I’m writing this from the airport in Charlotte, NC because my connecting flight to NYC was canceled yesterday due to the storm. That was after running a marathon and then being on my feet for an all-nighter post-marathon to explore New Orleans. Plus, I was being cheap and decided not to get a hotel that night. I’d just have some fun and then head to the airport for my 7am flight. Fast forward to my learning that I wasn’t going home when I landed in Charlotte and all the fun came to a screeching halt. But oh well, I survived. I always do. I’m a tough chick.
I put a lot into preparing for this race. It wasn’t about the race though, I just fell deeper and deeper in love with running while I focused on my winter run focus. I thought it would be nice to celebrate all of my hard work with a race. I chose Rock n’ Roll New Orleans because it was in a city that I’d always wanted to visit, it was a mostly flat and fast course, and it was away from freezing temps. My mileage got up to over 90 in my final weeks and I felt great. My only difficulty was all my stupid fault; I waited way too long to replace my training shoes and ended up dealing with some plantar fasciatis. It wasn’t all that bad. It’s just that runners tend to hyper focus on every twinge of pain in fear that it will become an injury that could land them on the couch. And rightly so. If I couldn’t run I would feel as though a piece of my soul vanished. And I’m not being hyperbolic. It would be like never going to the ocean again. And so I did the rolling and taping and icing and eventually replaced my shoes. Replacing the shoes helped the most. That’s really all I needed to do all along, but the miles really add up quickly when you’re running 70-90 per week! I was also told to use inserts in my shoes to help with the PF. This is where I made a decision that makes me think my skull might actually be empty. I took my worn out Adidas Boston’s and put inserts in them. Why the old ones? Because I didn’t want to have too much shoe under my foot and I guess I thought they would be better in the beat down shoes. No matter, I could have run in the old shoes and only my plantar would have hurt. I DID do a longish run in the shoes like this and only noticed a teensy pain in the outside of my knee a day or so later. I didn’t connect it to the inserts. So after working my ass off to train for this race I decided to throw off my entire biomechanics on race day. My excellent biomechanics. If I only had a brain.
At the start of the race I was happy and excited. I felt strong. I liked that the weather was a little humid and gnarly as we waited. I ate my Amrita bar breakfast and did some yoga. I was in the first corral and lined up with the 3:15 pacer. I’m actually a good pacer, personally. It’s possibly my greatest strength. But I’ve never tried to run a marathon this fast so I figured I’d go out with these guys. The gun went boom and we were off. We ticked off the first mile in 7:07. I was aiming for 7:26′s but I know the first mile or so usually goes faster. I stayed with the pacer. We hit the next 4 miles in exactly 7:26. Perfect. But then we ran a couple of miles closer to 6:30. WHY??? So I ditched them and kicked myself for not just pacing myself in the first place. It was like going out to dinner and ordering something that tastes better when I cook it myself. My energy and effort felt perfect, even with those extra fast miles in there I began to wonder if I was aiming too low with my goal time. I also started to wonder “what the h-e-double-hockey-sticks is that pain in my knee? OWWW”.
By mile 13, I was having very sharp pain and it was spreading into my left hip flexor, left low back, and left calf. Of course it was. I was probably overpronating with every step as my arch fought against that stupid insert. By mile 16 my stride was off, I was limping, and I started to take walk breaks. At mile 19 I walked for about 5 min and chit chatted with a guy named Brian who looked way too young to be running his 83rd marathon. What a cool dude. I was really frustrated at this point because I had hardly been able to run for the last 6 miles. Cardiovascularly I felt cheated. My heart rate was really low and stayed there. I also felt like the left side of my body had dropped out of the race. I wanted to run so badly. For the last 5k I promised myself I wouldn’t walk again even if it meant running very gingerly. I walked again. At 2 to go I made the same promise again and I kept it. I ran the rest of the way in, with a monstrous finishing kick to release all of my pent up frustration. I didn’t care about the pain at that point because I knew I could just give in to it once I crossed that line. I finished in 3:30:30. John was right there for me (like he always is) and I shed a few tears when I saw him. He was my human crutch all the way to the shuttle, even though he had just finished 11th overall in 2:54. 11th! At a huge marathon! And he’s not even a runner! I’m so proud of him.
So I’m happy. I’m making my stupid mistakes early in the season. NO MORE. I qualified for Boston with 5 minutes to spare on a bad day. That’s still really good. Also, this was a stand alone marathon PR for me by 42 minutes! And I have so much more potential. Now to heal up and get ready for SLB! I’ll be riding my bike in the mountains of Southern Spain in a few weeks with an enormous tank full of fitness. I’m so grateful for this life I live. My biggest thanks of course go to John for putting me in his pocket and coaching me to greater achievements than I ever imagined. To Block Island Sport Shop for training with me, advising me, and providing me with the coolest gear ever. And to Amrita for putting the perfect fuel in my belly for training and racing.