I am a bundle of emotions tonight. Angry. Sad. Confused. Tired. Under-caffeinated.
I don’t know.
The day started as expected. I slept well. I got up at 5 am as planned. I had the same breakfast as always – glass of water, half cup of coffee, oatmeal with fruit and brown sugar, a banana. I got dressed, threw on an extra fleece, and headed out the door. I drove to the parking ramp, parked, and walked the block to the shuttle. A quick ride later and we were at the start line. I used the port-a-pottie. I sat and people watched for a bit. I checked my bag. I headed to the start area.
The weather was perfect. About 40 at the start and high of 60 for the day.
My plan fell apart here. I wanted to run with either the 4:30 or 4:45 pace group. I was going to chat with the pacers to ask their strategy. I found 4:00, 4:15, and 5:00. WTF? So I was on my own. No big deal, I’ve been training on my own for months.
The race started well. We were running east, with the sun just rising. I kept a nice 10:40 pace for the first two miles. Spotted to the left: the 4:45 pace group! I ran up and…he was doing the Galloway run/walk method. No. I don’t like that. If I walk I have a hard time getting back to pace. So…back on my own.
Spotted: a woman wearing the Wonder Woman knee-high socks with capes! I ran up and told her I loved them.
I felt great. Great. I was running about a 10:20 and was rocking it. I was thinking, “I’ve been doing long runs at 11:00-11:30 so I should be able to maintain a 10:20-10:40, easy, the whole way.”
There were a lot of water stations. A LOT. So many I didn’t stop at all of them. I had my water bottle with me and I didn’t want Gatorade every mile and a half. So every other station I walked through while drinking Gatorade.
I had to make myself slow down around mile 7 and then again at 8. I was going too fast.
Then I had a problem. My stomach just gave up. Was it the Gatorade? Was it something I ate yesterday? I had to make a port-a-pottie stop at mile 9. I never really recovered. I thought The Husband was going to be at mile 10. He wasn’t. I stopped to text him, asking if I missed him. (No, he was at 13.) I was so off my game at this point. I told myself to focus, buckle down, and keep going.
Back at it for miles 10 and 11. Hills! Nothing like San Francisco, but it slowed me down a touch. Still above 11:00. The DJ at mile 12 was my friend Eric, so I got to wave at him.
Then I just lost it. Suddenly I’m running 12:30 and feeling like I’m going to throw up. What the hell? Slowed down.
I found the husband. I stopped to talk to him. Bad idea. Got light headed. He gave me my gummy bears and I started walking. I tried running again. Then walking. Then running. Then walking.
And next thing I know, I’m walking more than running, my pace is a 12:30, and I’m woozy. I wanted to sit down on the side of the road and have one of the medical scooters drive me to the end. But, no. I never give up, right?
The next five miles were misery. It was one mile at a time. High five the kids on the side of the road. Don’t fall over.
I gave up. I am mad at myself for it but I had to. It was just after the mile 18 water stop and I was dry heaving on the side of the road. I knew I couldn’t finish. Did my heart break a little? Yeah. Maybe a lot. I knew I couldn’t even walk that.
I called The Husband. He and his mom were at mile 20. I told them I was a mile and a half away and I’d be walking. He said they’d wait. I knew it was bad when one of the race directors stopped me, asked me if I was OK, and wrote down my bib number. Sigh.
So I made it 19.5 miles. The Husband and mother-in-law were there. I cried a little. I apologized. I felt bad they came out only to watch me…walk. We went to the car and he drove me back downtown.
The hardest part, hands down, was having to walk into the finish area to get my gear bag. All the finishers, smiling, laughing, limping, and eating with their families. A woman talking about her Boston qualifying time. Holy shit, I felt like a total failure. That was a walk of shame and anger.
I got my bag, put on my sweatshirt, and walked back to my car. I just sat there for a few minutes, numb. Trying to figure out what happened. Maybe I’ll never know. (Why couldn’t I sprain my ankle or something?)
Home. Pizza. Water. Shower. Beer. Football. Nap.
Here’s the thing: my legs feel great. They do. I could go run 5 easy right now. So…was it all in my head? Was it too many Gu Chomps before the race started? Was it drinking Gatorade early (during training I stuck to water until after 10)? Was it not enough water? Am I just incapable of running a marathon without falling apart? Am I weak?
I don’t know that I can ever try this again. Four months of training for a DNF.
Fuck you, marathon.
(It wasn’t all bad. The weather was perfect. Kimberly Clark was a sponsor. We had real toilet paper in the port-a-potties! The water stations had Kleenex! They had trivia questions posted every mile or so too. And then there was food! Fruit and bagels twice on the course. Nice!)