I've put off writing this for as long as possible. I'm afraid soon the whole day will be erased from my mind completely! I've always used my blog as a way to get out my feelings. I don't show emotion well in real-life, so this is a good venue for doing so. I'll apologize now for those that may be reading this....
The hours leading up to the marathon I could tell something was "off". Although I knew I had put in every.single.mile. on my training plan, I still didn't feel prepared. However, I also remember vaguely feeling that way last year and before my first half-marathon. You see, as a student, I was always the one who had prepared well for a test, but was still cramming more info into my brain right up until the very last moment. The whole tapering phenomenon in running goes against this method. Of course I also understand why it's important to taper, too. In any case, I was hoping the "race day adrenaline" would make up for whatever didn't get crammed into my body and brain over the past 16 weeks.
It was a busy few days prior to the marathon. No big deal, I'd done this before. I can handle anything, right?! After running errands for 3 hours Saturday morning, we were finally ready to hit the road to Columbus. If you've read any of my race recaps in the past, you know one of my pre-race rituals is eating chicken and dumplings from Cracker Barrel. This time was no different. After lunch we made our way downtown to the Expo. I wasn't expecting much from the Expo and with the kids in tow, I knew I wouldn't be able to enjoy it anyway. We made our way through the expo, picked up my shirt and bib and headed back out. I was really hoping to get a zip-up hoodie/jacket with the marathon logo on it, but all they had left were ones that said "13.1". Bummer. I did get a shirt that I saw there last year that says "Run Ohio". Hubby got me away from the expo with only $15 out of pocket. What a deal!
After the expo we headed back out of downtown and to the hotel/waterpark where the kids, my parents, and my sister's family would be spending the night and celebrating my nephew's 4th birthday party. It was a really neat place, from what I could see. I didn't bring my swimsuit (on purpose), so I sat on the sidelines and watched. Around dinnertime I ordered carry-out from the Olive Garden and had round 2 of carbo-loading for the day. About 8:30 pm hubby and I packed up our stuff, said our goodbyes to the kids and headed back downtown to our hotel.
After checking into the hotel I hurriedly got everything unpacked and ready for the next day. Hubby was watching the Buckeyes lose to Wisconsin and it was just making my anxiety worse. Finally he turned it off and we went to bed. I laid there for what felt like forever, trying to sleep. It was not a restful night's sleep, that's for sure. I was well-awake by the time my alarm went off at 6:30am. The race was set to start at 7:30am....almost 3 hours later than what I was used to starting my training runs at! I got ready, took my gel and was walking out the door of the hotel by 7:05 am. Just enough time to walk the few blocks to the starting line. They were using corrals for the first time this year, which was meant to ease the congestion of previous years. Unfortunately I think I got there a tad bit too late....because me and probably about 5,000 other runners were stuck on the outside of the corrals when the gun went off. The spectators had jammed the sidewalks full, making it difficult to get anywhere, let alone find the one tiny little opening into your corral. It was a mass of humanity and I was on the verge of getting panicky with closterphobia (a first). Made for a tense few minutes leading up to crossing the starting line, but alas I was off and running.
I crossed the starting line about 5 minutes after the gun went off. The first mile I just focused on finding my comfortable pace. I had pretty much abandoned the idea of aiming for a 4:30 finish. I wanted to enjoy this experience and I knew focusing on my watch/pace would not allow that. I had re-calibrated my Garmin (FR 60) earlier in the week to make sure it was accurate for the race, but when I got to the first mile marker and my watch only read "0.97", I knew it was off. I also knew I had no idea what pace I was actually running. This was not good. I contemplated turning my watch off at that point, but I figured I could at least keep track of my overall time. Having a pace band would have been mighty helpful at this point, but I hadn't even seen the pace groups at the expo. The next few miles slowly crawled by and I focused on reaching the 6 mile marker, when I would stop and take my first Shot Bloks. Running felt hard and I was already tired. Then I remembered that the first few miles were a gradual incline. I figured once we had turned the corner, it would get easier. It never did, despite the course leveling off. This was just a sign of things to come. Around mile 5, I caught up with the 4:30 pace group. I settled into a comfortable pace behind them and thought things were starting to look up. Mile 6 came and although I had been looking forward to stopping for a few seconds to take my Shot Bloks and stretch my calves, I didn't want to lose sight of the pace group, so I took the Shot Bloks on the run. I figured I'd be seeing hubby soon, and I'd stop briefly then. So I kept on with the 4:30 pace group in sight. I had slowed a bit while trying to chew/swallow/drink, but I kept up pretty well.
Miles 7 - 13
I see hubby for the first time around mile 7. I fake a smile and a "I feel good!", stretched my calves and started running again. Only, the pace group was off in the distance now and I didn't even have the desire to catch them. I was still tired and my legs/lungs/mind were noticing every.little.incline. Where were these inclines last year? I surely hadn't noticed them and looking at the elevation profile, they were nothing! That's when I realized it just wasn't going to be my day. I had a long, long way to go and I had already given up. I didn't care anymore and was fine with walking the whole thing if I had to. Quitting wasn't an option, but walking definitely was. I thought about crying, but that would have just taken more energy that I didn't have. I tried to bolster my dying energy with an early dose of the Shot Bloks. This just made me more thirsty, so I drank more, which just made me feel too full. By mile 13 when I saw my hubby again, he knew I was in trouble. He tried to lift my spirits, but there was no use. I was walking about 1-2 minutes out of every mile. I felt like a loser and undeserving to be out on the marathon course. I also knew I was heading into the worst part of the course. I put my iPod on, cranked the music and tried to make the most out of it.
The next few miles take you through The Ohio State University campus. I graduated from OSU in 2000 and generally love any chance to go back. You'd think that with OSU being one of the largest schools in the nation, that there would be decent crowd support. Wrong! I knew this would be the case though. I took my third dose of Shot Bloks around mile 16. I kept on running/walking until I reached mile 17 and thought...."holy cow, I've just 'run' 17 miles without much effort." I also knew my sister would be waiting for me around mile 20. This gave me an instant lift as I started to tear up just thinking about seeing her. I knew the next few miles would be desolate, but I didn't even care. I suddenly had a new mission!
With 10K to go and my sister in sight, I had a new lease on life. I was so happy to see her. It was time for another dose of the Shot Bloks, so we started off our journey together walking. And that's when I broke it to her that I was mentally defeated and had walked what seemed like a good portion of the course. Being the good big sister that she is, she gave me some encouraging words and let me take the lead. Having her with me gave me the motivation to keep running. We'd walk through the water stops and every so often thereafter, but I set my goals for my walk breaks further apart than I had been doing. Ever so slowly and with constant encouragement from my sister, we finally made our way to mile 25, where I saw my hubby again. I think he thought I had died out there...because he was so happy to us coming down the road. He jumped off the sidewalk and started running along side of me. I kept on running, despite wanting to stop and walk. I think the longest segment of continuous running (after the 7th mile) may have been between miles 24-26.2! He eventually sped up and went on to find the rest of my family, waiting around mile 26. I remember practically floating down that section last year, but this year it took all I had just to keep running. My sister pointed out the family and she dropped off to the side with them. They cheered as I passed and I kept on going. The last 0.2 were all me and it seemed like an eternity. Finally, with the downhill finish line in sight, I took a deep breath and opened my eyes for the first time all day. I took in the crowd and the excitement and was so just so happy to be done. I got my medal, took a picture and headed for the food tables. Most of the food was gone. Par for the course on this race day. Water, bananas, bagels, corn chips, soft pretzel bites and chicken broth. None seemed appealing to me, but I settled on a banana and some corn chips. I made my way out of the recovery area and sat down. It's really what I wanted to do all day, and it felt great. My family eventually found me, we made plans to meet for lunch later and we headed back to the hotel. My 3 year old had had enough and was in complete melt-down mode. Just what you want to deal with after a marathon. I ended up carrying her uphill, about 1/3 of a mile back to the hotel. The perfect ending to a crappy day. I haven't even brought myself to look at my official time...but it was somewhere around 4:57.
If you've followed my journey for any amount of time, you know that I don't run to "race" or set PRs. You see, although I like to claim that I don't have a competitive bone in my body, that's not true. The fact of the matter is that I am competitive about things I really care about, but I act like I don't care so that I don't end up disappointed. It's my way of self-preservation. I've never been exceptionally good at anything my whole life...and that's okay. I've accepted mediocrity and if you don't set the bar very high, you can never fail. So while I'm not entirely pleased with my time (because I honestly felt I was going to do better), that's not my biggest disappointment.
The biggest disappointment was that I didn't even enjoy the journey. It was a gorgeous day, the streets were lined with people, the trees were at their peak of Fall coloring, we ran through beautiful neighborhoods, there were 80 entertainment groups along the course and I didn't really even "see" a thing. All I could focus on was the misery I was in. And it wasn't physical pain that I was so miserable from. My misery came from mental weakness. My body was tired, my mind wasn't in it and I gave up. Plain and simple. I felt like I had blinders on throughout the entire race. I didn't care that people were cheering for me, I didn't care that there were bands playing. I didn't feel deserving of their cheers and was more annoyed than anything. I know, I know...I'm horrible. I did however graciously thank the volunteers at the water stops. I mean, I was walking through them....I had the time! At the end of the race, I had "run" 26.2 miles and I didn't even care. It wasn't even a big deal because I had let myself down so badly. Perhaps another self-preservation tatic?
So what's next? If you would have asked me at mile 14 what's next, I probably would have said a profanity or two. I was pretty sure Sunday was the end of my running career. But after a few nights sleep and some time to digest the day's events, I'm pretty sure I'll run again. ;-) I just need to relax and recover first. One foot in front of the other....right?
Until next time....~Run Happy and Embrace Your Pace ~
My New Nickname and Finally, a Diagnosis
5 weeks ago