Well, another marathon - in another state - is in the books! I completed the 2012 Des Moines Marathon in Iowa this past Sunday. It was my 4th marathon to date.
It was a gorgeous day. Especially considering it was windy, rainy, and cold just a few days prior. I didn't want to walk across a parking lot in that, let alone run a marathon in it. So even though the forecasted temps were higher than I would have liked (60s - 70s as opposed to my preferred 50s - 60s), I thanked my lucky stars for such nice weather.
Katie was able to take off from work to come with me, which was so, so great. Not only did I have someone to share the drive with, but I had her smiling face to look forward to 5 times along the race course. Seriously, she was such a trooper and had me laughing when I wasn't feeling the greatest.
And just look at this amazing sign that she surprised me with.
My Stella girl!!!
It was so easy to pick out those giant ears amongst the crowd.
However, despite the gorgeous day, the great (albeit hilly) race course, the outstanding spectator support, and a wonderfully organized and sponsored event, I did not have a stellar race.
I made it to mile 18 at my goal pace of finishing under 4:20. I would see Kate at mile 18, then again at mile 21 before heading to the finish. My plan was to keep miles 18-21 just under 10:00, and then pick it up til the end. I was going to pop in my headphones, turn up all the new music I downloaded, and get to business. I was going to PR, if only by a minute.
But my knee had other plans. Once again, it started screaming out of nowhere. Ok, I guess it wasn't really "out of nowhere". Obviously three hours of running are to blame. But, still, I hadn't felt any pain until *bam* at mile 18. Not like something popped, more like it locked up. I couldn't run. Even though I wanted to run. I was willing to push through the sore muscles and the tough mental blocks that kept popping up, but that persistent knee pain was just too much. I could run maybe 0.10 of a mile, and then it felt like my knee could not bend. Fortunately, like in the past, it did not hurt to walk. I started weighing my options.
- I could stop right here. I just passed Katie (and the car) a few yards back, so I could just turn around and say "I'm done."
- I could continue the 3 miles around the lake - slowly and cautiously - and then stop at mile 21, when I joined back up with Kate.
- I could continue the 3 miles around the lake - slowly and cautiously - and then reassess how I felt at mile 21.
- I could just walk it in.
I quickly eliminated the first option. I didn't want to turn around. I thought it might be confusing to the other runners and the volunteers. I also didn't want to get back to Kate only to be convinced to continue on, and then have to retrace my steps. So I decided to at least make it around the lake and to the 21st mile marker.
During that time, I thought a lot about what this race meant to me. Although I was planning to PR (based on the paces of my 3 20-mile training runs), I hadn't really committed to my training. I wasn't working with all of my heart and soul to prepare for this race. And I was ok with that. In fact, once I realized that I didn't have much invested in this particular race, it was much easier to deal with.
I thought about how it would feel to have a DNF (did not finish) on my "record". Surprisingly, I didn't think it would upset me all that much. I was unable to run on my knee for any extended period of time. This was definitely a good enough reason (to me) to stop.
However...I knew I wouldn't be fully satisfied with that. I like the idea of completing marathons in as many states as possible, and not finishing would mean I would have to do Iowa again. Not that that's terrible, it just means I won't get to check another state off my list. Maybe silly sounding, but it definitely swayed my decision.
The thing is, I could walk with zero pain. None. I figured I should at least just walk to the finish. I had made it this far, and I wasn't going to let my pride stop me from finishing. It's ok not to PR. It's ok to have a bad race. But since I could finish without hurting myself, I decided that I would. Besides, it was a beautiful day for a stroll.
I ended up run-walking the remaining 8 miles of the race. The longer walk breaks I took, the longer I could run/shuffle without pain. I ended up walking most of mile 25 and running the last half of mile 26, including across the finish line.
I finished in 4:43:37. My slowest finish by more than 10 minutes. But I was still all smiles and happy thoughts. I'm actually pretty surprised at myself because I'm usually very competitive. I love that this was still a positive experience, even if my time was somewhat disappointing.
And this is definitely NOT the end of my marathoning. I have an appointment with my PT tomorrow, and I expect to be back out there next week. I may have even been browsing some last-minute races...
Thanks to Katie for being such a great supporter that day (and always). Also, thanks to Mary Clare & Doug for putting us up for the night, the delicious dinner, and the hot shower before heading back to Omaha. You guys rock!
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