Sunday, October 26, 2008

a Marathon

Yesterday I did a marathon...

and I was in the lead for 26 miles!!

Ok - I was on a bike and the other 2,000 people were running.

It was the Spinx Runfest here in Greenville, SC. A half and full marathon with a kids fun run and 5K. The weather was not ideal - but thankfully, it wasn't pouring down rain.

I'll admit... I've been in a funk and lacking any sort of athletic motivation. Not really wanting to blog - for fear I'd find myself moaning about being out of shape and suffering through recovery. Yes, I've been running. Slightly painful (not clavicle pain - just "I haven't run in 2 months" painful) and very slow. The doctor asked that I hold off on the swimming. Then, he said I could return to cycling. Hummm. All those hours on the couch. All the walking w/ my sling. All the urges to take my bike out for a spin. I thought I'd jump at the chance to ride.

But as he told me I could get back on my bike - I felt my stomach turn.

My road bike was still covered in mud and grass from the crash. My helmet in two pieces. The other cycling accessories (gloves, water bottles, sunglasses) stored in a bed-pan the hospital handed to my mom as they rolled me out of the ER. I hadn't touched any cycling related gear since the crash.

Then I get a call from Joe Hammond. Joe, one of the Spinxfest race directors, was looking for a bike escort. Evidently, 2 of his cyclists backed out last minute. Was I interested?
Yes, without thinking - I said yes.

So, this week I took my busted and very dirty bike over to Go Tri Sports. Matt, the manager, had offered to look it over. I crossed my fingers, hoping the only breaks/cracks suffered in the crash were already repaired during surgery!
I awaited his call like a mother worried about her sick child.
Phew - nothing major... just cosmetic damage to the bike.

Joe and I continued the hunt for more cyclists. I ended up recruiting fellow triathlete Cameron Dorn. Side note: Cameron showed up to my house with a disc wheel on his bike. I asked if he wanted to use my aero helmet... there might be some Kenyans. Hilarious.

After finding my cold weather & rain gear, Cameron and I road to the start from my house - two miles, just enough to shake off the nerves. The roads were wet, I hadn't been on my bike in 2.5 months, and I was worried about making it 26.2 miles!
Arriving to the race site just felt right. I wasn't there to race, but being with my friends and feeling the energy was exactly what I needed. Set Up Events was doing the timing, so I got to see Jeremey and Raly. Many friends were racing: Gail, Rick, Kenneth, Nicole, Caroline, Derrick, Bea and her iRun group, Ashleigh, Aaron, others (sorry if I forgot to name you)... Gman was on his moped (driving around the person taking video footage), Cameron and I were part of the bike escort team... other friends had helped to set out the 2,000,000 cones.

I ended up leading Daniel Hughes, who tore off from the pack right at the start. Our hometown boy posted a 1:11:44 in the half! Seriously, I found myself pushing on the bike just to stay ahead. After Daniel entered Flour Field to finish, I doubled back in search of lead marathoner (it was a 2 loop course). Turns out, I didn't have to wait long.
Chuck Engle, the "marathon junkie", was racing. I took over the lead again as Chuck began his second lap. As I watched this machine churn out an amazing pace - I couldn't help but be amazed. He thanked volunteers and police officers. He thanked me for riding ahead to clear foot traffic and get people prepared at drink stations. He showed NO signs of slowing, fatigue, or discomfort.

When I agreed to assist with this race, I thought of it as a good way to get involved (without having to run). But, in retrospect, it ended up being so much more.

- it got me back in the saddle. I was so focused on guiding the riders, I didn't have time to worry about the wet roads. And, lets face it... I ended the day with around 35 miles with an avg pace of 10.1 mph.

- I got to see all my race, tri, running buddies!

- I realized why I ride - because I love the way it feels to push the pedals. I might have waited much longer before getting back on my bike...

- I spent hours with Top Notch runners. Usually, in watching a marathon, I only see the "fast guys" as they fly by. But, by riding with them - I was able to really witness their race. Daniel (half winner) and Chuck (full winner) are incredible. Both seemed to speed up through turns, never break form, remain totally focused, and never waver. Daniel was a graceful gazelle, while Chuck displayed muscular strength. Totally different forms of running... both SO fast.

*** all of this lead to a Great Sunday run. Today was the best I've felt since before the crash. Still nothing fast... but, I almost felt possessed by my former self. Some of the depression must have washed away as I road that marathon course. Thanks to everyone who has helped and is helping me get back.
Me and Cameron... and his disc

Jeremey at the StartGiordanelli driving the moped

And they're off

Nicole, pretty in Pink

Go Bea!!

Rick, finishing the 5K in style

Kids fun run... how cute!!


Anonymous said...

OH THANK GOODNESS! This post made my we all try to heal from crashes, accidents, this sounds like JUST what you needed. I have been worried about you, but glad you got that spark again, will come back, IT always does. :) Jen H. xoxo

Gotta Run said...

See you were meant to ride the race and provide key support. What a great push to get you back on the road.

Love Go Tri Sports!!

Your body will adjust quickly to training again... you will see :)

So awesome meeting you on Sunday. It was a fun time just relaxing and talking. Next time I will join you in a glass of wine :)

Carolina John said...

Sweet! I know it feels good to get back in the saddle again. I wanted to go race the half Spinx this year, but it was a little over my milage. But at least your bike was still ready to go.

I know rehab has been a long, slow process, but this post was so positive it really makes me want to be out there too! thanks for adding a plus to a monday!

Beth said...

Great news Ashley!! You just needed a little nudge and it sounds like you got just that at the marathon! What a cool opportunity too... All the fitness will be back before you know it. Happy running! And cycling! And soon swimmming too... :)