Tuesday, September 13, 2011

You Can’t Always Get What You Want

These are the things I wanted.

I wanted to BQ.  I made that no secret.  I wanted to prove to myself that I could run in the 3:30’s.  I’ve been dreaming of finally putting a marathon time to my name after giving up my MCM bib 2 years ago when we were pregnant with Sage.  I wanted to feel strong miles 20 to 26.  I wanted to sprint in to the finish, fall to my knees, and weep with joy at achieving what I had worked so hard for.  Getting to Boston.

Marathons are humbling.  By mile 22, I was at rock bottom.  I never thought 4 short miles could seem so long and impossible after the hundreds I’ve logged on the road to get to that moment.  Never in my life had I ever felt so incredibly exhausted.  Every fiber of my being wanted to stop, quit, give up, sit down.  My tank was absolutely depleted.  Mile by mile I slowly shed every ounce of pride and self righteousness left in this body until what was left was a very exposed and humbled soul.

The night before the marathon I decided to take a page from Kristin Armstrong and write prayer requests on my pace band.  Every mile had a prayer assigned to it.  Some miles were requests and some were praises.  These prayers literally carried me through the hard miles.  The air was certainly thick with patriotism the morning of the 10th anniversary of 9/11, and the victims and their families weighed heavy on my heart for many quiet miles through the woods.  When I started to feel tapped out at mile 15, I remembered Brayden on my prayer list and I thought about his mother and her daily courage and trust in God’s plan for her family.  Surely I could survive another mile of hardship.  I prayed for my kids, Kevin, my sisters, my mom.  Neighbors, close friends going through hard times and even some strangers. I gave thanks over and over again for all the love and support I got from so many friends before the race.  I thought of them when I wanted to slow down.  They believed in me, I needed to believe in me!

I thanked God repeatedly for my friend Meredith who made the 4 hour trip with me to Allentown.  She’s the kind of friend who would run the last 14 miles of the marathon with you.  The kind of friend who, if in sheer exhaustion you rudely barked “water!!” would sprint up to the next water stop, fill your water, and run it back with a big smile and an encouraging word.  Do you have a friend who wants the absolute best for you? So much so that at the base of a towering, steep hill at Mile 24, at your weakest and most defeated moment, she would literally put her hand on your back and PUSH you up the hill?  I do, and I’m brought to tears all over again thinking how blessed I am for that!

Somewhere between miles 24 and 25 I realized that my all-important BQ had slipped out of my hands.  I would be mere minutes from qualifying.  But by that point I was completely okay with it. I never once, in 3 hours, 43 minutes and 3 seconds, gave up the fight.  I felt humbled and closer to God and my true self than I ever have. I learned so much about the beast of the marathon and the things I would do differently next time.  It was not at all what I went into this race wanting, but I left Allentown with the realization that every minute of the weekend was exactly what I needed.

You can’t always get what you want,
You can’t always get what you want,
And if you try sometimes, you find,
You Get What You Need.  


Elisabeth Welch-McClellan said...

In tears reading this... you took the words out of my mouth... a marathon in so many ways is a metaphor of life. You are such a champion Karen, you have the courage of a lion. What you accomplished Sunday is amazing, who cares about a BQ...what is impressive is your ability to finish this race with an amazing time and to accept with such incredible grace missing your goal by four tiny minutes. Acceptance takes courage, wisdom and faith and I know many people who have run Boston that don't have half the credence you have. Congratulations on a great race. xoxo

Lisa said...

Hey Karen- Glad I got to say "hi" real quick this morning to you. :)Listen, you gave it your all, and that is what counts. Yes, a BQ is exciting, but, taking care of yourself is the most important. For me, it wasn't the BQ that was the problem, it was Boston. I have never felt so ill in my life after I finished that race. I completely understand what you mean in terms of the marathon as a "beast". It showed me who's the real boss, and it wasn't me. Listen, a 3:43 marathon (esp. #2) is AMAZING!!!! To be able to do that, take care of 3 kids, and cook, clean, etc.. You deserve a medal in my book! :)

Christine Bilek said...

your post brought me to tears...good for you, for going for it! You are blessed to have so many friends and loved ones cheering you on...and Meredith is a great friend for being there for you!!! Congrats!! :)

Katy said...

Karen, that is an amazing post! What an accomplishment in itself to finish a marathon, let alone that quick! Such a positive attitude! (And what an amazing friend!!)

The Samsons said...

Great post - I love your words. I was blessed to be apart of your marathon day. and I had a blast!! Congrats on an awesome time!!! You WILL get your BQ someday (soon) and it'll be just that much more special :) Love you!

Rebecca Samson said...

What a great post Karen! You got an amazing PR and I know that a BQ for you is definitely going to happen. I love how you are staying positive. Meredith rocks! I can totally imagine her rushing to get you water and pushing you. So blessed to have you both in my life. Love you!

The Gittelman family said...

I love this post. I think you echo how so many of us have felt trying to reach that goal. It seems to mean everything and yet there is so much more than the BQ. And I have absolutely no doubt that you will BQ next time. And that will make it all the sweeter.

And - the part about Meredith also made me cry! And I don't admit to that very often! Congratulations on a fantastic race and on fighting so hard. It will only make you stronger. :)

Jackie said...

Even though you already told me your story, reading this post gave me goose bumps all over again. Love you and your amazing words:)

Anonymous said...

#1 You ran 26.2 miles and didn't quit, that in in itself is amazing (and PR'd!!!!). Knowing what an incredible runner you are, clearly it was a tough day for you to not only get a BQ but exceed it by a huge margin. Next time marathon, next time!

#2 Meredith is truly an amazing friend!

#3 You know National will most likely have it's course changed now that it's a RNR race. Maybe it won't be so hilly, and you'll have a ton of local support for it if you decide to do it.

XLMIC said...

Sometimes we learn the best lessons from the most challenging experiences... you did awesome in every respect :)