Thursday, November 22, 2007

My Marathon Journey

Those of you who know me realize that I have done many marathons in the past and was quite good at it :). However, back in 2001, I tore my plantar fascia and that seemed to be the beginning of a number of events which would end my competitive running career. From that point forward, every time I attempted to rebuild my strength, something would occur that would challenge me yet again. These events were the return of cancer, the diagnosis of severe rheumatoid arthritis, a bike accident in which I broke my neck and pulled my groin, and getting hit by a car while running. Each event only served as a test of my will to continue to be the best I can be at any given moment.

"Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength."
by Arnold Schwarzenegger

After a trying winter and spring, in which I struggled emotionally, mentally and physically, I decided to think about running a marathon. The last time I ran a marathon was in 2001 (not counting the two marathons in the ironmans I did). I played with this thought for some time and then in July I stated it aloud. In September I began my marathon specific training. Through the summer, I had some great training weeks but struggled with the fact that I lacked strength to be able to push harder. At some point in August, I let go of who or what I was in the past as an athlete and began to think of myself as an individual about to tackle their first marathon. I thought back to why I started running in the first place; to my initial diagnosis of cancer and how the process of running helped me heal and be alone with my fears. With this approach, I began to enjoy the process of training and feeling my body get stronger. As each week passed, my training became more enjoyable, and I saw in each interval session that I was getting faster and stronger. With this, my confidence began to increase. It has been an amazing and rewarding experience. This last six weeks has been an even more incredible journey as I have not felt so strong and confident since the early 2000s. I have always loved challenging myself and working really hard, but in the last few years I have spent time focusing on moving forward and overcoming obstacles and life's challenges. This last thirteen weeks has been only about me and my body getting strong. The outcome has been that I feel very strong emotionally, mentally and physically. My marathon is on December 2 and I am very excited about having completed my journey toward its preparation, and am even more excited about enjoying the day. I have not been this excited about running a marathon since I ran Portland Marathon back in 1994. That was an amazing journey and day!

People ask me what I think I will run. My answer is that it is not about the time, but the feeling that I can enjoy the day, as the journey was more than worth it. This will be the first marathon that I will run as an over 40 year old. In a way this is my 46th birthday present to myself. A friend recently asked me how old I feel. My answer was 32 years of age. That was the age when I beat cancer for the first time. I plan on keeping those birthdays coming!

No journey is travelled alone. I want to thank Syl Corbett and Shari Boyle who have done all my training with me. They have helped me get stronger and have pushed me along the way. It has been alot of fun training with these two who are always positive and a barrel of laughs. Thank-you Syl and Shari for being a part of my journey.

"When you get in a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hold a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn."
by Harriet Beecher Stowe

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sandra - good luck, you are an inspiration! Can you hear the cowbell already:)

Sherri Buchignani