The human memory is a funny thing. Its main function is to remember events as they actually happened. But somehow our memories tend to mold facts into stories that we want to believe happened, instead of the reality we experienced. Well at least that is what my memory does and I am absolutely fine with it. So my memory of the London Marathon may or may not be based on actual events. But it is 100% based on my memory.
I departed Boston for London on an overnight flight. I successfully slept on the flight which required me to gracefully dodge the 100 questions on why I was traveling to London with the chatty ex-Pat in the seat next to me. He kindly informed me that getting sleep three nights before a marathon was not essential. He knew this based on his experience of never running a marathon. He deserved to be stuck in the middle seat.
Upon arriving in London I had a sore throat which I immediately dismissed as “just from a night of breathing recycled airplane air”. The next morning, one day before the marathon, I woke up again with a sore throat along with some congestion and a side of denial. I did not train for the past 16 weeks to get sick the day before the marathon! The mind, like the memory, works in mysterious ways. Denial is one of its most powerful tools.
So, as if you have not yet figured this out, I ran the London Marathon with a cold that was later diagnosed as a respiratory virus. My first marathon feeling under the weather. I finished, albeit, at a slower pace than I had planned on.
Initially, I was very disappointed and upset with the way things played out. I did not cross the finish line with a sense of pride and satisfaction. Instead I crossed with a sense of failure and discouragement. Feelings that are completely unjustified when completing a marathon. I barely looked at my medal.
I am two weeks post marathon and I can already feel my memory getting to work. While I have yet to hang the medal with my others, every time I see it on my kitchen counter I catch myself smiling. When I am asked about the race, I have started to tell people how Big Ben was tolling when I ran by and that was the coolest marathon experience ever. I even find myself smiling when I talk about the course and the crowds.
I still mention that I was sick because I feel the need to explain my slower than expected pace. But instead of using it as a crutch, I have begun wearing it as a badge of honor. Yes, I ran a marathon with a respiratory virus. And, yes, I finished.
When I look at my finishers photos I still see my smile as the smirk I was aiming for in the pose. I can still see on my face the intent I had to document, via photograph, what I look like when I don’t run the race I want. A stupid intention but after 26.2 miles with a cold it seemed appropriate. I trust that, in time, my memory will take care of this. One day, I am sure, I will look at the photos and only see accomplishment.
So, for now I am working on recovering both physically and mentally from the marathon. I am back to running and I am getting close to hanging up the medal.
I decided to declare the London Marathon my PR With A Cold. I deserve that. Who knows, maybe one day my memory will find a way to re-classify it as a true PR. But for now, I am just trying to find satisfaction as I look forward to NYC 2012!
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