I don’t know what happened. I spent 20 miles trying to push myself and analyze why my body wasn’t cooperating but am still baffled. It took every ounce of energy and willpower to just finish but I did. Three marathons completed.
Backing up a little…I was so excited for this race. I couldn’t wait to run 26.2 miles as a stronger and more mature runner than I was almost three years ago. The long training runs and singular focus on running circled through my mind as I drove down to Miami on Saturday. I visualized myself crossing the finish line and enjoying hard work and dedication pay off.
The expo was full of vendors and well organized. No issues (or lines) picking up my packet, bib, and t-shirt. I ended up buying The Stick, which has been on my wish list for years. For anybody that doesn’t know, The Stick helps you massage your muscles by rolling this semi-flexible rod with independent inch segments. You can roll over lightly or knead deeper and actually feel out trigger points. I enjoy getting massages but don’t have easy access ($$) on a regular basis so this seemed like a good solution.
After the expo, I headed to a friend’s house to catch up, get dinner, and get a good night’s rest. Thankfully I slept really well and race morning had finally arrived and I was out the door by 4:45 AM. An hour later, there I was in my corral surrounded by other runners who were dancing and talking among each other trying to ward off pre-race jitters. Unfortunately, the pace group I’d been hoping to run with was no where in sight (usually you can spot a stick with the goal time as a flag).
The predicted race start in the high 50’s was more like high 60’s creeping into the 70’s. I was already wiping off sweat due to the humidity before even running. Welcome to Miami…in January. Fireworks went off to signal the race start and 10-15 minutes later my corral was moving forward.
My goal pace was right around 8:35 min/mile but I was wanted to hold slightly under 8:30’s for the first few miles to help with extra time added from hills (aka: bridges) and slowing for water stops. The first 6 miles felt easy…right on track. This was going to be fun. Then, for some reason, my body started to struggle to hold 8:35 min/miles. Considering, I’d just run a 1:40 half marathon 2 weeks earlier, this was unexpected.
I held on for a few more miles and then the pace started to slow down and I couldn’t figure out what was going on. My stomach started to feel nauseous and my mind started to feel dizzy. My quadriceps and hamstring muscles felt tired. My piriformis in both gluteal regions started flare up. Apparently, I irritate this muscle by pronating while running and I irritate it further when stressed or by sitting/sleeping on really soft surfaces. Basically, I clench my butt when I’m stressed. No fun. Especially because the piriformis muscle sits right on your sciatic nerve and when inflamed it can irritate that nerve causing a shooting pain down your leg.
At the half marathon point the runners separated. Half marathoners (basically everybody on the course) to the left and marathoners to the right. I contemplated for the previous 3 miles just calling it a day and veering to the left. I was miserable. Somehow my pace hadn’t dropped off too much by that point because my half time was around 1:53, close to my goal.
From there, it just got worse. My pace slowed significantly and mentally I just wanted to quit. I knew at this point I wasn’t touching 3:45 and if things continued to go this way I wasn’t going to break 4 hours. My plan went from a 20 minute PR to just finish. I decided it would be more disappointing to DNF (Did Not Finish) since I could technically keep running.
The marathon community was great. Whenever anybody would walk (like myself at a few points), somebody would cheer, clap, and smile at them to keep going. Within two seconds that person would usually pick it back up to a run.
Thankfully, the course was set up with an aid station at every half mile point which means every half mile you had something to look forward to (aid station or mile marker). Half mile by half mile, I pushed onward and eventually crossed the finish line somewhere under 4:20. I’d be lying by saying I wasn’t disappointed in my time and race but it was a huge psychological accomplishment to finish despite my body falling apart. The next few hours my body continued to feel nauseous but eventually I felt human again.
There are no excuses just lessons and a promise to myself to try again. For now, triathlon season is calling my name.
1. Training in Florida does not prepare you for the humidity in Miami. The ING Miami Marathon is a great race but I don’t suggest it for a PR marathon.
2. Training partners are motivating but put in a few long runs alone because you might be running by yourself on race day.
3. Stick to the training plan. By far, I’ve never put so much work into running so I should have at least ran a best time but there were still a few long runs that got cut short because “life got in the way”.
4. I need to cross train. I was running 5-6 days a week and next time it will be more like 4-5 days of actual running with more cycling and swimming. I thought it would help to focus on running but there were too many workouts on tired legs.
5. Accept every race isn’t going to be a great race. I spent 20 miles beating myself up for struggling through this marathon. I just couldn’t get into the mindset of “let’s just do this for fun” once I realized my body wasn’t cooperating.
6. Be proud of just finishing. After the race, a guy who’d ran the half came up to me with congratulations for finishing the full. He said he saw a lot of people walking around with the orange bibs (signifying full marathoner) with the blue medal (signifying finishing the half marathon). Thank you random guy for making me feel better.
Thanks to everybody for the support and good wishes! I slept 12 hours last night and feel so much better. Off to study more for the nursing boards. My future boss sent me really nice welcome card in the mail last week. Such a pleasant and sweet surprise. I can’t believe I start work next week! Yikes!