For a moment I thought I could be like Dean Karnazes or Marshall Ulrich, boy was I wrong. After my high from Boston I knew I could handle running yet another 26.2 miles 10 days post Boston. Why not? My body felt amazing besides some general fatigue and I wanted to PR again (it is such a great feeling)! I figured I could get under a 3:30 because I felt so well after Boston. I almost felt like I held back too much at the beginning of the race but I was still over the moon with my finishing time, 3:32:50. This Saturday morning I laced my Kinvara’s up and headed to the start of the Kentucky Derby Marathon. I began the race with my husband (which was a first for me, I have never started any race with another person). It was nice to have him there but I think it forced me to count on him. I like the independence of running (that’s a big part of why I do it) and having others I know around me takes that away. He was enjoyable to have alongside me but it was definitely different. Around mile 6 I told him I wasn’t sure I was capable of finishing the entire 26.2 miles and if I did my pace would be closer to 4 hours. Another first happend to me, I had to stop to remove my KT tape which was falling off (I wear it almost every run and it has never come off). The tape lead to the bottom of my foot which meant I had to take my shoes and socks off in order to remove the tape (this cost me valuable time, about a minute). My husband was nice enough to stop with me (he is much more thoughtful than I). At mile 8 we went on our separate ways, he headed left with the mini marathoners and I headed right with the 1564 other marathoners. The course was lonely and the sun was hot. Coming from Boston to this was a huge change. There were little to no spectators, the water stations lacked volunteers (forcing us to pick up our own drinks which cost time and congestion among the runners), there was no consistency (example, some water stops had bottles, others plastic cups (which do not bend making it hard to take a drink without spilling it all over the place), some were stocked with paper cups (my favorite) and the course was odd (the first 11 miles were completely flat (which kills my hips and causes me to loose form), then rolling hills for about 5 miles, flat again until mile 20 and then 3 rather large hills during the last push).
I was thankful to see the park because we would be running hills (I excel in hill running). There is something about running up and down that helps me maintain form. I picked up the pace in the park dropping below an 8 minute mile. It felt good to have my second wind. For a few moments I thought, “Maybe I could pull this off, and PR.” At that very moment my shoe string became un-tied forcing me to stop again (2 stops in one race, you have got to be kidding me)! I have never stopped to pee, take a drink or mess with a shoe until now. Stopping only made me run faster to make up for time lost. On a positive note the park was beautiful and provided protection from the sun and headwind. There was a drunken man in the park singing to the top of his lungs, “Hey runners, you have running shoes, I have Jim Beam….” I think he scared a few of the others because they quickly moved left when they saw him. I moved closer to the right and extended my hand and we engaged in a high-five. He may have been drunk but he was refreshing for me. Up until that point I have not seen very many “cheering” spectators. I’ll take what I can get. While in the park I was amazed at how much other runners run back and forth instead up keeping a straight line. The park is full of hilly turns, my plan was to stay in the center of the road and not hug neither the left or right turns (this way I would use less energy). I had 8 other runners within in my view and 3 of them were close to me. As we would turn right all of them would cut in front of me to hug the inside and then the course would take a quick left and they would all come back across to hug the left side. I watched and laughed as they wasted an emense amount of energy. For the entire 5 miles I stayed in the center of the road (all of them were well aware I was there, or so I thought). The woman who continued to weave back and forth almost caused me to knock her over (I really thought about it). As we were approaching a strong right turn I was in the center and she was off to the left. The moment I saw the turn I knew she would be coming in my direction. I picked up pace because I didn’t want to be cut off yet again. As she cut in front of me I could hear her labored breathing; I didn’t think she would be able to keep the same pace as I for long. As we entered the turn she came right across, as if she were a car cutting me off, and slowed down right in front of me. I almost lost my footing because I did not expect her to almost stop (there was about an 1 inch space between us). My initial reaction was to push her in the back and then I asked myself, “What would Jesus do?!” She is lucky I found God or she would have ate asphalt. I moved a little to the left to pass her. She dropped off far behind me (thank God)!
As we exited the park my legs and knees began to lock up. For the first time in my running career I envisioned myself being carried away on a stretcher. It took everything in me to keep form and keep my legs moving forward. I never thought about quitting or slowing down. To me 26 miles no longer seems that far of a distance. I figured I could get through it (or have an EMS escort) but I was not going to quit by choice. I was not well but I was able to carry on until mile 20. Around that time I lost the ability to get down any fluids. My stomach knotted up (it felt as if I had 20 side stitches at once). For the following 6 miles I swooshed the water around my mouth and then spit it out. I tried to swallow it when I could but it seemed to aggravate my stomach even more. The final 4 miles I felt no pain just the will to complete the race. I focused on finishing and holding my daughter; I imagined how good it would feel to be done. I couldn’t wait to stop and take a real drink of water.
At mile 21 we headed up Barret hill (a hill I have ran many times during training and it is murder). Prior to the hill I heard many voices chatter around me, “Are we going up that?! F***!” As I began to power up the hill a girl in front of me yelled, “Dad, come on you got this. Let’s go.” The girl was barely jogging and her father was walking up the massive hill. He turned and we caught eyes. His face said everything I wanted to, he was miserable. As I approached I scream, “Less than a 5K, that’s it! It’s a walk in the park. Come on!” The girl said thank you as her dad return to running. I feed off the energy we exchanged. I hope the duo was able to keep running to the finish.
When I hit the chute I picked my feet up and sprinted until the end. Upon finishing an EMT asked me if I was okay. My response was, “Yeah, I’m great, but I don’t think I can reach my feet and I need to loosen my shoes. Can you help me?” I think the EMT thought I was kidding because all he did was smile and tell me to keep moving along. I could feel my feet swelling with each step. I was beginning to think my feet may ripe through the shoes. I was starting to panic because I could not get to my feet. I finally spotted an empty table (the trick was getting my leg up high enough to prop my foot on top of it). I literally picked my leg up with my arms and placed it gently on the table top. I was finally able to reach my feet and loosen my shoe strings. “Awwwwwe!”
The finish chute was confusing to maneuver through. I kept looking for an exit or a face I recognized in the crowd. I saw no one. The finish area was one big party (it was clear the race director put most of the marathon funds into the post party). I was in too much pain to enjoy the finish festival (personally I think the post party money should have gone towards the race). I quickly looked everywhere to find a way out and to reunite with my family. I needed a familiar face to console my worn soul. I began walking back to the hotel hoping to find a friend along the way. I ended up seeing my cousin and a friend approaching the finish of their first mini marathon (they both walked the entire thing, talk about pure endurance), my other cousin racing down the street to see them finish, and an old co-worker. I had yet to find my husband and mom; I was in need of a warm welcome.
Soon after I made my way into the hotel room my husband arrived. He had missed my finish, I know it wasn’t his fault but I was disappointed he wasn’t there (mainly because I was in so much pain). Eventually everyone showed up to the room to enjoy breakfast, drink bloody mary’s/mimosa’s, take photos and rehash race day. We had a lot of first timers and it was refreshing to see their enthusiasm for the sport. Three in our group had PRs which meant a lot to them. Unfortunately I could not join in on all the fun, eating and drinking. My stomach was uneasy and full of pain. I spent most of the afternoon in the bathroom. I thought I was suffering from runner’s trots which last about 24 hours.
When I woke up on Sunday morning the pain in my abdomen had intensified. It hurt to walk, laugh, cough, and go to the bathroom. I knew something was wrong but I kept telling myself it was just a pulled muscle. I thought for sure the pain would subside by Monday however it did not. I ended up in the doctor’s office (who I have not seen in 6 years! He let me have it) that day. At this point he thinks I am suffering from an inflamed colon which can be cause by dehydration and BMIs. Race day was hot which lead him to the assumption that I was unable to consume the same amount of water my body was losing (this can aggravate certain organs). He ran some labs and I had an ultrasound this morning, now it is just the waiting game. I never thought that this could happen to me. I have always felt strong as a runner and in tune with my body. I try to listen but when a potential PR is dangling in front of me it is hard to hear. I hate quitting and I am learning my physical limits. I have a long way to go and some time off to think about it. I have 24 weeks before my next marathon and by then I will be recovered and ready to hit the ground running. This is only a small bump in the road.
156 out of 1561 – Overall
17 out of 554 – Women
7 out of 99 – Division