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Creative commons photo by ctanstfl on flickr

I have to apologize for not writing. Apparently not only did my body need time to recover after running a marathon but I found that my mind needed a break as well. I have never felt as absent-minded as I did this week. I felt like I was one step away from where I always needed to be. I had a really hard time getting my thoughts from my head into the computer. Maybe it was the race or maybe the pre and post race lack of sleep, but I finally (after almost a week) feel ready to write.

So did yoga help my race. 100%. I don’t think I would have had the race that I did if I didn’t practice yoga and bring my yoga with me on race day.

Saturday before the race I did a 20 minute yoga practice in my hotel room. I warmed up with sun salutations and then listened to my body to see what it needed. I lingered in my down dogs to ease my tight calve muscles. I balanced in flying pigeon and rested in half pigeon opening my hips. I held an alternate pigeon pose to stretch deep into my ilio psoas. I lifted my hips in bridge, rocked gently in happy baby, helped my feet by holding a nice long shoulder stand. Then I rested in savasana while listening to a marathon meditation on my ipod from Stin Hansen.

That night, although tired from walking around DC, I barely slept. I listened to sleep meditations, anxiety meditations and pre-race meditations. I placed my hand on my stomach and focused on my breath and finally rested until the 5am wake up call’s shrill ring jolted me up and out of bed.

Race morning. I took a lot of long deep breaths. Avoiding butterflies by breathing fully into my stomach I made it to the race coral with my friends and waited to begin the adventure.

I tried to be present. I tried really hard to pay attention to the people, the soldiers, the fans and the sights. This race has 300,000 people watching and helping. It has almost 30,000 people running. I loved every minute of it. Well at least until about mile 19. It was then that I saw someone with a sign that said something like ” You will soon see a wall”. I was warned that a lot of people hit the wall at the 14th Street Bridge. I was told that on the bridge people begin to walk or stop to stretch. I was told that my mind would tell me to stop and walk and stretch too. I felt my left knee beginning to talk to me. I breathed into my knee. I felt a side stitch on my right and breathed into that side. I felt a side stitch on the other side and breathed into that side. I started to count to 100 over and over and over. I wished I had a yoga affirmation or Sanskrit saying to use as a mantra but instead the only thing I could do was count. I counted myself over the bridge and through mile 25 until I knew success was ahead. I bounded up the final hill to the finish and became a marathoner.

I finished in 4 hours and 7 minutes. I almost made my goal and I finished feeling really good. I had the usual post race pain which I tried to help by lying in legs up the wall pose. I stretched my aching quads using dancer pose and tried stretching my overworked hips by doing a sitting version of pigeon and hanging in rag doll. I had the usual trouble walking up and down stairs for a couple of days but have been amazed by the speed of my recovery. I am ready to write and I am ready run again. Everyone has their own marathon story. No one experiences the marathon in the same way. My marathon story is a yoga story.

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