I survived #5
5 marathons down. And while you would think that I should be the most relaxed about this one, it was quite the opposite. I think I was more nervous for the Surf City Marathon yesterday, than I was for my very first marathon in 2010. My anxiety was especially high on Saturday afternoon as I was just focussed on resting and relaxing. Not even the (bottle of) champagne calmed me down.
I was nervous because my training was lack luster, my own fault, and it brough on some serious pain on the inside of my left knee. I am definitely no stranger to knee pain/issues. I had them growing up, and have always had to stay on top of my training/stretching/icing/adjusting. But, when you are new-ish to running marathons, you get a little skewed about the type of shape you are in. Meaning, having run a marathon at the end of July, and another at the beginning of October, you forget the kind of mileage you need to keep up. I figured I would take a little off time before hopping right into my Surf City training, and would experience no problem.
Well, that would have worked had I stuck to ‘a little time off’. Instead, I took major time off. Of everything. I still taught all my regular classes- but acted as more of a drill sergeant than an aerobics instructor. I didn’t take classes on my own, and I enjoyed my cocktails on Saturday nights knowing I didn’t have to get up and run.
Before I knew it I had gained 10 pounds, and my training schedule said I should be up to 16 miles for my long runs on the weekend. Oops. So what do I do? Exactly what I would NEVER advise any client of my to do. I went out that weekend and ran 16 miles. I made it. Luckily I am pretty stubborn. I ran the first 8 with a lot of the girls from our running club, and as per usual, I convinced Kelsey to bring her bike and ride another 8 with me after her run. My pace with her on the bike was right on cue, and it felt really good.
Flash forward, to not very many training runs during the week, another 19 mile run under my belt, and during my final long run for Surf City, my knee locks up. I walk it out, stretch a little, but am still in some major pain. I cut my run short, hoping with 2 weeks left I could get it back.
I ran once more in that 2 weeks. 4 miles.
So now, not only did I know a PR was out of the question, I was wondering if I would have my first DNF (did not finish). I know this is not the end of the world, I was more worried about making the right decision on the course. I kept telling myself over and over that my knee was in charge, and if I had to pull myself out mid-race, it was fine. They let you in the beer garden no matter what. Plus, my insurance situation is less than ideal, and knee surgery would break the bank.
So, that leads up to race day. I got pretty decent sleep, and woke up fresh and ready to go. I felt good, and once I got to the start line with Becky, I was feeling very confident. This was my first go at the Surf City marathon, although I have done the half marathon here for the last 3 years. The marathon crowd is much smaller, so it was funny to see no lines at the port-a-potties. I gave Becky a hug (she so sweetly came with me- Amy dropped us off- to see me off even though her half didn’t start for over an hour!) and hopped into the second corral.
As I took off down PCH I was feeling great. I wanted to focus on a smooth clean run, and stay really comfortable and stress free during the first 10 miles, taking my girlfriend Lisa’s advice. And I did. I was with a good group of girls, and I liked the pocket I was in. And the super fit/thin/dolled up in LuLu/amazing legs girl who was right in front of me was good motivation. And yes, when I caught up to, and then passed her I told her I was staring at her legs. She didn’t seem like she thought is was creepy at all. (we actually went back and forth a lot during the race and became motivators for each other.)
My mind started to wander as we headed back out on PCH after the loop through central park. My knee wasn’t hurting all that much, but my mental attitude was starting to fade. Now, Huntington Beach is gorgeous. And yesterday was so beautiful – the sun was out(a little hot, though) the sky was clear, and the water was a perfect blue. But, the course is basically the same for the last 16 miles. Not kidding.
I knew what was ahead, and I was trying to break it up the best way possible in my head, but it wasn’t working. Because also in my head, was the ready to bail on the race because of my knee out. Did I want it to start hurting more? I couldn’t stop because I wanted to and blame it on my knee, or could I? Ah the battle that occurs in your head when you are participating in anything endurance wise. Can.I.Actually.Make.It.
I decided to take it easy as my knee did start to flare a bit around mile 12, and decided from there on out I would walk every water station. Plus, this was my first marathon running without my water bottle, and with the heat I wanted to make sure I stayed super hydrated. So I spent the next few miles running with the 3:45 pacers, and then walking, and catching up to them again. Wash, rinse, repeat.
I did have to make 2 potty stops for a different issue (and no it had nothing to do with having to go potty), and the 3:45 pacers disappeared out of sight. And just as I did in Seattle, I started playing leap-frog with the same(new) group of people. I would pass them, get to the water station and walk, they would pass me, and then I would pass them when they were walking. I think it worked out for us all, a little motivation to get us running again.
And it was needed, while it is gorgeous to run in HB, the double dose of the out and back can be brutal. It was at the start of the second out and back that I knew I was going to finish. Because honestly, there was no way an ambulance was going to take me back to the start line with just an ouchy knee- at least not with all the other issues I saw going on with people on the course. So, if I headed out, I had to make it back no matter what. Even if I walked the whole way. But, my knee was fine with running at my normal pace between the stops. And that is how I took the race for the final ten miles. I just focussed on getting to the next water station.
Finally, as I can up to just about mile 25, I passed cute Lulu girl for the final time and told her, we can make it….1 mile to go. And she said, ok, ok, we can make it. Promise it’s just a mile?! As I got my stride back, I saw my sweet friend Bernadette jumping and cheering the marathoners on- on her birthday too!- and I ran full force into her arms for a big hug and kiss. Seeing her gave me that final push. I made it back onto PCH as we meshed in with the half marathoners, and on to the finish line. Which, by the end of a marathon, .4 miles looks like 6 miles. Saving my final push until literally the last 20 seconds, I saw 2 more friends, Sandra and Lisa, cheering from the crowd. I waved and then turned on my turbo boosters and fired through the finish.
I was so happy to have made it, I was so happy to be done, I was so happy I wasn’t limping and falling over with a bum knee.
My final time was 3:52. Not my worst! So I’ll take it. No wait, I am more than taking it. I am so pumped to have made it in that time, regardless.
It’s amazing to me how easy it is to find everyone(well almost) in a crowd of 20,000, but we all found each other. We hugged and cried….and then we headed to the beer garden where we belonged. And the last few hours of the morning are history. And the afternoon and evening too. Thanks to the Superbowl watching I did from the hot tub.
Day after update: My knee is a little stiff, and I have a super sexy blister on my toe. But all is good, and I am ready to start training for what the next few months have in store…Ragnar, and believe you me- #6 is on its way :)