Newport Bay to Brews Half Marathon Race Recap

The flipping flu hit me like a plethora of boulders three days before my race. It was a curve ball to all my training, and of course, to my psyche. It wasn’t just my immune system battling the nasty virus, my toddler fought it for seven days, and my ten year old is now creating antibodies to fight it off. Impeccable timing! The only person who seemed to be spared was my husband, but it was only because he was out of town during the time we were quarantined from society.

Friday morning was supposed to be our seven hour drive from our house to Newport, but we were hesitant to go because I was not 100% and it was my daughter’s second day with the virus. After being encouraged by my in-laws that our germs were worth sharing, we loaded up the vehicle and took off.

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Friday happened to be my husband’s 35th birthday, so foregoing the trip would have been a big bummer. Plus, we would be running the half together, and we would also be joining my sister-in-law Megan on the run. Because we don’t get these opportunities too often due to the seven hour driving distance, we knew we had to go for it.

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Saturday morning rolled around and I was praying for physical strength and hoping my stomach would not betray me during the race. The conditions were wet, gray, and a little windy. Normally I’d moan and complain, but I welcomed the conditions because I at least did not have to worry about dehydrating or heat exhaustion. The few calories I had been consuming the days prior to the race made for a very weak body, and dehydration and heat exhaustion were two things I did not need on my list. Fortunately, my mother-in-law made chicken with noodles the night before, so I was grateful I managed to at least consume some carbs and store them in my system.

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The first three miles were tough, my heart rate had been the highest it had been on a hill with a decent climb on the second mile. I just kept one muddy/wet foot in front of the other and kept a steady pace on the gravelly and muddy terrain. Because the course was a double loop, I allowed my body to remember what the course felt like so that I would not be intimidated by the ascent the second time around. The hill was not steep, but it was a gradual climb of 400 feet.

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I made sure to drink water at every water station and consumed sport beans 30 minutes before the race and an hour into the race. Despite my efforts to give it my best, my head was still feeling light and there were times when I felt dizzy. I tried to use the downhill after the climb to my advantage as it required the least amount of physical exertion. The payoff to the climb came when we reached the bay and viewed the beautiful Yaquina Bridge! The view made me forget my head and tummy woes and appreciate the fact I had the privilege to be upright despite the fact I had been in the horizontal position just two days prior! It was a moment of peace with myself.

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When the second loop commenced, I kept thinking about my grandmother, and her final days. She was in so much pain, and I think her negotiating days between her and her spirit to grant her an extra day of breathing air here on Earth had been settled. I don’t claim to understand death, or even life for that matter, but there is a sense of calm that occurs when you stop fighting. I usually fight my mind and measure my performance based on good enough and not good enough. I sensed a release of pressure within myself as I thought about her battle the last time I saw her. My mind and body were calm, and there was an acknowledgment that the body is ephemeral and that one day, I will no longer be able to move. I thanked my body for all it had done, for what it was doing, and for what was ahead.

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I made every effort to once again take advantage of the descent, and pushed my exhausted lungs and lungs down the hill. But at mile ten, my stomach reminded me it was not 100% percent, so I stopped and waited for my husband. Fortunately, a restroom stop alleviated some of the stomach pain and we made our way to the finish line with only a mile and a half left to go.

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The finish line was bitter sweet! Just a day before, I wasn’t sure whether I’d be able to run. Newport Bay to Brews was my seventh half-marathon for the year, and my sixth of twelve half-marathons in twelve months.

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The race was great. The course was beautiful and there were plenty of water stations filled with volunteers who faced the rain with a smile. The race was small, which meant no crowding, and the party at the finish line was very entertaining. We had clam chowder and beer, an awesome medal, prizes for top three finishers in each age, a great band. Plus, we had shelter from the rain! Best of all, my sister in law won first place in her age group!

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My unofficial time: 2:05:36!!

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Look Me In the Eyes

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“He who fears to suffer, suffers from fear.” ~ French Proverb

I suffer from fear. It’s an affliction that impacts me when I walk into an unknown situation or a situation that will physically and or mentally challenge me. Symptoms include: rapid beating of the heart, trembling knees, the urge to use the restroom, sweaty palms, furrowed eyebrows with wrinkling of forehead, a storm of what-ifs, physical paralysis of the feet, negative self-talk, irrational thoughts, staying indoors, and excuses followed by justifications.

Fear first made its presence around the time I became aware of the dark. I’m sure I cried until I was comforted by someone (my beloved grandma) who had experienced the darkness without harm. The dark sometimes scares me, but I no longer cry when it does. I’ve now become the someone who comforts my daughters when they cry for fear of the dark.

Fear became most evident in Middle School. I was afraid of the intangible thoughts that may have formed in the minds of other adolescents. I was afraid of how I looked, dressed, and thought. Fortunately, I met other adolescents who shared this same fear, and we found ways to deal with it: jokes, self-expression, acceptance, focusing on school work, commiserating. They were all great coping mechanisms to make meaning of those confusing teen age years, but the battle of fighting a storm of fears greater than the courage within us was taxing. I’m hoping these coping mechanisms will help me support my daughters when they commence to cross the bridge of adolescence.

My Freshman and Sophomore years in high school were still plagued with fear, but I learned to tame them with the power of self belief and positive thinking. Going to church also really helped me. Participating in Youth Group, church plays, and connecting with others who believed in a source mightier than the arbitrary expectations imposed by society made the path in front of me less arduous. Because of fear, I chose friends who didn’t exhibit self-destructing behavior. Thus, I avoided situations that required me to stand up to peer pressure. In that instance, fear served to my advantage, because I never had to worry about having friends who enticed me with choices that may have led to a path of perdition (and of course, I’m terrified of perdition).

You’d think that at the age of 37, I would have learned to master fear. The thing is, fear sometimes spreads to your body so quick, your mind doesn’t register its presence until all the symptoms begin to appear. Running, and most recently, Crossfit, have been my antidote to battling fears. Exercising has helped me stepped outside the cozy comfort zone so many of us prefer to stay in.

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Today I decided to look fear in the eyes. I registered for what will be my next big goal: 26.2. This will not be my first marathon. In fact, it will be my fourth. This one, however, will be different. The goal for the previous four marathons was just to finish. There was no ambition. My training runs were weak and I was not really committed to the work it required to doing my best. For this particular marathon, I don’t just want to cross the finish line for the sake of crossing the finish line. The goal is to run a 4:20 marathon. That’s a totally doable goal for many, but it’s a challenge for me. For the next seven months, I will be training by myself. I’ll have to endure running in cold weather (which I really, really, really dislike), running in extremely windy conditions (I live in a valley and there’s constant wind), running in the dark, running before sunrise, and running when I won’t feel like running. In other words, this goal will hurt. It will make me want to give up and question whether the physical, mental, and emotional anguish will be worth it. But on May 10, 2015, I will cross the 26.2 finish line looking fear in the eyes and I will fear no more.

 

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