Thursday, July 4, 2019

Tokyo Marathon 2019

Tokyo Marathon 2019
The marathon is a mental game, a humbling experience that also requires a little physical endurance.

If you cannot withstand the mental and physical pounding during the training, 
you will likely get injured and never make it to the start. 

If you cannot withstand the mental and physical pounding for the 26.2+ miles, 
you will likely falter - and you may not make it to the finish. 

If you finish in the time you hoped for - it is exhilarating. 

If you finish far past the point of where you hoped to finish - 
you are left with a quasi feeling of accomplishment, playing more mental games....

On March 3rd, 2019, I completed my 6th World Major Marathon. I received the Tokyo Marathon Medal, as well as the Abbott 6 World Major Marathon medal. I finished far past what I expected, and for a few weeks, I felt as if I failed.

I knew going into this race that I played it very safe while training. I ran 9:30 min/mile pace in my long runs, was careful (slower) in my strides, pick-ups, and track work outs. Running after the 1/2 in Henderson was few and far between because my legs were so banged up. But no excuses - only reasons of why I knew I was likely facing a 4 hour, maybe going over to 4 hours plus 5-10-minutes. It was (maybe) going to be my last marathon ....

Over the past few months, I did some soul searching, and wondered if it was worth logging all the miles I have ever run ...and after almost several months, I can profoundly answer:
No Gloves - What a Mistake!
I gave a talk at the Essex Running Club's annual dinner a few months back. I was so happy they asked me. I just wanted to thank everyone whom I have met while running - when you all talk, I listen. I listen to every word you say - all your advice, your thoughts, your actions, your race stories - and at my lowest points in my races, I think of your words, your race stories, your life - every step, and every mile.

People are always amazed - you run by yourself? 22 miles? Do you listen to music? What do you think about? Well, I tell people - sometimes I think, 'Oh Gosh this totally sucks' - especially going uphill mile during a 22 mile training run. But mostly I pray. I go through the alphabet, and pray for everyone I know whose name starts with A, B, C, D ...etc. This starts to fall apart around ... Q, R, S. Good thing I include families associated with those people in the first few letters!

At about mile 18, 19, and 20 - I pull from the people I know:
  • Rebecca: I love this woman, aka My Track Partner in Crime. I always hear her words: 'There's always room for new energy!'
  • Meb: 'I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me' How true, how true!
  • Jackie: 'It's just a hill - get over it!'
  • Yadira: "You can do this, this is easy!"
  • Joel: 'You're running sub 7-minute miles on the track, you can do a 4-hour marathon!'
  • Tom Fleming: 'Listen to your Coach and just run!'
  • Mary and Fidelma: 'Good luck, Beth - You can do this!'
  • Paul: 'The hay is in the barn. You have done everything you needed to do to prepare for this moment.'
  • Ron, My Bestie, Life Partner aka "Bag Man": 'Keep running "glidey" Just glide along'
But Tokyo was tougher than any other marathon I've run so far. It wasn't hilly, there were some bridges around mile 9-13, but no biggy - I had Jackie with me.

I made the fatal mistake of thinking it would get warmer as the day went on
 - but it got colder, with heavy rains, and gusty winds that threatened my very soul and spirit. 

I saw Ron at mile 9 and screamed - "My hands are so cold." My hot hands got soaked and I threw them away about mile 8. I couldn't stand the sound of the rain poncho "Csh, Csh, Csh" every step - so I ripped it off mile 8 too. Ech - that's when I got soaked and started to feel the winds.
Chilled to the Bone!
I saw Ron again at mile 13. He screamed my name while holding up a pair of gloves - I was already headed for delirium - I thought he went back to the hotel, grabbed my gloves, and met me at mile 13. No - he had his gloves in his backpack and gave them to me. It took me about 1 mile to get the gloves on - and my hands burned so badly once in the warm dry gloves. Unfortunately, they didn't stay dry, and once wet, they were no longer warm.
Trying To Squeeze Cold Swollen Hands into Gloves
Looks like everyone's hands hurt!
With every gust of wind, I thought - find a big guy and just drag behind him. Then the nausea set in. I am sure I had a mild case of hypothermia:
  • I was dizzy
  • I was super nauseous
  • I was apathetic
  • I felt super tired

In terms of apathy, around mile 16, I checked out. I told myself I was home and running a 10 mile training run. I knew
  • Mile 1: I was at Mountainside Hospital
  • Mile 2: I was at Bloomfield Ave
  • Mile 4: I was in front of the train station, stroking the name, "John A Candela" and praying to God there are no more terror attacks on the United States
  • Mile 5: I was passing my street
  • Mile 6: I was at Brookdale Park, running down the hill for mile 7, running the inner loop for mile 8, climbing the hill in the park for mile 9, running back home for mile 10.
Yes, that would make 26 miles. For the last quarter mile, I pictured myself on the track - one more loop. Oh, No - why wasn't it over? Just go around the track again - it will soon end. I was on the track for two more quarter mile loops - it was the marathon that never ended!

In terms of nausea - it was bad. I know as a Registered Dietitian and Sports Specialist, I needed to eat my gels and gu's, drink water and take sips of the electrolyte drink post mile 20. I ate a Gu around mile 18, and thought I was going to puke. I past each water stop from then on with disdain - the thought of putting anything in my mouth made me gag. This made me think of a very special runner - Nancy.

Nancy is an amazing woman - a real fighter, a true survivor. Nancy is a cancer survivor, a breast cancer survivor. She has been on medicine over the years that has made her sick - I have seen her training across the track, getting sick in the garbage pale. She told Rebecca and I this incredible story of a woman (by-stander) who helped her while she was getting sick in the New York City Marathon this past year. When she went to say, "Thank You" she got sick all over this woman. The woman was really cool about it - seemingly honored that she was able to help Nancy, so Nancy could finish the race, which of course, she did.

The night before the Tokyo Marathon, I also thought of Nancy - she ran Boston Marathon 2018 wearing dish gloves and a smile. I thought, "Hmm should I wear dish gloves? Noooooo - Tokyo wasn't going to be that bad...."

Every time I got that wave of nausea, I thought of Nancy:
  • Nancy has done this a million times - You can do this!
  • Nancy runs on the track after a meeting with the garbage pale - then she rocks it - and then she goes home and writes those "Be Inspired" Quotes on Facebook! You can do this!
  • Oh God, I'm going to throw up in front of all these people, I'm gonna just start puking. I literally thought this and started to laugh, thinking of Nancy's story of the New York City Marathon - Well if I don't hit anybody, I'll be okay ...
Yes, I Gave My Foil Blanket to (Nancy) Katz and Dogs!
The marathon is a mental game:
At every mile, everyone is there - My friends from Essex Running Club and Montclair Fleet Feet were there. My family was there - I just couldn't let them down. My kids faces were in front of me. Ron's frozen face holding up those gloves - yup, in front of me. My Coach and Rebecca were there holding up a sign ...

There were even people from my past, who have moved on. They were screaming, "Don't Stop Girl, You Got This!"

You were all there with me - inspiring me to finish strong - you all came to see me finish.

'You gotta finish. 
Beth, C'mon finish strong baby, finish strong. 
... oh boy, I got no kick - wish I squeezed down one more gu. 
Shut up, just keep going, keep pushing ...
OMG.... there's the finish'

Run To Inspire

Fakest Smile Ever!
Run Strong
Everyone in this Six Star tent tried to put more foil blankets on me -
I told them it wouldn't help.
Apparently, I was shivering so much I scared them!
Run Fearless
 Run For Peace

and ... Know Your Why