I Believe in Patience

Natalie - Burbank, California
Entered on November 19, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50

I’m training for the L.A. Marathon with AIDS Project Los Angeles because they promised to train coach potatoes. I just ran twelve miles. A month ago I couldn’t do three. I struggle with shin splints, getting used to exercising again AND the stomach flu. A friend said it’s a reaction to tearing my body up. When we had to do ten miles, I only did nine. So I read all my marathon books, ate what I was supposed to and drank water. To translate mental fortitude to my stiff legs, I visualized the route, imagining running effortlessly. For the first time, I was not the LAST person in. My group trains at a 20-minute-mile pace, slower than the required 17-minute, saving speed for Marathon day. I thought, I’m going to be a marathoner. I am a runner. Even at a 1:4 ratio (running one minute, walking four), I still come in alone, but now it’s because I’m too slow for the majority and too fast for the stragglers.

One fundraising benefit fell through, but the next one was more successful. A reception my friends organized brought some serenity. I thought about the cause. APLA helps HIV/AIDS patients who wouldn’t normally get help. They can talk to people who care and get needed services. To reorganize my perspective this way helps me when I think I can’t do it anymore. I sat in an ice bath eating a toasted peanut butter and jelly sandwich after a long run, thinking, WOW, this is one of the weirdest things I’ve done. I was so delirious that it all started to feel normal – the red lines, the soreness, the blister I on foot, the hole in my sock, the irritability and constant exhaustion. I tried martial arts and yoga, but this is the most grueling. Did I ever do anything besides train? I love it just as much as I hate it.

If you know a marathoner, you know the terminology. The “goo”, walk/run ratio, chafing, black toes and bonking. When rock climbing, I loved that climb to the top. Now I’m slow and steady. A 26.2 mile run must be tackled in increments. Patience, courage and perseverance are developed in spite of yourself. A six mile run should have been easy, but I didn’t sleep enough or do my maintenance runs. Everything I put in my body directly affects me. Too much of one thing, too little of another. You train your body how to eat while your stomach is literally jogging up and down. You find your ratio and spend months experimenting. You train your mind to make an enormously impossible marathon possible. I am amazed at my group as we watch each other grow stronger. My legs are rock hard. I love the support we give each other (along with pretzels and water), as we eat every 45 minutes and watch for hallucinating (it happens). If I can do this I can do anything.