Yep, you read that right I said marathon. While I said I would decide on the half or full at the mile 12 split, and cross that bridge when I came to it, I only set full marathon goals because it was what I truly wanted. In the end it may not have been my best decision, but smart decision isn’t my middle name, stubborn to a fault might be.
Here is how it all went down. The girls and I left the hotel at 6:15 and were able to make it to the start by 6:30. Perfect!
At that point my phone said it was already 63 degrees and increasing. The humidity was so thick everything already felt sticky. While I am used to weather just like that during the spring and fall here, I was really hoping it would be a bit cooler for a winter race.
The other 3 girls were planning on running the half together so I was excited to run into two more blogger buddies Cecilia (MommiesRun) and Debi (GirlsRunThe901) who were both running the full marathon. I hoped I would be fast enough to keep up with them, and that my injured body would feel well enough, so that I would have buddies to run the full marathon with. The first 4 or 5 miles went pretty smoothly. The rain trickled a bit, but luckily we never got poured on and it held off for the rest of the race. We had a big out and back down St. Charles Street and I enjoyed looking at the beautiful, historic houses. (I am not usually a fan of out and back stretches; I would rather see something different than the same thing twice.) The 3 of us were keeping a 11:00 min/mile pace which felt tough, but not unmanageable. It was something I thought I could keep up for the whole race if I pushed myself a bit. (I had just run a half at a 10:15 pace so it seemed about right for the full.) I knew if I could keep this up I would set a new PR by almost 10 minutes and break (barely) into the 4:40s, but I also knew I would have to push for it.
Then, close to mile 5, Cecilia crashed. At that point I had a decision to make: run on and go for the PR or stay and see a friend through her first marathon? This will never be a tricky decision for me and I am not sure what that means for me as a runner, but I will always take people over PRs.
I am not very speedy and for me running is as much more about the social community than time clock. Cecilia looked pale and felt tingly and dizzy. The hot humid weather was getting to her and she was having a rough day. I could not help feeling very sorry for her. After all that training I know it is frustrating when things don’t go as planned. Sometimes we have good runs and sometimes we have bad runs. Half the time I am not even sure why my runs are great one day and horrid the next, but when a race you have been anticipating so much becomes a rough run it is extremely disappointing. We walked many of the next miles (look at how foggy it was) with Cecilia and stopped with her at an aid station to get salt tablets. She was a trooper and wanted so badly to make it through, but in the end she made the best decision for her body at the time and finished the half. Luckily I called Sarah, and she, Mindy, and Holly were able to hook up with us and lead Cecilia in.
At that point my foot/ankle felt great so I decided to go for the full with Debi. We took off and ran miles 11-16 at the exact 11:00 min/mile pace we wanted. At mile 16 my leg started to bug me a bit so I stopped and stretched. By mile 19 I felt myself really slowing down as the pain became more severe. I stopped and stretched one more time while Debi waited on me. After that I tried running, but just couldn’t pick it up at all. It took some convincing, but I persuaded Debi to go on. I convinced her that I wasn’t sick, just injured, and that this was not my first rodeo so she went on her way.
The pain in my leg continued to grow and I was running right around a 13:00 min/mile. From walking most of the Marine Corp Marathon with Sarah,I knew I could walk a 14:00 min/mile pace and so that is what I tried. Walking hurt a lot less than running, and it was only a minute mile difference, so I listened to my body and walked. (See, I do occasionally do smart things and listen to what my body is saying.) I came across an aid station pretty quickly and took some of their Tylenol, but it did not seem to help.
I ended up walking the whole final 10K. It was a warm, foggy walk along the lake with very few people nearby. There were not many full marathoners running anyway, and by this time most of them were well past me. When I came upon the occasional spectator cheering me on it was hard not to get upset. I will admit there were a few time I fought back tears as strangers kept telling me how great I was doing and that I was getting closer, but all I could feel was a mixture of disappointment and pain. The closer I got to the finish line the more people cheered and the more I tried to hold back my emotions until I finally hobbled across the finish line, my face all scrunched up from the pain, sat down on the curb, and cried. However, I didn’t cry because I was in pain, I cried because I was disappointed by my performance and very embarrassed that I had to walk the last 10K.
I gathered myself and made the long stroll to the shuttles so I could head back to the hotel. Right then and there I decided to leave my negative attitude behind, and to enjoy the rest of my girls’ weekend in New Orleans. I came back to a hotel room complete with three wonderful roommates who had gone out of their way to have an ice bath waiting for me upon my return (and who told me wonderful stories of their adventures while I sat in the ice). Looking back on it I should have gone for the half, but at mile 12 I felt great, got swept up in the awesomeness that is a full marathon, and went for it. Of course, I did that all without logically thinking that I had really only run 5 miles before that point since I had been walking with my friends Cecilia and Debi. However, hindsight is 20-20 and I did what I though was best for me in the moment.
Now I am excited to go on to new things. It is time to let me body rest and recover. My top focus for the next few months is being able to run injury free. I will be starting with a coach who is going to help me toward that goal (more on that later).
Have you ever had to walk part of a race when you didn’t want to?
How did you wrap your head around it?