Tuesday, June 29, 2010

My First Marathon......well almost.

So, Seattle Rock n' Roll Marathon - my first? Well, it depends if completing 25 miles well and then getting taken in by the medics counts. Oh, the tears that roll down my cheeks as I write this entry....
I ran over the first half of the race with my friend Michelle (who ended up qualifying for Boston!! - way to go friend!), she has a few Marathons under her belt and she helped to pace me and not go out to strong & certainly encouraged me. Our pace felt good - I felt strong. Around mile 16 - I remember starting to feel like I couldn't wait for the drink stops - I was SO thirsty. I had hydrating the day before, the morning of and drank at EVERY hydration table along the race - switching between water and electrolytes at each stop. By mile 19 or 20 - something was wrong - I was feeling right. It wasn't just an endurance issue, my legs felt strong - I was starting to feel a little dizzy. I knew I had my dad coming to join me soon to finish with me - so I kept my mind on that. By mile 22 or 23 - it was getting worse - I started to sway on the course - I was feeling weird! It wasn't pain - because I know myself - I can push through pain. I finally let my dad in on how bad I was feeling around mile 24 and he offered to take a walk break but in my stubbornness - I wanted to keep running - I was SO CLOSE, it was taking so much focus to stay upright - I was dizzy, my sight was getting blurry and my head kept flopping back - it felt like my head weighed 100 pounds. At mile 24 I was at 3:37 - on pace to finish under 4 hours! At mile 25 my body said this was the end of the race - I almost passed out, my dad helped me to the side and my dad and I sat staring at the 25 mile marker sign , listening to the cheers from the finish line, as the medics checked me out. The excitement of the finish so near is enough to keep anyone going - but my body wasn't listening. I thought if I sat there for a few minutes - i could at least slowly finish - forget about the under 4 hour finish at this point - I just wanted to cross that finish line. I tried to stand a few times and kept almost falling over. It wasn't my legs or muscles not being able to do it - this wasn't any ting that had to do with my training, my determination, my strength - I wasn't getting better - I was getting worse - it was hard to even talk without complete focus. They decided to take me to the medic tent. My heart broke as they drove me behind the finish line - I heard all the cheering, knowing my family and Friends were waiting there for me and I laid there with a million tough ts swirling through my mind and it was so disheartening. They let me know that I was very dehydrated and that my sodium levels were low. How?? What happened?? I was diligent in my liquid intake. I know that once your sodium levels drop you are unable to retain fluids - but why would mine have dropped so low??
I didn't get to celebrate with my family that had drove 3 hours to cheer me on, my friends, my best friend who had gone through all the training and excitement with me. As I was laying in the medic tent trying not to throw up, looking at the spinning tent roof, having salt packets poured under my tongue, realizing my time had passed me by to cross that finish line...I was thinking, Is this REALLY happening??, only one mile left!!! I was sad, mad & a little scared of how my body felt.

My sweet friend Julie showed up to check on me - when she should have been celebrating her victory of finishing her first marathon! She handed me my medal.....still haven't decided if I can hang it. Having a loyal best friend is a huge blessing, but I have guilt knowing that because she feels my joy and pain right along with me - that this is taking away from her experience a bit. We planned this whole "first marathon" together & I couldn't have gotten through it together. It is her time to be selfish and say "I did it!" I am so proud of her. My sister got pictures of her coming through that finish line in typical Julie style - with a HUGE smile on her face!

Julie & I before the race.

So, let's talk of the victories of the experience. So, yes I completed my 4 month training and ran a pretty good 25 miles of the race (even if I was staggering the last few!). I know that these accomplishments are something to be celebrated and I will. I have a feeling my sore muscles will heal a little sooner than my disappointment though. It may sound a little dramatic, but I truly did not know how much my heart was into this until now. The biggest celebrating is in reality of the amazing circle of people around me that have encouraged me through my training, ran beside me on long runs, have cried along with me and encouraged & celebrated me in the last few days, & that are here in my everyday life. To have family and friends in your life that cheer you on through your up and downs in life is truly a far greater victory than crossing any finish line!

Julie & I with our hubbies. Couldn't have done it without them!

My Dad & I - carb loading the night before. So glad he was there at the end to hold me up both emotionally & physically!

My Family that traveled to cheer me on & still are! Thank you guys - I love you.

Cards, Flowers & This sign is what I came home to - I have amazing friends!!

This may not have been my plan for this race, but when in life do things truly go according to OUR plan. God is teaching is & will teach me something through this as He does in all things. As my amazing husband wrote to me.."Life/Running is a Journey, and we have to learn to adjust and be open to adversity." Certainly many others have faced far more devastating adversity than this. I will use and take it to the next start line with me!

And so my Inspired Miles continue. Portland Marathon Bound - hmmmmm.???


  1. Love you friend! And so so so proud of you!

  2. Where's my kleenex......

    Ashley ~ you are a SUPERSTAR!! .... dare I say, Boston Bound? You're one of the most focused runners I know ~ healthy, strong, motivated. All of these things WILL get you across that finish line.

    I love this quote by Winston Churchill ... "Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It's the courage to go on that counts"

    You will go on!! I know you'll take this experience and turn it to fuel your flame.
    Go get 'em Ashley!!

  3. Oh my word, i love the quote from mary...I'm going to steal it. Ashley, what a perfect post. You are amazing and this part of the story makes your future victories that much sweeter. love you.

  4. ashley! thanks for sharing your story. what a testament of pushing yourself BEYOND the limit. wow. i know its not the ending you were dreaming for, but i do hope that you aren't thinking that there was something else you could have done.... you were so prepared and trained... it was beyond you. i pray that you will be able to see the true accomplishment it was to do what you DID! you are a terrific runner and an inspiration to me!love ya friend!

  5. oh Ashley, i don't even really know what to say. i'm so sorry and can't imagine the mix of emotions you must feel. you did everything right from what i could see, you were drinking at every station, keeping a good conservative pace and setting yourself up for a great run. has anyone given you any ideas of how to prevent this in the future? salt tablets or something? i like what Andrew wrote to you. there are so many similarities in running to life. i am praising God that this isn't something that is going to keep you from getting "back in the saddle"! i've really enjoyed running with you and will be looking forward to resuming some of those runs soon!
    keep your chin up.

  6. Could not be more proud of you if I tried. The next marathon will be that much sweeter and mean that much more when you cross the line at record breaking speed! You are a marathoner! You are, the heart and spirit, that is you. I look forward to seeing you continue doing what you love, running the race no matter what life may throw your way. Running the race, endurance to finish strong and then to begin the next adventure! God has some awesomeness awaiting you my friend!

  7. blessing #1) you aren't injured although it might feel like it a little emotionally & blessing #2) you're already looking to the future with your chin up. be proud & take care of yourself! best to you in your miles to come!

  8. Ashley, you are an inspiration!! I know you so desperately wanted to finish, but 25 miles is still VERY impressive. Great job and I know you will continue!

    Trish Hull

  9. Thank you to all of you for your support! It has meant a lot. I have been overwhelmed about how incredible the people around me are & even people I don't know. I am truly blessed!

  10. Ashley, so sorry that you weren't able to finish but you pushed yourself beyond your limits & that is a huge accomplishment!! Congrats!!


  11. What a mix of emotions that post is. Wow. I'm so sorry that you weren't able to finish but you are right in that everything happens for a reason and your next marathon is just around the corner :) Keep your chin up.

  12. Looks like you had some amazing cheerleaders :) sorry it didn't turn out as planned but i am glad to hear you are making plans for your next one.