It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.
From the end of 2007, the past 14 months have been a roller coaster ride in every sense of the expression. I've spent most of the timewonder whether to share anything with anyone because I'm all too aware of the disbelieveing looks I'm going to get. Of all the things I'm going to hear. There's no way one person can experience everything you've experienced. You're not really sick - people with cancer are sick. Just be positive, don't be so negative. You'd do better if you trained more. Etc., etc., etc.
2007 - I barely made the Philadelphia Marathon, thanks to unstable health and a difficult home life.
March 2008 - A P.R. at Escape from Ft. DeSoto, despite being violently ill most of the spring. April-May 2008 - Difficulty with GI issues and undertraining cause me to flub St. Anthony's and Florida Half Ironman, earning me my worst triathlon honor ever - a DQ.
June 2008 - Learning I got into Nationals gives me new hope. I have renewed energy and my medication is *almost* right. I PR at the Baldwin Park sprint tri to the tune of 18 minutes. Most of it is earned on the bike and the correct running shoes. The same day, I find out I'm pregnant.
July 2008 - Postpone training because pregnancy makes me even sicker.
August 2008 - Lose the baby. Am restricted to minor activity for 4-6 weeks. Am not able to go to Nationals.
September 2008 - Fall into a deep depression. Am unable to muster even the slightest motivation to train.
October 2008 - Start to walk and run again with Kona.
November 2008 - Miss my first 5k, but nail a 4-minute PR at my first 10k.
And now, the Grand Finale.
December 2008 - Last scheduled race of the year. This was the first half marathon I ever did. And this year's was the worst time I've ever had on any half marathon.
For the majority of the race, an amputee was running with me, as was one of my tri club teammates who has knee inuries. That was really inspiring, especially when both of them outran me. It looked like I was headed for a PR right up until I started mile 10. And then I collapsed.
And you know what I heard in my head?
There's no way one person can experience everything you've experienced. You're not really sick - people with cancer are sick. Just be positive, don't be so negative. You'd do better if you trained more. Etc., etc., etc.
But you know what? I did it. I did exactly what I set out to do for this year. I sacked up. I took a lot of chances. I did a lot of things I was terrified of doing. And yeah, I failed at a lot of it. But I also made some great PRs and overcame a lot of adversity.
I'm still not completely ok with the idea that I may never be the kind of athlete who weighs 120 pounds or runs 7-minute miles or completes an Ironman in under 14 hours. But I think about my teammate, who probably never imagined she'd be a triathlete after her injury, or the amputee, who probably never imagined she'd walk again, let alone run a half marathon. I'm not the only one who has something difficult to overcome. And, with all due respect to those who can manage a 4- or sub-4-hour marathon at the end of a 2.4-mile swim and a 112-mile bike ride, it's not people like them who we should aspire to be - it's people like my teammate and the amputee. Because it may take talent and training to put great numbers on the board, but it takes real determination, sportmanship, grit, desire and dedication to toe the line knowing your numbers may never be great, no matter how hard you try.
By the way . . . Wubsy finished in 2:05:xx. His first half marathon. I once called the PortaPotty at St. Anthony's the Best Race of My Life - despite the time I had. But you know what? I'm going to move that title to the 2008 OUC Half Marathon. I may not have posted great numbers myself, but I made a huge and positive difference in someone else's life. And that's far more important.