I'm going to try to keep this race report positive, because really I think I did the right thing (though maybe the "right-er" thing would have been not to try it at all, but then I'm afraid I would have always wondered. At least now I know!). We left Friday morning and I was still uncertain about whether or not I would race. I was going to see how my knees felt at the Expo after having sat in the car for the drive down there. My knees did hurt after sitting in the car, but I could stretch it out fairly well. I walked around the Expo and it wasn't too bad. I picked up my number and I was still unsure, but I was leaning towards at least starting the race. I have to admit that part of that reason was that the race shirt was really cute and I hoped to be able to wear it! LOL
I laid out my race clothes and was horrified to realize that I had neglected to bring a pair of racing socks with me. I had an older pair of my racing style that had been relegated to the "everyday wear" pile and I decided to wear those. Probably not the best decision in hindsight. LOL When I got ready for bed I noticed that the blister that had developed after MCM had flared up again. I popped it with a pin and went to bed. The next morning when I got up and got ready, I coated my feet really well with Body Glide and hoped it would be enough.
I am really glad I started this race for a number of reasons, but a big one is that The Penguin - MY Penguin- was there at the start counting down each of the corrals!! I wish I could have run over and given him a hug, but as you can see I was all the way over on the wrong side. I wanted to tell him "THANK YOU!" for the many ways he has changed my life! All I got was this picture... and it was just a profile. My Penguin is wearing the blue hat. To see him in person was worth the money! :)
I passed under the start line and began to do a short interval - didn't have it programmed into Garmin, was just going to go by how I felt. That lasted about a mile. My knees immediately started to bother me and I wasn't going to push it. I dropped back to a walk and decided to see how well I could manage the required pace of under 16:00 miles. I stayed to the far right side so I would keep out of everyone's way, and I was able to stick right around 14:45-15:15. In the end, my Garmin told me that I averaged 15:03, which is pretty good.
But the knees really bothered me. It was mostly the left knee that hurt the worst, which didn't surprise me because that's the one that had hurt the worst all week. My physical therapist worked on both of my knees on Thursday and told me that the left one felt like "knotted rope" but that the right one wasn't too bad. That mirrored the way I had been feeling. And in the race on Saturday, that knotted rope felt like I was knotting up even more.
At mile 6, I took the two tylenol that I had carried with me for the last half of the marathon (if I got that far). I decided to go ahead and take them and see if it helped any. During the next two miles, I also began to feel some aching on the top of my left foot, and I felt the blisters coming back on my right toes. By mile 8, nothing had changed. I started to do some serious praying for whether or not I should continue the marathon. I passed by a couple of medical tents but didn't really feel like I needed urgent assistance. I was just hurting. I felt the way I did during MCM at mile 15-16, but this was mile 8. I knew that couldn't be good. I knew I wanted to recover from my IT Band injury more than I wanted to become a Marathon Maniac. I also knew that I needed to decide by mile 11 when the full marathon course turned off.
I decided I would try to text Sherry to let her know that I was stopping at the half and that I would see her at the finish. I figured that if I could actually type out and send the message, then it was making a decision I could live with. It was easy and I felt good after sending it. I went on to send another text to my mom and my husband to let them know of my decision. Then I sent a text to Facebook to make it official to the whole world.
I can only try to describe the peace that I felt after making that decision. I thanked God for it, because it was truly a peace that can't come from within. I was getting lots of texts in reply to my FB status, but I was able to text back truthfully "No Worries... I am good with this decision." And I was. The harder part was yet to come.
When the full marathon course re-joined the half course, I felt a twinge of sadness and regret. I was watching those folks and wondering how they must be feeling. They were in their own lane and I felt embarrassed that I was wearing a marathon bib (different color from the half marathon bib) but I was in the half marathon lane. I wanted to put my hoodie back on (which I hadn't dumped because I never really broke a sweat) and hide my bib. When I saw the finish, I debated making a run for it so I could at least look like I had "run" the race but I decided not to. My blisters were really killing me by that point and I figured it wasn't worth it.
I got my half marathon medal - and it is beautiful. It says 'inaugural' on it and it's a heavy medal. I put it on and went to find a potty and a place to stretch and wait for my BFF. I felt so lonely out there all by myself. Hindsight being what it is, I should have gone to find the ROTE crowd cheering near the finish, but I didn't know where they were and I can't check the boards on my phone. I think I wouldn't have sunk into such a bad place had I had them to hug me and reassure me that I did the right thing for my body. But as it was, I just sat there all alone.
I texted my mom to check on my BFFs estimated finish time and learned that she was still 90 minutes from finishing. I couldn't stay there any longer, so I texted BFF that I would see her back at the hotel room and wished her the very best of luck for a strong finish! I started hobbling back to the room, but I stopped at the medical tent for some attention to my blisters first. That didn't help because the tent was packed with full marathoners getting attention and I felt like a wuss for needing help after just doing the half.
I didn't know where I was in relation to the hotel so I stopped an officer who gave me instructions. It felt like a really long way with my aching knees and my blistered toes! I called my mommy and whined for most of the walk back! LOL I got back into the room and hit the shower, determined to get over my pity party before my BFF returned. I wanted to be positive and excited for her wonderful accomplishment! I wasn't fully over it when she returned but I put on my best happy face and celebrated with her!
We decided to go do a little walking around later on in the afternoon so she could keep her muscles stretched. We stopped by a candy store where they make the candy right in front of you! He is making pralines in the picture below, which I didn't get. But I got a chocolate covered pretzel, and a "gopher" (sort of like a big turtle), and some chocolate Snickers bark. We had a little mexican food to tide us over until dinner, and hit the CVS for soda (no Pibb there, either! @@) and more junk food before heading back to the room.
By the time we got back from our walk, my knees were killing me again. We both ended up being completely exhausted in the evening and decided not to go back out for the ROTE dinner (which again in hindsight would have helped my spirits I'm sure). In fact, we didn't even make it through the DVD we had started. We slept a long 9 HOURS if you can believe that! LOL Thanks to the end of Daylight Savings we were up and ready to go early. I didn't feel horribly bad, which was encouraging to me. I did my PT stretches and foam rolling and my knees were doing OK.
We ate the free continental breakfast (yay waffle maker LOL) and retrieved the car from the parking garage on the next block (boo full hotel parking garage). Gassed up, grabbed a PIBB from the gas station, and headed home. The highway out of Savannah was filled with racers and their assorted magnets and stickers. Every time I saw a 26.2 sticker, I felt a twinge of sadness. I even thought to myself that maybe I should take my 26.2 sticker off and put a 13.1 sticker back on. Was I a faker because I didn't do the 26.2 this time?
I'll spare you the details of the revelation but it finally hit me that I was under spiritual attack. I had been at such peace with my decision to stop at the half, knowing that it was the best thing for my body. What was going on with me now? When did I get to the point where completing a half-marathon was a huge failure? Yes, I was disappointed and a little embarrassed - our local newspaper had run a front-page article on me and my BFF doing two marathons in a week. And I wasn't able to do it. Injuries happen, though... and I know I could have done it had I not been hurt. I probably could have done it even being hurt - my decision to stop, though, was based less on "could" but rather on "should". So where was my peace? Why was it gone? The answer was clear... and in my foolishness, when the negative feelings started running through my head, and when I could hear the, "You're such a failure" hitting me over and over again, instead of turning to God, I just wallowed in it. How stupid of me. I felt so much better once I realized what was going on, and asked God to protect me against the attacks. The rest of the ride home was very nice!
So there is the race report, and the tale of how I almost became a Marathon Maniac. In the end, I have only one true regret during this experience: in my attempt to become a Maniac, and my failure to complete the second marathon, I feel like I have lost the focus on how I did actually complete a full marathon. Just a week ago! And while experiencing probably the worst continual pain that I have ever endured! I AM a marathoner, even though it doesn't feel like it because of this week's race experience. If I had the choice to go back and pursue Maniac again, I'm not sure if I would. Knowing what I know now, I do not think I would do it. I would have liked the chance to savor the satisfaction of 26.2 for awhile, instead of having to accept the regret of not being able to do it again.
But I have learned a lot about myself, and my body, during this year and through this experience! I will be able to move forward with that knowledge and it will make me a stronger runner (and swimmer and biker) in the future! :) I will use that knowledge in the next 9 weeks as I recover from this IT Band injury and slowly regain my running ability so I can train for the Goofy Challenge in January!