marathon debriefing

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

i've been avoiding this post and talking about my marathon in general. even now it's taking me longer than expected to get this all out here. i didn't really understand the whys, i just chalked it up to general laziness on my part and post-marathon depression, which is real, by the way. while those were also factors i figured it all out today.

i did my long runs with a training group. we all did the marathon together. our coach spent the first 15 minutes or so of our meeting this morning recognizing different people for how they did. there were people who PRed (improved their last marathon time), those who were able to be consistent in their paces from training, people with negative splits (ran the second half faster than the first), there were quite a few who qualified to run Boston, as well. we had our own personal photographer throughout training and the race. he likes taking pictures of that kind of thing (you know, people torturing themselves by running ridiculous distances). after each training cycle and race he makes a video of all the pictures from race day. well, all of that was definitely depressing. let me explain.

i got the flu the saturday before d-day. it was just one day but i missed my last group run. i also wanted to make sure i was over it completely before i went out for one last hurrah. i got two days of healthy and then got hit with an awful cold. hoping it would go away if i rested as diligently as i could i didn't end up running at all. in fact, i hadn't run for almost two weeks before the big day. i still have that cold, by the way. that's one excuse down.

my daughter's been having some really horrendous nighttime habits like demanding we stay with her until she falls asleep and sleeping with us, general separation anxiety stuff. not such a big deal in and of itself but she's not a peaceful sleeper. none of us are doing well in the sleep department these day. silly me thought the stars might align and JUST for ONE night she'd be good. nope. i stayed up much later than i wanted to and didn't sleep well for various reasons. second excuse.

the morning of the race came and i was so excited! despite not having slept well i was wide awake. i had my little baggies stuffed with supplies and clearly labeled for myself. i was dressed nice and cozy warm and my family was fast asleep. i slipped out the door to catch the shuttle. luckily, it left from the end of our block so i could just walk there.

at the race site there were SO MANY PEOPLE there. over 2,300 ran the marathon and the half had over 4,000. all of us were packed behind the start line. it was beautiful. i crossed the starting line five minutes after the clock started because of where i began. the first few miles were slow just because people don't really get the whole self-sorting thing. and then i had to use the bathroom around mile 3. that put me back 5 minutes; the lines were nuts! actually i used the bathroom several times in the course of the race so just keep that in mind when looking at my time ;)

i got to see several friends on the course that came out to wave. i'm so glad they saw me early on; i was in a great mood the first half. the second half was, of course, more challenging but i was plugging along at a pretty good pace. i was on schedule to finish before 5 hours. maybe even 4:45.

then i hit 20.8 miles (i know because there was an aid station right there). i got the most horrible sharp pain in my foot. it felt like something just below my ankle, right in my foot, was broken. if i put any weight on it at all it just stabbed me and took my breath away. i've never had a stress fracture but i imagine it felt like that. this all came out of nowhere. i hadn't even hit a wall, yet. sure i was tired and was extending my walking breaks but it was nothing like i'd experienced in training (the last few long runs were pretty miserable). at that point i was convinced i'd have to walk, ahem, limp, the last 5.4 miles. that thought was absolutely devastating. have you ever prepared for something for months, almost a year, only to have it fall apart in the last hour? i was crying and limping and hobbling and crying. there was a group of boys, probably around 10-11 at Owosso bridge as i came up on it. i was trying to hide my tears specifically from them. first, how embarrassing is that to cry in front of adolescent boys? they're not known for their compassion, in my experience. second, i didn't want to be the one to discourage them from doing a marathon someday. they cheered me on, called my name and my bib number. the whole time i limped by them they were encouraging me to keep going. one of them gave me a high five as i passed. they were probably the highlight of that part of the course.

i was able to figure out what eased the pain in my foot. i bit the bullet and just tried to run. sometimes it worked and i could jog for several minutes and sometimes i failed miserably. a mile and a half from the finish line was the last aid station. i decided i had to finish this race running. there was no way i was going to be able to make my time goal but i could at least finish with as much dignity as possible. i passed a girl who was limping and looked like she'd been crying half a mile from the end. i wanted to hug her. at this point, actually, well before this point i just wanted to be done with it all. i felt like i'd put in my time and i was done. that feeling pushed me on. the thought of my husband waiting for me at the end helped me to keep going. i knew he'd help me. he'd carry me if he had to. in fact, he did end up carrying me for a little while. there was food at the end of the tunnel! i was so done with goos and gatorade.

i had so many mixed feeling the last 250 meters. i wanted to wring the necks of the people i ran by that just ignored me. didn't they realize what i'd been going through? of course, they'd just gone through their own marathon. i'm sure they were concentrating on just putting one foot in front of the other like i was. i was so disappointed in my body. i felt betrayed for what it had done the last 6 miles. but it kind of made it up to me. i hit the 100 meter line and ran as fast i could. i know there are runners who hate when people do that. i do that. i swear i give everything i can in the race but seeing the end in sight does something to me. and it weirds me out that everyone is looking at me. running faster cuts down on the weirdness time.

i cried at the end of my half-marathon. i was surprised i didn't cry at the end of my marathon but realized that the emotional peak for me came much earlier. i'm leaving out a lot of the great things like the quirky people i met and the awesome grandpa-type guys at the end who really encouraged me to keep going. i just needed to get this part out there because this morning was tough. i had an epiphany, though. all the people who did so amazingly well, the ones who PRed and the ones who qualified for Boston, their experience wasn't any better than those of us who got injured or everything fell apart for. those stories of loss are just as, if not more, inspiring. i'm not saying this because my race went south - really, i plan on pretending this whole thing never happened - but because i look at those people and hope that someone listens to their story and can see their strength. i hope that someone brags about them and tells their story, too. there was a girl who is still on crutches a week after the race. i hope someone pats her on the back and tells her that she did as well as she could have and no one has the right to ask for more than that.

running a marathon is definitely valuable for life lessons, whether you want them or not :)
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    You did it! I think if something inside me went *snap* I'd just hobble over to the side line and drive home. No you didn't have a good race, but you stuck it out. Way to go!


    PS even in your hobbled state you are still faster than I am at full health!
    2665 days ago
  • 250STRONG
    you know, I think it's ok to have a crappy race. and it's ok to admit it. but still make sure you give yourself credit for 2 very important things - you were trained enough and healthy enough to get to the starting line in the first place AND you FINISHED A MARATHON!
    2671 days ago
  • BUTTON85
    thanks everyone! my attitude has improved a lot and i'm looking forward to my next marathon! and you're all right - i'm totally pulling out the marathon card every chance i get ;) not many people can top it!
    2671 days ago
    Thanks for the honesty... I do hope that you can get past the "I plan to pretend this whole thing never happened" perspective. You did it -- you are a marathoner! And even though it wasn't pretty you crossed the finish line running! Don't be too hard on yourself... there are ALOT of people who could never do what you did! Though I plan to try this fall!
    2671 days ago
    You finished...that's what's important. It would have been so easy for you to give up, but you didn't. No matter what, you can say you are a marathoner and that's an amazing accomplishment.
    2671 days ago
    You did it! You pushed through illness and pain to finish a marathon. Never forget that. :) And you're time wasn't that bad! (Mine was a 5:13 and I had hoped for a 4:50 - slow happens. lol!) It was a first marathon. Just think about that great PR in your future. :)
    2671 days ago
    thanks for being so honest about your race. But remember to give yourself some credit, having the flu and a cold before the race will take it out of you on race day! That was a great effort to finish! As a 1/2 marathoner (6 times!), I don't understand why do you need to do MORE miles???!
    2676 days ago
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