So, the real struggle set it. Every mile was a major victory. I mentioned that I was suffering ITBS but at the time, I had no idea what was going on. I tried to stop for a few seconds and stretch. I tried not stopping and just trying to keep the leg moving. But nothing much seemed to make a difference. The pain was there and continued to increase.
At this point there was emotion beginning to well up. It was emotion of failure. I had trained for the better part of a year for this all to watch it fritter away and so close to the goal. Each thought of quitting caused a wave of disappointment to attempt to make its way to the surface. With some great effort, I could still keep it down, keep it out of my mind but it would only take a little more pain to make the reality of the situation come crashing in. All the while, as these thoughts and emotions were wending their way through my system, my feet were also moving.
The finish line was getting closer. The thoughts of failure seemed to begin to diminish and they were being replaced by new thoughts of hope. Perhaps I was close enough to make it? I knew that if I could make it to the last mile that I would definitely finish. I could crawl a mile if I needed to. But I didn’t have to crawl. The old battered leg kept swinging around. Somehow the mile markers kept coming into vision, a surreal one at that.
Over the last few miles new emotions began to make their way to the surface and these were much harder to suppress. I was no longer emotional thinking about failing, about quitting. Quite the contrary, I felt quite confident that I was going to finish.
Visualization is a great athletic discipline. See yourself hit the ball. See yourself succeed. See yourself finish. That’s all well and good. However, it became a real problem for me the last three miles of the race. Every time I pictured myself finishing, and I could hardly keep myself from thinking about it, a great huge sob attempted to break through my chest. To this day, it was one of the strangest things that I have ever experienced.
No doubt the causes were several fold. I was exhausted. I had little control of my emotional or bodily functions. I had overcome the pain of injury and pressed through. I was about to accomplish something that many people only dream about. All of this was going on at the same time and it was simply overwhelming.