On Saturday, I finished 2nd overall and 1st place female at FANS 12 hour with a total of 65.25 miles and it was marathon #65 for me! I can’t say that I have ever finished a race feeling so much gratitude before.
I went into the race wanting to break the course record of 83.2 miles. I knew it would be tough, but I wanted to push the limits of what I can do. After a few hours, the heat and humidity really started to get to me and my body was telling me that I needed to slow down if I wanted to get through all 12 hours. So, with disappointment, that’s what I did.
By that time, I had pushed long and hard in the humidity and my body’s systems became completely out of equilibrium…that honestly is the only way I can explain how it felt. My breathing became so labored and it was just hard to get air in even when I focused on taking in deep and relaxing breaths. No, I do not have asthma and I was not feeling anxious. Here is an interesting website that discusses how lactic acid and carbon dioxide can lead to hyperventilation: https://healthfully.com/is-exercise-the-cause-of.... Dehydration can also cause shallow and rapid breathing…so, whatever it was, my body was out of whack and not working correctly.
I have had this happen just twice before. During my last Kettle 100 race and then during a speed session this spring. All three times were when I pushed hard in humid weather for an extended period of time. At Kettle, it went away eventually, but yesterday it was relentless.
Although this would have been a great reason to feel defeated or to quit, I went into the race with this quote in mind, “If you are not afraid of death, you can achieve anything. Put your life on the line and great enlightenment will be yours!” – Hokazoki, a Marathon Monk of Mount Hiei. I went into the race knowing that obstacles would come up, but they wouldn’t kill me, so it was a matter of managing them and moving forward.
If you haven’t heard of the Marathon Monks of Mount Hiei, I recommend reading about them or check out these two videos:
5 minute video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yTJ0om0jZGw
20 minute video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S06oMxdt40A
There are so many amazing athletes in the world and they have accomplished truly incredible things, but no one has inspired me more than the Marathon Monks. I went into the race with their teachings in mind. They teach to live each moment like it is your last, since for them, they defy death during their training and it really might be their last day of living. They discuss attending only to the here and now rather than focusing on the past or the future. There is no end, but rather a continuation of moments all strung together. They also teach to expect pain in life, since it is unavoidable, but what is avoidable is attaching emotional suffering to the painful experiences. I found these teachings to be the most helpful yesterday. I knew obstacles would come up, but I didn’t let them get to me emotionally. I focused on each passing moment rather than thinking about the finish line or how many hours I had left of running. I avoided looking at my watch because the time and the number of miles I had run didn’t matter. All I had to focus on was what I needed to do in that moment – eat, drink, breathe, and keep moving.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I did have a few moments of breaking down and wanting to quit. Especially at hour 8 when I didn’t know how I would finish or continue on. But I thought about their teachings again, refocused my attention on the present moment and moved on. I think this helped me appreciate each moment of the race, even with the difficult breathing. I felt at peace with how I was doing and engaged in each moment of the process. I think it also helped with not getting bored of the loop since I didn’t view the race as loops but as rather as separate and unique passing moments.
I truly appreciate all the support I received during the race! The TREC running group really stepped in to crew me even though they were out there to support other runners! One running friend even jumped in to pace me for a couple of loops during my lowest point of the race before my official pacer arrived. And I always appreciate the support of my partner, Brian, for getting on me constantly to keep eating and drinking even though I didn’t want to. Me to my pacer- "I need to eat this gel before we get to Brian so he doesn’t yell at me.”
Now it’s time to get ready for Indiana 100!