Monday, October 10, 2011

My Marathon...

...quite frankly, sucked.

Prior to race day, everything was fine and went well.  Friday we picked up our packets and despite the shirts being lame, I was in good spirits and feeling confident.  SIL and I bought a pretty cool t-shirt and I didn't feel nearly as anxious as I had at the half marathon expo in August.  H and I went out for pasta and came home and watched a movie.  As I posted Saturday, we had a good breakfast and just hung around the apartment on Saturday.

Sunday morning, race day, I woke up at 5:09am (my birthday, bc I'm silly like that).  I felt good and rested, although obviously a bit anxious and nervous.  I made a small cup of coffee.  I'd had coffee before the half-marathon and it'd went well, so I figured a small cup 2.5 hours before the race was fine.  Plus, (TMI alert!!), after having a few sips I immediately had to go #2, which is definitely something every runner tries to do before a long race.  SIL picked H and I up at 5:45a and I ate my Cliff bar and had some water on the way.

By the time we parked, walked to the course, dropped off my bag to gear check and said bye and good luck to H (his half marathon time from last year qualified him to be in a seated corral, whereas SIL and I were in open corral), SIL and I got to the 11min/mile start group around 6:40ish.  Race time was 7:30, so we just chatted and tried to relax.

Of course, being that the race had 45,000, we actually crossed the starting line when the race clock was already a little over 16 minutes into the race.  SIL and I ran together for the first .  Our first mile was 10:48, which thinking back, was actually pretty fast considering the crowd of runners and how compact we were.  After 10K (6.2 miles), I decided that I had to go pee.  Considering that earlier around 5 miles, as soon as we hit Lincoln Park, we'd see at least 15 guys peeing at trees, I decided I didn't have to wait for a porta-potty.  I decided to pull off and go between two parked cars. Lol.  However, it was the best choice!  I'd trained with fuels, so I kept up with those every 45 minutes or so, depending when we came upon water.

Around mile 8 or so, I decided I wanted to walk a block or so and I told SIL to keep going b/c she was on a roll.  So we separated.  I then started a run/walk kind of method.  I ran but walked through water stations, which were every mile or so.  Things were going well as I made it back downtown.  I crossed the half-way mark, 13.1 miles, at 2 hours and 27 minutes. 20 minutes slower than my half-marathon race in August, but knowing that I had just as long to go, I wasn't really too discouraged.  At this point, this section of the course actually mimicked the half marathon's course, which was a nice way to kind of know what to expect.

I made it out to mile 15, the west side turn around point. By this time, my pace had really slowed.  After mile 15, I remember wiping my forehead and there not being any sweat. Uh-oh, really bad sign.  I totally stopped running and walked to the next aid station where I got Gatorade and two waters.  I drank them slowly and walked a few more blocks before I decided to run again.  As I was approaching mile 16, I saw there was a water station ahead, so I pulled out a fuel, a Clif shot (which is a gooey substance you kind of slurp out of its little pouch).  You're supposed to take fuels with water so that the water can break them down for your body to absorb.  Just as the few times earlier in the race, I starting slurping the fuel so that I'd finish just as I was at the water station to flush it down.
Well, this time it didn't go so well.  I took my first mouthful of fuel, swallowed and immediately threw it up.  This was at mile 16.23, right in front of a first aid station.  I stopped running and a first aid person ran over with a wheelchair for me.  As they pushed me to the station, I continued throwing up, at least four more times.  I don't remember how many.  All I remember is that someone yelled at the guy to bring me to a cot and then guy said he couldn't because I couldn't stop throwing up.

Eventually I was helped to a cot where I laid down and my feet/legs with elevated with a box.  Someone rushed over with an IV and as soon as I saw it, I freaked out (incredibly scared of needles).  Thankfully another aid saw my reaction and said to wait a minute and let them talk to me and take my vitals.  Since I was able to say my name and date, and my blood pressure was okay, they agreed to let me just drink Gatorade to hydrate.  The girl asked how I felt and if I wanted to continue on or go back on the medical bus.  I said I wanted to continue and she said that I should stay for a while longer and keep hydrating. She took my heart rate and said it was too high to go just yet.
After about 50 minutes of laying on the cot and watching the race, I really just wanted to get back in it. 

At this point a large portion of the people were walking by, and I felt that with just less than 10 miles left, if nothing else, I really could finish with a run/walk method.  Then I heard one of the guy medics announce that the tail end of the racers where just a mile away.  I called over the girl who had been helping me and asked if I could get back on the course.  She took my heart rate again and said that it hadn't dropped yet and to just hang tight.  My heart rate monitor said it was at 130, which is the low end of my "fat-burning" zone, so according to the monitor, I wasn't even in cardio zone and barely in fat-burning. 

However, as I lay there, I came to the realization that first aid wasn't going to let me back in the race and the waterworks started.  I lay there with tears dripping down my face knowing this was not the day I'd become a marathoner.  I thought of the past 4.5 months of disciplined training, long runs and shorts runs, grueling sweating runs and terrible they were all for nothing.  SO FRUSTRATING!!  The aid came over and confirmed my fear, she wasn't going to let me back in the race and so I agreed to get on the medical bus.

Worst ride ever.  There were 6 other runners on there, including a girl who said that she was surprised she'd made it that far b/c she hadn't trained and the farthest she'd ever run was 3 miles (idiot).  I was able to use the medic's cell phone to leave a message on H's phone that I was pulled and was on my way back. The medic at least was somewhat comforting in saying that she'd taken 33 people away on the medic bus and a few more on the hospital.  She had heard rumors that the alert level for the race was being raised from yellow (less than ideal We were shuttled to another facility with a school bus full with runners from other first aid stations.  I sat at the front but listened to the other runners.  All of those who were talking all seemed to have not planned to finish anyways.  The thought was unfathomable to me...why would you sign up for something not feeling confident you would complete it? or without proper training?!

I don't think I'm cocky having thought these people were strange, although I suppose everyone is at different fitness levels and has different life goals. I just thought it's weird to pruposely not plan on finishing something like a marathon, but to be quite honest, I also never considered that I wouldn't.  I trained for 18 weeks, all summer, and had run 22 miles by myself.  I knew my body could do this.  Knowing physically I could do it, mentally I knew I could too.  A few people I know had also attempted to run marathons and been pulled from the course, and I never even considered that I would be or pre-race had the fear that I would be pulled, and there I was on the bus, done.  As we drove back to the start/finish area, we passed runners three times.  Each time more and more tears fell from my eyes.  Why couldn't I be one of those people?  Why wasn't I out there?  What had happened to by body and why did this day have to be different than those long training runs?  I'd run 16 miles or more at least 5 times. I could do this.

It only got worse once we got back to the grounds.  I saw the runners with their medals and their friends and family congratulating them.  I didn't have a medal, nor would I be getting one or know what it was like to throw my arm in the air as I crossed the 26.2 finish line.  I bawled, I sobbed, and I cried my way to gear check where I put on my flip flops and called H.  I found him under a tree, laying down and icing his legs.  He just held me as I cried and explained what had happened.

I found out the race hadn't gone well for him either.  He'd hoped to finish around 3:15, definitely by 3:30 and he'd actually finished at 3:55.  Although it may be have been for comfort, he told me that after the first half, he'd hoped a few times that someone from first aid would pull him and that he actually considered just walking off the course.  But he didn't, he finished.  SIL finished too, just under her goal of 5 hours.
H and I icing post-race
So now the question is....where do I go from here?  Do I give up the goal of being a marathoner?  Is it really worth another summer of training?  Friday nights spent in watching movies and going to bed early so that I can wake up Saturday morning for a long runs?  That seems so hard to do by myself.  This summer it was okay b/c H and I were doing it together; and I had SIL to run with and chat with. 

The other option is jumping back on the horse and signing up for another full in the upcoming weeks.  I have the core training in and would just need another long run or so.  This weekend we're going camping to celebrate our anniversary and the following weekend we'll be in Florida for my college bestie's wedding...but there is a marathon in Indianapolis on November 5th.  While it's not quite ideal timing because I can't really get in another 16+ run; but it could work.  It looks like  you can sign up the day I'm going to spend the next couple days just seeing how I recover and feel about it.  We shall see.

So as I sit here with ice packs on my quads and G2 Gatorade on my desk, I want to thank you for your support for the marathon :O)  Unfortunately, it just wasn't my day.


  1. Hey Girl! My heart goes out to you - but your spirit and determination were there, you didn't throw in the towel. Your body just didn't cooperate. And, you still completed 4.5 months of training, and went for 16 miles! That's INSANE and deserves a HUGE congrats! So, CONGRATS! xoxo

  2. Definitely don't give up! Running is something I just can't do... and I admire the strength and the determination of those who do. Get back in there and give your dream another go! Good luck!

  3. I'm so sorry to hear about how it ended. But i agree with Kate -- what you did is still an amazing accomplishment! You should be proud of yourself!

  4. Thanks ladies for the support ladies:O)


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