A couple days from now, I might run my 50th marathon.
I sit here on my couch typing this and I feel utterly defeated, like the universe is conspiring against me or maybe just trying to send me a very strong hint that I’m an absolute idiot and need to let go of this whole marathon thing. And yet, it’s just not that simple.
As you likely know, I had a great race until mile 19 at the Spinx Marathon 3 weeks ago, where my back just totally quit on me. I took recovery seriously, didn’t run for a week, and then came back to see how my back was handling it. And to be honest? It was sometimes ok, and sometimes not. My 10 mile run felt great, but 3 mile runs with AJ sometimes felt terrible and left me aching for days. But I thought “I can push through it for one more.”
Then, I got the news that Amanda is no longer coming with me to Route 66. Basically, she hadn’t trained for Spinx and that race was very challenging for her, and she hasn’t been able to run since due to hip flexor issues, so it doesn’t make sense for her to use the vacation time to go to Oklahoma and spectate. I get it – I’m super possessive of my vacation time as well – but still, there goes my running partner and the person who has been by my side for what seems like the majority of these 50 marathons. I made my peace with it, though, and realized there could be beauty in finishing my 50th marathon the same way I finished my first one – alone. There’s something to be said for having no one to rely on but yourself, and it’s been a long time since I ran a marathon completely on my own. So I thought, ” I can push through it for one more.”
But then, in the middle of last week, I woke up with horrible acid reflux. Long time readers of this blog will remember that I used to throw up in almost every marathon I did as a result of chronic acid reflux and the basically non-existent valve between my stomach and my esophagus. I had surgery to basically create a new valve back in February 2013 and it has been a miracle for me – I haven’t had reflux for more than about 2 hours since then, and only on very rare occasions. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for myself. So when I woke up with horrible reflux, I was startled, but I assumed it would go away.
It did not go away.
Over a week later and all I can taste is acid in my throat all the time. No medication helps. I had not made any changes to my diet. I haven’t been eating particularly inflammatory foods. There is no rhyme or reason for this to be happening, and the prolonged nature of it is very concerning. So, after much denial, anger, and bargaining, I finally called my surgeon and was lucky enough to be seen right away. He was very concerned that either the wrap around my esophagus has failed, or that I’m having gallbladder problems. Given that my dad and my brother have both had their gallbladders removed, either scenario is possible. I was able to get some tests done on Thursday and I have an upper endoscopy scheduled for Tuesday, and then we will go from there.
And so now, here I am, on the cusp of my 50th marathon, with a back that hates me at least 50% of the time, facing the prospect of running the entire thing alone, and with a near guarantee that I’m going to spend a decent portion of the race puking acid. You might find yourself, like the rest of my family and friends, wondering why I haven’t dropped out yet. I’m not entirely sure either. The whole idea seems completely miserable, but I hate the idea of quitting.
This is the 10th anniversary of the Route 66 Marathon – one of my absolutely favorite races. So many of my friends live in Tulsa. I had this marked as my 50th marathon for a long time, and I hate to give up on the idea of it. More than that, though, I am starting to see myself as mortal. I am starting to respect my body. And I am beginning to realize that maybe, just maybe, my body doesn’t really appreciate me running 26.2 miles anymore. My experience at the Spinx Marathon made me question what I’m doing even more, and I’ve since been preparing myself for the very real possibility that the Route 66 Marathon will be my last marathon ever.
Honestly? I’m ok with that if it turns out to be the case. I’ve made my peace with the idea. I have nothing left to prove to myself or anyone else, and there is no reason why I can’t still travel around and do races with my friends – although they might be half marathons from now on. But I don’t know if I can let go if my last marathon is #49 and it is Spinx. That is not how I planned to end this chapter of my running career. And while I realize that we don’t always get to plan how things end, I still had high hopes. I envisioned a smooth transition from running marathons to training hard (within my limits) for half marathons and testing myself there. I envisioned going out in a blaze of glory at the 10th anniversary of Route 66, capping off 50 marathons and accomplishing a slightly modified version of the goal I laid out when I originally started this blog (to run a marathon in all 50 states by the time I turn 30).
I turn 30 in about 3 weeks. Although I obviously won’t be finishing the 50 states by then, there’s a real possibility that I can finish my 50th marathon. The question is – do I want to? The answer to that question, of course, is yes. But will I? To that end, I’m really not sure.