Sunday, November 9, 2014

Snow Canyon 1/2 marathon - Desert, Dust and Demons

So over a week later, I get around to posting my thoughts on the Snow Canyon half. Why?  Mostly because I haven't carved out the time to do it.  Partly because I always need some time to decompress and process my experience and performance.

Friday afternoon Brenda and I hit the road.  A quick stop in Saratoga Springs to see Chlo in her Halloween costume and away we went.  Can I tell you how much I love road trips with besties?  It's like the time and miles fly by while we are talking non stop!
One must always stop in Beaver and take a pic in the chair
gorgeous sunset

We got into town, picked up our packets and headed to the Pizza Factory for some carb loading.  Never can go wrong at the Pizza Factory right?!  A HUGE thank you and hug of gratitude to Candice (Brenda''s niece) for letting us crash at her house.  A queen size air mattress, my pillow and my Yankee's blankie and I was set for a good night of sleep.

Thankfully, the race didn't start at the butt crack of dawn, and none of us had a burning desire to be on the first bus, so we had a little more sleep than I usually get the morning of race day.  We had just enough time at the start to hit the porta potties, see a few friends (wish I had gotten more pictures) and sing the national anthem.

The sunrise was beautiful

Us?  Not quite as much

Love me the Chanda!

Brenda's garmin was still trying to get the satellites, so we hung back while the rest of the crowd took off.  I think we were one of the very last people to cross the start line.  I had the metronome going and plugged in both ears and away we went.

Brenda and I stayed together for about 30 steps and then were separated.  I had no expectations for this race other than to run the best I could, post a decent time (preferably sub 2), and not get hurt,  I'd been having some major back pain, I have the century ride coming up, and I promised Splenda Daddy I wouldn't push it.  My plan now was to just run for the fun of running and try to enjoy the scenery.

It wasn't a typical St George day.  It was cold, rain clouds spitting every so often, and WIND.  When I say wind, I mean WIND.  Running.  Straight.  In.  To.  The. Wind.   Oh until we got out of the canyon and then it was a crosswind.  The crosswinds brought gusts of dust.  I could feel the little grains hitting my legs.

I felt good and kept up with my metronome until mile 11.  I had stopped once to retie my shoes (seriously, I tie shoes all day long and I can't even keep my own from coming undone?  WTC?).  Though the wind was brutal, I had warmed up and was now just in my tank and shorts.

Mile eleven is about when I hit the crosswinds.  They brought the dust and demons with them. Quite suddenly, I am feeling some pain in my right hip.  A familiar ache, but not one that I have had for years.  About the same time, I felt my left knee hurting and knew it was coming from my IT band.  Well sheesh - I haven't had IT band issues in years either.  What the crap?

I kept running even though both legs were hurting while the demon mind games began.  Pressing at the forefront was the promise I had made to Splenda Daddy about not pushing it.  I weighed that promise and the reality of a long bike ride commitment and allowed myself to walk.   Did walking feel any better?  Nope.  In fact worse, since the voices in my head just get easier to hear.

"You're walking. What a joke"
 "A measly half marathon, and you've already tapped out"
"Dude, no one even needs to train for a half, you just phone it in, and here you are walking - how pathetic"
"Look at everyone passing you, they are so much stronger than you are."
"So weak"
"Who do you think you are even entertaining the idea of an Ironman?  You can't even make it through a stupid half marathon!"
"If you would just stop being lazy and train better, you wouldn't be walking right now, you would already be finished"

And on and on it went for the next almost 2 miles.  Walk some, run some.  Walk some, run some. Verbally abuse myself some more.

Finally, I reached the last downhill and decided I was going to run the rest of the way regardless.  My legs didn't feel any better when I was walking so I might as well run and get this over with.  Sadly, they were hurting and unsteady so I about fell flat on my face as my tired feet wouldn't lift up quick enough and I stumbled.  Thankfully, I didn't go down, but I'm sure it was an amusing sight for those around me as I staggered around trying to stay upright.

As I crossed the finish line and stopped my garmin, I heard the announcer read my name.  I actually cringed a little on the inside because the race clock was well over two hours, though my garmin had something different.  I had to remind myself that we started several minutes after the gun.

After pushing my way through the crowded finish chute and retrieving my bag (with my warm bathrobe), I stretched and assessed my legs.  Well, aren't they feeling just fine now.  Walking was no problem.  No pain.  What the crap?  I felt so betrayed by them on the course just two miles previously and now they were just fine.  What a weakling..... and then the voices all over again.

Met up with Brenda and Candice and after a quick clean up, stop at Brenda's parents, we were on the road home again.  I loved the distraction of talking about life and everything else besides the race.  Brenda did well coming off of her injury and I think we both were just glad to have this over with.  Chalk one race down in the Runner's Series.

Why the demon talk?  Why the mean voices in my head?  I think every athlete deals with these at times.  We doubt our abilities.  We doubt our training.  We doubt our very worth of even participating.  It's so self destructive and quite frankly, if allowed, it completely inhibits our ability to succeed.  It's a stumbling block to even progress in our chosen sport.  It can destroy the joy of the sport and one's chosen hobby.

Such it is with life.  There are day's that I think everyone deals with those demon voices of doubt.  The whisperings that we aren't good enough, aren't worthy of happiness, aren't capable....etc etc etc.
Satan would like nothing more than for us to fail.  His only goal in his miserable existence is to take us down with him.  He can't stand seeing success in us, so he does what he can to knock us down any way possible.  Take our legs out from underneath us, if you will.  He does that best by creating feelings of unworthiness and convincing us that we have no value.  If he can get in our heads and make us believe we have nothing to offer, than he has won.

I, just like you, deal with these feelings far more often than I'd like to.  The challenge is to "keep our legs underneath us"  Sure there will be some aches and pains, and on occasion, it's okay to walk through them, but we have to keep those legs moving.  Forward.  Eye on the finish line.  Even if we wobble a little, even if we stumble......we just keep moving.  The more we keep moving, the quieter the voices will get. The louder your legs become and eventually you can quiet the mean talk altogether.  At least for a little while.

Remembering that I am a daughter of God with talents that He chose to give to me specifically, helps to keep the voices at bay.  Remembering that my value as a person, as a wife, mother, grandmother do not lie in how fast I can run, but rather from continuing to run even when it gets hard.  Remembering that though life brings strong headwinds, crosswinds with swirling dust, rain and loose laces, it always brings joy, happiness, success, and ultimately a finish line of glory that is worth pushing through the pain for.

So, Snow Canyon - you may have gotten the best of me for those last two miles, I am better, stronger and most importantly, LOUDER than any voice that can creep into my head.

PS - wanna know a secret?  Don't tell anyone, but I am training for a full Ironman.

1 comment:

Melia said...

I should chastise you for not telling us you were running so we could have cheered you on, but I am glad you finished. Don't let your demons win.

Second, A FULL IRONMAN?! Are you crazy? You will do amazing!