I am not quite certain if I am really ready to write about the experience I was a part of yesterday. There have so many emotions and feelings that I have felt since the run has ended, some are easy to recognize while others tend to be fleeting moments of scattered brain waves. Anyways, here it goes.
Looking back pre-run, I was uniquely calm. I was not experiencing what I would normally experience before a big race. Everyone who knows me knows that I tend to get quite nervous before a big race. I don’t really know why, but let me tell ya, I really get nervous before a race. It felt awkward to NOT be nervous yesterday morning. Maybe it was because I knew this was not a race, I really don’t know.
I was asked yesterday multiple times what I did to prepare. I had no real legitimate answer for them. I simply run. I am a marathon runner, I like to run! I ate a lot, I drank a lot of water. Turns out training for marathons is completely different than running 55 miles in 12 hours. A LOT different.
The first few hours went by just fine. I was averaging about 5 1/2 miles per hour and things were going pretty well. The four mark came and went, 21 miles were completed and I was honestly still feeling good. As the hours progressed, I knew I was getting slower but I was still feeling pretty confident. Never once did the thought of not completing the 12 hours cross my mind. That is, until the 7 hour mark! Wow, was I starting to feel it. The gym was starting to calm down, not as many people around. The news crew was gone, the newspaper people were gone. I still had people there helping me every step of the way, but I honestly started feeling a little more isolated. This feeling went on for a couple of hours. I was posting certain marks on my Facebook page it was great reading the comments and seeing the support I had for me. I knew I had a lot of people supporting me and that was all the incentive that was needed to just keep moving.
The last 3 hours all I was thinking was left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot. Just keep moving, no stopping now.
As the hours started winding closer and closer to the 12 hour mark I was feeling significantly more confident. So many people started coming into the gym to give words of support and words of encouragement. I was still getting the “you are one crazy person” looks from a lot of people but all I could do that point was smile and keep moving. As we neared the finish of the run, I started getting very emotional. Happiness, pride, sadness were all emotions that I was feeling. I hit the 54 mile mark with about 11 minutes to go and I really got it in my head that I was going to get to 55 miles! So I increased the speed on the treadmill and just went back to what I knew I could do and that was run. I set the treadmill for a ten minute mile (which at the time seemed SUPER fast) and I just ran. I knew there were lots of people there, all of them cheering me on, calling out my name and then finally counting down the last seconds of the run. With about a minute to go I started to get a deeper feeling of sadness. Why sadness, I think it was because the moment I had been hoping for was fast approaching, that I was going to be done running shortly and I didn’t know if I really wanted to be. As the final seconds elapsed, I was so zoned out that I almost forgot to hit the stop button on the treadmill, I did, but I almost forgot.
In the end, I was happy to have completed all 12 hours and though I did not get to the original goal of 60 miles, I am proud of the 55 miles I was able to complete. As I was thinking overnight about all the thousands and thousands of miles I have run, these 55 miles were by far the most “fun” and rewarding miles I have ever run. It turns out running for a purpose bigger than oneself is an amazing experience and one that I look forward to doing again. I just don’t know if it will be for 12 hours!
I would be remiss if I did not once again thank everyone who made this all possible. There is no way that I can appropriately thank all of you. All I had to do was run and in looking back, I had the easiest job. So, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart!