Saturday, April 17, 2010

Surrender to the universe - part troix

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post called Surrender to the universe. With an injury in my knees and 18 weeks of training behind me, I told myself I had to accept that Boston was not going to be a PR. Instead, with your considerable and persuasive support, I decided to run it to smell the roses, to celebrate how far I've come with running and to celebrate the history and traditions of this most prestigious of marathons.

However. I may have told you before that it takes me a while to "get" things. I had to try 5 or 6 times to give up smoking before it stuck. I was on diets for 10 years before I actually lost the weight I was trying to lose. I tried to incorporate exercise into my life for about 15 years before I actually stayed off the couch of doom. I am very goal-focused but often ignore the glaringly obvious in my blind-sided quest for whatever it is I'm going for. And focus is great - you need it to achieve. But I do tend to overlook things while I'm focused. OK, where am I going with this? Well, this surrender to the universe bit obviously hadn't really been pounded into my brain as it should have done. So I had to learn it again, and take note this time.

By now you will all know that most flights from the UK and Northern Europe have been grounded since Thursday lunchtime. So far they are grounded until tonight but the status is constantly changing. I was booked onto a Friday morning flight to Boston (16th August). When this was canceled, I was rebooked for Saturday. This flight was also canceled and the first available option for me to fly out now was Monday. To arrive after the marathon. So I am not going to Boston.

I can't begin to tell you everything that has gone through my head in the past 36 hours. Disbelief. A volcano? Affecting us in England? For days and days? All planes grounded? No means of getting to the continent? Anger. I have worked my buns off for this. I have run in the snow, in the dark, in the rain, in the wind (don't talk to me about the wind. There is now, apparently, no wind. I have never had such a windy training cycle. Don't talk to me about the wind). Grief. Yes, well, I have cried. I wanted this so badly. Enormous disappointment. I can't tell you how much I was looking forward to it all. To running this race of races. To celebrating with Emily and Jill and Meg afterwards. To meeting Greg and to walking the freedom trail and mooching around Boston, to meeting Jeanne (who traveled up from Washington DC for this) and going to the ballgame on Sunday and watching nothing but talking, talking, talking about our lives and our dreams and all that good stuff. It has not been an easy year for me or my family - while we, thankfully, have our health and our jobs, we have faced some pretty major business, financial and personal challenges. Countless times I have headed out the door on a stressful morning and thought "at least I have Boston". Boston was to have been the icing on the cake of years of running and fighting my self-doubts, of the past year of major challenge.

But, amazingly, I also feel some resignation. Had my flights been canceled due to terrorism (I was last in Boston in September 2001 and was stuck there then when all flights were canceled) or strikes (I purposefully avoided booking BA flights) I would have had someone to be angry with. But this? A volcano? Talk about the universe setting me straight on who's really in charge. What can I do? The planes are grounded. The trains and ferries off of this island are full. The airports in Europe, assuming I could even get there, are closed.

Oh and somewhere in there, there is also gratitude. Talk about learning who your friends are. My BFF Dawn took me under her wing as soon as it became clear that I was going to be stranded in London for some time. There was coffee and sympathy and understanding. This woman has a knack of always being there when I need her. It's uncanny but I'll take it - a friend like Dawn comes along very rarely. And you people. Sheesh. If anything can make me cry it's you lot. From all the FB updates and text messages and posts asking for wind, for blowing, for good vibes. From all of your incredibly sympathetic text messages and comments while I was waiting. From all of your enormous and sincere sympathy when I realised, late yesterday afternoon, that I was not going to be running Boston this year. From a post dedicated to me. Even from the BAA, who seem likely to be offering those of us who are missing Monday a deferral for 2012. I really feel I don't deserve all this warmth and feeling - it's just a race, right? - but I have soaked it up and it has helped.

I am just sitting here, right now, back in my own house, feeling weird. I'm not sure what I feel. Pretty sad, mostly. Woke up at 5 this morning with that awful feeling where you know something's happened but you can't remember what and then 5 seconds later it comes to you. Oh yes. That. I can't say I am constantly as sanguine as I might sound. Because I'm not. But I will get over it. I know that too.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do. Some have suggested my running a marathon in the next few weeks. I might. I need to find out whether what I have in my legs is a marathon, or Boston. And the only way I'll know that is by going out for a run. So today or tomorrow I will be doing just that. Maybe I'll get a better handle on where I am mentally.

And then, on Monday, I will be following the progress of all of those I was hoping to run with - run it and enjoy it, peeps! Warm the course up for 2011!


Anonymous said...

What a nightmare. so sorry to hear that you weren't able to travel. I get, absolutely, what you say about preparing for boston and not just any marathon. So use this time to get your knee fixed. I know it won't make sense now, but use this disappointment to spur you on in future races and when you run Boston next year or the year after. Then you'll be fully fit then and will 'race' rather than 'participate'.Clear your head over the weekend and use this disappointment to inspire you

Anonymous said...
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misszippy said...

Petra--so sorry about this! What a way to have this snatched out from underneath you. Definitely go back in 2011. That will be your year!

MarathonChris said...

Petra - the way you handle these situations is always amazing and inspiring to me. I can only imagine how difficult and disappointing it must be to work so hard and have this happen. It is exciting but not surprising how the running community has come out to support you.... we are all looking forward to the next year of adventures, running, and struggle - the things that help us to feel alive on this planet.

lizzie lee said...

I hope we stop in Part Troix. Your legs are prepared for a marathon, your heart for Boston, but our heart is so big that there is room for more love. Find the next closest marathon and never feel you have wasted your training time, including the "wind time".

Take your time for that "wound-licking". This is undoubtedly unfortunate, but you know you'll get through. It is a fact of life to go through these adversities, to challenge them, and finally to succeed.

much love across the Atlantic,

lizzie lee

aron said...

this was a very great post petra. i am still so so so sorry for you. i was SO incredibly bummed yesterday when i saw your FB updates, but i mean there is nothing you can do. hang in there, drink some wine, eat some m&ms and go for a run (maybe go on the run first?) and know we are all thinking lots about you!!

silver lining? 2011 we will be there together!!! :)

James said...

I'm not sure that I could be as positive as you if the situation were reversed. Bless You! As you mention, this is not just another marathon, this is Boston. I am happy for you that the BAA will do something to allow you to run in 2011. It's still a year away, but I will be there too. Onward!!

Runner Susan said...

Wow. That is just crazy. Maybe I can run with you Boston 2011? Who know, at this point I'm willing to believe anything.

Aka Alice said...

Hey Petra, I just found your blog via Meg's blog. I don't have much to say other than I read a few of your last posts about surrendering to the universe and think you are a wonderful writer. I'm inspired by your words.

I am so sorry about Boston, but have every belief that you will be there next health.

Oh and a volcano? WTF?

SueMac said...

I can't even imagine..... I'm just so sad for you.

LMC said...

I, like Aka Alice, learned of your plight from Meg's post. I wish I had some brilliant and inspiring words to lift your spirit and enlighten your heart. I can only say that my heart is with you, along with that of all your great blogger friends, thinking of you and hoping your OK. My goal this year to to qualify for Boston. I hope to see you there next year!! Hang in there, the universe has a way of making things work out!!!

Road Warrior said...

What an absolute shame, Petra. There's absolutely nothing fair about this scenario. You deserved Boston and Boston deserved you.

Hope your runs serve to clear your head a bit.

Anne said...

I just read Meg's post and thought I'd come over and tell you how sorry I am to hear about this unfortunate turn of events. However, I agree that sometimes, the universe has it's own plans and that is one thing we have no control over. So I'm sending you a hug ((())) and hopefully, we'll be cheering you on in Boston 2011 :)

Emz said...


I am so sorry.
I am taking lessons from you though [for sure].
You have such a positive outlook. Amazing.

Anonymous said...

Ugh, this is the worst possible scenario. Who would have guessed?! I am so sad for you but you have an amazing attitude. Drink some wine, go on a nice long run (you're tapered, may as well enjoy it!) and then drink some more wine!

maybe in 2011 we'll all be there :)

Runner Leana said...

I'm so sorry that you weren't able to make it. :( A volcano is really something out of anyone's control, it is just so unfortunate that it happened right before your race. 2011?!

Marathon Maritza said...

I waited until after the race in case everyone's apology steam had run out.

I am so sorry that you did not get a chance to run this year, and I admire so much your attitude about it. I know it was hard and sad and full of tears at times, but your overall outlook is wonderful and I admire that. In more ways than one, you are truly a person to be looked-up to. No one is perfect, but you do imperfection very well. You will have your day.

Lots of love and hugs and I know you will tear up Boston in 2011.

Meg said...

Just checkin' in on you to make sure you're chin is up!
Still haven't left yet! SORE, pain, ouch. That's just to remind you to be grateful :) , not that you need it!

Emz said...

Just wanted to see how you are. Been thinking about you. :)

Susan said...

Petra, dear Petra. You have been through so much. You have to know that my heart ACHED for you when I heard about that silly volcano.

Sherri said...

I am so sorry! 2011 is yours!

jeanne said...

you, me, runner susan=Boston 2011. I'll be the one with the camera.

You're an amazing amazing person and athlete, my dear. I'm going to look for a marathon for you to do in washington, d.c. in the next 4 weeks.

Alisa said...

Ugh! Natural disasters are a bummer. Sooooooo bummed for you BUT just think it'll be all the sweeter next year when you're at that starting line!

Irish Blue said...

Petra -
Talk about a HUGE disappointment and crazy situation. I'm so glad that you've decided to run next year. I'm sure in the coming year you will continue to inspire and is your nature. Please don't lose that fire...what a dim and glummy world it would be.

Much love and a big hug!


peter said...

hi Petra, I'm sorry you didn't get to run Boston this year. I want you to know that your Berlin run, which "got you to Boston," is an inspirational tale to me that I tucked away in my mind for use someday, if I ever return to racing (or even running). Someday it may come into my mind as I face adversity, your leaving the medical tent when it would have been so easy to stay there. I have learned in my profession (lawyer, or barrister to you), and in running (when I don't meet that race's objectives) that tomorrow is another day. That's what it is to not be defeated, being on the starting line the next day or a year later, and seeing what incredible things may happen. Cold comfort in the present I know, but I think you'll get to Boston and do great next year, or sometime. In my mind, you're one of those few people in the world who have already "been to Boston," having gotten through the main course you just haven't enjoyed the dessert yet. Good luck to you!

CewTwo said...

Oh Petra! My friend. I am so sad for us! Why us? Because, fair or not, you inspire me. I knew that this is a running goal; a goal that other runners wish that they could do. I'm one of those. I can run, but I am not fast. I found it in me to complete one marathon. I found the inspiration with your help to run another.

I am so sorry for your loss. It is a prestigious race that you qualified for, but due to circumstances beyond any of our control, you could not attend or complete.

I have a friend that completed his first marathon in January. He said that I was the inspiration for that. I appreciate that, but as we both know, it comes from within to do the training and to run the race.

Just remember that you do so much for the running community, and I, for one, really appreciate your sharing of your goals, and your views, and all of your emotions.

Thanks, Petra. Thank you very much!

Running and living said...

Wow, I had no idea that you could not make it to the race. What could be more frustrating? You have a great attitude, and I completely understand how running a different marathon is not like running Boston. Boston is in a class of its own. You'll see that for sure next year. And we'll all celebrate!

Meg said...

Oh GAWD, I so didn't want you to read my whiny blog! How dare I boo hoo all over the blog sphere after what you've been through this last week and a half. In this selfish snit that I'm in, I've over looked my sweet friend's situation and had a royal pity party over here in Cali. Sorry girlfriend, I'm only human, right? I'll snap out of it tomorrow; back to school and I just bought new shoes!! Grins, giggles and hugs to you! How are you doing this weekend???

ShirleyPerly said...


So sorry to hear that you were not able to travel to Boston this year. But your Boston qualification is good for next year too, right? Some things you just have no control over and best not to dwell on them too long. 2011 will be your year to shine!!

Jill said...

Petra, I was thinking about you over the weekend and wondered if, by chance, you ran the London Marathon? I may be been capped, not sure, but I thought that would be a good one to run since that stinking volcano wrecked your Boston plans. I wish you could have been there and I got to see you, but these things happen for a reason, I believe. Not sure what that is now, or if you ever will, but there was an alternative motive here I think. Glad you got to spend some time with your friend and I so look forward to following your incredible running journey. You're a grate inspiration, so glad I "found" you :).

Maddy said...

I'm late to comment. But I wanted you to know again how it really was a crappy situation, but you have managed it with so much grace. You, my friend, are one classy lady.

You'll come over next year and have your shot at Boston then. I know that is little probably a little comfort and not that it makes it any better.

Are you still on the hunt for another race?

Much love to you. You're the best!