“Remember that any goodbye makes room for a hello.” Kristin Armstrong.
On Sunday, I ran the Chicago Marathon on its 40th anniversary. I am incredibly grateful that I had the chance to run the marathon and do not take for granted my body’s ability to do so. I am even more grateful that it is over and to be back home with my kids. Every marathon teaches you some lessons, both in the training cycle and in the race itself. The truth is, I probably should not have signed up for this race in the first place, although I have no regrets and am glad that I did not defer my entry. I should start by saying that the marathon itself was incredibly well-organized, and that the Chicago spectators and crowds were unlike anything I have seen anywhere else. I would highly recommend it for anyone who is thinking of running it. I can also tell you that there is a good chance that in addition to being my third marathon, it will be my last one.
This was the slowest of my three marathons (4 hours, 55 minutes, 20 seconds) for several reasons. I did not get a chance to train as well as I did for my prior marathons and only got in one 20-miler. Chicago was unusually hot that day. I also had a few minor injuries during my training, and at mile 5, I suddenly felt my left knee buckle. My immediate thoughts were I may not be able to finish this today, followed by I hope this doesn’t force me to be sidelined from running for a while. I promised myself that if my knee pain got worse and my knee progressively swelled, I would stop the race to preserve my ability to run in the longterm. I slowed down my pace by about a full minute per mile and was able to finish, but other than the crowds and the energy, I wasn’t enjoying it.
The main reason that this was my slowest marathon is that my heart was never fully in it from the first place. My heart was heavy with the thought of leaving my kids who are going through some critical developmental issues and need their mother now much more than they did as toddlers. During training, I kept picturing myself in a hotel room without my kids and asking myself what the hell are you doing here. The week prior to the marathon, the Vegas shooting gave me a feeling of hopelessness and despair. I was nervous to fly to Chicago alone, and nervous to be in a crowd of 40,000 people, despite multiple emails giving us reassurances about extra security measures. During the race, I kept telling myself, “after today, you never have to do this again. You never have to run another 20-miler again, but you came here to finish this race.” I kept reminding myself that I had left my kids to do this, that they were tracking me. “You never have to do this again” became the mantra that I kept repeating until the end.
The highlights of the overall weekend were definitely getting to carb load with Teresa and Jessie who came from Austin to run it. We were in the same wave as well, so we got to start together. I’m also thankful for one of my running partners from LA who came and cheered me on and organized our post-marathon dinner. And again, I can’t overstate what a great marathon it is for someone in the right state of mind to run it.
Since running LA, I have not stopped running at least 3 – 5 times a week every week, because I want to and I love to and I need to. That’s what makes me a runner. But running marathons is incredibly hard, and running a marathon is at least 3 – 4 times harder than running a half-marathon, not twice as hard. While I was running Chicago, I kept looking around at the other runners. There were so many runners who were wearing singlets for various charities. The singlets that stood out the most said, “No distance is too far to save a child’s life.” For me to run another full, I’d have to have a real reason to do it. It is no coincidence that my fastest marathon was my first one, when I ran for my aunt.
And as for this blog, I think this will be my final post as well. What’s in my heart to write about now is mostly about my kids, and I have started some private journaling about them. I do want to write about motherhood in a broader sense, our roles as women in general, gun control and activism. I plan to write about those issues over time and try to submit them to other sites with a larger audience. I have another post I’d like to work on for Kevin MD which is a little about the interplay of medicine and politics but mostly motherhood, and I need to do it while the idea is fresh in my head. I’ve also written a few stories about my childhood that are about identity and immigration, and I’d like to figure out a way to get those out there somewhere as well. I am still writing for Women’s Running Magazine once in a while when a topic really inspires me. All of my writing will get updated on the “portfolio” page of this blog and put out on my twitter. But a blog is really about what is happening to you personally right now, and I don’t think I can currently be authentic in that area and still protect the privacy of the people who are most important to me. While I will continue to be a mom on the runsanity for the rest of my life, it is no longer the inspiration behind what I want to write. I will still continue little updates on Instagram, because I love Instagram and there is a part of me that will always be a 12-year-old girl who posts there; I make no apologies for that part of me. Every part of me that you see, whether being serious on this blog or acting like a child on Instagram is me being authentic; I don’t know any other way to be.
I’d like to give my deepest thanks to those of you who have been loyal readers of this little blog of mine. Your kind words and encouragement mean more to me than you will ever know. Run with your heart and be well.
“In the midst of regular life, running is the touchstone that breathes adventure into my soul.” Kristin Armstrong.
“Running has taken me in, and continues to comfort, heal, and challenge me in all kinds of magical ways. I am a good runner because I am me. I am a good me because I am a runner.” Kristin Armstrong.
“Running gives us a blessed window of time-for-self that somehow makes the rest of the day easier to carry…when we breathe deeply into one passion, we provide oxygen for others.” Kristin Armstrong.
“I don’t run from things anymore, mind you; I run through them.” Kristin Armstrong.