10 years, 10 pounds, & a lot of living later…I returned to the scene of my very 1st marathon the Green Bay Cellcom. I was told long before I began my long distance adventures that I would never forget my 1st marathon. The day will be forever burned into my brain. Fast forward 10 years and a lot has changed since I toed the line at Cellcom. Throughout the decade running has been the one constant in my life as things unfolded.
On May 21, 2017 as I once again stepped into my corral preparing to run the Cellcom Marathon I was overwhelmed with how freaking amazing my life is, large in part to running. 10 years ago my dear friend Katie had this insane idea that we should run a marathon. I frankly thought she was nuts, but jumped on board in the end. I was going through a divorce and about to be a single parent, it did not seem possible to train and run 26.2 miles. To date both Katie and I had not run more than 5ks. We sheepishly showed up to the training runs and plodded through the miles each week. As the months of training carried on I found my sense of self outside of the chaos of my divorce, work, and raising my son. My confidence in my ability to stand on my own two feet returned and I began to feel like the strong, stubborn women I once was.
Fast forward 10 years…yes 10 years! Man a lot has changed. Let’s start with the personal stuff – I remarried, had 2 more children, earned my Master’s degree in Special Education, moved to Luxemburg, all the kids started school, and my husband’s business has grown by a ton. We live a busy, full life and I have never been happier. NONE of this would be possible if I had not trained for and run the Cellcom Marathon 10 years ago. I was not the same person who started that journey in January 2006. Now let’s talk running – I finished the race in 2007 and proceeded to announce “I would NEVER run another marathon again!” Well I stuck to that for 2 years, when I ran the Cellcom Marathon with my dad. Same statement after, but this time it stuck for a lot longer. It wasn’t until 2014 I got the urge to try again and did, but it was an epic failure. I slugged it out at the No Frills Marathon and then again at the Fox Cities Marathon a month later. I vowed to hang up my shoes after those races. It was brutal. I hated every minute of it. That was Fall of 2014.
Winter came and brought with it cold temps along with a huge set back in my recovery for my eating disorder. I was struggling with hatred for my body, binge eating, and purging with no end insight. I had lost control and I was not sure what to do other than keep moving – not necessarily forward, but keeping up with daily life. In April my son signed up to train with a group at school for the Bellin 10k in June. As a parent volunteer I began to run with him at practice. Slowly I began to find calm within my mind and grabbed hold of the destructive behaviors I was participating in. In a moment of clarity I signed up for the Cellcom Half Marathon in May. I trained causally for the race and got my binge eating under control. I could feel the weight of the world begin to lift off my chest. After the Cellcom Half I was physically exhausted. I had not eaten the week leading up to it and took in zero nutrition during the race. Crossing the finish line something in my brain clicked and I was jolted into the reality that I wanted to be a runner, but could not maintain my eating disorder if I was going to train like an athlete. I grabbed a banana at that moment from a volunteer at the post party and my life turned a corner in that moment. 3 weeks after that moment I trained my butt off, started eating, and ran my 5th lifetime marathon. I was a runner and there was no looking back. Running saved my life…I had been given a choice to reset and I took it. The journey has been not always been easy and I have had set backs, but in 2 years time I have tackled major demons in regards to my ED and done so through running. I have learned to set goals, work hard to achieve them, and be selfish in my recovery. If you would have asked me 10 years ago if I would have been found peace of mind and this type of happiness I would have laughed. Life is funny like that, you never really know where it will take you.
So back to the race! Cellcom is always a gamble when it comes to the weather. My 1st marathon it was 47 degrees and it sleeted the entire time. Last year it was 88 degrees and felt like we were running on the sun. This year we had rain, it poured 45 minutes before the race and continued to drizzle on and off throughout the morning, but it wasn’t as hot as 2016! My good friend Amanda had stayed with me the night before so we headed to the start line once the sky cleared up a bit. We found coach Nora and chit chatted a bit before the race. Game plan was to have a freaking blast and run some miles, no expectations just time on my feet. I headed over to my corral and found a few familiar faces. After a few announcements we were off. One of the biggest differences between my 1st marathon and today was the confidence I had in my abilities. I knew it was going to be tough, that my legs were not recovered fully yet, the weather was not favorable, but I did not doubt my ability to finish. I knew I could and would. That confidence was comforting and welcomed.
Miles 1-5 were awesome and smooth. I meet up with Oiselle WI bird Kate and we ran together chatting about future adventures and life. I stopped to eat and hydrate at mile 5 and said good bye to Kate. After devouring a Picky Bar I picked things up again. 10 years ago I would have rationed my calories, today I ate because I was hungry and needed to fuel, this was the 1st of many times that I cried during this race. The fact that I stopped to eat and did it without guilt was a huge victory. I caught back up to Kate and we ran 5 more miles together. Once we turned on to the Fox Trail I was able to find some relief for my heavy legs. The trail is paved, but there is a shoulder along both sides that is dirt. I hopped on that and was recharged (I later found out that I was running right through poison ivy when I jumped on the side – luckily I was able to wash my legs down and did not react). Kate and I separated on the trail and I pushed ahead. At the 13 miles I took a look at my watch for the 1st time and realized I was moving way to fast to sustain for the 13 more miles. I pulled back a bit and settled into to a comfortable pace. The 4:45 pace group caught up with me and I ran with them for a mile. At mile 15 I once again stopped and ate. I picked back up and headed towards City Stadium. Last year this was a hot zone and this year it was as well. I had ditched my hat and taken off my top layer which helped a ton, but I was starting to overheat. Grabbing ice at the next aid station I was able to get this under control and started to feel better. By this time the 4:45 group had passed me and my goal was to stay as close as possible for as long as possible. Heading to the stadium a radio station was playing music from their truck. Just as I got close to the vehicle my daughter Holly’s favorite song began to play. Yep, I cried again. 10 years ago I could not envision more kids in my life, 10 years later I cannot imagine my life without those little nuggets.
Around the track and back onto the road. As I hit the tree lined streets I thought of last year and running with Allison. Running brought us together and I am forever grateful for her friendship. You know it…I cried and dropped a few f-bombs. I owe this girl for pulling me back from the brink and getting my crazy when no one else does. To think that we met on a hot road struggling in a marathon.
The next few miles flew by. I was thinking about all the wonderful changes in my life. I have been blessed beyond belief to have so many people cross my path and help me become the person I am today. Mile 20 I remember last year seeing my husband and kids and even though I knew they were not there this year I smiled at mile 20 (yep and cried). To have such a good man and awesome family is not something I ever thought I would experience.
Up over the bridge and onto Broadway. I figured I was all cried out at this point and would be able to gut out the last 6 miles. I was tired and hurting – but I was finishing. I put my head down and just ran for 2 miles. At mile 22 we started to see a biker group on the roads directing traffic and helping block roads for the runners. You know it, I cried. They reminded me of my Grandpa Matt. Big, burly, and full of tattoos – nicest guy you would ever meet. The bikers on the road lifted my spirits and reminded me of my grandparents. Miles 22-25 were a blur. Heading into the stadium I snapped back to reality and refocused.
Running in the stadium is a cool experience in and of itself, but I find a very personal meaning in running around an looking up into the stands. Almost 9 years ago I got married here. The day wasn’t perfect, we had a few snaufs, but to us it was special. The sentimental value that the stadium holds for both my 1st marathon and my marriage is not lost on me. And you guessed it I cried.
Heading to the final leg of the marathon, trudging up hill I stopped dead in my tracks. I wanted to freeze this moment in time. A lot of living has happened over over the last 10 years. I am not the same person I was when I dove into the marathon the 1st time. A volunteer asked me if I was “ok” and without giving it a thought I responded that I was “great”. It may have come off as sarcastic, but it heartfelt. I was better than great, I was at peace with my past, learned to embrace the present, and for the 1st time could see the future as a gift not a curse. Life is pretty damn amazing!
I finished the race and quickly found Amanda and Nora – for the last time of the day I cried. For those of you who know me, I’m not a person who easily shows emotion. Today I was a hot mess and loved every minute of it. I’ve come a long way and I have a long way to go, but I am surrounded by the best people on the planet. There is nothing that I cannot conquer…running has taught me that! There will be those moments in a race and life that you feel on top of the world and quickly find yourself in hell, but battling back is the beautiful part. In struggle we find strength and clarity, for every time we get knocked down we are given the gift to be able to prove to ourselves we have the fortitude to get back up. My eating disorder and running have taught me to be thankful for the miserable, tough times in life…because without them you don’t always recognize the really great times and appreciate them to the fullest.
Cheers to 10 years of running and hopefully many, many, many more! My original goal in training for my 1st marathon was to complete one before I turned 30 years old. I finished Cellcom when I was 28 years old and promptly in a wine induced state proclaimed that I would run 40 marathons before I turned 40. In 2014 after running my 3rd lifetime marathon that goal seemed impossible and was never going to happen. Well I should probably stop saying never…Cellcom 2017 became my 23rd lifetime full marathon. Add in my 10 ultra marathons and I am getting closer to that goal of 40 by 40.
Thank you to all who have supported me over the past decade! I have made amazing friends throughout this journey, joined an awesome team of women runners (Oiselle), and meet the love of my life (I owe you Derek for putting up with all my insane endeavors). Until the next adventure!
#BeKind #BeHappy #BeActive
Date – May 21, 2017
Finish Time – 5:01
Gear Used –
- Oiselle – The temps were in the mid 50s to start and it was raining. I wore the Flyout shorts, Izumo short sleeve, team singlet, and Lux hoodie. I also wore a buff around my neck, and a hat. As the temps rose and the rain stopped I shed my Lux layer and hat.
- Run Gum – I popped 2 pieces at mile 20 of the race. I love all the flavors, but typically stick to mint in races. It is a nice little boost.
- Trail Toes Cream – I slather this stuff on before I put my socks on to prevent hot spots. Even with the rain and my shoes being soaked within the 1st mile I never got blisters. I swear by the power of this stuff! Every run – no matter this distance.
- Salt Stick Caps – I followed my regular schedule of 2 per hour to prevent cramping worked great. I went all water, not Tailwind or Gatorade for this race and the caps worked great.
- Picky Bars – Breakfast pre-race was a All-in-Almond bar at 5 am and then I ate 1/2 a bar every hour during the race. I felt AWESOME! Energy level stayed consistent and stomach did not get upset. In total I consumed 2 bars on course for a total of 400 calories.
- Goodr – My go to glasses. I will be adding more colors to my collection as they are released. You know you have hit pay-dirt cool status when high school girls are talking about your glasses. I’ll count that as a win!
PS – As of 2017 I am 10 pounds heavier than I was in 2007 when I ran my 1st marathon. Am I thrilled by that number..no, but I am at peace with it. There is no way I could accomplish my goals without putting fuel in my body by eating. So I have learned to let the weight gain go. I may have more junk in my trunk now, but that is what makes running ultra distances possible. The number on a scale does not define me or frankly help me cross finish lines, so screw it – it is just a number! I’ve birthed 3 kids and run countless miles…my body is pretty freaking amazing and an additional 10 pounds does not change that fact.