After months of preparation, on Saturday, April 30, 2011 I, Wendy J. Bell, completed a marathon.  (Dramatic pause.)  I did not run across the finish line as I had intended.  In fact, this is the first race I have participated in that I did not have the strength to do so.  But I made it across the finish line before the street sweeper.  Those who know me well are probably thinking about how disappointed I was not to have been able to cross the finish line with a sprint or even a jog.  Fear not, my friends.  I was simply relieved that I made it across.
    I said from the beginning of my training that I would participate in the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon and that it would be the only marathon I would ever complete.  I may have lied.  I just might compete in another marathon!  If so, it will be on a relay team.  I hold no illusions that I am a distance runner. 
    The marathon and the mini-marathon began together and then parted ways somewhere around the sixth mile.  There was such a huge difference in the number of people that turned right with me that I took my headphones out to make certain that I was with the group running the full marathon.  Of course I was....silly me.  I still don't know why I thought that there would be more people completing the full than the half!  The races sold out at their cap of 15,000.  I'm told that approximately 12,000 were mini-marathoners while only 3,000 full marathoners.  Considerably less than 3,000 completed the full marathon. 
    As we broke away from the mini-marathoners, I got a kick out of the two gentlemen ahead of me.  In fact, I left my earphones out for a few minutes, they were so entertaining!  They must've been mid-sixties and they had absolutely no love for the mini-marathoners!  They TRASHED them mercilessly!  "Wanna-bes" was a term that was thrown around for several minutes.  "No sense of the sport."  I'll be honest with you..."smart" was what came to my mind!
    The first seventeen miles I felt pretty good about.  My pace was a little over a minute faster than I had planned for using the Galloway Method.  I had made it through Iroquois Park before my heel began it's descent into pain.  It wasn't until mile 19 that the pain in my heel was too great to continue the run/walk method.  Soon after, discouragement reared it's ugly head.  It's a good thing I'm stubborn...and that the "Footprints in the Sand" poem replayed itself in my head constantly!  The truth is, my body had already given in to the pain and it was completely up to my mind to keep one foot moving in front of the other.  That, and the Grace of God!  (Also, I was too far from my car at this point.)
    I wish that I knew the name of the officer who walked next to me and encouraged me when I had 2.2 miles to go.  She was an angel!  Her kind words of encouragement kept me going and I am grateful to her! 
    I was so blessed to have a friend join me for the last quarter mile.  She had actually come to see me finish the race but seeing the agony, misery and discouragement on my face she kept stride with me to the finish.  She sat with me while I thought I was going to be sick.  When she saw the injuries to my feet, she went and got her car and provided me with curbside service.  And she assured me that although I hadn't finished anywhere near the time that I had intended, nor had I finished with the kind of run I would have liked I had finished a marathon and that was more than enough.  La'Keshia Schwalm, I love you! 
    A marathon is a personal struggle, as was evident on every face.  Throughout the 26.2 mile journey I saw several very fit participants drop out of the race.  I felt nothing but admiration that they had gone as far as they had and sympathy because I knew their agony!  In fact, there were runners/walkers who cashed in early as late in the game as the last mile!  My heart hurt for them because they were so close to the finish....but the finish may as well have been 100 miles away!  Their mind could no longer convince their body to move.  I hope that they recognize their efforts and are proud of their attempt.
    In retrospect, my training wasn't complete.  I followed a marathon training plan for beginners, but knowing what I learned through hours of misery on Saturday, I would have worked harder on the mental training.  Race mentality is ALWAYS an important component, but never more so than during a marathon.  In my mind, I had already decided I would complete the marathon and that was that.  I should have spent a little more time taking into consideration just how much my brain would be involved in crossing the finish line! 
    I have no desire to complete another full marathon, though I am deeply grateful for this experience.  I have a renewed sense of what I'm made of....and it is good!



Joe O.
05/03/2011 11:13

I am VERY proud of you. You are an inspiration. I've read this blog twice and can't wait to read it again.

05/03/2011 12:48

I love you too! I'm honored to have been there with you. You have much more courage than I do to even attempt such a feat.

I'll come to the next one too...


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