Last weekend I ran a nearby marathon. Normally I run my TCM, but I had to work that weekend and I think I was (am) still a little bitter about it.
First, let me just say that it's amazing how things sometimes just don't go your way. The morning started rough - not the race, the morning as a whole. The night before there was a huge party downstairs in the hotel which kept us up until 2am. Actually, I think I slept through the first stint, woke up briefly at 10:30, then again at 12:30, then 2, then 3:30 then 4:30 when we had to get up anyway.
The hotel had set up a shuttle for runners to leave at 6:10 - 6:10! for an 8am race? UGH! I spent most of the morning going back and forth between skirt and tights. I ended up opting for skirt because I knew by the time the marathon was finishing up (for me) I'd be uber warm. But not realizing that the starting area had almost zero shelters (one bus stop was available but packed until about 7:30, and porta potties which I hung out in as long as I could), I should have gone with the tights. Hindsight...
Anyway, the race started out great. I loved it! I was cruising (for me) along the first mile with the 5hr pace group because I didn't want to start out too fast, but I was feeling awesome. I didn't think I really picked up pace but suddenly I was about 50 ft behind the 4:45 group and still feeling awesome. My mind was clear, I was loving this, I started doing the math of how to finish strong at 5:13 (my goal) because I knew I'd fall back a little, but still staying strong to stay just behind the 4:45 group.
This was working great, even up the 5mile hill (I even said to a woman after she said, "you conquered that hill!", "There was a hill?" with a grin - I felt great.) and then I hit the down hill, left turn slope between 6 and 7 and my knees started screaming. Uh oh.
I made it down the hill, walked briefly and then headed up the immediate steep hill on the other side. I almost made it up without walking, but had to accommodate a bit for the knee pain. Got to the top and I was now about 200 ft behind the 4:45 but still in front of 5. Okay, i can do this.
And then the knees began their gradual pain and spasm frenzy. At 10 I was passed by the 5hr group. At 13 I wanted to drop but didn't know where MS was or how to get a hold of him for him to know (i don't run w/ my phone - he had it and was biking to meet me along the route). So I pressed forward. At 14 I met MS, way behind 5hr but ahead of 5:30 and I could walk, but when I ran the jarring would move the pain around my knees. But I kept pressing forward.
Also during this time I realized that I had tied my shoes when my feet were cold, and so as my feet heated up and swelled up, the shoes were just a wee bit too tight and with that pressure caused pain on the tops of my ankles (right where the tongue meets the leg). That wasn't fun either.
Just before 17 I met up with MS and had a mini-breakdown for a mile, sobbing, trying to run or at least shuffle, and freaking out about my time. I was still okay having passed 15 at 3:05, but I was still freaking out. He biked ahead to meet me at 18 which was at the bottom of this really steep hill which is where my true breakdown occurred. He helped me through that and then rode ahead to find a medic and an ace bandage for my knees.
He found one at mile 20 and wrapped my left one which was hurting the worst at the time. That helped and I was able to shuffle some more off and one. At 21 we wrapped the right knee but he taped it a bit tight so we had to pull that off at 22. After that I was on my own. I couldn't risk anymore stops for time - I just had to keep moving forward.
So the rest of the race was shuffle-walking and trying to press forward. Every hill was supposedly "the last one" which was pissing me off. I love volunteers, don't get me wrong, but know the route people! The last part was also a lot of backtracking (at least how i felt) and that sucked. I also don't think we needed to run through the little barnyard part in the park but whatever.
One of the bikers, Hartman, rode with me 24 to the end which was great. He kept my mind off of things while he asked me questions about training and which marathons I really like (TCM!). I ended up finishing, but so not with the time I wanted. I know I finished and that's a great accomplishment but I'm not making my 5hr time that I really want. And the race official's were still nice enough to give me my finisher's shirt and medal even though I was 5 minutes long. But considering my Garmin had it at 6.41, I figure I deserve it. :) Yeah, official time 6:05:23. Sucky.
I did decide that this is way too late in the season for me to run. My mind isn't completely in the game as work tends to encompass my life in October, so if I can't run TCM, or something no later than a week after that, I won't be running one that year (or I'll have to run earlier). But I'm not running this one again. It was decent, but the hills were way too brutal on my knees.
One happy thought - this was a weird year for me...but a good one. I ran 4 new races - Fargo 5K, Fargo half, Jack 15 and now this one (on top of my Irishman in March and 10K in May). That's a step up for me - a girl of routine. But I think next year, I'll be back to my normal routine. I do know that I don't have to work during TCM next year, so at least that one will be on track. Now, I just need to rest for a bit and then find a decent training program and use it. I also have about 20-30 pounds to lose, which would help immensely. But for now, I just need to rest and get better.