Saturday, November 5, 2011


There's something to be said about the metaphorical value of the word marathon

For some it may mean endless airings of docu-dramas or worse, that inane not-for-kids-but-they-watch-it-anyway cartoon about a yellow sponge and his motley assortment of idiot friends. 

For others it may refer to that great tradition of running for many, many miles for no apparent reason (but the sudden onset of insanity.)

For me, a marathon retains its literal meaning (read previous post for details here) but is quickly taking on the the meaning of my life at the present moment. 

I'm writing this post in a rather nicely appointed hospital room in the pediatric ward watching my son suffer from and fight pneumonia. It is the beginning of November and the poor child has already had 2 week long illnesses since the third week of September. And now this, which interestingly enough is the exact same weekend he was hospitalized for pneumonia 4 years ago. 

Last weekend I ran the Marine Corps Marathon in the middle of the Fatrunner's Life Is A B* Marathon (sorry, no t-shirts-this is a no-frills race)
  1. First, I fractured my ankle in June.
  2. Then, I couldn't run for 8 weeks.
  3. Then, I started marathon training late in the game.
  4. I was still in pain.
  5. I ran and I didn't.
  6. Then Irene came and the power went.
  7. Then school started (I'm a teacher-so this means THREE WEEKS AHEAD of the first day)
  8. Relative staying with me was hit by a car
  9. Then school started (I'm also a grad-student)
  10. Then school started (the students showed up)
  11. Then school started (The kid's in 3rd grade)
  12. Illness #1 visited the schoolboy
  13. Mom in ER
  14. I still had to train, work, write, mother
  15. Illness #2 visited aforementioned schoolboy
  16. Ibid #12
  17. Car #1 wouldn't stop on the road--> brake failure
  18. Car #2 broke down on highway a week later
  19. Ibid #16
  20. How to get to DC for Marine Corps Marathon?
  21. Rented a car-->bankrupt
  22. October Blizzard of '11 hits
  23. Treacherous driving to DC-many, many accidents.
  24. Marathon
  25. Returning rental: oh no, stuck in a ditch.
  26. Pneumonia strikes
What does marathoning mean anyway? Running 26.2 miles, of course. In the beginning, body and mind are synced, though not perfectly. The legs must acclimate to the demands of the mind, and they do so willingly. In the middle, mind and body work in tandem as well oiled machinery. In those last few miles, the mind takes over, the body defers. The body must keep moving. The mind is resilient, and so is the body.

Such is life.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Ich bin eine Marathoner!

On Sunday October 30 of 2011, fatgirlrunning became a marathoner. 

The morning was a cold one. One of those post-FREAK-blizzard-in-October types of cold mornings. The sky was a clear, chilly morning sky occasionally peppered with flights leaving from Regan International.

The runners congregated in one of the parking lots of the Pentagon. There were many, many of us, to the tune of about 30,000.

My training had been haphazard due to her painful ankle fracture taking its sweet ole time to heal (more about this in another post), but I managed to push through many a long run, many a missed run (the various maladies of an 8 year-old do not care in the least about whether or not you're supposed to get a 5 miler in that day), and many a day where the shadow of doubt darkened the sky of marathon promise.
But I made it to DC despite both cars having died the previous week. Despite almost missing the last few minutes of packet pickup because a BLIZZARD decided to grace us with its presence in New Jersey and Pennsylvania right as I drove the rental car off the lot. I made it to DC despite not really being able to afford it, but how many people would be disappointed if I hadn't shown up and run? 

Of course I couldn't sleep. Of course I woke up every hour on the hour. OMGDIDIOVERSLEEP? C'MON, it's just a marathon....

Special K bars and Granola for breakfast. Not really that hungry, but I must eat. I must eat.

Nice helicopters and Ospreys. Nice tandem jumpers. Oh, is that an American flag? Very, very cool.

Wait, I'm still not moving? It's 8:15. 

Okay, finally. 8:20 and I'm off!

Mile 1: Nice and easy, despite some hills no one bothered to mention in the literature. WHAT? (Good thing I trained a lot on those. Thank you, rolling hills of central NJ!)

Miles 2 and 3: Really? More hills? Oh yeah, this is the MARINE CORPS Marathon, not the sissy marathon. Nice 5K time.

Miles 4-5: Don't remember: I was trying to take it easy. Trying to take in the scenery, so to speak. There was a river somewhere. Trying to not waste energy. ONLY 21 more to go! Mental games.
10K: Only TWENTY MORE! Oh, and this is not such a bad 10K time considering the last actual 10K.....well, that was a trail race, hon.

Miles 7-8: Really? More hills? Georgetown. Pretty. Thanks for the Vaseline.

Mile 9: Funny guys with a fake finish line. Fatgirlrunning needed that humor right at that moment.
Miles 10-12: Dammit, where is 13? WHERE IS THIRTEEN POINT ONE?

Half Marathon: Oh, that wasn't so bad. I even beat my last half marathon time. Just think if I didn't actually have to run 13 more miles. This could've been a PR if I hadn't had to save all that energy. Yeah, keep dreaming.

Mile 14: Ok, this isn't so bad. I've done 14 before, and frankly this feels better than that 14 miler I did with plantar fasciitis on a trail that seemed to go uphill both ways. Tons better.  I got this.

Mile 15: I don't got this. Dammit, I need a gel. Or two. And some beans. And, oooooh ORANGES!

Miles 16-19: Really don't remember. Wait, yes I do. RUN LIKE HELL. The damned pace car is right there. Scary and stressful. WTF are all these school buses for? OH, stragglers! RUN! Where the hell is this energy coming from. Oh, anger. The legs are like just moving, separate from my brain. Weird.

Mile 20: Is this ever going to end? Here's the wall. This is bad. Yeah, I beat the bridge. But why do I care so much? I wanna stop. This is stupid. That sign that said "this sounded like a good idea three months ago" rings very, very true. MY FEET HURT. Can't like, jump of the bridge though. That would be sissy-pooh. Yeah, and the girl next to me is crying. At least I'm not crying. At least I didn't stop to stretch and retch. Just make it to mile 21.

Mile 21: Just make it to mile 22. And stop telling us that mile 22 is just around the corner.  What corner? I DON'T EVEN SEE A CORNER.

Mile 22: Oh, mile 23 must be right down that street with all the flags. Wait, it's an entire neighborhood? These miles are getting LONGER AND MORE UNBEARABLE. Ok, not so unbearable. HI SON AND HUSBAND!!!!!! Wait for me! Don't move. I'll be back, in like a mile.

Mile 23: Okay red flag to red flag, then you can walk. Purple to purple. Green to green. 

Mile 24: HI SON AND HUSBAND. Meet me at the finish in like half an hour. Where is it? I DON'T KNOW!!!!!  FIGURE IT OUT!

Mile 25: Only one more mile to go? This is going to take all day. I could fall asleep right now. While walking. Seriously. Just walk over me. Don't worry, I'll be passed out. 

Wait. This is almost over. THIS IS ALMOST OVER? Holy CRAP.

But I don't see the finish. They said it was close. I don't see it. 

Oh, there it is. 

Another hill. ANOTHER HILL GODDAMMIT! WTF???? The nerve! Um ok. It's just my feet that hurt. The legs can do it, right?

Mile 26: A few more steps. Oh no. Tears. 

Mile 26.2: High-fiving my new friends, the Marines, getting wrapped in mylar. Oh yeah, baby. 

You can put that medal right here.