Lessons from the Finish Line

On Sunday, after months of training, Sally and I successfully completed the Cox Providence Half-Marathon, all 13.1 miles.  It was a blast. Here are some of the things I learned:

From training:

  • Follow the plan.  The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society gave us a typical training plan in which the long runs get longer every weekend.  We followed it pretty obsessively.  I credit this with  how surprisingly great I felt on the days following the race.
  • Bring water!  I learned this years ago on a hike and again on a long bike ride and then AGAIN last fall on another hike (this blog could just be called Lessons Learned Again and Again So Why Don’t You Get It Yet Already?): Severe dehydration feels like fatigue rather than thirst.
  • Test all of your gear well before race day. Find out what rubs and what doesn’t. Find out what falls down.

From Race Day:

  • Drive the course.  It was really good to know what to expect and you really can’t get that from the maps & elevation diagrams.
  • Nothing beats having a great Pit Crew!  I will hold in my heart, forever, the image of Kat slapping a new bottle of Gatorade into my hand and blindly flinging the empty one behind her onto the lawn or whatever was it its path.  Steve, Kat & Wes worked the logistic perfectly so that we saw them at the start, 4 miles, 8 miles and finish.

Best Pit Crew Ever

  • Know where your supporters will be.  Knowing, in advance, that Carol & Mark were at mile 1.5 and Gale was at mile 6.5 just inspired us  and pulled us along to those points.
  • Don’t know where your supporters will be.  Having Gale pop up two other times, unexpectedly, was fun and a boost. Those squishy orange sections were a bonus and made great running snacks.
  • If you are lucky enough to find a big crowd of spectators  at the finish line (we were at the back of the pack BUT we shared the last mile and finish with main-stream marathon runners), no one cares how slow you were – they just see you finishing.  If you throw your arms up into the air (which is what we wanted to do anyway) the crowd goes nuts!  What a great way to finish!

It was a great experience and Sally & I both learned that we are stronger then we think we are.

The Seven Thousand Dollar Question

I’ve said it before: If I had to pick one theme of the hundreds of lessons here, the one underlying thing to learn, it is to  “Ask!”

This is the last day before Sally and I (each) run 13.1 miles for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  We have each raised funds before and we have learned to ask EVERYONE if they would donate to our campaign.

Years ago, training for my first event, I met another runner who told me that she was planning to ask her rich sister, but not her poor sister, to support her.  A friend told her that it was their business, not hers, to decide who would give.  So she asked both, and sure enough, the poor sister is the one who came through with the big donation. “Ask everyone!” she said. So i do.

Sally and I asked everyone.  We asked our friends, neighbors, former classmates, co-workers.  Between us, we asked two dentists and periodontist, and raised $250 from them.  When i said I was going to ask “the drummers,” meaning my African drumming group, Sally told me to ask Ringo.  Huh?  So I did.  He didn’t donate. Yet. But I asked. (btw if you happen to have a connection to Ringo, this would be a great time to get in touch and make this story SO much better)

Now it’s the day before the race and we have raised SEVEN THOUSAND DOLLARS to fight blood cancers and to support patients.  The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is doing some great stuff, including fighting for patients to be able to have new easier and effective chemotherapy paid for just like inpatient IV treatment.  Silly that anyone has to fight for this, but as long as they do, here we have people who will ASK for what is right.

So keep asking for whatever it is you need.  It’s the only way to get it.

The Mile You’re In

Hey there!  Did you miss me?  I certainly missed you all!

I have been so busy training and fundraising for my half-marathon, which is less than 38 hours from now (!) that I have been sadly neglecting sharing all the things I have learned in the last few months. They have been accumulating on scraps of paper or on emails to myself, or have just plain been lost.  I was even thinking of hanging up my … what? keyboard?  So I told Steve that this was the day I needed to either post or officially put this on hold.

Then what happens?  The most profound lesson just drops into my lap. Or into my inbox.  Yes, Kat, the inbox with exactly 11,838 unread messages.  Accept it.

Anyway, as Sally and I wrap up 3 months and just over 250 miles of running to train for the race, all that’s left is to pack our stuff, eat some carbs, and get our head in the game.  My Team in Training Mentor, Kristen, just sent this advice for the race:

1.  Trust your training
2.  Focus on the mile that you are in
3.  Enjoy your run!
I am thinking that #2 may be the best lesson ever.  What is life, if not the mile you’re in? (And yes Vicki and GBG, it is profound enough end in a preposition.  Accept it.)
The other two are pretty darn profound lessons, as well!
So I plan to take this advice, onto the course in Providence on Sunday, through the race, and right on through the finish line, through the tent with all the bagels, and the long hot shower (so happy the ice bath thing is out of favor these days) and on into my life!
But to do it right, I really can’t start with the race on  Sunday. I need to focus on the mile I’m in NOW!  I’m back with y’all and it’s the weekend! 
Thanks for hanging in!!