Well marathon #7 is in the books. It certainly wasn't my best race. But what was I expecting? I knew this one wasn't going to be a PR and it was more about adding one more number to my list of marathons rather than the time. But sometimes false hope creeps in and sets you up for disappointment. Besides the fact that I ran a marathon 3 weeks ago and wasn't trained properly for that one. So am I disappointed? Yes. But not in my effort. Or in my time, even though it's a far cry from what I believe I am capable of. I am really disappointed because I think I have a new injury. And it's the same old on and off injury that I've been trying to escape from for 7 years now. The dreaded IT band. What is really discouraging is that this injury is what led me to barefoot and minimalist running. I was so sick of hurting while running. I knew that it was something I was doing wrong and have been determined to fix what it is so that I could continue doing what I love. So I must still be doing something wrong. I really wish that there was a pro barefoot runner around here so that I could get some coaching or something. I should be able to figure it out myself, but I guess I can't.
Thursday I was reviewing some of the race details and realized that I was going to have to leave my mom's house at around 3:00 in the morning to catch the busses. On a whim, I called the host hotel to see if they were still giving out the marathon discount. They had one room left and I booked it. I then called Heather to see if she could get away for the weekend and come with me. Her saint of a husband agreed and so Friday we were off for a girl's weekend!
We met up with the other blogger girls at yogurt land and then had fun shopping and eating.
I didn't really sleep much. My stomach was in knots and I just couldn't settle down. Finally it was time to load the busses and I met up with Julia and Ashley. It always seems like such a long ride up to the start. I still had pretty bad nerves.
But it wasn't long before the cannon went off and it was time to start. I did the same plan that I used 3 weeks ago in Ogden and carried my water bottle and Nuun. I ran with Julia for the first 5 miles. It settled my nerves and I was really excited for her to be running her first marathon. I stopped at the water station to fill my bottle and saw her a ways ahead of me. I could have caught up, but I knew that I was not going to be able to keep up with her the whole time and needed to settle into my own rhythm. I just didn't feel fresh like I did before Ogden.
It was beautiful scenery and perfect weather. This was touted as a downhill marathon but everyone had failed to mention the uphills. It was actually nice to have some variety. There was quite a large hill at around mile 7 that I loved. I took it nice and steady and cruised up it. I didn't even feel out of breath at the top. It was around this time that I had a conversation with a nice man from Arizona who was wearing Vibrams. We chatted for a bit about the transitional time because a woman was asking me about them just before I saw him. He started barefoot as well and got up to 18 miles. I picked his brain about downhill running a little and then told him I was going to just hang behind him and just watch him for a while. We hit the first real downhill into the canyon and I tried to mimic what he was doing. Quick turnover and man, he flew down that hill. It was pretty steep and I felt a little out of control and slowed down. There were several rolling hills and at about mile 10 I felt my IT band hurt. It wasn't just tightness. It was pain. I was unprepared because I haven't felt that pain for about a year and a half. And here I had just been telling him how great barefoot running has been for my body. I was good on all the uphills and the gentle downhills but every time we hit a steep downhill that pain would flare up and I'd have to slow down. I tried stretching it but it just wasn't working. I finally reached just the bathrooms right before the halfway point at 2:15 and took about a 5 minute bathroom, fill water bottle, and stretch break then headed on out. It felt like those first 13 miles had taken forever. So I stuck a smile on my face and tried to enjoy the scenery and soak in the race vibes around me. It was around this point that I stuck my music on. I also chatted with several people along the way. I reminded myself to embrace the suck. It was fitting that the race's motto is "Pain that you enjoy". So it wasn't a perfect scenario. So it was going to be a long day. I refused to let myself be discouraged at that point. I reminded myself that I was lucky to just be out there on the course that day. Pain or not, I was lucky to be running.
The calf cramps started around mile 16 or so. I had one salt packet which I took and it held them off for a while. I didn't have any cramping in Ogden and didn't take any salt and I think I fueled about the same so I'm not sure what was going on. I even had my fancy calf sleeves on. I'd stop and walk to get rid of them and then start running again. It was getting hard to keep the negative thoughts out. So I started naming things in my mind that I was thankful for. That helped distract me and got me back in a good mood. Through the rolling hills, I would pass people on the uphills and then as soon as the downhill started I'd have to slow down because of the pain. That was pretty sucky. You're supposed to be able to make up time on the downhills!
Mile 21 hit and I got to see Heather. It was SO great! What a mental lift that was. I stopped and complained to her about all my ailments and then started back up again. Those last couple of miles were long. I made sure to thank every police man directing traffic for my safety. After thanking one of them, he told me that I was a better woman that he was. My first response was to tell him, no, that anyone can do this, then I said, "wait! I AM a better WOMAN than you are!" He laughed and said, "I was just checking to see if you were still mentally there!"
Mile 25 and I see Doran and Jody. They're my neighbors and Jody is such a great support to me. She's always sending me good luck texts before each race and is always checking up on me. Doran ran the half and decided to be gracious enough to run me in the last mile. It was so great having company and support! It really was kind of a lonely race. The last two blocks my calves were in a permanent lock but I was not going to stop and walk the last two blocks. However after crossing the finish line and stopping, I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to walk again.
Another big surprise was my dad at the finish line. My mom has been to almost every finish line but my dad has never been able to come. It was great to have them both there.
And then there was Heather. I don't think there are words that really express how grateful I was to have her there. I don't know many people that would sacrifice to come and be my race photographer when she really should be running the race with me. She has handled her injury with such grace. I am so grateful for her in my life. She is so unselfish and is truly happy for me even when I know it's not easy to hear or see others running when you can't. I love her and I couldn't ask for a better and truer friend. And I didn't even get a picture with her.
Now that I've had a day to think about things, I am more discouraged than before. It's a good thing the negative thoughts I've been having now didn't creep in during the marathon. I may not have even finished. I'm kind of baffled. I've gone and looked at my photos. It looks like I'm landing correctly. I've only gotten blisters from barefoot running on a smooth hot asphalt road and even then the blisters were on the outsides of the middle of my feet. Maybe it was just the two marathons too close together. Maybe my body can't handle that. Maybe my body just can't handle the distance. Maybe trying to mimic that guy threw off my normal stride and I screwed something up. Maybe that brutal trail run I did a week ago did it. I got a massage on Tuesday where I knew my quads were sore but as we got into the massage I realized that my IT bands were sore too. So she really worked them so much that I still have the bruises from it. Maybe it was too close to the marathon to have that done. I may never know. I've done 7 marathons now and 2 of them have been good and positive experiences. Why do I keep coming back? I ask myself that a lot. As does my husband. I've tried to be really positive at home. I've let these things really bother me before and it doesn't do anything good for me or my family. And that's not worth it. So you all will have to listen to my whining. I keep coming back because I believe that someday I will feel like I've done my best and reached my potential. And until that happens, I'll be back. It just may not be for a while.