In the week before the race I was seriously considering just not going. I was not prepared physically or mentally to tackle the 26.2 mile journey and I knew it. My cat was recently diagnosed with lung cancer and she has a bad heart so surgery and many of the medicinal treatments are not an option. I'm basically trying to keep her comfortable and monitor her for any signs of distress. She has days or weeks of life left and I am doing my best to make those days the best days they can be, spoiling her with treats and as much food as I can get her to eat. It's incredibly difficult and emotionally draining to watch a pet fade away and try to determine the most humane time to let her go. I do not want to rob her of good days, but I do not want to make her suffer through any bad days either. Worrying about how she would be and if she would eat while I was away weighed very heavily on me and almost made me stay home and skip the trip all together. I would only be gone 2 and a half days and I had a good friend checking on her and feeding her so I decided to go.
They did have a bunch of local breweries and a passport program that if you visit X number of breweries and collect stickers in your passport you get 'free' stuff. The minimum was 10 breweries and that got you a soapstone coaster. I figured why not. Friday when I arrived in Little Rock I needed to get lunch and then later would need dinner so I started to collect some stickers. I wanted to get most of the 10 done on Friday so that I didn't have to do much on Saturday. I succeeded in collecting 7 stickers Friday and my head Saturday morning felt like it was not so much a 'success', but whatever. Saturday I went to the packet pick up and expo then to a Walmart Super Center for some Gatorade and water (because Walmart was founded in Arkansas and it seemed like a mecca I should visit). Then I got a late lunch and my last 3 stickers for my passport and called it a night.
The race started at 7:00am. It was still raining despite the fact that accuweather said it was supposed to stop. The first half of the race felt pretty good, then there were hills and more hills and never-ending hills, oh and also some really brutal headwinds too. I'd say by about mile 18 I was done. I wanted to bail. Everything hurt, it seemed like there were not enough water stops, the miles did not go by fast, I tried to shuffle for a little bit and walk for a little bit. I would look at my Garmin and try to do math and figure out if I could at least maintain XYZ pace, I might cross the finish line in a certain amount of time plus or minus a half hour. There was an 8 hour time limit so I figured I was pretty safe to assume I could finish. I had in mind a time I wanted to see at the finish but accepted the reality that my finish time might be a lot longer than that.
As different pacers passed me with their projected finish times on poles my ideal time faded away in the distance with them. Each mile I fought the internal battle of quit now or keep going. At what point is the amount of pain ahead of you too much to continue? And when have you gone too far to even think about stopping? One foot in front of the other, keep making forward progress, even slow progress is progress. No matter how long it takes your feet are still carrying you the distance of a marathon and you may consider it a failure because it doesn't meet certain time goals you had in mind, but it is still an accomplishment that few can say they have completed. It's almost more impressive to complete the distance despite incredible pain and pushing through mental barriers when every ounce of you wants to stop. So.....I continued on and I finished!
I could not have been more happy to be done with that race and headed home. No offense Arkansas, but I'm not a big fan and will probably never go back. I made it home and my cat is doing ok. For now she is stable, not eating as much as I'd like and her most recent x-ray shows the lung cancer is a large defined mass in one lung that is causing her some difficulty breathing, but no pain. I brought her to the vet and we started her on a low dose of steroids to try and help her breath easier and feel a little better, hopefully even eat a little more. I'll keep an eye on her and hopefully give her a few more weeks of quality time, lots of treats and brushing and love. I worry about her and struggle with when is the right time to say goodbye. For now, my vet assures me that she has some pep in her step and still has some good days ahead. I'll stay close to home until she's gone. The next marathon I am registered for is Disney 2018. I want to do a fall marathon, but haven't decided on which one and I really need to get back on track with training and nutrition so that I am ready for another 26.2 miles. I have a bunch of half marathons over the summer hopefully those will keep me motivated and help me get back into shape.