While enroute to New York City today, I spent a lot of time on the plane thinking about the comments you all have left or sent through backchannels since my rotten race. I considered the underwhelming Thank you or an over-the-top You brought me back from the brink. Then there was You’re all wonderful and the more dramatic Because of your encouragement, I am whole again. Just know that when I read those inspirational words -- and, to be honest, I read them more than once -- you each restored another part of the marathoner in me.
As it happens, I had a doctor’s appointment scheduled for the following day and he confirmed I have a stomach virus. I think I surprised him by grinning ear to ear when he gave me the news.
I also went to the Long Beach Marathon results page and found this really cool tool that graphically outlines your performance. As you can see (if it’s working properly), my mid-packer status remains in tact and I even managed to finish ahead of half the field of women, even with all that puking and walking. It was the finish line display that got to me, though. Suddenly I realized that within my shroud of self-pity, I failed to notice the celebration of fitness and goals, large and small, happening all around me. I imagine most of those teeny squares surrounding me were thrilled with their times and maybe even with just finishing that day. I read in the local paper that one half-marathoner grabbed a dozen red roses as he entered the final stretch and after crossing the red carpets got down on his knee and asked his girlfriend to marry him.
Three years ago I was running down a flight of stairs when I lost my balance and badly broke my foot. I broke my ankle, too, and tore all the tendons. On my table was an envelope with my check and registration for the L.A. Marathon. During the ensuing months of healing and rehabilitation, I truly thought I’d never run another marathon. My foot doctor didn't either. My friends thought differently and convinced me to sign up with them for the Disney Marathon. As soon as I could walk properly again, I started to jog, then I picked up the pace. Even with six months of training, I finished Disney in my second slowest time ever. And you know what? I couldn’t have been happier.
Then, I really was broken. This time, I had a break down. Over a tummy ache. Well, maybe more. But you get the point. Yes, you’re all absolutely right. I was too hard on myself. And we do have crappy days and mine just happened to fall at a most inopportune moment. I will indeed become stronger from this experience. And, Colleen, it wasn't red.
So, everyone, Thank you. You brought me back from the brink. You’re all wonderful. And because of your encouragement, I am whole again.