Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Finale

At lunch with my family and friends after the race.   Icing my knees

Well, it's done.  I am proud I finished the entire 26.2 miles.  I am happy it is over.  I am disappointed I took longer than I wanted and that my body hurt so much.  I am relieved to not be running and training any more and I am itching to recover so I can run again.

Three weeks before the marathon I ran a half marathon race and it felt great.  I had no pain and ran the fastest I have yet.  (still slow because I am basically a slow runner but fast for me).  Everything felt great that day.

One week later I did a 22 mile training run and at mile 20 I had so much knee pain that I had to walk/run the last two miles.  After that run my left hip hurt a lot.  My left toe also hurt and my knees hurt too.  I tried to do a couple more short runs after that but everything, especially my hip, hurt.  So I backed off and didn't run until the actual marathon day.  I iced, I hot epsom salt bathed, I massaged, I e stimmed.  I did everything I could to get my hip to stop hurting.  About 5 or so days prior to the marathon my hip still hurt.  At one point I broke down in tears because I thought I wasn't even going to be able to show up at the starting line.  After all the training; runs in the dark, miles around a track, long runs, intervals, hills, etc.  After all that, I wasn't going to be able to do it.  But I did have some hope.  One runner friend on Facebook wrote that a week was an eternity to recover.  I clung to that and my hip actually did start to feel better.
At the expo the day before the race

As the day got closer my anxiety increased. I was nauseated at times and I really couldn't focus on much besides the impending day.  Two days prior to the event I was dreading it.  I felt like I was going to war: I had signed up for it but now it seemed like a horrible idea.  (I know it is nothing like war and I apologize for feeling like that to those who have actually gone to war).  Funny though, the day before the event almost all my anxiety disappeared.  I felt as ready as I was going to be.  I got all my junk ready for the day: clothes, music, hat, nutrition, bib and more.  I felt pretty calm.

The morning of the race I awoke at 3:37 am, a few minutes before my alarm was to go off.  I went through all my normal routine for a race.  I eat right away so it is about 2 or so hours before the race.  Time enough to be out of my stomach but still in my system.  I had a banana/date smoothie (2 bananas and 4 dates with just a few almonds) and 2 pieces of toast with almond butter.  Then back up stairs to shower (no shampoo) and get dressed.  Then load up all my gear and head out to arrive 45 minutes prior to the race.

It was dark but not too cold at the start of the race.  Kelly came with me and it was great to have him there to share my excitement of getting started. I did a 10 minute warm up run, visited the porta potties twice (of course) and then lined up.  Some guy sang the Star Spangled Banner and then we were off.

The first 5 or so miles went by in a blink.  But around mile 7 or so I started to hurt.  Uh oh.  Not a good sign when you have 19 more miles to go.  But hey at least the first 7 were pain free and on a good pace.  I still managed to keep a decent pace and the pain wasn't too horrible until around mile 14.  Then all hell started to break loose.  My right knee was in agony.  It hurt with every step.  And every few steps hurt even more then that.  Then my other knee started to hurt and then my hips and my quads.  From about mile 18 to the end every frickin step hurt.  I hung in there and ran most of it, though at a slower pace than normal, until about mile 22 and then I had to walk a bit and then run a bit. 

A selfie with my coach, Megan

I'm dying here

and here
As I approached the last 1/4 mile I walked until the turn to the last .1 mile and then I ran through that with the finish line in sight.  As I got just about there Aiden came running out to greet me with flowers.  He held my hand to the end and then I used him as a crutch to make it to my waiting family and pals.  It took 5 hours and 11 minutes.  51%ile place for my age and sex.  77%ile over all.  It seems crazy considering how much it hurt and how long it took but it seemed like the race went by in a flash.
Aiden running to the finish line with me 

I am proud to have tried, proud to have worked hard to get there and proud to have finished.  But I can't help but feel disappointed in how long it took.  I can say I ran a marathon but I feel like I have to put in qualifiers.  I ran a marathon but it was hell.  I ran a marathon but super slow.  I ran a marathon but my body fell apart.  Does it count?  Can I put the sticker on my car?  Part of me feels like I need to do it faster, better, stronger before it counts.  But most of me feels like that is bullshit. Why are we (at least I am and I don't think I am alone) so judgmental when it comes to ourselves?

The best part of the race was the support from my family and friends.  So many people wrote me encouraging things on Facebook and email.  Lots of people congratulated me at the race and wished my happy birthday.  One man came up and said he did his first marathon on his 40th birthday and now he was 76 year old and doing is 80th marathon!  Two other women came up and said it was their 50th birthdays also.  Another fantastic thing during the race was having my coach run part of it with me.  She was super supportive and I couldn't have done it without her.  But best best best of all was my friends cheering me on during the race at mile 14, 21 and the end.  They brought signs which boosted my morale and them just being there touched me deeply.  Thank you!!!  

And even more awesome than that was seeing Kelly, Kaylie, Kyle and Aiden at mile 9,18,23 and the finish.  Your support, especially from Kelly, over all these months of training and racing has been unbelievable.  I love you guys so much.

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