Another marathon, another learning experience. I'm still not sure what I learned yet. It could just be that marathons are hard and painful. No matter how good the training is, no matter how prepared I feel, it's still going to be hard. It IS 26.2 miles. It's pushing my body to the very limits. And just because I've done it before doesn't mean it's going to be a breeze.
Gotta have a porta potty shot!
The half marathoners (about 4600) and the marathoners (about 1100) start together and then split apart a few miles down the road.
The day started out well enough. In fact the first 17 miles felt really good. Our pace was good and I felt like I could keep it up the whole time. I was loving the rolling hills, beautiful parks and neighborhoods and just the general feeling of race day. It was good! I didn't put on my music right away. I just listened to others runners talking along the way and got in the groove.
Once I started the music however, it carried me. Especially on the closed freeway when the song "Highway to Hell" appropriately came on. I did the salt and really couldn't believe how well my calves were doing. But my hips were aching. And if there's one rule during a marathon it would be that whatever is hurting a little at the half will be hurting 20 times worse at mile 20.
It really started to come apart around mile 18. I did some mental concentration exercises and that worked for a while, but my body took over. That was especially disappointing. I held on until about mile 19 or 20 and then threw up. The last 6 miles were the longest of my life. Those electrical shocks that run through your calves warning you of immense cramping started to show up. And then the cramping started. I did more salt and they went away by the next mile. But my hips continued to get worse. Every step was pure torture. I wanted to quit. I wanted to sit down and cry. I could see my time goal flying out the window. I was holding back my loyal running partner. And really, that was worse than the time thing. She pushed me when I didn't want to be pushed. I was grateful. We finished. There were tears. I'm o.k. though. I will have new rules for Heather to run her own race next time.
My brother and his wife surprised me by being at the finish line. He's leaving in a month for Alabama to finish out his military training and become a helicopter pilot. He's one of those things I thought about during the hard miles. So to see him there brought tears to my eyes. And then there was my sweet family. My husband that was worried and my kids, mom and sister that were proud. Heather's mom really got the water works going when she hugged me and gave me words of encouragement. As she talked about friendship and loyalty the tears just flowed. What a sweet woman. Our time was 5:02. Exactly the same time as the last time I ran this marathon. 32 minutes slower than my time goal, 14 minutes from my best time and 32 minutes faster than my worst.
The only thing that keeps me thinking about the "next time" is that sooner or later I'm going to have a really good experience. When I do, it will make all these ones that fall short of expectations seem worthwhile. I have to keep believing in that or putting myself through this doesn't seem to make much sense.