I ran a half marathon this past Saturday. My favorite distance, my favorite race, Running With The Bears in Greenville, CA is the race I’ve been looking forward to since I ran it last year: https://www.facebook.com/runningwiththebears. The race I planned on hitting my shiny, new PR. Not only did the kids come, they were running an aid station. I was even more ecstatic that I’d be passing them around mile 8. That enthusiasm and energy and their bright, happy, smiling faces were helping me with my mental push to drive myself harder and faster. I had goals based on last year when I came in as the 5th woman. Last year I ran relaxed on since it wasn’t my goal race. Last year it was a comfortable race. This year I wanted to be in the top 3 women overall and get my best time ever.
In my experience we race for a cause dear to our hearts. This race gives 100% to Mountain Circle, a private agency working with foster kids and adoption. After over a decade of being a foster parent and adopting several children, the cause makes the race that much sweeter. I’ve also gotten to know the amazing people involved with the organization in this last year plus and I genuinely adore them all. This year we stayed the weekend (thanks to their expert help), stayed for the after race Luau and they even asked me to be the guest speaker. Truly an honor.
In the morning I knew my stomach was off. I rarely have an issue with my stomach so I chalked it up to the anxiety of the race. Also not usually an issue but what else could it be? I ate my normal breakfast, drank my normal drink but I had to gag it down and couldn’t finish it. The kids got dropped at their aid station, I got to the start/finish line and the staff informed me the kids were in the wrong place. It took some juggling around, but they got to their correct spot and I started with the gun.
By mile 2, I was hurting. Not intestinal need a port-a-potty hurting, not breathing hurting. Vice grip around my stomach, double over, want to throw up hurting. I was cold, I was hot. I watched a teammate of mine from Reno whose goal was the same as mine pass me and I knew there was nothing I could do about it. By mile 4.5 I was really hot, still hurting, wishing I would throw up, not able to eat or drink anything (which only adds to bonking in a race). All I thought about was seeing my kids at their aid station. I knew where they were on the map and I couldn’t wait. I was going to ditch my shirt, ditch my electrolyte bottle (since I couldn’t drink it). I was going to have some watermelon and get the motivation to continue.
At mile 9 I realized I wasn’t going to see my kids. I was replaying the map in my head and somehow none of us realized they were on the marathon course after the half marathon turn around. I took off my shirt, tied it around my incredibly tender stomach and walked for a minute. I was so dejected in that moment. I looked at my watch and knew I wouldn’t hit a single goal. Not one.
Lemons. I felt like I was getting lemons. All my training. The year long countdown to run this race. The planning, the time, the money. Lemons. I wanted my kids desperately so I thought about them out there on the course realizing the same thing that I was realizing. I wasn’t running past them. I thought about how they are the accomplishment in my life I am most proud of. I knew even though I wouldn’t hit a single goal, I could still make them proud. I was finishing this damn race.
It was the most difficult race I’ve run to date. I’ve finished faster on some, had a tough go of it, but nothing like this. I finished the race and met none of my goals, watching a teammate that crushed hers. I crossed the finish line, found a quiet place and sobbed. Just gut wrenching, body shuddering sobs. I’m not the crying type generally and I think I’m very grateful, but in this moment I just crumbled. I had a pity party for Jenn. Then I got up, brushed myself off, told my teammate congratulations and checked the board.
Jennifer Adams; Reno NV; Bib # 101; Age 42; F; 25th overall; 12th female; 1st age group; Age division 40-49; Total time 1:56:41.6; 8:54 minute miles. Even though it was my toughest race, I still pulled off 1st in my age division. I still finished. I reminded myself that I GET to run. I didn’t DNF. I’m already signed up for this race next year. My day will come. I got to be here.
My daughter Olivia came to the finish line to get me so I could finish the aid station with the kids. She suggested I get out and run so I could actually pass the kids aid station. Even though my race was over, I’d still get to see them. I’d get to kind of experience it. So I did.
It’s Wednesday morning as I sit and write this. My stomach is still rebelling. No thank you coffee and eggs I usually have. How about water and popcorn? A friend and teammate told me once that running is either physical or mental. This race was physically challenging for me and because of that it became mental. Could I have pushed harder? Probably not. That was my biggest limitation. Mentally? Well, I finished but not in the greatest frame of mind. Running past the kids aid station – off the clock – was most certainly the best part of my run. Finishing feeling so horrid was another challenge I completed. The change in my attitude after feeling so dejected? There are thank you’s that should be made.
Thank you for the cabin in the woods that we were blessed to stay in. Thank you Shauna for running Mountain Circle and putting on this race. Thank you Josie for being the best race director ever. Thank you Kevin for your home, your pigs and for the Luau. Thank you Matt who is a new friend as well as the other friends I made. Thank you for using hay bails as the podium. Thank you for surrounding me with trees. Thank you for the opportunity to speak at the Luau about how much doing foster care and adopting has positively impacted my life. Thank you to my kids for running the best aid station ever even if they didn’t win an award. Thank you gentleman at the country store with the old wind up cash register who reminded me to slow down. Thank you for the leg soak in the river post race. Thank you for having a race I love and get to come to. Thank you for my finishers medal and for winning my age division. Thank you mostly for reminding me of all the things in my life that are more important than my goals.
Fitmark Ambassador 2013