Horribly delinquent blogger checking in. Life's been crazy busy lately and I just haven't gotten around too it. Plus, with marathon training I haven't been racing, so I haven't felt like there was anything to post (although certainly I could have posted about training).
Anyway, a report for you.
Short version: I ran really far, never wanted to quit, did
manage to hurt my foot in the last mile, and finished in 4:49. It was
awesome and I loved every minute, even when my foot was killing me.
Incredibly long version:
Where to begin? We'll go all the way back to the beginning, I guess.
January of 2010 I joined the running group organized by the local
running store because I wanted to find friends to run with while I
worked my way back up again after chemo. The first 2 months I ran by
myself, naturally. Then I found a group of women to run with. They
were training for a marathon while I was only training for a 25k, but I
figured I could start each run with them and finish on my own, and that
worked out well. After that marathon, we all decided to run a half
together last fall (the Great Turtle on Mackinac Island). On the way to
Mackinac, the three of us riding together were discussing whether to do a
full or half marathon in the spring. One woman commented that her
brother really wanted her to run the Chicago marathon, so genius over
here piped up and suggested we run a half in the spring and then
springboard from that training to the full in Chicago.
February rolled around and I signed up. For the record, I HATE signing
up for things so far in advance - so much can change!
enough, only a month later, things changed and I was offered this new job. Obviously moving an hour down the road doesn't really,
or shouldn't, have much of an effect on training, but one reason I had
never signed up for a marathon before was that I was sure I couldn't do
the training alone. Running for a couple hours alone is one thing, but
4? I trained with the group through July and planned on potentially
joining a group in our new city, but I just never did. So I went out and did each
long run by myself. When I went back and joined the girls for
our first 20, I even found out that I prefer running on my own. Go
Training basically went ok. Back when I originally
planned on doing this I didn't think I'd do it with such low mileage,
but man did life get me this past year. I followed a loose adaptation
of Higdon's intermediate plan with two 20-mile runs, and 8-10 mile
mid-week run most weeks, and what I could do on the other days. For my
18-mile run, nervous about covering the distance, I decided to start
doing run-walk with 8 min of running and 2 min of walking. I did that
for everything over an hour and it helped me a lot, mentally. The only
real issue I had was when I was sure I had broken my left foot near the
end of the first 20. I have a neuroma in that foot, and thought I had
finally run enough on the lateral side of my foot, trying to avoid
neuroma pain, that it finally just broke. Fortunately, the running
store that organizes the training group also has a free injury clinic. I
went there and found out that my cuboid bone was displaced as a result
of a whole chain-reaction of events caused by a tight Achilles. The
podiatrist put me back together, scolded me for being inflexible, and
sent me on my way with orders to stretch, which I have followed.
headed to Chicagoland on Friday evening. Spent the night at Doug's
mom's house, left Kona with her, and headed to downtown Chicago
mid-morning. Once we arrived at the condo we were staying in, we took a
few minutes to get our bearings and went off to the expo. Got my
packet, spent some money on marathon merchandise like a total newbie,
picked up the body glide I forgot to take with me, and explored for a
while. Then we waited in line for a like an hour to catch the shuttle
bus back downtown. From there we walked a while, maybe 2 miles (?) back
to the condo, and stopped at a grocery store along the way to buy stuff
to make our own dinner. Making dinner ourselves was a fabulous idea -
we spent the evening in the condo watching sports and reading. I took a
shower and got in bed around 9:30, finally putting my book away around
10:30. I didn't really have trouble sleeping, which was good (and
Sunday morning I was up at 4:45. I tried to eat a
peanut butter bagel but couldn't stomach it, so all I had before the
race was a cup of Dunkin' Donuts coffee from across the street. My
friends hadn't gotten back to me the night before about when they wanted
to meet, so I figured I would just be on my own. About quarter after 5
one finally texted me and said they were meeting at her hotel room at
6:15. Ok...seemed kind of late as I had planned on being at the start
around 6, but ok. The hotel was right across the street so I figured it
would be ok. Of course two of the women didn't show up until 6:45 and
then had to use the bathroom in the room and again when we got to the
start, so we waited in line for porta-potties and were scrambling to the
start at 7:15. This resulted in having to hop the fence into the start
corral - nice touch.
Once the race started it took about 24
minutes for us to get across the starting line. I wonder how long it
took for the last people to get across, because we were lined up
somewhere between the 10 and 11 min pace signs and I know it went all
the way back to 15. It was absolutely packed at the start and for the
first, oh....17-18 miles. Within the first half mile I saw two men
running in big straw hats - running sombreros! The first time we ran
across an open-grate bridge I almost fell, also within the first mile.
hung with two of my friends (there were 5 of us total - we lost the
other two somewhere in the fence-hopping fiasco) for just less than 3
pace for the first two miles was just under 11 min which was fine,
because I didn't want to go out too fast, but I wanted to start my run/walk thing from my long
runs. Also, I really wanted to run my own race. So I left them maybe 200m
before the third mile marker.
Once I was on my own I started my
run 8/walk 2 intervals, but also walked for 15-30 sec at each aid
station so I could successfully drink my water. The fourth mile just
clicked on by in 10:17, and then I saw Doug standing up on a median at
the 4-mile marker - hooray! I gave him my arm panties and he wished me
luck and I headed off again, all happy from having seen him and feeling
good. Miles 5 and 6 were about the same pace. I did a little jig at the
10k mark. Back when I was nervous about my 18-miler, the longest run
I'd ever done, someone suggested that I run the two "new"
miles first and then after that I'd be in familiar territory. That
sounded like a fabulous idea and I employed it for the marathon. Let me
tell you - it worked like a charm! Instead of running an extra 10k at
the end I "ran it at the beginning" and then I had 20 miles - something I
knew I could do - ahead of me instead of this unknown distance.
7 dropped down to 9:55. I was feeling great at this point, but didn't
want to go all overboard and pay for it later. My only goal was to
finish (without hating running by the end) and I had no desire to be
miserable. Over and over I reminded myself that by holding back at the
beginning I was saving myself for later. Miles 8 and 9 were good, but
somewhere around 8.5 I started feeling like maybe something was amiss,
so when I hit a line of porta-potties just after the 15k mark I
stopped...and waited in line for 6 min! Everything turned out to be
fine and I was on my way again.
The miles from here on out are
kind of a blur. I knew Doug was going to be around mile 11 somewhere
but I never saw him there. Somewhere between 10 and the halfway mark a
woman was down in the middle of the road with a few people tending to
her and a few more keeping runners out of the way. I think it was also
in this area that I saw a woman holding a sign and wearing a t-shirt
that both said "Do Epic S#@*" - I got a little chuckle out of that.
According to the results I was through the half in 2:22 - so much slower
than my PR but hey - my first half marathon (TA '06) took almost 4
J had said that her brother told her the race would be
super crowded for the first 10 miles or so. I'm not sure if he and I
just have a different tolerance for "crowded" but by mile 16 I was
pretty damn tired of colliding with people every few minutes. I was
also starting to want to walk more around that time. Prior to this I
had been running through aid stations until near the end, where I would
grab a cup of water and then walk just long enough to drink it.
Starting in mile 17 or so (guessing by splits) I started walking as soon
as we hit the aid station, partly because I wanted to and partly
because they were downright treacherous - so slippery and there were
crushed cups and careening people everywhere.
I was still
feeling good when we passed the 20 mile mark, even though my splits had
slowed since I was now sticking with my original run/walk plan plus
walking most of the way through the aid stations. In mile 21 I took
another short porta-potty break but only lost about 1:30 or so that
time. During mile 22 or 23 I started getting all verklempt because I
knew I was really going to do it. I was tired and my hips (psoas I'm
pretty sure) were screaming but overall I really felt good. Never once
did I feel miserable, I never felt like quitting, I never doubted that I
could do it. When we hit the 23-mile mark and I knew I only had a
little over 5k to go I was downright giddy.
Then, in mile 25, it
happened. My right foot did the same thing my left foot had done at the
end of that first 20. I was reduced to running/walking block-by-block
and I slowed all the way to 13:19 for that mile. The spectators and
announcers all made me want to run, but every time I tried I would make
it that block and then have to walk because of the pain again. That
darn hill going into the finish that friends had warned me
about totally sucked, mostly because it really hurt my foot, and I had
to walk that whole thing. But at the top I started running again and
was able to run all the way in to the finish.
Final time: 4:49:39
what a feeling that was! I'd been trying not to cry for miles by that
point, and finally let it go after I crossed the line. It only lasted
about 30 seconds but man, it was just such an overwhelming feeling to
have done it. I walked through the finish area picking up all the stuff they had to
give us - space blanket, medal, water, banana, snack back, Gatorade 03
(recover - GROSS), and BEER (Goose Island 312 - yum) and went off to
find Doug. Finally we found each other and sat on the steps in front
of Abe Lincoln catching up and reveling in being done before walking
back to the hotel my friends were staying in to see how they had done.
out I was first in our group which I really had not expected, considering
that all had run marathons before and 2 had PR's somewhere around 4:40. One wound up getting out of her head and finishing in nearly 6 hours, the
others were right around 5 (two just under, one just over). I'm really
glad I split off and ran my own race. After my 18-mile run, a friend
told me that long runs should be done alone. I thought he was crazy but
after doing this training and running this race on my own I actually
think I agree. For me, they should be done alone. Maybe one day I'll
find new running buddies and feel differently but for right now, I'm ok
being my own buddy.
I'll run another marathon one day, but I
seriously doubt I'll do another big one. I did not like literally
running into people for most of the race, getting cut off at every aid
station, and getting caught behind people going a lot slower than I
wanted to be going. I did enjoy having spectators along literally the
whole course and it really did help spur me along in that last mile when
my foot hurt so stinkin' bad. Guess I'm heading off to the injury
clinic again on Wednesday night, getting my foot all put back together,
and then I'm really going to focus on flexibility. I'm ready to take a break from running
(not quit, just take a break) so I'm going to cross-train for a few
months and come back to it in winter/spring feeling refreshed.
If you stuck with me this long, thanks for reading!