I should begin by saying I have serious FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). This is not a secret. I don’t try to hide it. But it will help you understand my journey to 26.2.
Just over a year ago I was scrolling though Facebook and saw many moms in my Moms Run This Town chapter posting their finish line photos and stories of completing the San Diego Rock N Roll marathon. I had run several half marathons at that point and had a “why not me?” moment. The starting price for the following years Rock N Roll marathon was as low as I’d ever seen for a full marathon, or most halves. So as in most of the impulsive running decisions I make I grabbed my credit card and signed up. I mean I could always defer to the 1/2 if training wasn’t going my way.
I never saw myself as a marathon runner. Until several years ago the thought of running more than 6 miles wasn’t even appealing. In fact it sounded awful. I ran a 10+ mile Tough Mudder. The distance was my least favorite part of the event. Submerging myself in ice, or getting electrocuted? Bring it. Running for more than an hour, no thanks! Most of my running friends picked up running 1/2 marathons and I started feeling like the runner who never grew up. So I gave a 13.1 miles a try. That’s another story. I rolled my ankle weeks before the event and my finish time was so embarrassing that I didn’t want to tell even my closest friends. So it was back for redemption, and I actually liked it.
Back to signing up for my first full marathon. It was easy to ignore the distance I committed to for about six months. I kept busy running, lifting, and teaching group fitness classes. After the new year I looked into training plans and decided with my fitness level I could start a 16 week program. I modified it a bit to make room for the hours of teaching group fitness. I printed out training calendars and taped them in clear sight. I still remember writing out the number 16 on one of my sticky tabs and thinking, ‘Man! That’s going to be insane!’. Then writing out 20 and that little insecure place in my head thinking ‘There’s still a chance you’ll back out before you ever get to it. Don’t worry.’. So I didn’t worry. And week by week I upped my long run a little more. Some runs went well, others I hated every step. (I’m looking at you 18 Miler) But I did the work. I only skipped 2 short training runs for valid reasons.
As I approached race day I answered the question “How are you feeling about the big race?” the same way each time.’I’m trusting my training.’. That’s all I could do.
So this past Sunday I got into my corral and waited for my turn to start. I remember crying as I approached the start line, it was really happening. I was going to run a marathon! This was what all those 4am alarms for long training runs was for! This was for all the Advil I had taken. The ice baths. The epsom salt baths. This was what all those selfies posted to Instagram were about. All of the hard work I put into training, this was the reward!
I kept that happy thought process up for miles. I EARNED the right to run this marathon.
My pace was slightly better than I planned but it all felt right. Until around mile 5 or so. My shin began hurting, not normal for me. I figured I would run it off and it would work itself out. At mile 8 the half marathon runners split off and you can make a decision there to cut your race short or keep going. I kept going. Around mile 13 I was still feeling good, I had a new 1/2 PR even! If I could keep it up I would finish around 4hours 40 minutes. Around mile 9 I had ankle pain. By mile 17 hip pain, knee pain, and some weird bruising on my low back was happening. My pace slowed way down. I tried a walk/run method but it hurt as much to walk as it did to run, so I ran. Just very slowly. I was angry because my muscles were fine. My breathing was fine. My injuries were not.
I sent my husband a few texts along the way. I did not want him to know when I started hurting. I finally admitted it with a few miles to go. Around mile 23 the course goes onto the freeway. They close one side of the freeway down. It’s a love/hate situation. When do you get the opportunity to run on the freeway? But it’s almost all uphill, it’s very slanted and you’ve already been running for hours.
I knew I was close to keeping my original goal time of 5 hours by mile 24 so I kept my slow pace going. Run, walk, shuffle. As I approached the finish line I felt somewhat numb, like wait, it’s over now? All that and now it’s just over? Right about 5 hours of running and now I just stop? My medal was put around my neck and I began to flood with emotion. I DID IT! I was a marathoner! I walked a bit through the finishing chute before seeing my always supportive husband and three of my sons cheering for me. I was greeted with the biggest hugs and more tears (me, I cry a lot, that’s no secret either).
I immediately told them I hated it and never wanted to do it EVER again. Some things don’t need to be repeated.
We hung out a bit at the after party. I picked up my finishers jacket. Stretched. Took some photos. Listened to the headliner perform. Then we ate burgers and began the drive home.
I promised you another moment of insanity. So it appears it takes me about 18 hours to forget the pain of a marathon. Because I signed up the next morning to run it again next year.