I run happy.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Chicago and the Pain Monster

Chicago was just gorgeous!

Cali Friends,  the leaves really do change colors at this time of the year in other parts of the United States.  It's true!!!

I'm calling it a Mini-New York Marathon.  It had all the sights, smells and feelings of running in the city...minus the wild and crazy traffic problems/issues in getting to the start.  There were still the crowds that lined every inch of the course, sometimes seven people thick.  There were the smells of coffee--and then blocks later--chocolate---and on and off,  a sewer smell---topped off with a whiff of tacos and then again, the chocolate.  This was  a SMELLY race.  Chilly and smelly but spectacular.

My reviews on my performance, my execution? My big event?  Three thumbs up, one thumb down.  Okay, maybe all thumbs up.  I didn't exactly make my goal time of 3:20 but I was able to pull myself through some tough moments during the race.  I think back to my earlier race/marathon days and remember some "very dark" moments when I would feel a faint moment of panic over my pace, my poop issues, my stomach stuff and immediately let my peanut brain go MANIC.  Shut down.  Negative.  BUT THAT WAS ME IN THE PAST...I've really kind of done my own
Marathon Mental Makeover and it has been pretty successful during all of  my last races, both marathons and shorter stuff.

It essentially involves me putting my all into training so I have the confidence in my abilities.  Next,  I spend some time before my race visualizing PAIN and FATIGUE hitting and actually rehearsing what I'll say to myself and how I'll react.  HOW I'll react is everything.  I practice embracing the PAIN of the race, recognizing it and then visualizing myself moving through it and getting on with the race.  Lest you think this is MUMBO JUMBO,  just know that I actually emailed a sports psychologist who works with runners and he actually made me a very COOL cd that addresses some of the freaky things that crop up when I race.  Like fear of pain.  Like the potty issues.  Things that might impede me doing my very best when I go out to have fun at a marathon.  

So to make a long story short, very short...I went out too fast at this marathon,  didn't drink enough of my liquid nutrition(Carbo-pro) and ended up dropping off my pace after mile 20 or so.  The happy ending of the Chicago Story is that I kept my *happy*head in the game the whole time.  I never thought about stopping, about anything that was holding me back nor did I worry about my pace.  At the time,  I focused on each step I took as it hit the ground.  I thought about the many things that I could do to make the race better:

shaking out my arms
giving high five to kids
looking around
giving a high five to an inflatable monkey
counting frog umbrellas
reading a sign or two
drinking water
drinking gatorade

And during the last few miles,  I didn't think about anything!  I let myself absorb the pain in my foot, the burn in my quads and I just focused on pain.  I hugged it.  I was proud of myself for staring right into it's face and growling back.  Then, BOOM, the race was over.

Sometimes overcoming is even better than victory.  I was reaching for a goal that was definitely within my reach but for whatever reason, it wasn't  handed to me.  I had to fight for this one and the satisfaction and accomplishment was well worth the pain.

Chicago gave me some mental strength that I didn't know I possessed.  At the finish line,  hundreds of teenagers from the city came out as volunteers to pass out water, the medals, and bananas.  One young girl grabbed my wrist as I took a water  bottle and in my post-pain stupor, she  looked into my eyes...a little too deeply for the moment(if you ask me)and said,  "You are incredible.  Be so proud of what you just accomplished."  When a 16 year old girl says that to grandma like me,  you listen.  Thanks amazing volunteers.


  1. I love your description of the last miles - running a marathon is hard and it does hurt - good to acknowledge and yes, growl, at it! Congratulations on finishing, Meg. :)

  2. Great run Meg, well done! It seems that this is certainly one of the best marathons out there. Rest well!

  3. Congratulations, Meg!!! The race was incredible...I seriously loved it more than Boston! I'm glad you were able to shake some past demons and have a great adventure!

  4. Dearest Meg so happy to read this. Getting through a race that does not go to plan is really the sign of a well-trained athlete. I love reading about your visualisations - that is powerful stuff my friend - well done! And of course - this goal WILL be achieved. Just not last Sunday. You inspire dear Meg!

    (Oh and I've moved my blog - come find me at http://petraruns.wordpress.com)

  5. Way to go! You accomplished so much physically and mentally. So cute about the girl at the end, too. Once again, you inspire me! Thanks for checking up on me over at my blog. Not too many bloggers out there anymore! I'm training for Ironman Florida on Nov. 3rd. It's been a long journey- total of 30 weeks of training, but I've enjoyed it. Enjoy your accomplishment and congratulations.

  6. Wow Meg! Great report, I'm so happy for you that this was such a good marathon for you. So inspiring! Congratulations!

    I love Revenge too. Second season starts here next week and can't wait to see the tricks Emily has in store this time :)

  7. Way to go! Distance running is 99% mental and it sounds like you have conquered that. Way to go!!!

  8. way to go granny! ;) as always it wouldn't be a marathon without some sort of hurdles but at least mental ones are less painful than physical ones? or something like that? i'm just not as full of wisdom as that girl at the finish line...

  9. You are awesome Meg! And it is amazing to see what a person can accomplish.
    That girl who looked into your eyes...reminds me of the dr. on the subway after Boston, checking my eyes to see if my pupils were the same size- or if I might pass out. AMazing thing you just did-- now come have a seat right here and let your blood pressure normalize. :)

    Hope you know you ARE amazing!

  10. Was in Chicago, but not for the race. It was an amazing weekend! Wished I could have bumped into you and Jill. But congrats on a great race and trashing those demons!

  11. Everyone I've heard from loved the Chicago Marathon this year, and not just their own performance. Glad you enjoyed it.

  12. Congratulations Meg! So happy that you embraced the pain and found your mental strength. This is something that I need to learn how to do.


  13. Wow I cant believe I missed this during my blog absense. Congratulations Meg and thanks for sharing those moments esp toward the end. Take care.