Today was seeped in tears and thick emotion. A let down, I suppose, of the hefty weekend. My tears were last night. The kids’ were today.
I really, really hope that people realize that when I admit to feeling sad, frustrated, disappointed, etc. (normal human emotions) this does not equate that I hate my life, my circumstances, nor wish things upon myself that can not be. I truly love my life. But I am not always happy, cheerful, well-groomed (stop by today and you’ll see!), nor eager. This weekend tested my every last bit of endurance. As I hugged Matthew last night, though, I was sincere as I whispered, “I would do it again tomorrow if I could.” I love and support my husband and we’re a team.
The race started with an ok sleep the night before (not good, when you’re anticipating being up for the next 24 hours). The morning unfolded with a leisurely cup of hot tea and yummy breakfast outside Lloyd Hall on Boathouse Row in Philadelphia. The rain was coming down since 4am, which added an aspect of dreariness and well, dampness.. We really didn’t prepare for rain. But, at 10AM the shout was given, and the 24-hour race commenced.
Matthew looked good for the first 16 miles before hitting an unexpected early wall. It took another 16+ miles of climbing to get over it, and finally by the afternoon he was feeling much better. The rain stopped. Things looked sunny. After puddle-running for most of the day, his feet were complete prunes, so he switched shoes and clothes and then kept going.
Around 1AM things got worse when I offered to run with him and couldn’t keep up. We’ve hashed through this now, so I can write about it. I truly thought he needed someone with him, and he didn’t know how to gently say that I would hold him back. So I ran the 8th loop. Sort of. Actually, I had not run 8 miles since his race last year. It messed with his concentration, as he felt the need to take care of the one who was supposed to be taking care of him. On the next, the ninth loop, things went from bad to worse. Two miles from the finish line a biker patrol found him sitting down, and since he was a bit slow to respond, called in to the medics who called in to me. We met at the medical tent where he was fine, just exhausted. By the time he had checked out fine with the doc, his mental game was toast and his body just started to shut down. It’s amazing how far your body can push when your mind is still telling it that it’s fine to keep going. Once that voice clicks off, the body literally stops. It believes the words, “I can’t,” unless they’re not uttered.
So, around 4AM, he had run 74 miles and was finished. It is mind-blowing, really. I drove 74 miles last week. The disappointment came from not finishing 100+miles, and stopping before 24-hours. It was a hard hit for both of us. I am so proud of him. We could have let a root of bitterness build up between us. I could blame myself and so could he, but we both chose to move on, learn, and grow from this experience. He inspires me and so many others with his determination, drive, and seemingly crazy goals. I wouldn’t have it any other way.