MS: My Struggles, My Strengths
I struggled a lot for this race. The troubles started in the morning when our taxi ride to the marathon was a no-show. A friend ordered a cab for us the night before, but I had an inkling there would be trouble. Our friend stressed twice on the phone that the taxi was for 6:00 in the morning. Perhaps it was odd to call a taxi for such an early time on a Sunday morning?
We normally walk to a marathon start but our flat was 7.2km away. Or we would take a bus, but the BA Transit website made it seem like buses don’t start until 8:00 a.m. on Sundays. My Spanish is obviously “no bueno” because we saw buses everywhere that morning. None would take us directly to the marathon. We knew that. We just didn’t know which one would be best to take us close to the marathon start.
We started walking toward the marathon and Brian tried to flag down a bus. Understandably, no one stopped. We went out to a main road and saw a bunch of taxis flying by, but they were already full of passengers and would not stop either. We did ask some groups of runners if we could catch a ride with them, but there was no room. Their taxis were already going to be full.
I was in panic mode and about to cry. We saw a cop, who might have noticed my distress, and she kindly flagged down a taxi for us. Interestingly, the driver didn’t seem to want to take us. Luckily, another desperate runner, who spoke fluent Spanish, came from behind and negotiated for us. We all hopped into that car and made it to the marathon with no more than 10 minutes to spare!
I had a cold with a hacking cough for more than a week and having that kind of very stressful morning didn’t make me happy. Coupled with sunny 70 degree weather at the start, my skin started to hurt. Unless you have MS, it’s hard to understand. The rubbing of clothing material on my skin felt like sandpaper and, further, it made me very itchy. I was also getting electric shocks in my arm and back. My bra, shirt, shorts and running belt hurt my skin. At one point I wished I was in San Francisco so I could run naked.
I fully expected to run Buenos Aires faster than Cape Town. Most marathon training plans schedule the longest run three weeks prior to the event. Some schedules call for a 16-18 mile run and some go as high as 30 miles. BA and CT were three weeks apart and, therefore, perfectly timed. However the terrible cough, the stress of the no-show taxi, and the extra walking we had just endured made me tired before the race even started!
Brian said my breathing was labored for more than seven miles. I was struggling just to keep a 10:30 pace. I had several bouts of coughing fits that made me want to puke my Gu race gel.
My shin started bruising from the AFO around mile six. Fortunately I carry Vaseline when I run. I applied that liberally and my skin never tore off, but I had to endure a sore bruise for 20 miles. At least purple is one of my favorite colors.
Even thoughts of work crept into my mind and that brought on more dread.
Never in my mind did I think I could not finish, but I knew I had to change my outlook. I didn’t want to run this race in misery. One of my strengths is convincing myself to be happy.
I turned my thoughts to Brian. The poor guy running next to his hacking wife! I can’t believe he agreed to renew our wedding vows last year. I started singing our wedding song, but got too choked up! So I focused on four other strong women who have impacted my life in the utmost positive ways: Karin Ireland, Tricia Stirling, Non Smit and Carlyn Shaw. Thinking of these women put an instant smile on my face!
I dedicated mile 13 to Nancy Jenkins. She is a kind stranger who donated to my CrowdRise. She has a rare neurological disease called Stiff Persons Syndrome and she used to be a half marathoner.
Finally I thought of all my sponsors and donors. I am so grateful for their support and for believing in me. That touches my heart and pushed me to the finish line.
Once my mood lifted, my breathing eased up, my skin stopped hurting and my running pace became steady. I still could not run fast, but I felt strong all the way to 26.46 miles (the course was long).
I ran most of the second half happy and I could enjoy the beautiful sites of Buenos Aires. I laughed at Brian’s lame jokes; I smiled at the spectators; and thanked all the volunteers.
When I crossed the finish line, I was so overcome by emotion. I could not stop crying. I had tears of joy, but it was sweeter because I endured the struggles.
A very special thank you to XCom Global for powering all of my blog posts while traveling in Buenos Aires!