ING Miami 2013! Run Like Your Life Depends On It.

As I mentioned on my www.facebook.com/runningnurse page yesterday, a thin kyphotic elderly man was complaining about how he was assigned all the way to the group with the letter “F,” an hour prior to the start time.  He was very much disgruntled and walked away.  It seems he had a personal qualm about the letter F.  I looked at the guy on whom he’d just downloaded his discontent, and said to him, “I’m in G. He’s ahead of me.  Boy am I in trouble!”  My assignment to the group G was all the way pass F, as in G for Ghana in Africa. And it took me some time to reach there, okay?   So I slapped a band-aid on big boy letter G and creatively renamed it the Krewe of Goddess.

Group G stared well over 20 minutes after the running horn was blown.  During this time, a few people, including I, appeared weary just from the standing still-and-waiting-for-our number (letter) to be called.

Disabled runners, but not really disabled… I’m very proud of their sportsmanship, tenacity, courage, and discipline.

When the group in section F finally cleared out, and our letter called, we went out running on the wings of adrenaline.  Okay, maybe we’re giving adrenaline too much due here, really I was excited that I could participate by running on my own legs.  You see, as beautifully strong and brave those guys in the wheelchairs and powerful bike-looking machines were, I was grateful I was not counted in that early 6:05 deployment number of athletes with disabilities.  This gratitude quickly diminished those disgruntled mumblings I had under my breath.  It cleared ‘em like the effect of some good ‘ole Adenosine in the blood stream of one with a dysrhythmic heart, bringing my anxious mental attitude back to normalcy.

After the 13 mile mark, which I kind of took like a good stroll in the park, some of that adrenaline and thankfulness was wearing off my yellow sleeves.  It was then I felt a bothersome blister on my left pinkie toe.  Lawd!  It was killing me.  Let me tell you, I tried to give it all I could till the next mile, but had to stop to the Baptist Health System folks to bum some Lidocaine.  That lady at the station, not sure what kind of medic she was, looked at me and my t-shirt with dis-belief, “No Lido!” she said.  Of course I knew they wouldn’t be so generous, but she handed me a blob of Biofreeze ointment which I slapped on that pinky, followed by a good slab of Vaseline.   The Vaseline saturated that part of my sock, and off I went like a gazelle, pleased and smiling in the sun.

From this point on till mile 16, things were getting rough.  The neighborhood they had us detour around, after we’d left the throng of happy half marathoners and cheerful people along the way, was quiet, dull, and downright dead!  I haven’t seen that much participant folks walking on a flat part of a marathon in my life!  Everyone, including I, looked busted.  People, the cheering crowd does lift the spirit high and helps propel the legs (to run) too.  That path was like the valley of the shadow of death.  And not from anything dangerous nor life-threatening either.  The elements at work here were pure unadulterated heat and boredom.  We felt it, and the only thing that had me going, was a courageous goal to catch another brave elderly man ahead of me.  “I’ll be damned if I let grandpa leave me in his dust (the ego kicked in to save the day),” I mumbled.  And so, folks, I was… That man was unstoppable.  I gather he was about some other business.  I don’t think he’d even have time to stop for a petty split-your-spirit blister.  “Lawd!” I exclaimed, “What do I do with this damn blister?”  And just then (like a curse), I felt a second one on the big toe.  Same foot!

Blisters are no excuse to stop. No excuse to get out of the fight.  No excuse to abort a marathon.  Move the hell on!  Yes, I was mentored and coaching myself.  It’s all a good nurse could do.

Let me pause here to say this, when negative thoughts try to inundate you, sink your ship, and bring you to your knees, they come like a semi-automatic weapon ‘pon you.  You’ve got to be vigilant of your thoughts when you undertake anything, especially 26.2 miles run.  This stream of rough thoughts had no mercy on me, man!  I was susceptible.  Very susceptible and vulnerable, especially that I didn’t have any damn band-aid (What kinda nurse?!) to even patch up the mental drain effect of grandpa smoking me.

Furthermore, to try kill a struggling deal to stay alive in the marathon, another elderly (this time lady) in bright flamboyant pink passed me up on my left.  I looked across at her, and tried to keep up.  We exchanged smiles (mine a more painful one), and ‘ole girl took the lead and went about her business too.

Just to let you know, age is nothing but a blessed number!  I had many 70-something old looking folks pass me up (oftentimes with a smile–perhaps at the “Run Fearless or Go Home” words at the back of my T-shirt) yesterday.   It became such a norm (One  man flew pass me singing aloud!) that I just accepted that I still have ways to go in my training and well, I transmuted that ego.   I’d want to be like those fearless elderly runners when I grow up.  They are my heroes!

In a marathon of any miles, you have to run your own race, at your own pace.  There was a lady with a t-shirt that said something like “This is Mary’s race and pace.”  The message I got from this was,”bug off!” or  “I’m doing my own thing,” the way it should be.

I want to thank everyone for your support!  I love running, and I do it to spread my message, but as I was shuffling along, and wearily peeled my sweat drenched eyes up in disbelief at that mile 21 sign (’cause I had stopped counting at about mile 16), I drew a long blessed breath, and said, “REALLY?”

Somewhere before the 21 mile mark sign, I had passed that older lady in pink.  I’d decided to put my gaze on that awful pavement and try keep my mind on a few mantras or  “reasons why I’m running these insane miles” to keep “trucking on” like the signed that I’d just passed encouraged.

What I find is that in marathons one may tend to coast or drag in waves.  Something as simple as the direction the wind blew can set you off track (or that ghetto song with a sad rhyme on your mp3), and something as strong as a stubbornly stabbing blister can add fuel to your run.

Like one of my friends who completed the half marathon in 2:07:30 time texted to me, “Sometimes we have to accept that we don’t really have control (of some things).  Some days we are just in a better mental and physical place (than others).”    I take it, not even the boogieman has control of everything happening around and about him.

So a little after mile 21 I gave into the blasted pain, stopped, took the left shoe off, slapped some Biofreeze on all the toes.  I knew this thing wears off rather quickly, but it was more or less a mental patch.  After this, I felt a kinda soreness on my right big toe, and took a minute to nurse that little booger too.  Then as I tried to get up from my sitting position, a Nagasaki bomb feeling came over my body.  The Spirit was willing to run, but my flesh was weak!  Ouch!  I felt crippled, and my mind screamed, “Somebody bring me a motorized  scooter, please!”

OYE!  In every marathon I’ve walked away alive and with a few lessons learned.  The ING Miami 2013 was no exception.  I leaned that when you stop and sit for a minute or two to nurse a big blistered toe, your body/mind complex says to you  “Job well done,” and  thinks the run/game/marathon is over!  This knowledge was imparted to me by my elder (no way elderly), marathoner sibling, Sarita.  From experience,  I knew the stopping takes a lot of wind out of your energy bank.  When I’ve stopped standing to tie a shoe string or to grab a rock out of my running shoes (a common thing if you like running on the beach or just running in Florida), my body feels like an old machine that has to be manually cranked up again.  If you sit, you will feel like you are dying, and have a great need to call a medic when you get back up.  I now know why that stop to nurse the painful toes almost wiped me out.  In fact, it took a good Deep South minute to move a toe forward.  When I stopped a few seconds to jig or dance to a Salsa song (mind recovery here) I heard playing along near the end, my legs felt lighter.  I guess they were different muscles in use than the one highly engaged in running.  Now this kind of stop did not kill my run, it energized me.  After this I kept trucking along once again, with sore groins, sore and heavy legs, aching medial part of the left knee, and a sweaty body.  This Running Nurse raised her head and ran to the FINISH LINE like my life depended on it.  Oh yeah, I dragged that screaming left pinky toe too.  I didn’t beat my Personal Record (PR- 4:56:42), but I am happy I finished with all my members intact in 5hrs, 25min, and 44 seconds. It was well worth the journey.  :)

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