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Post-Marathon Update!

Sweat and rain smells like exhaustion....

It seems to have been a bit since I’ve last blogged. Goodness gracious that will not do! :/

As Adam mentioned earlier, we completed our first marathon! He did a wonderful job describing the before and after marathon-ness, and hinted that I might share my story. So here goes…

My goal was to run the marathon in less than four hours, which would put me at an average 9:10 pace. This is a little slower than I usually run, but I figured that since I’d never run a marathon, I would give myself a lot of wiggle room for the daunting 20-26 mile marks I had never seen during a run.

My typical training pace had been inching upwards since our last race. My distance race pace before the Adirondacks Ragnar Relay was ~8 min/mile.  In the two weeks leading up to the marathon, I was pacing around 8:30 and feeling a little under the weather, but optimistic nonetheless.  I had injured my left foot during the Ragnar….it was probably just a small stress fracture or pulled ligament/tendon, but it was still healing at the time of the marathon. I thought I would be fine if I ran in a little bit more stable shoes (my minimalist shoes) versus my typical toe shoes.

Big nervous smiles, mostly intact runners...
Lots of anxious energy!

So, when I started running on that grey, windy and drizzly Sunday morning and was keeping a steady 8:20 pace….I was elated. I passed the half-marathon mark at 1:50 and felt pretty fantastic, not to mention relieved to be running with the wind! A huge smile was plastered on my face and I cheered on my fellow runners with pure buoyancy. My injured foot felt fine, and I was flying!

Then….I hit a rock.

Searing pain tore through my foot and I felt lightning up to my knee. I paused to try to stretch it out, pulling over to the side of the road just past the 14 mile mark. Crap-o-la. I thought to myself “Jeney, this has happened before. Just run on the outside of your foot until it feels better.” And for some foggy-unreasonable reason, I thought this would work out just fine.

16 miles in, and my right knee started burning and feeling stiff. I began stopping at walking through the aid stations every two miles. At 18 miles in, my lower back and hips were protesting. I was limping. I felt blisters in my toes. I was scowling. No longer did I pass anyone, and I saw familiar faces passing me. My pace dropped to a 10….10:30….11….

At 20 miles, I should’ve stopped. I couldn’t run more than 3/4 of a mile before walking. By 22 miles, both of my knees were shooting pain with every step. My friend Eva gave me encouragement as she passed me and I told her “Tell Adam I’m ok! I’m not going to make it to the finish before you!”

I quit the marathon three times. Sinking to my hands on the ground, I cried and told myself that I couldn’t go on. I would stretch my legs out and take inventory on how my foot felt (not better).  Then, I would somehow convince myself to get up, and jog another 400 meters before giving up and walking. And yet, somehow, every time I passed an aid station I would steel myself to get to the finish. This sounded much less dramatic when I was exhausted:

“Even if I’m the last person across the line, I’m finishing this marathon with my own feet.”

And so I did. I grimaced and cried and cheered and groaned. I knew the photographers would be at the finish so I mustered up a smile, attempting to banish the pain from my composure and stride as I headed into the last stretch. But then I saw Adam. He had the biggest smile and was cheering at the top of his lungs for me. And so that’s when I lost it. I blubbered, with tears and snot and rain running down my face, and shook from sobs in the last twenty steps into the finish. I’m positive I looked a complete disaster…but I completed the marathon.

Sweat and rain smells like exhaustion
Relieved to be done and ready for showers and coffee cake. 🙂

Thankfully, I’ve been in recovery (aqua running!) and will describe that in my next post.

Lesson: Unless I want another 2-4 months of recovery, when my body says “please stop” I should give it a little listen and swallow my pride before trying to run another 12 miles.

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