Well I did it… I ran the CIM…ok I sorta ran the CIM. I set a finisher goal of 4:40. I thought, that’s doable for my first full marathon. The hills are at the beginning and I’ve been training pretty well.
Then in September I suddenly experienced terrible leg pain. I am familiar with this pain because I’ve experienced it twice before. I chose to ignore the pain because I had already postponed this race by one year after a shoulder injury. I just didn’t want to waste my conditioning again.
I am 53, amost 54. I do not run fast. So having reached the ability to sustain a 10+ minute mile is exciting to me. I knew that I could run this pace for at least the first half of the race and figured if I slowed after that, well that would be ok too. Afterall, this race is a bucket list check off item.
So I kept running. I ran through the pain and my pace slowed considerably. I started to feel bad for myself. I started to listen to the whiney voice in my head.
In October I ran three half marathons. I did fine and actually PRd in two. My training suffered more than the actual race day performance. I felt hopeful that the marathon would be the same.
But during training the pain continued and it seemed to transfer to my back and eventually the other leg. I was compensating and in the process making it worse. Eventually I was able to get in to see a sports specialist who promptly sent me in to get an MRI. It sorta confirmed that I probably suffered a tibial stress frature (again) in September and all that remained was the swelling and discomfort.
The doctor said rest, and perhaps just ride a stationery bike. Charlie, one of the coaches said, stay off it completely until the last minute, then decide if you are going to run the race. So I rested for two weeks, then rode the bike a few times. How do people do that for long distances? OUCH!
I decided to run.
Race day brought us rain, and wet feet. I normally enjoy running in the rain, and this day was no exception. I found the 4:40 pace group and waited to start running. I found myself moving well ahead of the pacer, but thought I felt good, so I keep going. At mile 13 I clocked in at 2:21. I was relieved and very happy. Onward!
I was hydrating with electrolytes (Nuun), taking in fuel on a early and often basis. I felt good. But I did have to stop to use the porta potty, something I had never done before. It felt awkward and like I was wasting time. I did feel better and jumped back into the race.
At around mile 18 I experienced a terrible burning pain that stopped me dead in my tracks. I realized I had torn the skin away from the bottom of my right foot. One of the training group members saw me as I limped to the curb to pull of my shoe. She kept saying, “I’m so sorry!”
I looked at my foot and pulled off all the toe bandaids I had applied prophylacticly because I have a history of blisters on the tips of my toes. I slipped my foot back into the shoe and adjusted the shoe lace to be as tight as possible around the toes and arch. Surprisingly, I was able to get moving and I experienced some relief in the pain.
At mile 20 I saw that the portapotties were on the near side of the timing strip. Really? They could have moved them to the far side, so that the timing would be a little more accurate for that split. I contemplated runing through but decided that I should just stop to be sure. I went in and to my dismay, I had nothing in my bladder. I started to panic and thought, I have to drink more fluids. This really worried me. Dehydration is not good.
At the H street bridge I saw my coach Cami, for the second time. She ran with me and said, how you doing? I confided that my legs were shot and that my foot was killling me. She looked at me and said, “You will finish with plenty of time, even if you walk. But I know you won’t walk. I am so proud of you.” She left me to hear her words echo through my head. I kept going.
I listened to people talk and breath and moan and cough. Two guys were talking as I passed them, they were walking and laughing. One of them had an American flag tied to his back pack. They made me smile. I tried to recall what I felt like when I couldn’t run (miserable) and I reminded myself to run happy. I turned a corner and a spectator yelled at me, “Drop your shoulders. Think about it, you have this!” I dropped my shoulders and kept running.
At Mile 25 a young woman running near me looked at me and said, “We are going to finish. We are going to finish. Only two more turns and we are finished.” I looked up and saw my family standing by the Mile 26 flag. My daughter held the baby, and my husband and Kyle took pictures. I smiled, told them I’d see them at the finish and made the first left turn. A volunteer said, “women finish here”and pointed to the second and final left turn.
I looked at the clock across the finish line and my heart sank. I saw that the gun time was over 5 and a half hours. I was so disappointed. I guess I knew that it would be a slower time than planned, but seeing it flashing over the finish line broke my heart.
I let the volunteer drape the medal over my hat and I took a selfie, like I always do at half marathons. I found my family, had a beer and asked to go home. I felt deflated.
Today, a day later, I looked on Instagram to see pictures with the hashtag #CIM. Thats when I saw it. There was a picture of a backpack, a flag and other running gear. I was sure this was the man that I ran next to for a short time.
Three months ago I made the offcial goal to run a marathon wearing a 40 pound weight vest……To me life is about setting ridiculous goals, then mentally developing yourself into the person that can dominate such goals…..If I ran without the weight I would probably finish 4000th place ( about 9000 people run the CIM). So….I thought it would be better to run my own race. As far as I know, I came in first place out of everyone wearing a 40 pound weight vest….Life is short. Find your own “weight vest” and dominate it! -MDM24x7
I sat back and thought about it.
My goal, while not initially ridiculous became so when I suffered injury after injury. Running through crazy pain is not a good goal to set, but to finish what I start is always a good goal. I’m a little sad about the time, mostly because I wanted to run ONE marathon, not more than one. My doctor said I wouldn’t be satisfied regardless of the time, he may be right.
For now, I proved I could steel myself and finish what I started. For that I feel proud.
Special thanks to our Fleet Feet J Street coaches (Chris, Cami, Charlie and Steve) who believed we could do it, and were the perfect combination of tough and caring. Thank you to my family and Art for all the support. Thank you to Manila, Katherine, Carolyn, Jennifer, Amy, Kassie, Liz, Angie and all the rest of the running group that made the training program such fun. I hold you all in the highest regard.
Don’t forget to Run Happy!