FIRST full marathon is done
The 2019 Navajo Yes, 36th Annual Shiprock Marathon was the one marathon to pick. At first it was sort of this casual, “Hey, you should run the Shiprock Marathon!” …hahah as we laughed jokingly in our minds, like yeah right, definitely not ready. Now with the proudest smile in world! WE finished a FULL 26.2 MILES! Which is pictured below BUT!! to read about each of our experiences, please read further. I will let Jen go first.
Jennifer’s Marathon Story
May the 4th be with you, as the saying goes from Star Wars, but today was the battle of 26.2 miles. The morning had come after 18 weeks of training, 18 weeks eating clean, 18 weeks of many many miles and 18 weeks of testing our endurance. As the weeks rolled on, I wasn’t sure how I would feel come race day physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I wasn’t sure about all of these aspects because I had injured my quad muscle during week 8 of our marathon training. The toll of not being able to train at 100% took its toll on me, and at times I wonder if I could physically run the 26.2 miles come May.
The support of my best friend and many of those who follow me on Instagram continued to support me through my injury and into my last 2 weeks of training. I simply kept stepping forward in faith that the training we endured would carry my body across that finish line. So as I counted down the days, and counted the miles I was able to log in. May 4th had arrived, gear laid out, and countdown began to get ourselves to Shiprock. The car ride over was quiet, as we mentally prepared ourselves for the long journey ahead of us. “Why am I doing this again?” I said to myself as my mind was racing and my heart pounding with suspense.
At 6:45 am we barely made the last van out to the starting line, only to realize we had barely just made the last van out to get us the 26.2 miles. As we made to the starting line, we were greeted by some of our Running Medicine family and Instagram friends we made through this incredible shared journey. As Sasha and I, high fived and congratulated each other on an amazing 18 week journey, it was time to parts ways. The announcement came, “RUNNERS, READY…SET…GO!” I had adjusted my music, I had everything I needed from a well planned evening the night before. My 26.2 marathon started, and I greeted every mile with a smile, a prayer, and had a long conversation with God. He had entered my life recently, and having him along these 26.2 miles I learned a little more about myself and the true meaning of perseverance. There were times I was listening to my favorite 80s song, “Footloose, You’re the Best Around and Sweet Dreams” and just creating the fun attitude that carried me through the first 20 miles.
This is where I put everything I had learned from my injury, from being humble, not quitting, crying if need be and putting one foot in front of the other. My shins started to cramp and I hadn’t anticipated the 6 mile decline to the finish line, which lead up to my legs seizing up. As I was going downhill I saw runners ahead of starting to slow down and even some calling it an end to their race. I was determined to finish, and 6hrs and 9 mins later I crossed the finish line to my 1st FULL MARATHON.
I was greeted by my mom and my stepdad who had been a part of my journey beginning with my 1st half marathon in 2017. Then being greeted by my training partner, and my best friend, we had just completed our 26.2 mile journey. A journey that showed a little more about who we are and what we are really made of. Thank you for reading my story, this has been an amazing and humbling experience. I can’t wait to share more stories of transformation with you in the near future. So stay tuned!!!
Sasha’s Marathon Story
I was ready and nervous. From the moment I woke up – it was surreal. This day was it! MARATHON DAY!! I tried to take it all in, each moment, stay calm. I kept telling myself… hydrate, hydrate, hydrate… The moment we parked, gathered our stuff, headed for the buses. I heard someone shout, “Last call for marathoners!!” …was this us?!?! …wait that’s us!! AHHHH!!!! we are about to miss our ride to the starting line!!! I ran to the coordinator, “TOM!!” I yelled frantically, “We are running the full marathon!” Without hesitation, he led us onto the last cargo van and said, “Good luck kid!” then motioned the van to move! Off we went! 30 miles to the starting line. My thoughts crowded my feelings of anticipation …am I ready …am I ready – gazing at everyone in the van, I wondered what motivated them to run 26.2 miles? Evidently we were all at various fitness levels and ages, I slowed my thoughts and my breathing followed… I am ready.
We parked and there were a crowd of runners all surrounded by the Navajo Nation President, Nez. He was giving a speech and the part that I heard, he joked, “It’s against the law to run pass the Navajo Nation President.” I chuckled under my breath as I bee-lined for the outhouse (hahaha) On my way, over, I ran into HEATHER!! Oh my gosh, it was Heather!! – Heather is a sweet young lady, who we had met on Instagram after running the Canyon-X Half Marathon in LeChee, Arizona. She had reached out to us after shout-outs made on a popular running account, Native Women Running (founded by Verna Volker). SO WOW!! To finally meet a fellow follower from Instagram was a big deal but we literally only had seconds to celebrate our first meet, say good luck and goodbye all in one hug.
After that spike of excitement, I turned to Jennifer and said nervously, we got less than ten minutes and we need to do our warm-up! We found a spot in the crowd and began. I looked at her and thought, wow! we made it!! here we are, after 18 weeks of training!! Quickly, I tried to warm-up, trying not to panic… 5 minutes, the announcer said… without much more to say or do, I looked at Jennifer, I said, “You got this, we got this, we did the training… now let’s step in faith and run our own race.” Then, GOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!”
THE RACE started!! Focus… I said, focus… I listened to my breathing, like a horse out of the gate, I tried to control my stride. I was excited, my adrenaline rushed and carried me, I allowed myself to be free and JUST run. A mile quickly came and went, I clocked just over 8 minutes …wow, I thought, I am feeling good. I know my goal was to run the marathon under 4 hours but I reminded myself just to take it mile by mile; by mile 4, I logged a 7:50 minute mile. Needless to say, I felt like I was just cruising. Remembering words from the book, to keep my fuel tank topped off as much as I can. So sip, sip, sip is what I did from my Nathan pack, I used the Tailwind Endurance Fuel as my source to keep my electrolytes and calories in check.
Before long, I was about to stride through mile 18 which was around the time, I used the commode… lol. This stop was a double edged sword because it got me out of the rhythm I was in and also allowed my body to take a short breather. Honestly, I am not sure the stop was needed and with more experience, this stop would be null in void. After getting back into sync, I found my stride approaching mile 20 but like a brick wall, as I turned down the 3% decline, my body was so confused!!
This downhill should be easy, it should carry my body to run faster. BUT nope! The complete opposite happened, my pace slowed by 1-2 minutes easily… “Was this the dreaded WALL everyone speaks of when they talk or write about getting past the WALL?” – oh my legs did not know what to do or feel… mentally, I did not know strategically how to engage my fatigue muscles on a 6 mile descend. All I knew was, DO NOT STOP. JUST ONE STEP IN FRONT OF THE OTHER. And that was just what I did.
Not only was the last 6 miles confusing as heck!! The crowds increased, there were more vendors, water stations and TRAFFIC along the way. Simply put, I was not able to listen to my music the last 6 miles because of the sheer noise and chaos going on. PASSING through this with the increase in temperature was the perfect recipe for me or anyone to just STOP!
I kept running. I blocked the noise mentally. Physically I concentrated more on my breathing than my body screaming at me to stop. I know I was getting closer and the closer I got the tougher the mile. Alright, I told myself, this is it… give all you got! I dug deep and was able to speed up my last mile to FINISH!
50 meters out, I heard my name, “GO SASHA!!” and in a blink of an eye, I stepped across the finish line! I just accomplished 26.2 miles and it was AMAZING!
First Official Marathon Time 4:09
Happy ending right? Or at least you would think that should be it, a glorious victory! When in fact we have yet to bring home the trophy. You see while in commemoration of all the beautiful miles logged. We were also able to do a fundraiser.
While we started this blog, we also got to design a t-shirt through Bonfire.com and create fundraiser to give back to a strong community that has been the spark to our running journey. Dr. Anthony Fleg, Director of Running Medicine re-ignited a passion for health that we never really knew was there. Blinded by life issues and our failed marriages that led to divorce. Our journey has taken life and flight to new horizons.
We were successfully able to fund raise $200 dollars selling t-shirts while inspiring others through our shared journey. This is only the beginning of what we dream to accomplish and we thank each and every ONE of YOU reading this blog for your support. It is because of you our story carries the fuel to ignite your spirit to find WHOLE HEALTH.
Ahe’hee (Thank you)