You may have noticed that in your 3rd year of life, Mom was running…a lot. I ran the mountains of Angeles National Forest in preparation for not one but TWO marathons. And not just any old marathon. Mountain Marathons. I “trained” for 6 months. 3 of which I missed most of the trainings. I didn’t think it would be that big of a deal, I had run a 20 miler, what was 6.2 extra miles? Well, let me tell you. 6.2 miles is a lifetime after you have “run” 20. And I use the term “run” very liberally. I hiked the hills, ran the flats and down. Which doesn’t sound as hard as it is. Still, in my mind, it doesn’t sound as hard as running 26. 2 road miles with no break. THAT sounds crazy. I have my own particular crazy going on. And it manifested as me running fairly unprepared for not one, but TWO marathons. I stress that there were TWO marathons because any sane person, after experiencing what I did at the end of the first one WOULD NEVER have run the 2nd. But I did. 3 months later. I must love enduring phenomenal amounts of pain. Because apparently what happens when you run/hike 26.2 miles not properly trained, is that you can get a horrendous thing called Runner’s Knee. And god help me if that isn’t the most excruciating thing I have ever experienced. I thought my lower left leg was going to fall off. I probably would have cut it off myself, if I had a knife. But I had no knife and no other option but to keep limping down and off that mountain. I cried for my Mommy the last mile. I mean, I really cried. And I don’t do that very often.
Once I crossed the finish line, the first time, I didn’t even experience the overwhelming sense of accomplishment and joy that my dear friend Jolie promised me. I just felt, thank god THAT is finally fucking over!!! Now let’s go home.
You remember Jolie? She cuts your hair. She’s really funny. I love her. She loves us too.
Anyway, because I had an amazing spiritual life altering experience for the first 18 miles of that first race and because I had paid for it and you and Dad were supposed to be coming with me, I agreed to run the Catalina Island Eco Marathon with Jolie as well. Hmm….it was kind of a disaster from the get go. In hindsight, I think the universe was trying to tell me something. But of course, I was too driven to notice.
First of all, life would have it that I absolutely had no time to train after the first marathon and before Catalina. But since The Billy Goat Marathon in the Saddleback Mountains is considered one of the hardest in the state, I figured I would be fine for Catalina. Catalina was sold to me as a beautiful moderately difficult race, and that if I finished the Goat, I could easily do the Eco.
The people who told me that were wrong.
Secondly, the day we were all meant to leave for Catalina Island as a family, so you and Dad could cheer me through the finish line, you got the most sick you have ever been in your 3 little years. You had a stubborn fever for two days before I left and it broke my heart to leave you but since we had all these reservations and everything Dad and I decided that I should still go and you guys would stay home and possibly meet me at the end of the race if you were feeling better. I hated leaving. My head and heart already weren’t in the race. I tried to keep my spirits up but it was really difficult. My room on the island felt so lonely without you and Dad there. Jolie and her husband and his son were all in another room and I just missed you and Dad like crazy.
So there was that.
Then there was the actual race.
The third and last thing, they always come in threes, was that it was ridiculously HOT for that time of year. It has NEVER been 100 degrees on the island in November. Never. And running/hiking a mountain for 8 hours on it’s own is one thing, make it sweltering hot with NO SHADE and it is a nightmare, basically.
So. You can imagine how this other race went. My heart wasn’t in it. It was too damn hot. And of course, at mile 20, my knee revolted.
The last 6.2 miles of that particular day were some of the worst in my life.
All I wanted to do was get home.
I can’t believe I survived.
And once again, when I crossed the finish line, limping sweaty and dirty, I didn’t cry, I cursed, and tried to get on the next ferry home. You and Dad weren’t there. You were too sick to travel. Ugh.
Oh, and I forgot. I am pretty sure my weird little room was haunted.
After all that, I haven’t really run since. I have taken a long rest. A long needed rest. And have rediscovered yoga.
So now you might have noticed Mom is going to yoga classes, a lot.
And something interesting happened in yoga today, I was holding some ridiculous pose with sweat dripping down my forehead and giggling about it with Jolie beside me and I flashed to crying and laughing hysterically with runner’s knee delirious and dirty determined to not give up and cross that damn finish line and I suddenly appreciated what all of that meant.
I am the kind of person that will reach deep down inside when she has to and pull whatever she needs to out of her ass so that she can survive. I will make it. I will not give up. I am that kind of a person. And that is pretty fucking cool.
So would I run TWO mountain marathons back to back like that again? HELL NO.
But am I proud and amazed that I did? HELL YES.
I hope you know that you too have what it takes to make it through whatever this wild and glorious life throws at you or you throw at it.