Secret Ingreidents: When You Cannot Get Outside Your Head

By Alex Weissner

Last month I ran my second marathon. However, my second marathon was much different from my first. Knowing that I’ve ran 26.2 miles before, I felt extremely confident in both my mind and body. When race day arrived, I was ready! I entered my corral, found my pace group, 4:15, (a little ambitious) but right around the pace I had been training at.  

The first mile I ran a 10:24 pace and I felt awesome. I was chatting away with the rest of the group zipping right along. Unfortunately, at mile 7 I really had to pee,  I tried to push myself to mile 8 but that was not going to happen. Port-o-potty stop!

After attending to mother nature, I was back to running  but I was now on my own. Before long,  the 4:30 pace group caught up to me, which I was ok with since I had ran a 4:30 in my first marathon, so I was still on track to PR. I tagged along with this group up until a little past mile 13.  and that was when things started to go downhill, not the course, but in my head. 

As we began heading back towards downtown Denver (where the race started) I began falling apart, emotionally and physically. Mile 18 was my last “good mile” And of course, I had to pee again.

At mile 20 I was pissed, no I hadn’t pissed myself, I was pissed off with myself. I could no longer keep up with the 4:30 pace group and I wasn’t on track to PR anymore. Sidenote, I am extremely competitive with myself. I wanted to do and be better than I was yesterday. At this point I almost yelled at a volunteer handing out water because they were cheering me on. Really Alex? Yes it is true. I was in such a bad mood. I could not remember why I had signed up to run this race. 

It was at around mile 21 the 4:45 pacer passed me. I felt defeated.

 At mile 23 tears began streaming down my face. I should preface that I tend to bottle up emotion, and rarely cry unless I am watching a chick-flick or sappy commercial (haha you don’t have to put this in). Everything that had been stressing me out or overwhelming me from the past few months decided to rear its ugly head, and it hit me like a train at full speed. I went from feeling defeated to beating up myself, emotionally, and then the mean thoughts took over. 

I started pointing out all the mistakes I made while training. “Why did you give up eating chicken? You partied too much! You should have, could have, would have!!!” Like a tornado, I could not stop putting myself down . I started second guessing everything that had happened from work to my love life over the past three months. Every thought was negative. Every thought tore me apart more and more emotionally with each stride. I was drained.

Right before mile marker 24 was my home, literally the place where I live. It took every ounce of strength I had not to go there. I wanted to give up and crawl into my bed so badly. But, I had come this far and I could not stand the thought of telling people that I had given up. So, I kept going. 

I was mean to another volunteer at mile 24 who told me, “You look like you could use a cup of water.” Between the sweat and tears coming down my cheeks, I probably looked super awesome! This was not a comment I needed to hear. I was feeling so distraught and disappointed and I just wanted to give up, so I started walking. For the next mile I did this walk run shuffle thing. At mile 25 I got myself running again. I refused to  cross the finish line walking. After all, there was beer and hot firefighters at the finish waiting for me. 

Somewhere between mile 25 and 26, some guy offered me some pretzels while holding a beer. I asked him for his beer instead and I was denied. If someone running a marathon asks you for your beer, you should give it to them. Just saying!

As I entered City Park, my roommate and one of her/our dogs, Nala, were there waiting for me. This was the jolt I needed to finish. I reluctantly crossed the finish line. Hot firefighter put a medal around my neck, I grabbed a water and bagel. I wanted nothing more than to just  collapse into the grass drink a beer and get puppy kisses. 

The rest of the day was a blur. I ate. I napped. I ate more. What I was not prepared for was the funk I would have for the next few weeks. I felt drained. Emotionally and physically. I am already fairly emotional (as previously stated). I notoriously cry at commercials, tv shows and movies. This is especially true if there are puppies. 

Every little thing got under my skin. All I kept doing was replaying the race. Rethinking the mistakes I made and every negative thought that had come through my head in the past three months. Each thought became a ghost. The ghost of marathons past. I’m a big fan of NCIS, I could have really used a Gibbs slap upside the head. 

Getting out of the funk was hard. My first run back was at a bRUNch event. Running a 5K that morning sucked, but I put on a smiling face and acted like I was happy to be running again. I started going to yoga more and spending more time swimming, but those ghosts were still lingering. 

All of my friends had to put up with me, and trust me I probably was not the most fun person to spend time with. Cortney had to deal with several drunk texts as I processed each thought, over and over again. Thank you for listening to all my crazy shit Cortney!

This marathon held part of my soul hostage for a few weeks. Eventually I started to enjoy running again, but it took about a month. And now I want nothing more than redemption. I will run a marathon again, I need to prove to myself that I am strong enough to run a sub 4:30 marathon. 

Often times we think of running as something purely physical. But it is so emotional. In high school I hated running a mile, running a marathon was something I never thought of doing. Then I had a few too many mimosas at bRUNch one day and signed up for a marathon. 

If we do not push ourselves physically and emotionally, how can we become the best versions of ourselves? I am now at a point, where I can look back and say I’ve finished two marathons and I am a better person for it. I know the mistakes I made and next time I will not make those mistakes. These lessons are not just about running, but are for life to. 

We all make mistakes. No one is perfect. It is those mistakes that challenge and change us and ultimately we are better for it.