I’m not even sure how to start this race recap. With so much emotion leading up to one day, it’s hard to find a place to begin. Sit back, grab a snack. This could be a little long.
The past month leading up to the race had been rough for me. First it was the blister issue then my mysterious right foot pain. During the last two weeks of the taper, I took it easy. As of my last run on Thursday, my foot was still bothersome. If it was hurting at 2 miles, what would happen for 26.2?
We were greeted with sleet and snow about a half hour away from Burlington. Something you always want to see in late May, right? Thankfully it wasn’t snowing when we got into town. The race expo was at the Sheraton where we were staying. Packet pick up was easy and quick. We shopped for a bit but with 2 toddlers who were just in a car for 4 hours and wanted to get into the pool, it wasn’t happening.
I woke up on my own at 5:15. I did my usual long run prep. It was pouring with temps in the 40s when we left for the race. Wind chills made it feel closer to 30. As soon as we got to the race I knew a sub 4 wasn’t in the cards. I just wasn’t feeling it. The only thing I felt was miserable. Physically and mentally. I was shivering uncontrollably waiting for a port-a-potty. The only thing I could think of was, “this sucks!” I tried to snap out of my funk – I was about to run my first marathon! But it wasn’t working. When it was finally time to get into a corral, I said my good-byes to Ron and the kids. I think the last thing I said to Ron was “I’m sorry for doing this to you!”
I jumped in a corral that was in between the 3:45 and 4:00 pacers kind of by accident. There was an opening in the gate so I just popped into a spot. Prior to starting, a moment of silence was held for the Boston Marathon Bombing victims. Sixty runners who weren’t able to finish the race that day were running.
The air horn went off and it was time to run. I took it easy the first mile trying to get comfortable and warmed up. My shoes felt like lead from the beginning so it was just a matter of getting used to it. We snaked through downtown Burlington for the first four miles. The crowd support was awesome! So many people out cheering despite the horrible conditions.
We then went to an out and back on a stretch of highway. It was fun to see the elite and wheel chair leaders pass on the other side of it. There was also an awesome band hanging out under an overpass that provided a little excitement to carry us through too. As we returned to town, there was an incline that slowed me down for a bit but wasn’t too bad. I was feeling good and was just running comfortably. I took my first gel at mile 5. At the 10K mark I was at 52:46.
At mile 10 I was finally warmed up enough that I got rid of my throw away shirt and took another gel. We were back in a residential area for a few miles before heading to a bike path along the waterfront. When we got to the water, it got super windy. On top of the rain pelting me in the face, there was now lake spray that was splashing up onto the path.
At mile 14, I started to feel it in my hips. My time slowed down some but I was still feeling O.K. I knew a big challenge was coming up. I took my third gel shortly before hitting mile 15. Mile 15 was a huge ass hill that climbed for about 1/2 mile or so (it really felt like it was 10 miles). At the base were drummers to help us beat that dang hill. I wanted to walk so BAD up the hill but I didn’t. I kept going even if it felt like a snails pace. When I reached the summit, we went back into the park where we started. I saw my friend Steph who had run the first leg of the 3 person relay. Seeing a familiar face helped but I was slowly fading.
I began to feel nauseous. Then my stomach started to roll and do flips. Sorry for the TMI but thank God we were in a wooded area on the bike path at that time because there was no waiting for a bathroom. I had to go now! I felt better momentarily till it hit me again a few minutes later. Back into the woods I went! I didn’t care. I just wanted to feel better. On top of the tummy issues, I was also getting leg cramps – quads, hamstrings, calves. They were the kind of cramps that throw your gait off and make you limp. Stopping to stretch only made it worse. I resorted to running as much as I could before the next cramp came. Then I would try to walk it off.
At one point I wanted to quit. I wanted to find a way to make it all stop. I didn’t care if I finished. I felt like all my goals were unattainable (even the finishing happy goal). But I kept going. I think I was on auto pilot for all those miles. I really don’t remember much of anything other than trying to will my legs to keep moving and being angry at myself.
The last mile I tried to run as much as I could. It was slow and I was still cramping up with every other step. As I entered back into Waterfront park, the crowd support was uplifting enough to make me push a little more to make it to the muddy finish line.
Finishing time – 4:26.
I found Ron and the kids a few minutes later and immediately broke down crying. I was done. I had nothing left. I was disappointed in myself. I didn’t want to to anything but take a long hot shower and nap.
It’s been a few days since the race and I’m slowly becoming proud of what I achieved. I didn’t quit. I ran a solid first half of the race. After so many great races the past few months, I just assumed this one would be too. High expectations for the race that didn’t pan out made me see it all as one big failure. On Monday, my friend Christine, wrote a great blog post about always expecting great. Reading that post struck a cord with me and made me change the way I was looking at the race. Not everything can be great all the time.
During the race, I was thinking this would be my one and only marathon. One and done. A few hours later, I had already decided I wanted a redemption race. I know I can do better than 4:26. It’s not going to happen anytime soon but I will run another marathon. But first I need to get rid of the post marathon waddle. Yowza! 🙂