Well, that was fun.
Week of the marathon, everyone was losing their ever-loving minds over the weather (cold) and I was feeling a bit cruddy (stomach) and stressed (headache on Friday that was close to migraine territory).
I caught a ride down with a woman from my running group and her husband. We went directly to the expo, shortly after it opened, and were in and out relatively quickly. It’s fairly small but they had some gear vendors, a few other races (including Blue Ridge Marathon! Sign up already and use RACEBLUERIDGE for 15% off!) They also had the most brilliant vendor there – Thomas’ English Muffins! With freshly toasted muffins for everyone! Soo goood….
After that, we headed to our hotel. We were both staying at the Holiday Inn Express that is downtown. I would not stay here again. My room was okay (other than having the filthiest carpet I have EVER seen in the room) but my friend got stuck with a room that had been recently smoked in and I had problems with a late check-out (more on that later). They went to get lunch but I was feeling gross so I went to my room, unpacked, and literally sat on the couch while watching 3 hours of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and ate peanut butter filled prezels. Don’t judge me.
A large group of us then went to dinner at Graffiato’s. It was very good! It is supposed to be a tapas type place but we all ate our own plates. I had the gnocchi and roasted beets. Mmmm (Fun fact, the “beet effect” is more pronounced when you are dehydrated. I literally thought I had a kidney rupture later on Saturday).
Saturday morning dawned quite cold but clear. It was about 25-27. I had an awesome race outfit, though, so I decided to stick with it.
I did have a throwaway top and a mylar blanket to wrap around my bottom while I waited. It really wasn’t that bad. By the time I walked to the group photo and then moved to the start, I was comfortable. I did run with the blanket for the first mile but I think that was more because I was feeling a little nervous about my short shorts 😉
Mile 1 through 10 was awesome! My goal pace was 9:45-10:15 and I was around 9:30 the entire time. I saw my family at mile 9 and was really feeling great!
My knee was holding up and the weather was absolutely perfect for me! My only area of concern was that I knew I was behind on my nutrition. My stomach problems of the past week made me nervous. I really didn’t want to have to make a mid-race pit stop.
Mile 11 had us coming out from the very flat river portion of the course and climbing a couple of hills, the first one short but quite steep. And I felt something “go” in my back. And my back began to progressively tighten. I started rubbing it and running with my hand on my back to give some support. No dice. I then moved to a run walk plan. I was muttering out loud “It’s okay, it doesn’t matter” as I watched my pace click higher and higher. By the time I reached the long bridge at mile 15, I could hardly walk in a straight line and I couldn’t stand fully erect. I was slowly stumbling along and crying like mad. I texted my husband and told him I didn’t think I could finish. I texted my friend who was at mile 22 and told her I was screwed.
One of the big running groups in Richmond had a ton of coaches on the course and a lady with a giant apple hat (I think it was an apple) came running over and did everything she could to help me. She tried rubbing my back and basically shoved Advil down my throat. She told me to just get to medical at the other end of the bridge and they could help stretch me out so I could at least finish the race. I thanked her and kept stumbling on.
I never did see the medical tent in that section but the Advil eased the pain a bit so I could get my head on right. I had three big problems. 1. I could not run. I was having spasms so bad that the pain was radiating down both legs just walking. 2. I had to check out the hotel by 1:00 because they refused a late check-out and told me I would be charged for an extra day if I was late. 3. I had to finish the race. I already bought a quarter zip and a Christmas ornament! Oh, and 4. I was PISSED.
So, I texted my husband and told him to have my sweatshirt ready for me by the time I got to 19. I was going to walk the entire effing back half, if I had to. I gave him my room key and asked him to check out for me and then meet me at the finish (I was going so slow, he’d have plenty of time). I then let my BRF know what was going on and she said she’d meet me at mile 20.
So, my friend is totally nuts but has a heart that’s bigger than anything. She was also wearing a a pink Llama costume and had been spectating all morning. After I left my husband, I was slowly slogging to mile 20, feeling pretty miserable. I looked up and suddenly see this pink llama sprinting down the road towards me, hair akimbo and looking a bit crazy. It was the funniest, and best, thing I have ever seen! She then proceeded to walk with me for the next two miles. We chatted, made snarky comments, admired the houses. MarathonFoto got a picture of us but I won’t post it since she hates it but let me tell you, it is the BEST. We’re both smiling and trying to act like the camera isn’t there (I was feeling pretty sheepish for walking).
Mile 22 had us back to the MRTT aid station. My BRF stayed there but I think only because I hooked up with someone else from our group who was also injured and we were going to do a slow wog (walk/jog) together. I got a bit more Advil and a few more hugs and then my new partner and I slowly moved on. Somewhere in our wog, the meds kicked in and I was able to pick up the pace just a smidgen.
I lost my partner somewhere in mile 24 but found another friend in mile 25. By this time, my back was screaming again. My new friend was also hurt but we decided that we needed to just “finish this shit” and started our final push (big thanks to our other friend who saw us to the last corner!) Our decent down the finishing hill was 100% profanity. We were so done but we weren’t going to let the bastard get us down!
Official time: 5:39. Not my slowest marathon, so there’s that, but almost an hour slower than what my “C” goal was. Bah.
Overall: The race itself was great. Tons of support. Tons of spectators. Good course. I love the blanket at the finish. I have no complaints about anything to do with the race. Also, the support of my friends and family was, literally, everything. I would still be sitting on a curb somewhere without them
With me, though? That’s another story. I am supremely frustrated by my body. My training was on point. The first half of the race was perfect. I KNOW I can hit 4:30 but for some reason my body fails, yet again, to agree with me. Maybe I should stop trying to run for time and just stick to “fun” races. Maybe I should get serious and lose 30 more pounds so I’m not lugging so much around all the time. Maybe I should try something else. Maybe I should stop kidding myself.
Oh, hey, that took a dark turn.
To be continued…