by Sue Aquila for Endurance Corner
Obviously these tips can apply to any distance race! Again with the "being present" stuff. :)
I've been in similar situations to what the author describes. For me, it goes back to making sure you're giving your full, best or appropriate effort at every moment.
When I did my first half marathon, I had to ask myself some of these same questions she poses in her article. For unknown reasons I would just walk a little longer on a walk interval. My brain would tell me I felt horrible, but there were no other indicators that would corroborate what I *thought* I was feeling.
I love the point she makes about the Finishers at Ironman. How may have shuffled through most of the marathon, but all of a sudden are able to dig deeper past anything they felt earlier, and run that chute all the way in -- in good form and smiles too! Yet to see them an hour earlier, they themselves may have been contemplating their physical ability to finish.
The Finish line, in the last hours of an Ironman race, is amazing, inspiring and an motivational event for me. It's my favorite part! I dare anyone to watch the last finishers of the night and not find themselves thinking how cool it would be to do a triathlon. Spectating at IMKY in 2010 was just an awesome day! So awesome I wrote a non-participant, volunteer, race report! Aside from MC finishing her race, the end of the evening proved to have memorable highlights for me...
"...we went to the end of the finishers chute; just before all the bright lights and music get loud. We cheered runners on. These athletes were spent and their faces showed every ounce of determination they had. It was amazing how most of them came to life and donned a smile twice their normal size. It was great to see them realize... I'm going to finish!!!*Hammer girl was a girl I took interest in because, quite honestly, we had the same body type. I was hoping to see her finish!
One guy in particular, I don't know his race number, came toward me for a high five. Clearly he was talking himself through finishing. I don't think he was delirious, but I do think he was completely spent. He jogged past me to the city sidewalk. He totally dodged the chute and was now running on the sidewalk. It was just 100 yards to the finish, but he wasn't going to cross the line if he continued. I literally sprinted when I realized what he had done and then realized he didn't know what he had done. I collected him and sent him up the chute to Finish. The time was about 16:51 or 16:52... I can't remember for sure, but I have an idea of who it was looking at the results. So Joseph Prudhomme of Miami, if in this small Internet world you find this story -- Awesome job! Not to toot my horn, because I'm glad I was there, but could you imagine if after almost 17 hours of effort and months of training to not officially finish? Oy!!
I never saw Hammer girl* finish, but Mel said she saw her on the course and figured Hammergirl was at mile 18 when Mel was at 23. Mel said she looked good. I"m sure she finished after Mel, but before we came back down at 11pm.
Lastly, there was a female athlete who approached the chute at like 16:50-something, She had on a NJ Triathlon jersey, so you know I had to show a fellow Jersey girl some love, right? She wasn't young, but she wasn't old... I felt like if you saw her on the street you'd never suspect she was a triathlete. Anyway, she was looking really spent (who didn't look spent?) so I talked to her and ran along side of her from the sidewalk and she started to pick-up the pace and run again. Unfortunately the clock ready 17:01 by the time she had crossed. After that, the music was turned off and they start breaking down the race. If you finish after 17 hours your an Ironman in your heart, but not on the results page.
As we walked back to the hotel I saw my fellow Jersey girl exiting the Finisher's chute. She was completely alone. No friends or family. I was curious if she had finished (I was glad to see she did have a medal, but her results were not on the results page). She was walking ahead of us, stopping occasionally to rest. I didn't want to say anything to her, well, because, I didn't want to bother her if she didn't want to be bothered. Leave it to OC though... he just struck up a conversation and told her good job. She smiled and continued on. I'm not sure I would have been all that talkative either. *hugs* to that lady from Ocean Grove, NJ "