud’s Syndrome, a disease causing the blood vessels inside the fingers to close in cold temperatures and stress, rendering my hands virtually useless. While you don’t technically need your hands to run a marathon, it’s awfully hard to take in fuel or water without them, hence the frigid, painful crying at mile 17.
Today was different, and not just because I’d since discovered the joy of hand warmers stuffed inside my gloves. My Better Half Marathon is a 5k, 10k and half marathon event drawing teams of two in the Lovers, Besties and Bromance divisions, as well as solo runners in the Lonely Hearts Club division. More significantly for me, it was my second half marathon in as many days. (Check out my live, start-line video!)
I have run longer on consecutive days before. There were the back-to-back marathons I’d completed in Utah and Wyoming in 2015 to earn admission to the Marathon Maniacs, the 6-day, 120 mile stage race across the Colorado Rockies, the half and full I’d completed during Disney’s Dopey Challenge earlier this year, as well as numerous training runs totaling well above 26.2 miles over two days. It was not two half marathons that felt remarkable to me; it was the fact that they didn’t feel remarkable.
I don’t know when, precisely, this happened. I remember the first time I ran on two consecutive days. It was August of 2011. After a handful of half marathons over several years, which I’d trained for by running 3 miles on Wednesdays and a “long run” on Saturday progressing up to 12 miles, I’d decided I wanted to get faster. I signed up for the Runner’s World Half Marathon in October and bought my first training plan, which called for 4 days a week of running over twelve weeks. An unfathomable four days of running. I ran 3 miles and 4 miles on the first Tuesday and Wednesday; a total of 12 miles by the end of the first week. The persistent leg and glute pain didn’t subside until I got to week 4. But on race day, I shaved more than 5 minutes of my personal record. I’ve not run less than 4 days per week since.
Much has changed in the years since that first back-to-back run. I became a wife and a marathoner. I moved from the east coast to the west coast. And then I became an ultra-marathoner. With race tattoos (plural).
In 2015 I added a fifth day of running to my training plan and, in 2016, a sixth day. This weekend’s back-to-back half marathons were the races punctuating my taper for next weekend’s 100k, where I hope to qualify for the 2018 Western States Endurance Run lottery.
But I still cry at races sometimes when I’m really cold and can’t feel my fingers. More often, though, I cry because I am so happy, and I’m reminded how remarkable runners are. And how proud I am to be one.