I was incredibly nervous in the days leading up to the race. Nervous, but excited and pretty confident that I could finish. Friday night I was so proud when I picked up my number at the expo. 16 weeks of training, long runs in sweltering heat, running in the dark after a long day of work, raising money for Team Carson, and the day was finally here!
I barely slept a wink Friday night, which is typical for me right before a race. Saturday morning, Trea and I walked to the finish line to check our bags and then met up with our training friends at the start. Trea and I always run long miles together, and since this was our first marathon attempt, we agreed to stick together the whole time, even though he's faster.
We started out with the 4:55 pace group, but I was pretty sure we would fall back from them quickly, which we did. (I swear they were going too fast.) My Garmin kept losing satellite signal, so I wasn't able to monitor my pace at all. I just relied on Trea since his Nike watch was working. The first few miles were exciting because there were several spectators, and we were running through downtown Memphis. We ran by the pyramid and then through the St. Jude campus. When I looked at my splits later, I saw that miles 4 and 5 were about a minute faster than what I should've been running. That was because of all the sweet St. Jude supporters and signs that said things like, "A blister never needed chemo!" We couldn't help but run faster!
As we passed by Rhodes College, I noticed the pace felt too quick for me, so we slowed down. I had some goals in mind, but mainly I just wanted to make sure I could finish. I was feeling really good, and I just knew I would come in somewhere between 5:00 and 5:15, which I would have been thrilled with. But around mile 10, trouble set in. And by trouble, I mean uncontrollable waves of nausea. FAN. TASTIC.
Somewhere around this point, I decided that I needed to eat something because I thought that would make me feel better, so we slowed to a walk while I tried to choke down half a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. We had already made two bathroom stops since we failed to synchronize our bladders, and while we were walking, the 5:10 pace group passed us. I was feeling so sick, and the sight of that pace sign bobbing by did not lift my spirits.
I had been walking quickly through water stops since almost the beginning, and my walk breaks were getting longer and longer. I was having trouble just making it from station to station because I felt so awful. At around mile 12.5, the halfers split off toward the finish, and I almost started to cry because I wanted to follow them. But I still had over halfway to go. The course thinned considerably, there weren't as many spectators as there had been earlier in the day, and my nausea was getting worse and worse. I kept taking walk breaks just to keep from getting sick.
At mile 17, things got ugly. I ralphed on somebody's lawn...twice. I've never gotten sick on a run before. I've trained up to 20 miles and not had any issues. I was so upset and disappointed. I was upset because I couldn't run, embarrassed to be in such a condition on the side of the road, and even more upset that Trea was watching it happen. After three years of marriage, we still try to be polite and keep private things private, but I suppose the honeymoon's over. And when he said I had to keep running because we still had 9 miles to go, I wanted to cry again. But I didn't. I ran.
I started getting thirsty and feeling weaker almost immediately, so at mile 18 I diluted some Powerade with water and drank it. At mile 19, I turned into the exorcist and vowed to never drink Powerade or lemon-lime anything ever again. I kept running and walking, and my walks were getting crazy long. I would wait until I could see a water station and run to it, then walk again when I got there. It was terrible. Every time I tried to run, my stomach would cramp so bad that I couldn't stand up straight, so I would have to walk again. I hadn't had any calories or electrolytes since mile 12, so at mile 23, I gave up and decided to walk the rest of the way. I had thought even with all the pit stops and walking that we could still make it around 5:30, but there was no way to do that if I stopped running. Mentally, I had already checked out. My music had been off for a long time, my heart wasn't in it, and I was just plain sad. 16 weeks of working my butt off...for this.
When we got about half a mile from the finish, we started running again. No way was I going to walk across the finish line, even if I threw up on the medal volunteer. I felt like we had been out on that course for two days.
I finished in 5:56 -- almost an hour longer than what I had hoped for. My aunt, cousin and Carson were the only members of Team Carson that had stayed at the finish line for us, and I was so happy to see them. The rest of the group had run races earlier in the day and spent a long time waiting before giving up. My friends had finished way before me and were cold and ready to head back to their hotel -- as were we -- so we all briefly said our congratulations, snapped some photos and went on our way.
|My cousins, Ginger and Carson|
I was so disgusted with the way my day had gone that I didn't even think to get a heat blanket or have someone take our picture at the finish line. I was really looking forward to finally getting one of those space blankets and feeling like a real runner. But I didn't feel like a runner that day.
When we got back to our hotel, Trea surprised me with this necklace. He worked really hard to find all the charms and had it engraved with 26.2 on one side and Memphis 2011 on the other. I never would've dragged myself to the finish line if Trea hadn't been with me. He's the best running partner and an amazing best friend.
I'm still unhappy with the way things went, and I haven't at all made peace with it. I've hated having to tell the story to everyone I see this week who wants to know all about it, but I'm trying to just focus on the fact that I finished. I didn't finish well, but I finished, and I still got a medal, and I'm still a marathoner.
I know I tried my best. I ran as much as I could run. I trained as much as I could train. I studied nutrition and hydration tips, and I made sure to stick with what worked for me in training. So I just have to be ok with knowing I did my best, even though on this day, that wasn't enough.
I'll just have to try harder next time. ;)