Wednesday, November 25, 2009

My First Marathon (From Cheryl Rush)

Cheryl’s Story

What an incredible journey this has been. It all began 5 years ago, 2004, when I fell off a ladder. After 2 knee surgeries the doctor was concerned that I was not recovering like I should and the pain was so intense I was on high dosages of pain medication. In late 2006 an MRI of my spine found a tumor. The doctor said that it was a matter of time before I would not be able to walk as it was pressing on the nerves to my lower body. In May of 2007 my friend Jennifer Yeager began walking with me very short distances and that increased little by little. We were joined by Rachael Miller. They both encouraged me to press forward because they knew I could do it. By December 2007 I walked my first 5K, The Jingle Bell Run. I had never walked that far before. I finished! In March 2008 I began the “Newbies” at Runner World. Was I ready? I did not think so as I was still sporting a leg brace but wanted to try. Kathy had me run a pole and walk 2 poles. That was not possible but I ran ½ pole and walked 2. I did that as much as I could for the 2 miles. This was a new challenge. Over the course of the next few months I was able to run multiple poles at a time. In May 2008 I decided to work towards the Rt 66 half marathon thinking it would not happen in 08. The summer past and Kathy walked me through the different running challenges I faced and I ran my First Half Marathon Nov 2008. When I finished I asked God, what did it take to get here? Desire + Determination + Dedication = Destination. Allowing my faith, family and friends help me along the journey, I succeeded. I was set at running half marathons and ran 3 more in 5 months. I tried to enter the marathon training in Jan 09 but failed as my body could not take the toll of the mileage (15) so I dropped back to the half marathon for the OKC Marathon.

I decided to sign up again in May for the summer training schedule for the marathon for Rt 66. Knowing I dropped out before just a few months prior. I did not think I would make it past mile 15 or maybe 16. I set out on this journey with the 26.2 Marathuners group led by Bobby. I saw Bobby complete his first marathon the year before and that inspired me. Applying the knowledge I gained (Desire + Determination + Dedication = Destination) to this new training session was a challenge as I was not able to train like I needed to but I did what I could. Gradually the miles added on. It seemed hard but I was excited to see that I was able to overcome obstacles and still increase in mileage. 14 became 16 and then 18 and then the Mock Marathon where I sprained my ankle 2 weeks before my first marathon.

What do you do? I prayed, rested, iced, and elevated and prayed some more. I was determined to complete this race. Dr. Z taped my ankle and wished me luck. I was going to need it. I began thinking of different scenarios that I might find myself in and what I would do if that happened. It was good to have a plan upfront.

Sunday Nov 22 came upon us, I woke up early. I was excited to know that I would be accomplishing the goal I had set. Little did I know that this was just the beginning of the journey that day. Arriving at Veterans Park at 6am I relaxed in my car for a while. At 6:45 I set out to meet the other runners from RW for a picture. The excitement and anticipation for the gun to go off was in the air. We lined up according to our times. Of course, I am a slow runner and my time was not listed so I positioned myself with other RW on the 13+ mark. The gun goes off and confetti everywhere. The journey has started, however I did not stick to my game plan in the beginning which threw me off. The first 6 miles were very hilly but I was doing well with my time. I was pleased. A little ahead of scheduled. The next 2 miles or so seemed nice, flatter ground and I was able to run next to the Biggest Loser Sean for a brief time till the water stop. I continued on. A few miles later I noticed that there were not a whole lot of runners left as the half marathoners split and went another direction. I was alone. Everyone was in front of me. Do I give up? No, stay the path. Eventually the Biggest Loser caught up to me with his trainers. We said mutual hi’s and words of encouragement. I tried to keep pace with them and quickly fell behind as we hit another one of Tulsa’s finest hills. Downtown was not easy as I was mentally trying to get on top of my thoughts. My pace became slower as if I had given up.

I went up and over the hill onto Riverside where I knew it was the last long hall down and back. I saw someone ¼ mi up the road. Hmm… I thought. So, one by one I decided to pick these men off. They were twice my age. You can imagine my thoughts. I am running so slow that I am in the 70+ category. I could not be last one to finish. I don’t like being last. I hunted down a total of 4 men then I was all alone again. I knew I had blisters developing on my heels which I had never encountered before in training. Ignore them was the best thing to do. Yeah, that lasted about a mile. My feet were beginning to hurt so I walked, a lot.
I would try to run a little here and there. At the 20 mile marker I was at 5:15.
I was doing well. Keep this pace and I will be around 6:30 to 6:45. I was happy and right on schedule. But then it happened. Kathy says at mile 20 things fall apart. I do not recall that statement before the race but I now found myself in a situation at mile 21 that I had not thought through before the race. All of a sudden horrible pain and feeling like something just gave way and burning. It took me to a complete stop. The med tent was right ahead of me and the guy came running out. After being check I had plantar fascitis with a blister on top on both heels. He wanted to lance it open but I would be done for the day. So, close but so far away. I said I wanted to go on. I could not give up. He bandaged it and off I went hobbling on the balls of my feet for the next 5.2 miles. At the 23 mi I was done. An older man I had previously passed was passing me. We talked a few minutes as I had to decide if I was quitting. He said it is only a 5K left. You can do it. I pressed on. The police told us that we had to move to Riverside trail as they were opening up the roads. No I said. This was not good. It adds on mileage and hills where I just had to walk straight on a flat road. My heart sank as I looked at my watch. I continued as fast as my feet could walk. I was so ready for it to be over. All I could do was pray and I prayed a lot. Here it is mi 26. Right before the turn off was Russell who had just completed his first marathon. He started walking and talking to me. I asked him if he was going to walk me in he said yes. That meant the world at that point. Then as I rounded the last curve I could hear and see my friends. A flood of emotions hit me all at once. Crying all the way to the finish line I was overjoyed, proud of myself, hurting, thankful, shocked at all the people waiting for me, disappointed but happy I did not give up on myself. I crossed the line and into Kathy’s arms where she embraced me. The journey ended 7hr 27 min. I finished right before the cut off time.

First questions that was asked “ Will you do another marathon? I said, Hell NO! Never again”. I have since somewhat changed my mind. I will do another one once I lose some weight and get callouses on my feet. Besides, I will get a PR next time.
Thank you Kathy for being such an inspiration over the last 2 years. You have been a mentor to me, an encourager, teacher, trainer and never gave up. You kept telling me I could do it when I could not see myself doing it. I did it. It was not pretty at the end but I never gave up on myself. I pressed forward and completed the goal.

When I decided to start this journey the healing process began physically, emotionally, and mentally. I could not have a better group of people to surround me. RW runners are amazing and I am glad to be apart of this wonderful group.

This is my story.

Cheryl Rush

6 comments:

Zero Bod said...

awesomeness!

Deborah said...

Oh Cheryl, your story made me cry! How awesome is that, finishing well when you have gone through so much! Thank you for sharing your story.

Bobby said...

Nice, inspirational story. When will the movie be out? I'll buy a ticket.

Cheryl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cheryl said...

Thanks Bobby. Maybe one day a book and a movie. I will even give you a free copy and tickets as you encouraged me through this process.

Jyeager said...

Amazing! Well, you are an inspiration and full of faith. Good job! Sorry I was out of the country. Thank you for writing your story.