Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Marathon

Settle in, this is going to be a long one.

The race started late and it took forever to get across the start line. I was already anxious about the 6 hour time cutoff so taking so long to get across the start was nerve racking.

Once I finally did cross the next few miles went by quickly I was going fast, but figured it was okay because the first several miles of the course were pretty flat and I should make good time where I could. My heart rate was also pretty high but I was still feeling good. I was having a great race, I had put a ton of time between myself and the 6 hour marathon pacer. At mile 5.5 I was joined by my friend Sarah, and it was so great to see her. I was enjoying myself, we were chatting up a storm, and just enjoying ourselves. Not to shortly after another friend, Jamie, jumped out of nowhere. I was shocked. Jamie was supposed to meet me around mile 20 or so, and her she was at mile 6.5!

The three of us continued on. I was so distracted by the two of them that I didn't noticed I had skipped a couple of my walking intervals. My heart rate was still high, but I still felt good, so I wasn't too concerned. In the back of my mind I thought, "Well, maybe I should be pacing myself better, but you know it's probably okay." I also ended up seeing my awesome husband Nathan on his bike and my good friend Emma at this point.

Sarah had to leave at about mile 8.5 and Jamie continued on with me until about mile 9.

Right before mile 10 the marathoners and the half marathoners separated. I felt adrenaline at this point because I knew that it was about to get serious and to a no turning back point. As I'm following the arrows to continue on the course and not turn back towards the finish an official abruptly stops myself and another marathoner and informs us that we didn't make the time cutoff and we have to complete the half marathon course.

I was livid. And the conversation went something like this:

Me- "NO!!!! NO!!!!!You can't do that!! The race started late! I'm MINUTES ahead of the 6 hour pacer."

Race official- "I'm sorry, I can't let you continue."
Me- "NO!!! NO! You !&*#$ ?%7*?!?^!? !?$$&&7!? ! How can you do that!?! I'm ahead of the pacer!?!?! I'm going, please let me go!!!"

Race official- sighs "OK, I didn't see you....go."

Now, I have to digress her for a second. In my 27 years on earth I have never really screamed at someone. Harsh words, possible elevating tone, but not like a full out scream. All that changed on Sunday. I REALLY ripped into that Race Official, and I honestly felt bad about it later. He was just trying to do his job, and I screamed at him and said things that were, um..... pretty freaking bad.

But anyway, I kept going but I was totally on edge after that. I was worried I was going to end up getting pulled from the course now because I screamed at the official (because yeah, it was bad). But I was also angry, that it was completely unfair. Then I quickly thought that for some reason Nathan and my friends that were supposed to meet up with me at later points in the race would hear that they started turning runners around at the 10 mile and would assume that I got turned around too. I grabbed my phone and called Jamie because I knew she probably had her headset in and would hear the phone. I quickly told her they tried to turn me around, but I kept going and to let Nathan know to continue.
The race quickly got very, very lonely. This particular event had 12,500 half marathon runners, 3,000 marathon runners, and 400 marathon relay teams, so once I broke away from the half marathon runners the course was pretty empty. At this point, I was running through Forest Park. I was still making incredible time and realized that I was close to hitting the halfway point and that I was going to easily going to beat my last half marathon time by a couple minutes.

Right before mile 14 things started going downhill though. I was starting to feel the heat that I wasn't used to running in and then I started feeling nauseous. At this point Nathan was with me and I told him I was feeling rough. I then started to panic a bit. I was drinking water but by now what was in my bottle and what was at the aid stations was warm. Nathan offered to ride ahead of me and go to a gas station to buy cold water, but I told him I didn't want him to leave me.

At mile 15 I was so relieved to see, Jordan, another friend that offered to run with me. I told him things were going kind of rough. Jordan told me I looked like I was doing good. The next few miles were all kind of a blur. We hit lots of hills. LOTS.

I couldn't run up most of them, so while I tried to stick to my planned walking breaks, it didn't always happen. I tried to get some speed on the downhills as much as I could, but it was tough. I was still nauseous and hot. At some point in the next few miles, the 6 hour pacer caught up to us. I tried to stay with him but it just wasn't happening. My legs were getting cramped and I was pretty sure I had a toe bleeding because my feet were in pain.

At this point, I felt pretty defeated. The cutoff team was ahead of me and even with Jordan doing awesome to keep me going I knew I couldn't catch them and maintain that pace for the rest of the race. We were hitting more and more hills and they just didn't' seem to end. The "sag" wagon pulled up beside us and asked me if I planned on completing the race. I thought, Oh God, this is it, they are pulling me off the course. I said, "Yeah, I want to complete it if that is OK." Yeah, I don't know where that girl was that screamed at that race official two hours earlier, cause at this point I was a totally different person. Sag wagon nodded and proceeded to hang out behind us for about a half a mile more. He then pulled up and told me he had a few runners that he needed to drop off and he would come find me in about 30 minutes in case I couldn't continue.

Even with the defeated feeling lingering, I was still in a pretty good head space. I had ran an amazing 13+ miles and was so happy about how I had done thus far. At around mile 20 Jamie met up with us again and I was still nauseous, hot, and cramped but by now the cramping was happening from my shoulders to my feet. My heart rate was still high considering how much I had been walking. I really wanted to throw up and thought I was going to a couple times but it wasn't happening.

Another van pulled up and Race Director/Official (Mike) jumped out I because I had read the rules 1000 times I know exactly what he was going to say. He told me that I could finish the race but I wasn't going to get a medal, finish time, and I would have to take a detour because they had to open back up Forest Park Parkway and their weren't sidewalks I could go on. When he said the part about not getting the medal my heart hurt just a little. It sucked to go through everything I was going through and not get a medal. But I told him that I was aware of the rules and I did want to continue. I thanked Jordan for everything (he had already been with me a lot longer than we had planned) and he went ahead and left since Jamie and Nathan were both with me. Jamie ran to get me a bagel thinking it may help the nauseous feeling and Nathan continued on with me. The bagel did help with the nausea, but the cramps were still there and getting worse.

The last few miles were the worst, my whole body was tense and the heat was just awful at this point. Nathan left Jamie and I at around 24 to ride ahead and let the people waiting at the finish line know that yes, in fact, I was still coming. When Jamie and I finally got to the last block and we could see the finish line, Jamie convinced me to run the last part in. As I was getting a few hundred yards away Race Official Mike pulled up in his van and told me he was happy that I finished. I thanked him best I could and continued on over the finish line as my mom ran up to greet me.

(Even though it's super shaky....Nathan apologizes, he told me he was excited....here is the finish line video. That white van on the right is Race Official Mike)

I tried to get happy and excited, but I was soooo exhausted. (as you can see from the video) It was so good to see my mom though. She was just beaming with pride and was very happy to give me (drumroll please) A FINISHER MEDAL!!!

From what my mother told me, she had been waiting at the finish for me and the volunteers had thought the last runner had finished so they were going to start packing up. When she informed them that I was still out there and I WOULD be finishing. Not only did a volunteer offer her a medal to give me, but the guy doing the timing left the mat up, and the volunteers said they were happy to leave the finish line up. An EMT even stuck around to make sure I wasn't dehydrated or collapsing. I was shocked and so happy about this, and it certainly made my day.

Also cheering me on at the finish and taking pictures were Kristal, Chad, and baby Isaac, who had been patiently waiting awhile for me to finish. Kristal managed to get this picture of my mom and I and even though I have total ugly cry face, it's still one of those amazing moments I am really glad was captured.
My Garmin time was 6:40:14..... yep, way past my goal time of 6 hours because of all the walking I had to do. At this point, I'm going to get brutally honest with you about how I feel about the marathon. I am so proud of myself for completing it. I truly did give this race everything that I had, but it still didn't turn out the way I wanted it to and I see three major reasons why this is the case:

1. The heat. I don't care what anyone says, with the combination of full sun and the temp it was HOT on Sunday. And because none of my training had ever been done in that kind of weather, it killed me.
2. The hills. If you are a long time reader of this blog you know that hills scare me. For the first 14 miles of the course I feel like I rocked the hills. I was especially proud of myself for not giving up on the ever scary Forest Park hills. But when I hit Clayton and the hills just kept coming and coming and coming, it killed me. I knew hills would be a challenge, but I wasn't at all prepared for the challenge of this course... I admit it.
3. I had really been burnt out on running for a good month. Don't get me wrong, I do love running, but it became painfully obvious that I wasn't in love with marathon training. Even when I switched to what I thought would be a better plan for me, it still seems like I lost a lot of my running love. I think mentally I wasn't prepared for the race and a lot of it had to due with the burn out. But that isn't to say if #1 and 2 didn't happen that this would have been my demise, but I think the combination of the 3 really hurt me.

What it all comes down to though, is that I did complete it. Again, being brutally honest, part of me feels like I was a bit of a let down (to others, not really myself) for walking so much at the end, and I know I am not beaming with pride and calling myself a marathoner because of this, but I still feel like a completed an honest race and I didn't have much more or anything left of myself to give. I am just going to have to learn to deal with the fact that to the running community may not think my marathon was as much of an accomplishment because I walked so much. But, I just need to get over that. In 18 weeks I accomplished great things, and I need to focus on that and not what others have accomplished.

So many people have asked me if I would do another marathon. At this point, I can't really imagine going through the training again, but I'm still in a place of being really burnt out. The plan now is just to get my running love back, because at this point, it's gone. I'm going back to basics and going to try and get out of run/walk intervals and into more running with a fluent pace. I'm planning on a couple half marathons in the Fall and then I'll just go from there. I also REALLY want to start triathlon training, but it's an expensive sport and I know jumping into it too quick will just cause more burnout. However, I did just purchase a nice bike and plan on doing more cycling.

Now, I know this post is already a novel, but there is no way I could have made it through today without some amazing people helping me, so I'm gonna take this chance to say thank you.

I have some great dailymile friends that have been not only helpful but inspiring in my training. All of them are awesome, but a special thank you to Ann B., Christopher B., Doug M., Ali W., Samantha, and Jason E. You guys have all at one point or another kept me going.
To all my friends that recorded messages for during the race. I laughed, cried, and enjoyed them during race and I still am. They were all so awesome, thank you for recording them.

To Sarah, you have been such a good friend the last few weeks and you truly helped me keep my sanity and I was overjoyed that you were able to run with me on some of my "good" miles. I can't wait to do the 20 mile walk with you. And of course, Sunday couldn't have worked without your amazing husband. :)

To Lauren, if I ever had any doubts about myself or my abilities I just had to think that you were one of my biggest fans. It kept me going more than you know, and I can't wait to be at the starting line with you of a half marathon, because you are doing one! :)

To Kristal, thanks for doing Couch to 5k, because if you hadn't I probably never would have started. You have made me feel like I could do anything, your confidence in me has been a blessing.

To Ali, you are the greatest cheerleader a runner could ever ask for. I could always depend on you to give amazing running advice and do whatever I needed to feel confident in my abilities. I'll never forget the first time I ran outside was with you in South City (that was only 11 months ago, that's CRAZY!!!), you were a huge help then and a huge help now. Thanks for calming me down and keeping me sane.

To Jordan, thank you for your company, stories, and laughter as you ran beside me on Sunday. I would of had a very scary several miles had you not been there, and I truly mean that I have no idea how I can ever repay you for the support that you gave me for those 5 miles.

To Jamie, I don't even know where to begin.....in the last year of marathon training you have truly seen me at my best and my worst. Sunday you were the most patient friend anyone could ever ask for. Thanks for getting me a bagel, putting up with that annoying chick, and keeping me calm those last few miles. I have no idea where I would be without your friendship and support.

And finally to my amazing husband, Nathan. You probably won't read this, but I love you so much and after Sunday, you definitely get husband of the year. I would have been lost without you and certainly would have died of thirst. I'm sorry you only got two hours of sleep on Saturday night, but if you hadn't been there Sunday, I don't think I would have finished the race. I can't wait to cheer you on in your bike race next month.
If you are still with me at this point, thanks for reading and the support. :)


Jennelle said...

CONGRATS, Teresa! You accomplished an amazing thing in spite of some serious odds--the heat, being burnt out, the hills, etc. Don't let anyone take away from what you have accomplished. You rock!

LC said...

WOW, Teresa. What a beautiful race review. I teared up more than a few times. I'm like a broken record so I'm not going to talk about how proud I am or how inspiring you are. We know these things. It WAS hot that day and I think it caught a lot of people off gaurd. I know that nauseous feeilng you had, I've gotten if before after only 5 or 6 miles. (One of my relay teammates threw up after her run in the heat!) I didn't have to run in Clayton but from what I heard, it was mighty tough. You had those things going against you but your determination and perseverance pulled you through! And honest race, indeed! I know that there are disappointed elements of the day and race but marathon runners are few and far between. Be proud to call yourself one. There are tons of us that aren't and never will be. YOU ARE! Can't wait to run a 1/2 with you. I am definitely doing it!

LC said...

Ohhh...and thanks for the shout-out! I'm glad I was able to give back some of the inspiration that I was given by you!

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful post Teresa! You did sy h an amazing job and should be so proud of yourself. You completed a marathon, lady!! That's freaking incredible. Just think of how far you've come in the past year. You are one determined woman and I'm so proud of you. ;)

Anonymous said...

*such - stupid iPhone, lol.

Lisa said...

Oh Teresa... I'm in tears. The whole story is beautiful. You and your mom...Lord help me. I hope that you are supremely proud of yourself and the HONEST race that you ran. You ARE an inspiration!! You completed a marathon for goodness sake and no one can take that away from you.

Julia said...

Girl, you rocked it. I honestly think that running for nearly 7 hours is way harder than finishing in less time. I mean, just the length of time you were moving is insane! You ARE a marathoner, and take some much needed time off before deciding your running future. Very proud of you, sister!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
N. said...

Congratulations, Teresa! What an amazing story. You have so much to be proud of. And what an awesome support group you have. I am so happy for this special moment in your life.

sarah said...

T, I've said it a million times, but I am SOOOOO incredibly proud of you and inspired by you. Thank you for letting me be a small part of your amazing journey. I didn't think I'd ever train again after failing the first time, but you've definitely inspired me to get back to it. I'm excited to do my 20 mile training walk with you! And I can't wait to run the L&C half with you this fall. You are amazing. Now here's hoping we both sober up and survive Monday. ;D

Rhonda said...

Great post, Teresa!!! Thank you so much for sharing. It was really hot that day, and I think you did terrific. So proud of you! I'm glad I could loan you Jordan for a few miles too ;)

Red said...

Geez, T you've got me in tears over here. What a great photo that Kristal took. You are amazing!! So proud of you!

Jamie said...

Let's just say we're even now. And we'll leave it at that :)

mary said...

You don't know me but I have been following your journey and I am so proud of you. Reading your post brought tears to my eyes. Your determination and the way you kept going when times got rough. You just kept on going and ran an HONEST race and to me that gives you more character and means you are a winner than if you finished with a faster time. You inspire me!

Maria said...

Teresa, I enjoyed reading every word of this post. You should be so stinking proud of yourself!!!! Thank you for sharing your story. :)

michelle said...

I just stumbled across your blog. What an inspiration you are! I'm not a runner, and don't know if I ever will be. I'm amazed by your endurance, strength and honesty. Wow! I'll enjoy getting to know you, through this blog.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Brittany Zale said...

What a great race recap!! I love reading about losing the marathon virginity because no matter what, it's always an emotional and intense experience. Everyone has races where they start out strong, and then have to suffer through the last miles, and in my experience, those are the best races. It's all about pushing your body to the absolute limit.

I know that this is an old post, and I found it from a link on a friend's blog, but you completed a marathon, and you don't have to "feel bad" about walking. I just finished a 100-miler (where you walk about 1/2 of it) and I never bring that fact up. I raced a distance, and it doesn't matter how much walking was done. I finished it. And that should be all that matters to you.

Congrats and I hope you decide to sign up for another one!