The Connection Runners + training

Rock n Roll San Antonio Marathon Race Recap

It's taken me a few days to sit down and write this post. There are a lot of emotions surrounding the events on race day, and I'm not sure how to appropriately explain how I feel. How do I tell my story without sounding like I'm making excuses?

There are two parts to a marathon. There are the 20 weeks of training and then there is race day. While you HOPE the training is going to be an indication of the race, come race day you can only play with the cards you are dealt. I trained for a 4:15. Towards the end of training, as I struggled with a knee injury I threw that time out the window. And I came on this blog and made the statement that I just wanted to finish and ENJOY my race. Did I accomplish that? Mostly.

I did finish. And I had an amazing, memorable race weekend. And I'll go so far as to say there were parts of the race I truly enjoyed. But unfortunately there was also a lot of pain involved.

Going into the race I knew the odds were against me. In the three weeks prior to the race I had ran a total of 3 miles. I had taken time off, hoping to heal my knee. Sunday it became apparent that time off wasn't enough. But lets start at the beginning.

Race Day Strategy:

Friday and Saturday were a social whirlwind. If you haven't done so, please read part 1 HERE. Saturday night when we took Adam back to his hotel we started talking race strategy. I was aware that my knee would probably give me trouble and I was trying to decide on the best course of action. Should we go out fast and get as many miles behind us as we could before the knee went (funny that I knew it would), or should we go slow, and hope that being cautious paid off. Adam (probably wisely) advised us to hold back, this was our first marathon and we didn't want to burn out early.

That morning, my buddy Meb had given me similar words of advice, "Be patient the first 20, then push it at the end".

(sorry,couldn't resist including this)
I thought a lot about both of their advice, and figured that would be the wise course of action. I hoped being patient and settling back and enjoying the miles would pay off.

Saturday night we laid out our clothes and started filling our fuel belt with GU. After much searching I realized I had somehow left one of the water bottles behind. Since my husband and I run together, we usually only use one belt which he wears. That was only a small hiccup in our plan, I didn't let it get me down. There would be plenty of water stops along the course.

Race Day:

Sunday morning we got up at 4:30am. I hadn't slept much that night, but that was expected. As we dressed in the dark, I was strangely calm. My sister and her husband were running the half so we all loaded up and drove over to the At&T Center for the runners shuttles. It was SO cold (in the 40s), here we are shivering on the bus:

When we arrived at the start, we checked out our corral locations and then dropped off our bag at gear check. We had some time to kill so we wondered around looking for the other runners from the previous nights meet up. It was SO crowded it was impossible to find anyone. With some pre-race jitters setting in it was time to hit the potty. Luckily for me I was able to snag some Brooks VIP Potty passes. I was SO thankful for a warm, clean restroom to use. Best of all there was no wait!

We headed back to corral number 11. I was of course sporting my Sony Walkman,and the people around us started asking a lot of questions about it.("No,it doesn't fall out of my ears", and "YES!cord-free is awesome")

(RunningSkirts capri skirt,Sugoi arm warmers,Moving Comfort Juno bra,Thorlo Experia socks,Sweaty Band,and Brooks Ghost 3s.)

With close to 30,000 runners it was impossible to not get caught up in the excitement at the start!

Our corral crossed the starting line about 17 minutes after the elites were off.

The beginning:

The first part of the race consisted of a lot of turns taking us through downtown. Somehow we ran past the Alamo without ever noticing it. I was looking at the spectators, listening to other runners and just trying to soak it all in. The course featured live bands every mile or so. At mile 2 I started having twinges of pain in my knee. I did my best to ignore it. We passed the 5K mark at 31:27, roughly a 10min/mile. Nice and easy like planned. I still felt cold and tight at that point, but I figured I would warm up and get in a groove soon. At the 10K our time was 1:03, still pretty consistent with 10min/miles. After 6 miles is usually when I start enjoying a run, but I just couldn't get in a groove. We Gu'd at miles 4 and 8. I tried to drink water from our fuel belt only to find I apparently hadn't rinsed it well. Soapy water, blech. Charles and I were talking, joking about signs we saw along the course, trying to ignore my knee.

We were passing through the mile 10 water stop when it gave out underneath me. Luckily Charles was close and kept me from going down. My mind flashed back to my last long run, when it had become impossible to run. I gingerly took a few steps and it held up, it was excruciating but possible.

I put my Walkman on and tried to internally focus on simply moving forward. We were back running, but slowed down due to the pain. My family had planned to meet us around mile 13. I focused on the goal of making it them without stopping. The thought of my sons excitement kept me going for the next few miles. We passed the 13.1 mile mark at 2:20. Charles stopped at the porta potties and I kept going until I saw my family. What a welcome sight:

(spectator shirts by FamilyFanClub,more pictures and giveaway to follow)
I had found out during training that I did well with 1/2 a pbj sandwich midway through long runs. My parents had brought me one, but at that point I was so nauseous from the pain that I could barely choke down a bite of it. I was doing my best to hold back tears, I didn't want my son to see me upset. My mom asked me how I was feeling and I told her "I left my knee at mile 10" I knew I needed to keep moving so I took off. As I was leaving I heard my son yelling, "Mommy, Mommy," I looked back and he was in the race course running after me. It was SO hard to keep going at that point.

We were at an out and back portion of the course so around that time those in the first two corrals started passing us on their way back. Instead of being discouraging (hey-theyre almost done), it gave me something to focus on. I knew if we kept our eyes out we would be able to see Adam pass us. At that point I needed small, attainable goals to keep me distracted. We were at mile 14 when he passed us (he was on his mile 20 or so). We yelled and cheered him on.

Middle:

The next section of the course was a little lonely. We had lost the half marathoners and were leaving the bustle of the city. The pain became harder and harder to ignore. Around mile 15 I broke down in tears. I was hurting, I was disappointed and was starting to feel discouraged. I had poured my heart into training, and I was facing the harsh reality that no matter how much I WANTED to finish, I very well might not be able to. Along with the knee pain I was starting to feel funny. I told Charles I was feeling woozy and at one point felt like my legs were starting to disappear underneath me. I had stopped fueling or hydrating because of the nausea from the pain.

Something went terribly wrong:
The next few miles are a blur to me, I don't remember them. Charles tells me that I got disoriented and wasn't even recognizing him. He would ask me questions and I wouldn't answer. He says he tried several times to get me to stop at aide stations but I would just keep moving forward. At one point the course was along a road, with only cones in between us and the cars. He said I started weaving into oncoming traffic and he had to force me to the shoulder. I don't remember any of this, but it frightens me to think what might have happened if he hadn't been there. I am so thankful for him. Eventually he was able to force me to eat salt packets and some sort of chocolate a spectator gave him. He got me drinking and eating and the next thing I remember I was seeing the mile 20 marker. I was confused how we got there but asked, "Why aren't we running? We need to be running."

The knee pain remained, but I was starting to feel more lucid. We saw my family again around mile 22. I hugged the kiddos quickly then kept moving. I heard my family asking Charles how I was doing. As you can see, I wasn't looking too great.

But I pushed on. I would run until I couldn't handle the pain, then walk. Then repeat the process. Those last several miles went on forever. Meb had told me to "push it" the last 6 miles. I'm sure he was thinking about speed, at that point I was just pushing towards a finish. Our 10min/miles had quickly turned into 12 and more.

The end:

I had a lot of time to think over those last several miles. I thought about the 20 weeks of training. I thought about all those morning I got up before the sun to run. I thought about the times I left my son to run. I thought about what YOU, my blog readers would think about my slow finish. I thought about my story appearing in Melinda's 1st time marathoners book. I thought about everyone that had supported me along the way. What would I tell them about this marathon?

The last portion of the race was uphill (no joke). As we made the turn around the back of the Alamodome we could hear the crowds cheering. We started up the hill, spectators leaning over the rail above us, yelling encouragement. We spotted my sister and brother-in-law in the crowd, wearing their 1/2 marathon medals. We let the crowds excitement carry us on.

Charles and I joined hands and ran the remainder of the way. We crossed that finish line, hands joined and arms raised.

There were smiles on our faces, and therein lies the victory. It took us 5:25 to cross that finish line, but it was no longer about time. It was about taking the hand I was dealt, and doing everything in my power to overcome it. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I gave it my all. I ran through tears, pain, nausea and near delirium. And I crossed that finish line,victorious.

I am a marathoner.

Then it was time to celebrate.

Post race beer with our new friend Adam

Nothing but smiles

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Rock n Roll San Antonio Marathon Race Recap + training