1) Rolling pins make a great substitute for foam rollers. Don’t skip this step.
2) Bring extra gummies or whatever your energy substance of choice is. They disappear faster than you think.
3) Find a motto and keep that in your head for those moments when you start to think “What was I thinking!?!” Mine was “I am a g****mn Ravager”
4) If needed, stop to stretch along the way. Your body will thank you.
5) The pain in your legs will go away eventually.
6) Stretch afterwards. Yes, it’s appealing to go find a pub to get a beer and congratulations or go home and shower, but you can listen to the congratulations while lying on the ground stretching.
7) Beer and a shower is a great combination and can be done simultaneously.
8) The accomplishment may not hit you right away. It took 5 days to hit me. I ran a marathon. While I was aware of it (with the aching legs, how could I forget?), it didn’t really ‘click,’ the magnitude of the accomplishment. That’s okay. I was concerned that I didn’t feel this amazing, overwhelming sense of glory and triumph right away. All I could think about was beer and a shower.
When it comes down to it, the marathon was 5 hours of “simply” putting one foot in front of the other. When my knee buckled, I had to start taking stops every couple of kilometres to stretch. I had to consume energy gels if I wanted a little sugar rush along the route because I ran out of gummies, even though I really hate the texture of the energy gels. I didn’t have to be at the race, but I chose to be. Once I started, I realized what needed to happen in order to finish.
This is life. This is life with or without epilepsy. It’s recognizing what we choose to do and what we have to do. To reach my goal at the marathon (to finish), I had to stop sometimes and stretch, I had to eat energy gels, I had to continue moving forward. Stopping was frustrating because I could see other people rushing by and they didn’t have to stop. The energy gels were frustrating because I thought I had planned to not need them by bringing enough gummies. Moving forward was just what had to happen even though my knee hurt.
To reach my goals, as a person with or without epilepsy, I have to decide what I will choose to do, and what has to happen. Sometimes people will rush by me and not have to slow down, but I could cause more damage to myself if I didn’t stop to stretch. I don’t know what race they are running, but that is their own. The only one I need to focus on is the race I am running.
I didn’t plan well enough to avoid the gels. We can’t always plan for everything, especially the first time trying something new. I was fortunate that the gels were available along the route, even if those weren’t my first choice. For the next one, I can plan to bring more gummies. If I run out, I will be grateful for what is available to me. Support may not be exactly the way we would want it, but we need to be appreciative of what we have. If I refused the gels, refused help, maybe I couldn’t have finished that race. Pride, control, stubbornness. Those things wouldn’t have helped me.
Moving forward. Taking every step. Sometimes I felt like I was in the Walking Dead, but a zombie, trudging along. Sometimes I felt like Pheidippides, bringing the news of victory to the people of Athens in the original run from the town of Marathon. This is parallel to every day. Some days I will be a zombie and each step will feel like it weighs 1000 lbs. Some days my feet will barely touch the ground. Either way, I need to always keep moving forward.
I made the choice to run a marathon. I did not make the choice to have epilepsy. There are so many things that are different and so many things that parallel each other. Focus on my race and what I need to be successful. Accept support when it’s available and when it’s needed, however it’s offered. Don’t stop putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward.
One other thing I learned: It is never too early to start making and working towards the next goal.