The Weight of Change

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Going from a size 18 to a size 12 is never easy. If anything, it takes a lot more time than what an impatient 26 year old has. Nothing come easy, but when the results come through then all the pain, sweat, and tears suddenly have a deeper meaning. I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that I may never be as fast as I once was. Not saying that isn’t my goal, but I know that as long as I am running and being healthy that I feel whole.

So much has changed since my last post. First, in July of this year I was diagnosed with an undiagnosable gastrointestinal problem, causing constant and nauseating pain. For about 2 months, during the bulk of my marathon training, I could barely run or eat. With that, an unhealthy relationship was coming to an end, I was finally on the mend. After 2 years I was liberated and the freedom I felt seemed to wash away the pain. By September, I decided that I needed to get some big miles in to make up for the time lost… So I decided to run a “training marathon” 3 weeks before the Chicago Marathon.

Air Force Marathon was black flagged due to heat 2 hours in. I knew my goal time was not going to happen – and watching marathoners collapse left and right (including my PACER) terrified me. The last 3 miles was like something out of a movie. I was walk/running through bodies and USAF medics on bikes. I knew I was running on E and my pain was creeping up with the dehydration but I kept pushing. Not finishing was not an option for me. So I stopped at each water stop, got water and Gatorade dumped on me like an NFL coach winning a Super Bowl, and pushed.

By the time I finished, over 200 marathoners were picked up along the course – including a few men I ran the majority of the race with. I finished in 5 hours and 45 minutes, my worst marathon, but it was by far my most rewarding. At the finish line I started ugly crying, and immediately officials surrounded me and each hugged me – telling me how proud they were of me. A couple cried along with me. Shit, even as I type this I get teary eyed, overwhelmed by the experience I had. The best part BY FAR was having my mom, dad, and brother at the finish line – mom had ran it and finished about an hour before me. Of course more tears were shed – but for another reason.

I tackled a marathon at over 200 pounds, 6 weeks of training, a little over a year after I broke my ankle, and on a 105 degree day. I accomplished something I never felt possible, and I felt so ready – emotionally and physically – to tackle Chicago.

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After Air Force Marathon, I had time in-between to get a couple more runs down, but I was really in CHICAGO MARATHON mode. This was a race I had to defer after my ankle break. I had 26.2 down, but I really wanted to make this marathon something special.

The Chicago Marathon is a unique experience. A World Marathon Major is electric. Everyone is in it for 26.2 miles and all of us had the same goal – to finish. I arrived in Chicago 4 days earlier than the race, and explored – which actually screwed me in the grand scheme of things because my legs were shot by the time I started. The best part of the race wasn’t the race itself – that part kind of sucked because it was cold and windy starting out and then was hot and humid by the end – but it was my mom being there to cheer me on.

If anyone knows anything about Terri you would know that she is the whole entire reason that I run. She’s my biggest cheerleader and the best running friend I could have. Seeing her with a little hastily made sign made me the happiest. Although this race was not as rewarding as Air Force, it made me feel like I was a runner again.

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Time is on my side again, and I can’t wait for my 9th marathon in April.

Until next time – Sam

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