Life · Running

Bay of Fundy International Marathon – Recap

Well, I am very happy to report that 1) I am officially a MARATHONER and 2) I want to do another one!

I told many people in the weeks leading up to the race that Bay of Fundy might be my first and last marathon. But I changed my mind about that after I finished the race. I am not done with the marathon yet!

I signed up for this marathon back in December, just before Christmas. I had been thinking about signing up for a marathon since I finished my third half at the end of October. I love half marathons, its probably my favorite race distance. But I just felt like I wanted to try a new challenge, something harder. When I told my husband, he jokingly reminded me that I had always said, “I will never do more than a half marathon. Marathoners are crazy!”  I think part of him always knew I didn’t mean that 🙂

While trying to decide which marathon to register for, I was originally shooting for something in the fall. I wanted to give myself plenty of time to build a strong base and then really start training hard. A spring marathon is more challenging because you have to stay motivated to run outside through the cold winter months and be prepared to do a lot of treadmill running. I also heard so many stories of runners getting injured during marathon training, and I was just paranoid about building up mileage too quickly. Plus, fall is my favorite season and just so great for running.

Then I started thinking, well maybe I can find a race in Maine so I can also visit my parents and they can watch me run. I hadn’t seen them since our wedding. This made it challenging because my parents live in a pretty remote location. They’re on a small island in Maine just across from the Canadian border. After I did some research, I quickly realized the Bay of Fundy marathon was the only option I had unless they were going to meet me in Portland or another big city, but I didn’t want to ask them to travel and book a hotel. The whole point was to visit them where they lived. And while June 24 was sooner than I was hoping for, Jonathan and I discussed it and decided that 26 weeks was definitely enough time to prepare. I told my parents about it before signing up, and they were both excited about the idea. So I registered, raced a 10k three days later, and then immediately went into “I’m marathon training now” mode.

I am really proud of my training cycle. I had 190 days to work with. 24 of those days were non-running days (which are so important and why I included them in the total!). I ran a grand total of 1,384 miles during my training cycle!

This is a list of my long runs from 14 miles up:

14M – 4
15M – 10
16M – 2
17M – 3
18M – 2
19M – 1
20M – 3
22M – 1

I worked really hard from December til June. I hit a lot of milestones in those six months. I had never run more than 16 miles until this training cycle. One of the two 18 mile runs was done on a treadmill, and I never knew I had the mental fortitude to run that many miles on a treadmill! I also had never run more than 62 miles in a week, and during this cycle I peaked out at 75 miles in May. I had a lot of great workouts and really felt myself gradually getting stronger. I also started having more confidence in myself, more grace with myself (like not being hard on myself for having a bad run), and most importantly I truly started to believe in myself and feel like a “real” runner. I really disciplined myself and made running a priority in my life. I kept myself motivated and inspired. I kept myself in love with running and never got to a point where I felt like I was burning out. All of this I am grateful for and proud of.

Ok, so now lets start getting to the actual marathon…

I flew up to Bangor international airport on Thursday afternoon. My parents picked me up and we drove 3 hours to where they live on Moose Island. We got home at about 8:30pm and had ham, egg and cheese sandwiches for dinner. Watched a little TV and went to bed.

Then on Friday, I woke up and did a 2 mile run just to shake my legs out. When I came home, my dad told me that my mom woke up with vertigo. She felt dizzy every time she stood up or turned her head. We had breakfast and then took her to the doctor. We got her a prescription and went home so she could rest. She ended up staying in bed all day due to the medication, so I hung out with just my dad. He took me all over town to meet some of the locals. Then we grabbed some lunch at the grocery store and went home. We had a discussion about how we were getting to the race start on Sunday. Months ago, my dad had told me his friend Michael would be able to take us over to Lubec on his boat. It would only be a few minutes on the boat as opposed to a 1 hour drive in the car. I was thrilled about this because then I could sleep a bit longer in the morning and also not have to sit in the car for an hour. I wrote Michael a thank you card and brought some cookies for him in my suitcase. But, when I arrived in Maine my dad explained to me that the local boat mechanic quit before Michael was able to get his boat ready for the summer. So my dad said he was working on finding another friend who could boat us over. When he had taken me around town, he was trying to find another way for us to get over there. His friend Frank knew a couple people we could ask. After thinking about it, I told my dad that I would prefer to just drive. I didn’t like the idea of relying on a stranger to boat me over. It was one thing when it was my dad’s friend who he knew and could (hopefully) trust. But the thought of asking a stranger and crossing my fingers that they can get me there before 5:30am just didn’t seem like a good idea. My dad had also been getting a bit worked up all day about it, so I just wanted to make a decision and be done with it before he got even more tense. I don’t know why he can’t just stay calm in situations like this, but for some reason he always gets easily agitated and will snap so easily at me. At this point I just tried to ignore it, laugh it off, move on. But it did bother me. Especially since I rarely see my parents anymore, I didn’t understand why he couldn’t try harder to just stay calm and relaxed. He makes mountains out of molehills.

Shortly after we ate lunch, my dad and I drove to Lubec about 1 hour away to pick up my race packet. We got there at 2pm on the dot when the expo opened. The expo was very minimal and not what I was expecting. I know it’s a small town race but I still thought they would have more than one vendor. There was just one woman selling some clothes, hats, mugs and few trinkets like that. I guess it was a blessing in disguise because if it was an expo like the ones I’ve been to in DC, I might have spent a fortune LOL. I bought myself a tank top and my dad a hat. After that we crossed into Canada to Campobello Island to pick up my actual race bib. We also had to make sure my name was checked off the list at both border crossings. I had been most nervous about this leading up to the race because I thought it would take a lot longer and be much more logistically challenging. However, it was pretty easy and it all went smoothly. I was relieved!

Every runner knows the relief that sets in after getting your bib!

Not long after we got back home, my dad left to drive 4 hours to Brunswick to pick Jonathan up at the Amtrak station. Jonathan doesn’t fly so he took a train from DC to Brunswick, ME on Friday morning. He was on the train for 13 hours, plus the 4 hour car ride! It was an exhausting journey for him, and one that he only took because he loves me and wanted to see me finish my first marathon. He told me there was no way he could miss the first one (maybe the second or third, but not the first LOL). I felt bad not driving with my dad to get Jonathan. My dad was doing a ton of driving between picking up me and then Jonathan the very next day. But I was worried about sitting for 8 hours in the car so close to the marathon. I didn’t want my muscles and back to tighten up. By the early evening my mom was feeling well enough to sit downstairs and watch TV with me. We had sandwiches for dinner. She felt bad that we couldn’t go out to eat or go for a walk, but I didn’t mind. I was just hoping she would feel better before my race.

On Saturday morning, I woke up and said to Jonathan, “less than 24 hours now!!” I was planning to run a couple miles but then decided to ask Jonathan to go for a walk with me instead. We walked down to the bakery and bought a couple coffees and a little bite to eat. Then we walked around more, placed a geocache, and walked back because my dad had texted me that they were up and getting ready to eat breakfast. We had egg and cheese sandwiches (can you tell we love those yet?) and then my dad wanted to show us his new shed. Jonathan and I took the bicycles for a short bike ride around town. It was a very quick ride because Jonathan didn’t want me to get hurt right before my race! Always looking out for me 🙂 Then we just hung out for a bit. I think we watched a little TV.

Jonathan and I are friends with an older couple from Alexandria, Judy & Jim. Judy goes to our church and we met Jim through her. Jim has a vacation home about 2 hours from where my parents live, on Cranberry Island. He was planning to be in Maine the same week as us while Judy was in North Carolina with her friends, so we invited him to the race. We never made firm plans though, it was just kind of just a nonchalant offer. I didn’t think he would actually want to come, but he surprised me and a couple weeks before race day he was emailing me to find out about the logistics. At that point it was still kind of him saying he wanted to see if he could make it work, so I wasn’t totally sure if he would come. We didn’t have really firm plans until about a week before, when we invited him to stay the night before and the night after the race. It made the most sense given that the race started at 7:10am. He said that sounds great, see you there!

I know I kind of sprung it on my parents which is not my normal style of doing things. I’m a planner and like to schedule things pretty far out. I just didn’t think he would actually come! But my parents said no problem and seemed fine with the extra guest coming. Part of me was nervous because on top of race jitters I felt like, ok now I have to help be a host. But Jonathan told me to just have fun, think about the race and what I need to do, and if I have to go to bed early or anything he will keep Jim company. After this trip, best husband award definitely goes to Jonathan! He supported me so much on this trip and really had my back.

On Saturday around 3pm I called Jim to see if he could arrive in time to have dinner with us. He said absolutely, he was on his way. I had sensed a little tension bubbling up in my dad all day. I think it was due to all the driving he had done, probably not enough sleep, the stress of having another guest coming that he hadn’t met yet. Everyone handles stress differently. My dad tends to snap at me a lot when he’s stressed out. He had been periodically snapping at me here and there since I arrived. I actually think he’s not even aware when he gets huffy with me, because if I point it out to him and say something like, “okay please don’t get worked up,” he will just act like “what are you talking about, I’m not worked up.” Growing up I used to try to ignore it and just take it, but as I’ve gotten older it has become harder for me to let someone chip away at my good mood like that. I have more confidence and self esteem now, so my tolerance for rudeness and disrespect has gotten lower. Also, life is just too short to allow negativity like that. Anyway, my dad was starting to get into one of his moods, but luckily he left on his own to do some errands. The irony of it is that even when he’s huffy at me and he’s getting in one of his moods, he will simultaneously be doing something nice. In this case, he was on his way to buy lobsters for dinner. Obviously a generous and thoughtful thing to do. But if I had to choose between a dad with a good mood and a simple dinner like beans and rice, or a dad with a bad mood and a lobster dinner – I would choose the first option in a heartbeat. Being treated with kindness and respect always trumps material things.

Jim arrived around 5:30pm and we were happy to see him. We showed him the house and let him put his things in his room. My dad came home about 20 mins later and I helped him get the dinners on the table. Lobster, corn on the cob, and bread and butter. At one point my dad was acting really tense. I was trying to just be happy and helpful so he would snap out of the funk. But at one point in the kitchen when I was boiling the corn, he came next to me and said he got an extra corn in case one of them doesn’t look right, and I said something like, “yeah that’s smart, or if anyone wants a second corn.” And he didn’t hear me and instead of just politely saying “what?” like a normal person, he got so uptight and had this mean look on his face. Then in the rudest tone he said, “what did you say?” It was so bizarre, I don’t know anyone who interacts like him. At that point I just told him that he needed to chill out, he was stressing me out right before my race. Totally unnecessary stress that I didn’t need. He acted like he had no clue at all what I was talking about. So this is why I truly think he’s unaware of his tone and the way he interacts with others. I’m not saying that I’m perfect and never get tense myself or snap at people unfairly once in a while. Of course that happens. But my dad just does it way too often for it to be okay. And he’s unapologetic about it, partly because he’s in denial that he even does it!

My mom had come down at some point to meet Jim. We all sat down, I said grace, and we had a nice dinner and good conversation. My dad seemed to be in a better mood now that we were all eating dinner. It was a delicious dinner and everyone loved it. We had blueberry pie for dessert (I only had a sliver of a piece because I was nervous about what I was eating right before the race). At one point after dinner, in front of everyone, my dad said to me, “hey Rose, we’re okay you and I, right?” It was a little embarrassing that he put me on the spot instead of just asking me one-on-one. Now Jim and everyone knew my dad and I must have had a tiff earlier. But I said yeah, we’re fine, everything is good. I went over and hugged him. It’s always been a roller coaster with my dad. His moods are up and down and you never know what’s around the corner. One minute he’s nice, the next he’s a little uptight, and maybe tomorrow he’s calling me to say I’m not his daughter (that’s happened a few times if you can believe it). In 2016, two days before I fell and broke my wrist, he called me and said he was so mad that he was taking me off the health insurance immediately. I remember going to the ER wondering if I had insurance or not. More recently, after I left this trip in fact, he sent me a text with multiple threats including calling my employer to tell them I’m unstable. My dad has always sunk to the lowest form of fighting. He loses all class when he’s upset, he does not fight like a gentleman with any kind of fair terms or boundaries. He is obsessed with having control so he will try to think of anything he can do to take control away from the other person. At this point I’m an adult, married, living on my own, so he can’t just say, “I’m taking away your cell phone or your car” like he did when I was a teenager. Now he has to really get creative, and this time he just listed a bunch of people in my personal network (my employer, my pastor, my in-laws, etc.) and told me he was going to tell them I’m unstable. Obviously, if he did do that, who would really look like the unstable person?

Anyway…

I went to bed early at about 8:30pm. I think everyone else decided to head to bed not long after me. I tried so hard to push the negativity out of my mind and remind myself that I worked hard for 6 months to get to this point. Just think about the race. Just think about becoming a marathoner. This has been your goal, just focus on the running and try to push the other things out of your mind for now.

Race morning!

My alarm went off at 4am. I got ready quickly and met my dad downstairs. The two of us packed up the car and headed out at about 4:30am. My mom would not be coming to the race because she was still so sick with the vertigo. I was really disappointed but I also knew she was probably feeling just as disappointed. She wanted to come so badly but sometimes things are just out of your control. You can’t control when you get sick.

We arrived at the Lubec school at 5:30am just in time for me to hop on the first school bus that would take us runners to the West Quoddy light house where the race would start. I had eaten a lemon Luna bar in the car with my dad, and I had another one with me. I was a bit worried about not having a proper breakfast (like a half bagel w/ PB or oatmeal), but I had never eaten a real breakfast before any of my long runs (I probably should have done that to practice) and I just didn’t want to do anything drastically different on race day and risk having GI issues during the race. In the past I’ve always done better on a lighter stomach anyway, so I was going by what tends to work best for me. I also had my handheld water bottle and 4 Gu energy gels inside the pocket. My dad wished me good luck and I told him, see you sometime after 11am! He had a foldable chair and umbrella with him in case it rained. Luckily we didn’t get any of the rain that had been forecast a couple days before.

I quickly made some friends on the bus ride, which seemed to last an eternity considering we were only driving 6 miles down the road. I met a girl who was trying to qualify for Boston, but said she was giving herself some wiggle room to run between 3:34-3:50 due to all the hills. She was also a cyclist and on the US National team for decathlon. I thought that was pretty cool! She was really down to earth and fun to talk to. A lot of us were running our first marathon. Some runners had done dozens of marathons and their response was basically like, “y’all are doing your first marathon and you chose one of the hardest ones around??” I told my story, which everyone thought was hilarious. Basically in the wintertime I asked my dad to drive the course and tell me how bad the hills were. I told him I had seen reviews that it was extremely hilly and “brutal” so I wanted to know what he thought about it. Because sometimes people exaggerate in their reviews. I live in a really flat area, I don’t have many hills around me at all, so I wanted to know if I really needed to go out of my way to find hills or if I would be fine just training on my normal routes. My dad told me he drove the course, he sent me videos while driving and described the course as pretty smooth and flat except for one hill which is the bridge. Well… turns out he got mixed up about the course and just drove around Lubec. He never went onto Campobello Island at all! The first 6 miles of the race are in Lubec (flat) and the last 20 miles are on Campobello (so hilly!!). So obviously I was very excited to run my first marathon, but totally terrified about the hills because I had not prepared for hills at all.

Running is all mental so I tried to not think about the hills too much. I couldn’t go back in time and do a bunch of hill workouts! So I was just going to give all my effort and see what I could do.

The bus dropped us off at the lighthouse. We had a little over an hour until our 7:10am start time. I continued chatting with people and was really enjoying getting to know the other runners. I don’t get to spend time with runners very often so I was really loving it. We all talked about our training, how many long runs we did, what other races we’ve done. We all had a ton in common. There was one woman who was a bit older, and she really inspired me. She was the perfect example of how running is a lifestyle and a lifelong hobby. She had done so many other things in her life but always made time for running because it was important to her and part of her identity. I just thought she was so wise and I was really glad to have met her.

I was sipping some water and then ate half of the other Luna bar I had. I threw the other half out. I know, so wasteful, I know. Then I used the porta potty a second time and shortly after that they called us to get ready to start!

I stood near the start line with the decathlon girl I had befriended and we chatted a bit. Then everyone kind of got quiet. They said, “30 seconds til start” and the decathlon girl and I wished each other good luck.

Usually at the start line my heart is pounding out of my chest, but this time I was pretty calm and just happy. I wasn’t nervous anymore, I was excited to run!

The gun went off and we were running! I promised myself I was going to run my own race. I was going to pace myself just like I did on my long runs. No paying attention to other people. I felt really good and immediately was thinking that I did a great job tapering! I had kind of made up my own taper plan instead of following what most training plans recommended. I just know my body and I know that I need more rest and recovery to be 100%. My taper was – I did a 65 mile week three weeks out, then cut down to 37 two weeks out, 35 at one week out, and the week of the race I ran only 12 miles total. This worked out great for me because my legs felt fresh on race day. Other runners I talked to had done about 20 miles the week of the race. So obviously everyone is different! Perfect example of just knowing your body and doing what is right for YOU.

I knew my decathlon friend (I hate that I can’t remember her name!! I’m so bad with names!) was trying to run 3:34-3:50 so I thought I would stay close to her and see what pace we’re at. I knew I couldn’t run a 3:34 but I thought I was capable of 3:50. So I stayed a couple feet behind her.

Mile 1 was 8:07. I thought, okay so that is too fast.
Mile 2 was 8:20.
Mile 3 was 8:29.
I remembered that I had held 8:30 pace for an 18 mile run in the rain back in April, and I had many other strong long runs after that, so in my head I told myself, “your legs feel good and you’re fit enough to hold 8:30-9:00 pace for this race. You can do it.”
Ohhh if I only knew the hills that were to come!

I’m going to continue breaking this down so you can all see how the hills literally killed me and I had to kiss my pace goals goodbye.

Mile 4 – 8:37
Mile 5 – 8:35
Mile 6 – 8:21

At this point we had left the relatively flat roads of Lubec, Maine and crossed the bridge to Campobello Island. Get ready for some Canadian hills!

This is a photo of the light house where we started and the road we ran down. Beautiful and flat. If only it stayed that way!

I have to say, it was pretty cool to run straight past the US customs. Not many people can say they did that!

Mile 7 – 8:53 — This included a slight hill on the bridge and then another steep hill shortly after the bridge. No big deal since my legs were still fresh.
Mile 8 – 8:55 — I was taking the hills pretty well so far but knew it was very early. 
Mile 9 – 9:07 — There was a really long hill that some people actually started walking on. I thought it was way too early to even think about walking. I tried to power up it as best I could. My legs were still feeling good at this point. For someone who never runs hills, I was doing okay!
Mile 10 – 9:07 – I told myself to stop looking at the watch, just grind out the hills as best as you can. Stop thinking about pace because obviously this is just going to be the hill workout of your life. Pace is no longer something you can focus on.
Mile 11 – 8:52 — I wasn’t planning to eat a Gu this early but the hills were already starting to take a lot out of me, and I was getting a headache. There were just so many hills! It felt like we couldn’t catch a break. The hills kept coming. In my head I was begging for some stretches of flat land. Nope.
Mile 12 – 8:51 — The weather got about 20 degrees warmer by this point. The race organizers had warned us that the weather changes drastically like that, so I wasn’t surprised. When we started it was 60 degrees, no humidity and cloudy. Perfect running weather. But it started heating up around mile 10 and by mile 12 I remember the sun was beaming on me and I was so glad I had my sunglasses on.
Mile 13 – 8:59 — All I remember about mile 13 is that I saw the first place girl who had already turned around at mile 16 and was heading back. She waved at me and said “good work!” I was so impressed that she was kind enough to do that. She was really pushing hard and won the race for the 4th time. She ran a 2:49 which is just absolutely incredible when you think about the hills that she endured. I wonder what she runs on a flat course!!
Mile 14 – 9:36 – I was trying to stay tough but the hills were just absolutely sucking the life out of me.
Mile 15 – 10:08 — I was in a lot of pain. I remember thinking, “this is not good that my legs are in this much pain this early in the race.” I knew that doing hill after hill, I was using muscles I had never used before.
Mile 16 – 9:07 — At mile 16 I hit the turn around station. I stopped to get some cold water because I was getting pretty dehydrated and my bottle was nearly empty. Right before I hit the turn around mark, the decathlon girl passed me. She said “yeah girl!” and gave me a high five. I wasn’t very far off her tail, and my mind so badly wanted to keep her in my sights and just hang in there. But my legs were burning at this point. BURNING. The hills were taking so much out of me. I know I keep saying that but it’s so true. Mentally I wanted to run fast but my body was so angry at me for all these hills.
Mile 17 – 10:49 — I had to walk up part of a huge hill. I was in so much pain and there was just no way I could run up the entire hill. Two other people were walking up the hill. They were the only other people around me at that point. I had been pretty much alone from mile 11 onward. The race was just very spread out like that. Once in a while someone would pass by, or I would come up and pass someone who had slowed down even more than I had. I passed a lot of half marathoners who were walking. But this was the loneliest race I have ever done.
Mile 18 – 10:19 — I ate another Gu even though I knew nothing was going to help put some fight back in my legs. I was really in pain. I knew I had a hard few miles ahead of me and it was going to take much longer than I ever imagined it would.  I started thinking of the race as an episode of Survivor. Just survive. Just get through this. Just finish.
Mile 19 – 10:13 — I’m pretty sure it was at mile 19 when we hit the absolute worst hill of the race. I tried so hard to jog as much of it as I could, but I did have to walk part of the hill. There was actually a man at the top who told me, “don’t worry, that was the last of the really brutal ones.” I was not convinced.
Mile 20 – 11:42 — I remember hitting mile 20 and thinking, how the hell am I going to trudge through another 6 miles of this? I had to stop at the water station for a while, I was hurting so badly. I remember thinking, I’ve never experienced this much pain in my life.
Mile 21 – 12:11 — I had to stop several times for the rest of the race. I tried to only do it at the water stops or if there was a monster hill.
Mile 22 – 13:14 — I remember a man stopping because he obviously could see I was dying, and he asked if I was okay and wanted to hop in his truck. TEMPTING, but I was dead set on finishing my first marathon.
Mile 23 – 11:54 — I decided in the last few miles as I was truly dying to try to enjoy the scenery and look around a little. It was a very beautiful little island. If only it weren’t so mountainous.
Mile 24 – 12:49 — There was a huge hill at mile 24 and I just thought it was so mean to do that when runners are in the most pain! I think I would have been okay if it were only nonstop rolling hills. But adding in all of the monster hills, and so frequently, just made it impossible for me.
Mile 25 – 11:00 — My legs started buckling, the way some runners start to cripple at the very end of a race when their body is shutting down. My legs had been burning and burning for so many miles, and I think my body was really pissed at me. My body wanted me to stop. So I walked a little bit, because otherwise I was afraid I would collapse and not be able to get up and finish. Then I started jogging again when it felt safe.
Mile 26 – 11:09 — The last mile includes a long hill just before the bridge, which by this point I no longer considered the bridge a hill. As far as I was concerned the bridge was a speed bump.
Last .3 – 3:31 — why can’t a marathon just be 26 miles? I am genuinely curious. I was so relieved to finish. I was in incredible pain. I spotted Jonathan and in the final stretch towards the finish line he started jogging alongside me. I spotted Jim and my dad too. I was so out of it that I couldn’t even smile or throw my hands up. I had zero left in the tank. I was depleted.
Finish time: 4:20:18 (9:55 pace)

When I crossed the finish line, wow what a feeling. I had just been through hell. I couldn’t believe what I had gone through. I remember I kept thinking, I can’t believe this was my marathon. This was INSANE.

The race volunteers were so nice. They immediately congratulated me, put a medal around my neck, put a space sheet around me (which I ditched almost immediately because I was dying of heat stroke but I didn’t want to appear rude). I guess it was obvious I was in pain because two volunteer each took one of my arms and walked me over to the water station. I had some Gatorade and some water. During the race I had trouble taking down fluids, I kept feeling nauseous, so I ended up not taking in enough fluids during the race and ended up pretty dehydrated. Jonathan, Jim and my dad came over. They congratulated me. Jonathan said, “you did it!!” He told me he was proud of me. That I was so tough. The pain in my legs was rapidly increasing at this point. It felt like my legs were just burning burning burning. It was something I will never forget. I hobbled over to a sidewalk and sat down. That didn’t help at all. I was laying on the sidewalk and Jonathan was trying to get me to drink water. Two of the volunteers came up to me to check on me. I said I was just dehydrated and my legs were burning. They were literally the nicest race volunteers ever. They walked me over to the library, helped me slowly get up the stairs, and took me into the medic room where many other runners were in just as much pain as me. They took my vitals and said I was actually recovering fast, my blood pressure and pulse were great. I had salt all over my face so they let me wash my face and then gave me 2 ibuprofen to try and help my legs feel better. I have never felt a constant burning like that in my legs for such a long period of time. And I didn’t expect it to get so much worse AFTER I had finished. I left the medical room, found my dad and Jonathan and walked back to the finish line area. We found Jim and by this point I was able to talk a little more and describe the race and how hard it was. Everyone was super proud of me. But most importantly, I was proud of myself. I never gave up. I never thought about quitting. I had to adjust my goals a few times during the race, but I never ditched the most important goal – cross the finish line.

I will say that I am hungry to run a fall marathon. I really want to prove to myself that I can run a fast time (fast by my standards that is, I know a lot of people reading this consider breaking 4 hours easy. Maybe one day I will consider it easy too, but I’m not at that point yet!). I left this marathon feeling proud but not satisfied. I think that probably happens to most people, right? It’s called catching the marathon bug, because you can’t help but think, “man, I can do better than that, I can do so much more.” At first I told Jonathan, “Marine Corp Marathon in October. I’m doing it. It’s happening.” And he was like “oh wow, okay!” He totally understood how I felt. That I need to get a time I feel satisfied with. This first marathon was about strength, not time. But I want the time! A couple days later I remembered that I’m signed up for a half marathon on September 8. I can just switch to the full marathon. It’s a super flat and fast course, so that will be perfect for me. As I sit here in pain, recovering still from the race, I am totally pumped about running another marathon. Is that totally crazy?!

We took a few photos and then decided to head home. I was dreaming about taking a shower. We got home, my mom came outside and congratulated me. She still seemed exhausted, the medication she was taking really made her drowsy. But it was nice to see her and we took a photo together. She had hung up a sign by the front door that said: Congratulations Rosalie! First Marathon!

After I hobbled up the stairs like an old lady and took a shower, we headed to lunch. Jim wanted to treat all of us to lunch which was so nice. I was STARVING so I was excited to have a real meal. I had a haddock wrap and fries. And two ice teas, I was so unbelievably thirsty. After lunch we realized the time and that there was only about an hour until my party. My parents had invited a bunch of their friends to meet at a local restaurant for drinks, nachos and celebration cake. The cake was really cool. My dad gave a baker a photo of my Brooks running shoe and had her print it on top of a chocolate sheet cake. It was awesome.

The party was more fun that I expected it to be. Even though everyone was a stranger or someone I had only met once before, I had some lively conversations with people and really enjoyed it. It was cool how impressed everyone was that I ran a marathon. I love how just the word “marathon” makes people perk up a bit. If I tell someone I ran a half marathon, its just like “yeah okay whatever, me too.” But when you say marathon, people are like “oh wow, you must be a serious runner.” So funny.

One of my parents friends who is an artist even made me a little red bird that he carved out of wood and painted himself. It was so nice. He had just finished it before he arrived he said, and the paint was just barely dry. I meant to ask him if he did red on purpose, like marathon red, or if that was just a coincidence.

I also met 3 runners who happened to walk into the restaurant who had done the half marathon. My dad offered them some of our cake and they introduced themselves to me. Turns out they all live in the DC area! What a small world. They invited me to join their running group on Facebook so I could come to some of their group runs and races. I was so excited about that because it was a goal of mine to try to start running with other people on occasion instead of doing all my runs solo.

Unfortunately I did have another argument with my dad before the party. He had been a little tense at lunch. Even about the smallest things, like my mom getting mixed up about what day they’re going to Portland for her to see the doctor, and him saying in a harsh tone, “no, don’t say that, that’s not true, don’t say that.” Instead of just acting like a normal person and saying, “we’re actually going on Wednesday.” Why is that so hard? Honestly, why is it so hard to not get worked up over the smallest things? My mom even said to him, “okay honey calm down.” I noticed though that she has become more of a pushover with him. She used to stick up for herself when he was rude to her, but now it’s like she’s given up. She just takes it. And I just think to myself, wow, I could never be married to a man like my dad. I can’t imagine having a husband belittling me and me being afraid to say “enough.”

What happened was, after lunch we went back to the house quick before heading to the party. Jonathan and I walked back because I actually thought the walking would help my legs a little bit. I found that sitting for too long made them hurt more. I vented to Jonathan during the walk about how up-and-down my dad had been in just the couple days I was there visiting. I don’t know if I am just more sensitive to it now that I see him only a couple times a year, so I’m just used to being treated with kindness almost all of the time, which makes the way he treats me stand out so much more than when I was younger and around him more often.

As a 28-year old adult, I find it ridiculous that I am still being disrespected by my own dad. I always thought that at some point, I would reach an age where he would finally stop talking down to me, disrespecting me, and being unnecessarily rude to me even over the most insignificant things. I am now realizing that some things and some people never change. And it’s just baffling that he’s not even aware when he’s snapping at me or being huffy with me. When I point it out to him, he doesn’t know what I’m talking about.

I told Jonathan that I wanted to head back to DC together the next day (Monday) instead of flying out on Tuesday. I felt like I was walking on eggshells with my dad. My mom wasn’t even around because she was sick. She pushed herself to go out to lunch and to the post-race party with us, which was great. I can’t say that I would be able to do that if I was that sick. But we knew after the party she would need to be back in recovery mode in bed.

It seemed like my dad was stressed out about my mom. That and having me, Jonathan and Jim in the house. I think for him it was just too much to handle. I would be stressed out too if my husband was sick and I had visitors and all these things were happening. So, from my perspective, it made the most sense if we both left the next day instead of my dad driving 4 hours each way to take Jonathan to the train on Monday, and then driving me 3 hours each way to the airport on Tuesday. It would be good for me because I was feeling uncomfortable being there anymore. And it would also be a relief for them (so I thought) because if you’re really worried about someone you don’t want to leave them for 8 hours and then 6 hours on back-to-back days.

I know this sounds horrible, and its an example of how challenging my relationship is with my dad, but he has threatened certain things so many times in my life that I honestly thought, if we get in one more fight between now and Tuesday, he is going to scream at me and refuse to drive me to the airport on Tuesday. And if that happens, I’m stuck in this remote town 3 hours away and would have to scramble to figure out some way to get to the airport, which would likely not be cheap considering the distance. I was honestly afraid of landing in a situation like that. I’m not exaggerating when I say it was a real fear. Before we moved to Virginia, my dad was so upset about it that he threatened to call my new employer in DC and tell them that I was crazy and they should retract my job offer. When I was in college he threatened to take the battery out of my car so I couldn’t get to class. At the time, I did believe him, because I remembered he had actually done that to my mom. These are things that you just don’t ever forget. It makes me sad to realize that I’m not sure if I have more good or bad memories with my dad. I wish I could say the good times definitely outweigh the bad, but I can’t say that.

I figured that Jonathan and I could just get a ride with Jim to Bangor the next day and get a rental car to drive home. I would get home a day early, and Jonathan wouldn’t have to do a 4 hour drive to Brunswick at 6am followed by a 13 hour train ride to DC, a 20-min walk to his car, and 15 min drive home. Jonathan said he would do whatever I wanted. The rental car sounded good to him, because he had a monster of a work day lined up on Tuesday so getting home earlier on Monday night would help him a lot. We could just drive the rental car straight home and return it to DCA in the morning.

I called Alamo and found out we could get a rental car from Bangor to DC for $240. We got a full refund on the Amtrak ticket ($225), so it was almost a wash and didn’t make it an expensive change. I could get an e-voucher for my American Airlines ticket and I’ll definitely use it within a year. So we both felt good about it.

When we got back to my parents house, I said to Jonathan, “this shouldn’t be a problem, but something in my gut tells me it’s going to be a problem with my dad.” We went inside and waited for both my parents to be in the room. I tried to say it as casually as I could. “Jonathan and I were just talking and we actually decided we’re going to leave together tomorrow instead. We’re going to grab a rental car from Bangor and drive back.” My dad frowned and stiffened up. Here we go. He got huffy. He said something like, “okay fine, you’re an adult, you can do whatever you want.” Oh thank you for finally acknowledging that I’m an adult (ugh). He was definitely perturbed. Then Jim walked in and I asked if he could still drive us to Bangor on his way back to his vacation house. He happily said yes. I don’t think he sensed the tension in the room. Because normal people know that changing your travel plans to leave a day early is not a big deal at all and not something to explode about. My mom didn’t say anything and then I think my dad just walked away. Clearly pissed.

It was about 4pm and the party started at 4:30pm so we were getting ready to head out again. I went to the bathroom, and apparently while I was gone, Jonathan told me my dad had said to him, “what the fuck is going on? It’s going to take you 18 hours to drive home.” Jim must have only heard the last part and he piped in, “no it won’t!”

Jim told me and Jonathan he wanted to take a quick 15-min power nap. We were all exhausted, it had been a long day. I could tell Jim was tired but he didn’t want to miss the party. My dad was in the driveway with my mom, getting ready to leave. I went outside and said, “hey we’ll meet you there in about 15 minutes, we’ll walk down. Jim is just going to take a 15 minute nap and then we’ll walk over.” My dad flipped out and started ranting that he needed to get down there NOW to make sure everything was set up. He said the owner was an idiot and he needed to do everything because she’s do dumb, he can’t trust her, etc. I told him okay that’s fine, we’ll be right behind you. But then he said to my mom, “okay get out of the car, we’re not going, we’ll leave in 15 mins too.” And he was totally fired up and angry. Who acts like this?? Jonathan tried to help at this point and said, “I will just stay back with Jim, the three of you head there now with the cake so the cake doesn’t melt. We’ll be there at 4:30.” So thank goodness my dad just accepted that and got back in the car. We were driving down the restaurant and I told my dad, “you have been rude to me since I arrived here and I’ve been holding it in. I’m not holding it in anymore, this is ridiculous and you can’t treat me like this.” He just kept ranting about why he wanted to get to the restaurant early, as if that was what I was upset about. When we got to the parking lot, I told him, “hey can we step over here and talk privately and clear the air?” He said okay. I tried to explain to him that I don’t like this tone he keeps using with me, and how huffy he gets over the smallest things. He told me he understood what I was saying but he didn’t agree. He didn’t agree that he had been rude to me. At this point, I realized I really had a problem because he’s not even self-aware of the negativity he brings into our relationship. So what am I supposed to do when I’m feeling disrespected but he doesn’t think he’s been disrespectful? I think I then just told him that a lot of the happiness is being sucked out of the whole visit because of the way I was being treated. But obviously we’re not going to agree on the situation and there’s no point arguing about it if we’ll never be on the same page. I didn’t want any more negativity. Let’s just enjoy this nice party. But what I really wanted to say was, what is the point of throwing your daughter a party if you’re going to treat her like shit before and after it?

I described the party above, so you know we were able to just put a smile on and have fun. It obviously helped that there were so many people there to talk to besides my parents. My mom and dad seemed to be having fun talking to all their friends. My dad seemed less tense so he must have been having fun. But that’s how it is with him, it’s a rollercoaster of highs and lows.

Once people started trickling out and saying goodbye, we went home. Jonathan and I again decided to walk because I was convinced the walking was helping relieve the lactic acid pain in my legs. When we got home, we all sat in the living room to chat for a bit. But then we all realized we were exhausted so we went to bed.

The next morning, Jonathan and I packed up our things, took a shower, and headed downstairs around 8am. Jim was down there eating breakfast and talking to my dad. My dad had made us breakfast and coffee. My dad seemed to be in a better mood. When I was alone with him in the kitchen, he told me he was sorry to see me leave a day early and he was really looking forward to having me one more day. I said yeah its only a day though, and honestly I feel like I need to leave. I was just being truthful. He even gave me a hug! So it seemed like he understood and was being nice about it.

Then we packed up Jim’s car and I went to say goodbye to my mom. She was in her bedroom. I figured she was sleeping still but would want me to wake her up to hug goodbye. The door was locked. I knocked. She told me to go away, she didn’t want to see me. She said some very horrible things to me, like that I was a horrible daughter, I didn’t care about family, I hurt her and my dad deeply by leaving a day early. I was totally blindsided by this. She hadn’t expressed any of that the day prior. I kept asking her to please open the door. I didn’t know when I would see her again and I wanted to try to talk this out and make it better before I left. She was not having it. She said some more very hurtful things to me, things that I consider completely out of line considering that I hadn’t even really done anything. I mean, think about the irony of the situation. She was claiming to be hurt that I was leaving a day early (presumably because she loved me and wanted to spend time with me) yet instead of acting loving she was acting hateful. At that point, she had said some shocking things to me and I knew I wouldn’t be able to stand there and reconcile with her. So I walked away. Jonathan gave me a hug, he had heard what happened and knew I would want to cry. He said, “we can talk about it when we’re alone after Jim drops us off.” I just had to hold it together until then.

I was able to make it the 3 hours to Bangor without crying in front of Jim. He was so nice to come watch my race and be a part of my first marathon experience. I really hope he didn’t pick up on the family drama that was happening. I actually think everyone tried to shield him from that. He is really such a good person and I’m glad to have met him. I’m also very grateful he stayed the 2 nights at my parents house. I think without his presence there, everything could have actually been so much worse (which unfortunately is not hard to imagine).

Jonathan and I got the rental car and started driving back to Arlington. My dad had sent me a very hateful text along the way, the details are too much to share. After I read it, I called him and tried to put an end to all the nonsense. I couldn’t believe how such insignificant things had exploded into so much hurt and hate like that. I mean, I could believe it because it has happened time after time in my family. But this time was just more shocking because I really had tried so hard to be reasonable. I was just dealing with completely unreasonable people. And I was also dealing with two parents who didn’t want reconciliation – they wanted to fight, and they wanted to fight dirty. Both my parents were on the phone, dishing it out to me. I kept holding back, trying to take the high road for as long as I could. But then my mom said something so nasty to me, and I couldn’t take the high road anymore. I couldn’t try to be calm and reasonable and understanding and apologetic. I yelled back, defended myself. Then I said I think we should end this call because obviously no good would come out of it. We hung up. I texted my dad and told him that tensions are too high right now, and maybe we can try to talk in a few days. He just said, sounds good.

The words that were said sat with me all night and into the morning. Luckily I kept my day off on Tuesday and used it as a mental health day, and by the afternoon I decided I have too much to be happy about and there’s no point in dwelling in toxic family relationships. You can’t choose your family, but you can choose how much you let them into your life. At this point in my life, I feel like I really can’t trust my parents and I need to limit my contact with them. If I confide in them, they use the information against me. They hold on to it and use it as a weapon later on. That’s what I meant earlier when I said they stoop to the lowest form of fighting. My dad was a career salesman, he is used to finding leverage and using it to his advantage even if its bad for the other person. He has done that with me my entire life. I have always tried to forgive him, to say, “that’s just how he is.” But I don’t have to do that anymore. I have a husband now who has no temper. I have friends and coworkers who care about me and treat me with respect. I don’t need to have toxic relationships. Maybe one day things will be different, but right now this is where I’m at and this is how I feel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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