Sunday, October 30, 2016

Celebrating My Failure

As most of you know, I've become a pretty avid runner.  About four months ago I signed up for a double marathon (52.4 miles.)    When I first signed up for this event, pretty much everyone asked one question: Why???? (usually with expletives.) I joked about the rabbit hole of running, the peer pressure, or just because I was bored, but the real reason was a bit different. 

As a classroom teacher I ask my students to push themselves in so many ways - they have to do work they don't want to do, set short and long term goals, attempt subjects they don't enjoy and/or are not intrinsically good at learning... basically they are forced to get out of their comfort zone. I decided making them do this without being willing to do it myself was not the message I wanted to send them. I had signed up for marathons and 50 km runs (31 miles) and completed them before. These were definitely NOT in my comfort zone, but since I had successfully completed them I felt I needed to step it up further.  So on June 30th I registered for the Run With Scissors double marathon.

Yes, you get scissors 

I started the day with a 3 am wake up call. Ironically I actually woke up a bit before my alarm -not uncommon considering how excited I was about today. I left my airbnb with a great note from my hosts Kevin and Carolyn hanging on the front door wishing me luck. Arriving at Cuyahoga National Park at about 3:40 am, I got my gear ready, set up my drop bag, and at 4 in the morning I started off on my first of two 26 mile laps. I'll spare you the mile-by-mile play by play -  the first 15 miles were great, but I was definitely feeling the distance by mile 23.  I finished lap one in about six-and-a-half hours.  

At the start/finish aid station I changed my shirt, socks, and got some food.  I wasn't feeling optimal, but I still went off for lap two. Things didn't improve much from there. Physically I felt fine - my nutrition was where it needed to be, nothing was cramping, hydration was solid... but my body was just not responding well. Come mile 30 I was walking way more than I was running. I was having serious discussions with my body: 

"OK, this part is slightly down hill and seems like a beautiful time to run!"
"But it ..."

I did feel better than this guy. 

I arrived at an aid station at mile 36 and had to sit down for nearly 5 minutes. The crew there was AMAZING - they asked me questions, gave me suggestions, provided aid, and really motivated me to keep going.

After leaving that station I had to follow a five mile loop before I returned back to that same aid station. It was during this loop I realized I was not going to finish this run. I needed to average about 18 minute miles during the last half marathon of the run and I was nowhere near that, coming in closer to 22 minutes per mile. My legs just did not want to go anymore. After some really tough reflection I decided I was going to drop when I returned to the aid station. This would give me about 41 total miles.  I slowed down and really started to enjoy the run - taking pictures and admiring the sights and sounds. It took nearly 2 hours for me to get those 5 miles done.

Gorgeous scenery! 

By the time I got back to the aid station it was 3 in the afternoon and I'd been moving for 11 hours. The crew there was once again amazing. They celebrated my success as did I. They took care of me wonderfully and gave me a ride back to the start/finish line. My run was over about 11 miles short of the finish. 

My goal was to get out of my comfort zone and really push to see what my body could do. I learned that my limit for today was about 41 miles. There are dozens and dozens of possible reasons that I topped out there today. Maybe it won't be my limit next time, but that's not for me to decide now.

It is also a great reminder to all of us to celebrate successes even when goals are not reached.  Celebrate the student that gets a 55% on a quiz, a student that gets one out of ten free throws, or just the student that came to school that day.  For them, this might be their own personal success.

We're still not really talking to each other...

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