When I was in high school, I ran track, and did well at it. But, I did
not run long distances. I was a sprinter. I hated to run the 800, I
couldn't even fathom running a marathon. You might as well ask me to run
across the United States.
When I was in college I did not exercise regularly, I didn't get enough sleep, my nutritional intake was sorry, and I drank large quantities of beer. It was during this time that I began dating a man who at the time was a captain in the army. He was quite physically fit, and he told me one time that he considered himself "a world-class athlete". I am genetically blessed with skinniness, so I have never had to diet or watch my weight. This is a great thing, but it can be deceiving. Just because someone is not fat does not mean that person is in shape. He probably thought I was in better shape than I actually was.
In 1998 we were in Colorado Springs, CO and one day he said to me, "Let's go for a short five mile run." Holy moly, I thought. Short run? Five miles seemed like a long way to me. I wanted to be a good sport, so I thought I'd try to run the five miles with him. I think I had barely run two miles and I was wheezing terribly, even though I do not have asthma. The burning in my lungs and muscles caused me to clutch at my chest and sides, and he said disgustedly, "My God, it's not like someone stabbed you in the stomach with a bayonet!" He would run ahead of me, then run back to me, then run ahead, and run back. I was embarrassed, and I told him to go ahead and finish his run, and I would finish at my own pace. I was determined to run the five miles, and I did. I thought to myself, I'll show him....one of these days I'll run a marathon.
Now, let me go back a year before this. In 1997 we were vacationing in Silverton, CO, and unbeknownst to us the Hardrock 100-mile endurance race was going on. One morning we came out of our bed & breakfast and there was a man sitting on the curb. The man's hair was sticking up all over his head in a wild-looking manner, his face was red and chapped, his hands were red and swollen, he had his shoes off and he had some purple toenails. He looked utterly exhausted. My boyfriend said to him, "Dude, what happened to you?" The man told us that he had been running the Hardrock 100. He had attempted this race multiple times before, and had never finished it. This particular year he had made it the farthest yet, I think he said seventy-something miles. I was so impressed. I was in awe. My boyfriend took a picture of him, and for a number of years after that I had that picture taped to my bathroom mirror. I would fantasize about running that race. I didn't consider that I could start running and training and that this could actually be within my capabilities -- it was just a fantasy for me.
Now, fast forward to the year 2001. By this time, I had mostly forgotten about my desire to run a marathon. Mostly being the key word. One day I just said to myself, I said I was going to run a marathon, and I haven't done it, so I'm going to do it now. I was terrified of this prospect, and wanted someone to do it with me, so I talked my friend Viviana into it, too.
Viviana was five years younger than me, and slightly more physically fit
than me. We fully intended to train well for this marathon, but somehow we
just never quite found the time. We each ran by ourselves, and we only ran
sporadically. I think the longest run I did was about seven miles. My knee had been hurting me on and off, but it was never bad enough to keep me from running, so I didn't pay much attention to it.
San Antonio is about 2 1/2 hours from where I live, so the afternoon before the marathon, my husband and I drove there so we could spend the night with a friend, who would take us to the start of the marathon in the morning.
That night we went out to eat and had a pasta dinner. I was very nervous, especially because I knew I had not trained adequately and I was not prepared to run this marathon. I thought about ditching the endeavor, but then I thought, what the heck, what will it hurt to try? I decided my goal would be to run 1/2 the marathon. I will also add here that the shoes I was running in were very old and worn out. I don't mean broken in, I mean WORN OUT. I had needed a new pair of running shoes for quite a while, but at the time couldn't afford to buy any. Anyway, that night I did not sleep well at all due to nervousness. I got up very early in the morning, already exhausted from a sleepless night. I ate a banana and drank some orange juice, and we were on our way.
When we arrived at the Alamodome I was overwhelmed by the number of people running the marathon. I felt insecure and conspicuous. Everyone else there seemed calm and confident. People were stretching, laughing, smiling, and talking, and I was so nervous I thought I was going to vomit. Everyone else seemed so FIT. I am skinny, and not an extremely muscular gal, and I was looking at all these other runner's muscular legs and thinking What am I doing here?
I found Viviana and together we started the race. Her pace was
faster than mine, so she ran ahead of me and we were separated for most of
the race. I tried to just relax and run at a pace that was natural for me.
By the halfway point, I felt fine and I was kind of in a groove, so I
decided to keep running and try to complete the marathon. Because my shoes
were so old and worn, I was wearing two pairs of socks and this was
uncomfortable. I stopped long enough to take my shoes off and remove one
pair of socks, and I threw the socks to my husband. I kept running and was
trucking along fine until about mile 20. By this time my knee was really
hurting. I kept running, but I was taking very small steps.
By about mile 23 I thought I couldn't take my knee pain any more, so I stopped and leaned up against this tree in a residential area I was running through and I started bawling. There were no other runners in sight at that moment. I was sobbing and sniffling, and I prayed to God, please let me finish this marathon...I've made it this far, I don't want to fail this close to the finish. I asked God to please send someone along who could help me.
About that time a woman came running by, but she didn't even look in my direction, and she just ran past me. I left the tree I was leaning on and starting walking, limping along, continuing to cry. In a minute, here came another runner. It was a man, and he also ran past me. He ran a little way ahead of me, then he turned around and ran back to me. He said to me, "Are you alright?" I said no, that I was having severe knee pain, and this was my first marathon and I really wanted to finish it, but I didn't think that I could. He introduced himself as Joe Pines, and I think he said that this was his sixteenth marathon, or something like that. He grabbed me by the hands right in the middle of the street and began to pray. By this time there were some other runners going around us and I felt a little
embarrassed by this sort of public display, but I went ahead and prayed with Joe Pines. He prayed out loud for God to help me accomplish my goal. Then he told me he would run the rest of the way with me. We alternated running and walking, and he taught me some breathing techniques. He was a very nice man, and he introduced me to his wife as we ran past her. She cheered for me as well as him.
Pretty soon we caught up with Viviana, who was having a little bit of a hard time as well. The three of us finished the marathon together. I came across the finish line right at five and a half hours, which was the cutoff time. I received the long sleeve finisher's t-shirt and a finisher's medal.
I am proud that I ran the San Antonio Marathon, but I have to admit that I am embarrassed that it took me 5 1/2 hours to run it. I do not condone
inadequate training for this type of athletic event. After that I did not
run for a full year due to my severe IT band syndrome.
Now it is 2005, I have just turned 30 years old, and I have decided to run this marathon again. This time, though, I intend to be prepared. I am in better physical condition now than I was four years ago. I will work on getting in good runner's shape from now until July. From July until November when the marathon is, I will follow a marathon-training regimen. I am so excited about it. I also would like to attempt the Texas Marathon Challenge, which involves running 5 marathons between September and May. I may not try this until 2006, though, it just depends. I will only attempt it when I feel I am in good enough shape to follow through with it. I also still fantasize about running the Hardrock 100, and I no longer think it is just a fantasy. I know that with preparation, I could do it.
Bobbi Davis 2004