Happy Friday, y’all! I feel like this week has been a time warp. Where have the days gone?! Plus, it’s almost Memorial Day! Amazing.
I’m glad to see you’re back to read the rest of my marathon recap. I appreciate your support and interest in my pursuit of 26.2 miles. It truly means a lot. 🙂
So where were we…? Oh yes, we had just left my husband at mile 15…
(Check out Part I of my Cleveland Marathon Recap!)
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Around mile 16, it seemed we weren’t faring so well. I saw Julie and she looked like she was just about done, too. I gave her a high-5 as we passed each other, like we always do on out-and-back courses. It’s kind of tradition. But this time she didn’t see me until I was right up next to her. That kind of worried me. But I also reminded myself that she was essentially 3 miles ahead of us.
Sara, Noemi, and I were all pretty much done. We couldn’t believe how much farther this race was than other marathons. We kept joking that it was really a 40-mile marathon and that they had changed the course. Sara and I both had to pee so we decided that we would stop at the next potty.
Remember the tank I had on before Julie came to pick me up? I should have stuck with it. My decision was coming back to haunt me. I contemplated taking off my shirt when we stopped. I love running in the heat and sunshine. There’s nothing better. But even this was too much for me. From other race reports I’ve read, the temperature was around 73˚ but the humidity was 88% with a dew point of 68˚. These numbers basically are a recipe for disaster for even the most seasoned marathoner.
Sara and Noemi pulled ahead of me, and as we came up on the next porta-potties, they kept going. I had to pee too bad to keep going, so I stopped.
It was hotter than Hades in that green plastic coffin. I swear I almost vomited from the heat alone. As soon as I peed I shoved my way out of there as quickly as I could, and decided then and there that I needed to ditch the shirt. Noemi and Sara were long gone. Someone from the other side of the course called out to me to say hi — another friend I hadn’t met in person yet — Melinda! It was so awesome to see her even if just for a second. She wished my knee and me well. A much appreciated sentiment!
After taking off my shirt and re-pinning my bib, I ran through a hose that a volunteer had set up and made my way to the turn around. I saw Noemi and Sara on the other side, and I knew I was solo for the remainder of the race. My knee was giving me a lot of problems by this point and I didn’t think I would be able to catch up like I had been able to earlier in the race. I definitely lost a lot of time taking off my shirt and re-pinning my bib, but I don’t think I could have gone on with a tee. It was sweltering. Running in just a sports bra? Another first for me.
|First runfie after I realized I was solo for the rest of the race!|
|View of the lake (aka stretch break)|
Miles 18-20 were pretty uneventful, but I did notice my knee was giving me many more problems at this point than I would have liked. I didn’t have any more Advil, and I was out of options. I was run/walking, walking a heck of a lot more than running, but I kept going. I decided I was going to start taking pictures and relaxing. I wasn’t chasing a goal time or a PR, and I had no one to hold me back but me. I ran when I could, and walked when I had to. It was harder to start running again after walking, so I really tried to limit the walking. I texted my husband and told him I wasn’t doing so great. My stomach was killing me, my knee was on fire, and it was hot as heck.
|This is fun! Wheeeee!|
I finally reached my husband again. At this point my pace had slowed considerably, and I saw the end of the racers. This was a little disheartening, but I knew they had five miles to go so I felt a little less bad. I gave my husband my shirt, got some more fuel from him, and went on my way. Next stop, David at mile 21.
After what seemed like an eternity, I arrived at mile 21. I actually didn’t realize David was going to be waiting for me because the course was essentially being cleared by the time I got to him, but there he was, all smiles and lots of reassurance. He saved a bottle of water for me, which was appreciated at the time but even more crucial later in the race. He told me that we were racing in some of the worst marathon conditions possible — and coming from an experienced marathoner, I took that to heart. I bid David adieu, and kept trudging along.
Mile 22 will be remembered forever. And not for the great views, or peaceful quiet residential streets with beautiful homes. It certainly won’t be remembered for the great race spirit. No, no. Mile 22 will be remembered as the mile where my knee locked up and I couldn’t run one more step.
By mile 22 my body was broken. I was in shambles. I was physically unable to run. I honestly didn’t know what to do. I called my husband on the brink of panic. I had made it so far. There was no way I could quit. But I truly didn’t know if my body could handle another 4 miles. My husband stayed on the phone with me for quite a while. He wasn’t quite downtown yet, certainly not parked anywhere, which made me feel a little better knowing I could be picked up within a few minutes if need be. We were half joking when we said I should do the rest of the race with crutches. Then he said I should try to look for a long stick to use as a cane. I looked. Nothin’. I even asked a couple race volunteers if they had any Advil. Unfortunately no one did. He told me he was going to park the car, get to the finish line, and then walk back up the course to meet me halfway. I thought that was a fabulous idea, but I hadn’t even made it to the 23rd mile marker yet. It would be a while.
While I waited, I called my friend, Jason, for moral support during these long miles. We caught up on news, talked about running, and we chatted about his marathon experience just three weeks prior. We cracked some jokes, and he told me he was surprised I was just out for a leisurely stroll on such a hot day. Fortunately for me, the views went along well with the conversation.
|One last beautiful view just before entering the dreaded, infamous shoreway.|
Jason talked me through quite a bit and assured me as long as I kept moving forward, I was making progress. Somewhere around mile 24, our call was dropped. I was on my own again for a while. By this time I on the shoreway. The shoreway is known among the Cleveland running community to leave runners feeling desolate and bereft. The miles are tragically long, the hills are unending, and the sun beating down that day made it feel like a barren desert landscape. My thirst was insatiable. Thank goodness for the water bottle David saved for me. Without it I would have been feed for the vultures!
Fortunately I wasn’t left to my own devices for too long, because by this time my right knee was giving way as well. All I kept thinking was, “how on earth will I finish a marathon with two bum legs?” I was saved from negative thoughts and self talk by my husband. He called to tell me he was parked and near the finish, but the race officials wouldn’t let him too far up the shoreway. He was just past the 26 mile marker. The home stretch. We stayed on the phone for a while, making jokes and him talking me through my pain.
|Chatting with my husband on the long, lonely shoreway.|
It was a life saver having company for those last miles. We kept each other’s spirits up. We discussed our finish line strategy. Somehow along the way, we decided we were in it together. I wasn’t sure if I was able to run at all by that point, but we made a pact that we would run across the finish line. We had come too far, and had been on the course for far too long, to settle for a walking finish. We were gonna do it.
At mile 26 we came up to my husband. It felt like a miracle finally seeing him again! I made a quick introduction to my new friend, Robert, and he walked with us for several yards until we realized we were there! The course flags had changed to the American flag! We were within feet of the finish line. With one last high-five, and a farewell to my husband, we started running. It was painful. We both grimaced and made faces. But most of all we laughed at the ridiculousness of the situation. And we both crossed the finish line running — with smiles on our faces!
I finished my marathon in 6 hours and 3 minutes. 6 hours. Every step was painful. I probably should have taken the DNF or switched to the half. But I’m stubborn and I didn’t.
There are several silver linings to finishing so late. The best part of finishing with no one else finishing at the same time was having my name announced on the loud speaker. Never have I run a race where my name — first and last — was announced. It was pretty amazing, even if there were only a handful of spectators left.
The next best part of the finish was the kind lady who put my medal around my neck. She was so sweet. She asked me how the race was and I told her how I felt, and she said to me, “you did it, sweetie. Congratulations!” I almost teared up.
I got my picture taken twice after I finished. Everyone was so awesome. All the volunteers were super nice and friendly. Despite having been out there volunteering virtually all day, their spirits lifted mine and made my heart sing.
I was done! I did it! I ran a freaking marathon!
I didn’t see Robert again after we finished. I know he was happy to be done as well, and I’m sure he got the same treatment as I did from all the awesome volunteers at the end. I’m pretty sure he has been taking it easy this week as well!
I’m so fortunate to have finished, truth be told. I’ve been reading a lot of race reports and comments on Facebook about those that either cut to the half marathon due to injury or heat, or those that took a DNF. I know the ones that didn’t suffer through to the end are probably sad but I know with certainty they will come back stronger for their next race. I also saw my fair share of ambulances on the race course, and folks whose legs were seizing up. The police were kept busy by those that needed assistance between aid/water stations, that’s for sure. I’m grateful I made it to the end, in one piece.
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So that’s my marathon recap. It’s been a wild ride, that’s for sure. My story doesn’t stop here. I’m still reflecting on how the race itself went, but also recovering slowly and learning about my recovery process. Indeed, I went to the chiropractor on Thursday morning. I’ll have to fill you in on that next week.
Have a great, safe, fun Memorial Day weekend! And to those of you racing — wishing you swift, strong, and happy feet. See you next week.
Oh, remember the girl that came to see if I was okay at mile 3? It turns out I do know her! From high school! Anjali, thanks for checking on me. xo