Sunday, October 1, 2017

44th BMW Berlin Marathon

I don't know what it's like to run a marathon in my 20's, 30's or 40's - I started running marathons in my 50's. And for me, it takes a lot of planning, and it takes a lot of people - people who support you, believe in you, feel your pain, your sorrow, your passion, your drive to feel empowered, rise above, to show that love is empowering - and that, as crazy as it may seem, support that you have chosen to focus all of this in running a marathon.

Look at the people in this photo - they're smiling, thumbs up - I still got all my nutrition pinned on me and in my hands - so I know, this is pre mile 5. The gentleman wearing Bib #57107 is smiling, and the man wearing Bib #61716 is giving the photographer a thumbs up.

Early miles 44th BMW Berlin Marathon
Now take a look at this one - about 3/4 of a mile left to go. The gentleman off to the far left  - he's holding his stomach - he looks as if he's going to throw up. Now focus on the far right - there's a man in an orange jacket who is coaching a runner - listen closely, in any language, and you hear, "C'mon, man. You got this. It's just a few 100 kilometers more. You're amazing and you know you are because you've come this far! You got this! You know you can do this!" It's the sound of love  - one stranger to another - hope in the human spirit - and it shines so brightly in the marathon. It's beautiful.

Running through the Brandenburg Gate
44th BMW Berlin Marathon
I have to thank my family, friends, and running community for getting me through the first 18 to 19 - even 20 miles. You train, you put the time in - people ask how you're doing.

There's your base layer of professionals, Marathon Tours and their employees who get you enrolled in the Berlin Marathon, and plan a trip around the marathon - Thank you Nicole Langone and Jacqui Kaufman. 

And there's the professionals you turn to when your training goes awry and your body doesn't cooperate like my Podiatrist, Dr Jessica Merkel-Levy at Advanced Performance and Rehab, who helped me through a very painful and debilitating bout of Plantar Fasciitis from July to August. And my team at Parabolic Performance and Rehab - my PT, Dr Monica Saenz, who would massage and use the Graston on my Plantar Fascia and Achilles every week, along with my Acupuncturist, Michael Gonzalez who worked on my calves, adductors, psoas, periformis, and hammies. Of course, I have to mention my favorite Chiropractors, Dr Lou and Dr Jayne at Family Chiropractors of Montclair.

A huge thank you, of course, to Coach Joel, who is more than just a professional Running Coach to me - he's family - remember, I adopted him as my 'Track Daddy'!

And there's the local running group(s) whom you meet up with in those early morning hours on a Saturday or Sunday morning - and you hear: "Beth, How's it going? How's your training?" I always love Fidelma's great big hugs. I would be lying if I said I didn't look for one of her big, welcoming hugs. 

And training for Berlin, I made a new friend, Francois Prophete - we didn't run many times together - but we probably put in close to 50 miles together. I can't explain the connection you make with someone when you put in all those miles together. It's the simple gestures and words: Are you okay? Okay c'mon, we got this. Do you need to stop? Or the running ahead to make sure it's okay to cross a street. Or when you meet up and say you don't feel like running 16 miles the silly gesture of Francois picking me up and running down the street yelling - It's okay, I'll just carry you today! 

And the fact that there's actually someone behind the scenes orchestrating and promoting these runs, Rachel Crampsey and her group: Fueled by Doughnuts. It literally takes a village.

Or how about Jacquie, who the night before I left for Berlin brought me a card that read, "Ignore the Rain, Look at the Rainbow" Did she know that when I first met my late husband, we would go searching for rainbows? Or maybe she knew it would rain the day of the marathon - and I needed to focus on the positives.  

All of these people - they get you through those first 18-20 miles.
And then there's another layer - the people who get you through the last six miles.

I knew I would have trouble in Berlin. I kept telling everyone that I hoped I wouldn't crap myself. To manage my Crohn's Disease, I avoid lots of different foods that irritate my stomach. It's the main reason I became a LEAP Therapist  - I had to know if it worked before I used it in my private practice, B3yond Nutrition. 

But when you eat out in restaurants, are away from home, or are in another country whose culture enjoys foods that you avoid - you have fewer choices. If you notice in the above picture, I am carrying tissues in my right hand. This is because at my 2nd or 3rd run to the bushes in the median divide along the Berlin Marathon, a woman with a strong German accent ran up to me (shorts down and all) and gave me a stack of tissues. She was yelling something in German, but I couldn't understand - it sounded to me like, 'OMG! You poor thing!' I thanked her, apologized - I told her that I have stomach problems. At that point, she reached into her coat pocket and produced another bunch of tissues. After cleaning up, I headed back to the race - and I heard this woman (whom I fondly refer to as my Angel sent from Heaven) yelling, "Good Luck! Good Luck!" I thanked her profusely, signing, 
"I love you!"
Thank you! I love you!
My Angel from Heaven - You have no idea how much you helped me!
Of course I packed tissues in my back zipper pocket, silly, I got Crohn's. But I didn't think I'd blow through them and stop 4 times! Thankfully, after my 4th and final stop, my tummy settled down. At that point, I was dehydrated. I actually had cotton mouth I was so dehydrated. Problem - water stops in the Berlin Marathon are like every 3 miles. Each station I made sure I drank a full glass of water - sometimes I drank two glasses of water!

By mile 20, I wanted to stop. That's when you think of the other people - like your training partner, Rebecca, who ran a great marathon time after rehabilitating two crushed hips from being hit by a car. C'mon, Beth if Rebecca did this after getting her hips crushed - you can do this! Or your Coach's words, "You can do this. All that training you put in over the summer. Of course you can do this. No Problem." Coach believes in me ...
I can do this!
And don't forget - Mom is praying for you, your sister's are praying for you - heck, even Joey is praying for you! You got air cover! Even Steve, the older gentleman you see on the track every week lit a candle at church for you! 
I can do this!
And then there's yet another layer of people, who get you through the last 5k, like my daughter Juliette - who, I know is struggling because every day she does the same commute her Daddy did - she drives to Harrison, and takes the Path downtown. It's likely a combination of dealing with a new internship, the commute to NYU Grad classes at night - and another point in her life with a different sort of missing. I couldn't stop running. When I got a back spasm around mile 22, and a hammy cramp in mile 23, I yelled at myself: You gotta show Juliette, you just push through. Push through, push through, push through - This is God's Will!
I can do this!
And at mile 24, there's my partner - and I hear my name, "Let's Go Davis!" Ron screams, "Let's go B. You're strong. You got this." As he violently points to his head, reminding me to think positively. And you remember all the things he said before you started that day, 'Don't let any negative thoughts enter your head. You trained for this. Trust your training.' And then you hear Stephanie's words, your other training partner, 'You have put in the time, there's nothing else you need to do, trust your training.' 
And you start, repeating: 
I'm strong, I'm strong. I'm strong. 
I can do this. I can do this, I can do this!
No negative thoughts - think of what your son Johnny said when you ran Boston: Don't say you're not going to stop. That's negative. Say you're going to ...
And then there is always one person, whose strength and resilience pushes you through that last mile and a half. This time, it was Helene. I had the honor and the privilege to run with Helene in her first half marathon after one year of her getting chemotherapy treatments for Ovarian Cancer. When we started that half she warned Rebecca and me that she was going to take walking breaks. Yeah, right! I got a kick out of her "walking breaks"  - Helene timed her walk breaks - like 15 seconds, every 3-4 miles! Even I wanted more of a walking break than that! 
Nope, not Helene, she pushed through - and I watched. 
It was not an easy half - there were several hills in the last 2-miles. 
Helene struggled up those hills - and I watched. 
At 13.1, Helene ran over that finish line, and did the Runner's Hunch - you know the one - where you lean over, put your hands on your quads, round your shoulders, and just try to breathe.
Helene took a moment, gathered herself, and then smiled - I just watched.
I wanted to cry, but I held back - it was Helene's moment. I was simply there to say, "I believe in you, I feel your pain, your sorrow, your passion, your drive to feel empowered, rise above, to show that love is empowering - and that, as crazy as it may seem, I support that you have chosen to focus all of this in running a half marathon.
Half-Crazed Runner, Helene, Rebecca
Westwoood, NJ Half Marathon
I spelled H-E-L-E-N-E's name a thousand times before I crossed the finish line. 
Watching Helene finish that half inspired me to 
And when I crossed the finish line at 3:56:41, I felt someone tug at my arm, he was yelling in an accent (what type, I have no idea), "Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. You helped me. I just kept watching you for those last few miles. I kept watching you." I was overwhelmed. He was an older gentleman - maybe in his 70's. We embraced. I kissed his face, and said, "God Bless You!" 
Running is a funny thing - 
you really never know who is watching!
Train Smart: Nutrition, Training, and Recovery Are Key
RunTo Inspire: You Never Know Who Is Watching
Focussing on My "Why": Running to Inspire PEACE
Here, I Point to my Mercy Band inscribed with the words:
John A Candela
So, I challenge you to
RunForPeace: It Starts With You!
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