Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god.
It’s race day.
What the fuck am I going to do??!!
Yep, those are the thoughts running through my head when I woke up the morning of the Fall 50. I wasn’t excited or giddy, I was terrified. I was soon going to be exposed as a fraud. I had talked up and posted about my training for so long, but talking about it wasn’t going to be enough to get me to the finish line. And now I had my friends and family in town to cheer me on and I had even more people back home following along via social media, and they would all soon know I wasn’t capable of running 50 miles. I was doomed. What was I going to do?
My head was spinning. I knew I had to get up and get ready but yet I didn’t want to get out of bed. The longer I went on with this charade the worse it was going to be. I felt like I had to get out of this. But how? In my second marathon, when I had hit the wall, I had wanted to fake faint to get out of running (I didn’t, but I wanted to). I knew I had to do something similar to get out of this. But what was going to get me out of running? Everyone came to Door County for me. It’s not like I could just back out and have my friends and family stick around and cheer for Brian. It was just me. I was going to be the one embarrassed and ridiculed when I couldn’t finish. What do I do?
Can I pretend to be sick?
Can I pretend to be hurt?
Can I just say I don’t want to do it?
No. I can’t do any of these things.
Time to get up, get ready and face the music.
But before I got out of bed I checked my phone. As I had laid in bed trying to find a way to get out of running I heard my phone dinging, which indicated I had received text messages. The first was from my sister Carol and came at 4:28am, followed by Sue at 5:12am. They were both wishing me well. This made me sick to my stomach. Well wishes were coming in, but I didn’t feel I deserved them. They made me both happy and filled with dread at the same time. I knew it was just the beginning, beginning of something I couldn’t stop or turn back.
I was now up and in my pre-race routine. Getting dressed, hydrating, eating, stretching, etc. That’s when I got another text message from my brother Todd. His text message , “Good Luck today! So proud of your dedication! So proud of you! Mom and Dad would also be proud, you know they will be on the route with you today! So now go do some epic shit!!!” Yep, that came in at 5:41am and was the first time I cried on race morning. I had to read the message quickly and I couldn’t reread it because I wasn’t capable of handling it at that time. (Actually, writing this post was the first time I had enough distance from the event to go back to reread this text and it made me cry AGAIN!)
I can’t do this.
More stretching. More hydrating, bathroom breaks between my hydrating and stretching as well as packing. We had to check out of the hotel before the race so I had to pack up all of my things. But I also had to pack it in such a way so that anything I would need during the run would be easily accessible to my crew.
And since I couldn’t find a way to get out of running, I now had to get serious about getting ready for the day-long run. This meant my typical pre-run stretching turned to stretches for my shin splints. I was doing all the stretches that were supposed to be good for shin splints – but none of them actually helped end the pain during training – so I could at least say, “I tried”. Maybe shin splints were going to be what caused me to drop out of the Fall 50. But good lord, shin splints always kick in early when I run, always during my first mile. Will I really drop out that early? Will I really have this big of a build up and not even make it 5 miles into the race?
Besides worrying about my shin splints, I was also worried about my bathroom situation. While Brian had rented an RV to ride alongside of me for medical reasons and so I could have access to a bathroom if need be, I still was dreading the thought of having to stop and use it over and over during my 50 miles (or 5 miles if my shin splints didn’t go away). During one of my 8-hour runs, I had stopped for the bathroom 17 times. Yes, you read that correctly, 17 times. Just imagine how many times I’d have to stop during a 12-13 hour run? How embarrassing this was all going to be!
Wow, how did this all go so wrong?
As Brian was loading out our belongings and packing them in the RV, I few of my friends stopped by the room to wish me luck and/or declare it, “Race Day!” Every bit of encouragement made my heart sink a bit more and made the tears flow. While on one hand I was eating up the encouragement and well-wishes, I also wanted it to stop and I wanted to become anonymous. Anonymity would allow me to blend into the corner, get lost and then maybe no one would notice if I didn’t finish the race.
When everything was loaded into the RV and before leaving the motel, I snuggled up to Brian, tears coming down my cheeks and I whispered…. “I don’t want to do this”. When I finally wiped away all of my tears, it was time to go.
“I don’t want to do this.”
We loaded into the RV and were set to drive the 7 minutes to the start. That was the longest 7-minute drive of my life. It included encouragement from friends and family, music, a poster and of course… more tears. Stosh played “Best Day of My Life”, which to me is the song that best encompasses Brian’s Ironman and his incredible journey. But this morning, that song made me want to throw up. I wanted to be inspired by that song, but instead it brought me to tears. I was not going to have that glory that Brian had and I sure as hell wasn’t going to have the Best Day of My Life.
At this point, I don’t feel like it’s the “Best Day of My Life”
When we arrived at the start line it was raining. It was dark, cold, windy, rainy – gloomy; and it matched my mood perfectly! Thankfully I saw a lot of other people I knew at the start. I chatted with relay runner friends, a friend who was also a solo runner and some friends who were there just as spectators. This constant contact and socializing helped me a ton. And the many photo ops helped to take my mind off of what was to come. It helped to distract me from the inevitable – the fact that I had no way out and that I was indeed going to have to start running.
Don’t let the smile fool you, I was ready to die!
After some more time waiting in the rain, it was time for me to line up at the start line.
The National Anthem was sung.
The starting pistol was shot.
And I was off.
I was running.
But for how long?
Until Next Time,
Stayed tuned for Part 3 of my Fall 50 journey.