Most important order of business:
I DNF-ed at Grandma’s.
I know that there are some of you who have been checking back for that update and that update alone.
If that’s all you came here for, you may consider yourself free to go. No harm, no foul.
But if you’re staying the course, please know before we begin this tale that the only tears I’ve shed are because of:
- All of the family and friends who kept the faith yesterday and rather than believing that I’d dropped after Mile 16 assumed that the text-update system had malfunctioned.
- The fact that I am terrified to think about what my next year in running could actually look like.
- How very much I do not regret any of the training I did. I did right by me.
First things first, know that yesterday was a BANNER day for the Running Pack in the Sky. I had to stop updating the schedule, but when all was said and done, I think we had nearly 40 people running between 7:45 AM – 12:00 PM CST. That’s incredible, really. The Twitter alerts just kept on coming while I was on the bus, so even though I wasn’t running with you, you were all running with one another.
And finally, before we really get into it all, you should know that my DNF-ing in the marathon was not nearly as scary or horrific as I had built it up in my head to be. Actually, it was pretty much 100% not scary. Maybe if what pulled me off the course had been preventable (eating, going out too fast, uncomfortable gear, hydration) I would feel differently, but when I got on that bus I felt pretty right with the Lord.
Now, with the world’s lengthiest preface out-of-the-way, the easiest way to do this is just to tell you about the entirety of the day. I am 100% positive that this is the longest post I have EVER written in the history of The Blog so, y’all can skim and skip through the parts you could care less about at will.
I woke up at 3:00 AM on Saturday morning after a pre-race feast of Apricot beer from Fitger’s and Chicken Tikka Masala with Naan from India Palace.
I actioned some hot water for oatmeal in the coffee machine before actioning coffee.
All was well. Marcus and my Mom said goodbye to me at the hotel and Dad walked with me to the bus stop.
I know, it’s not the best picture, but it’s the only picture I have of me from Race Day.
When I hopped on the bus (robe and all), I ended up sitting next to Ben who was a pretty cool 28-year-old guy from Kansas City. We chatted the entirety of the ride about running, friends, and whatever it is that total strangers can bond over at 5:30 AM before a big race. We ended up spending another hour or so together once we got up to the start line because no one else was up there when our bus arrived. It was warm enough outside that I refashioned the robe into a picnic blanket-style arrangement on the grass and invited him to share it if he wanted to.
All good. All fine.
Now at this point, some of you might be wondering if I felt anything in my foot that made me think, Hmmm….Maybe this isn’t happening today.
Answer: No. What I will say is that my tendonitis did migrate last weekend to my left foot and that my physical therapist confirmed this on Thursday when I got the world’s most expensive foot massage and everything felt FINE.
But, back to the story.
One of The Big Things at the Grandma’s Start Line is the fly over which happens pre-race during the National Anthem. I was in the porta potty at that particular moment in time, so I have nothing to add to that conversation beyond the fact that I was (understandably) extremely underwhelmed.
And the very best part of the pre-race extravaganza is when I saw Chaz standing on the grassy bank outside of the corral.
Obviously he saw me too. 🙂 Y’all get bonus points if you can spot me in the fracas.
So, we started. I was right on the 4:15 pace group. What you should know at this point is that it was 60-ish degrees, sunny, and fairly windless with 90% humidity. Combined with running on asphalt, it was kind of like being roasted. I don’t know that I have ever seen so many extremely fit people sweat so much during the first miles of any race, ever.
We’re talking profusely. Sweating.
Anyway, heat in mind, I forced myself to drink at every stop in those first miles and managed to short out my headphones in the process of dousing myself with water. I was legitimately concerned that if I didn’t hydrate early and often (I was actually surprisingly thirsty), I would stop sweating.
So we ran and ran. Sometimes with trees on either side and sometimes with less trees. Running. We did it.
By Mile 10, I was starting to really feel The Pain in my left foot.
Whatever. I was still on-pace and I was armed to the teeth with Scott Jurek and Chrissie Wellington’s sagery about mental games and the words, “Pain only hurts.” I focused on the words I was carrying in my water bottle.
So I pushed on to Mile 12 where I found Ann, Jay and their epic string of signs. Ann ran with me for a while, and left me with the words that if I could finish this half, I could finish the next half.
What actually happened: About a half-mile after I saw Ann (around 1:55), I decided to take a five-minute walk-break to honestly and realistically assess what was happening to my body. Because I have run on dead legs, tired legs and feet that have been beaten to a pulp. But the pain in my left foot was none of those things.
My watch hit the 2:00 mark and I tried to start running again. I kid you not when I say I took one excruciating stride with 10-worthy pain radiating across my left foot and that was it. I walked it off, attempted it one more time (to the same results) just to be “sure.” And let me tell you, I have never been surer of anything in my entire life. I could not run.
But since I wasn’t totally ready to throw the towel in yet, I kept walking. Somewhere before the half-marathon point, there was a family cheering with a case of beer. They offered me one and after realizing they were absolutely serious, I accepted it without question.
Seriously. How this is the best snap I got the entire day I will never understand.
So beer-in-hand, I walked across the half-marathon mats for a time of 2:10:01, which is still faster than my first half-marathon, and what I use as a gauge of progress for my running most days.
Side note: Now is the time to observe that apparently the police do not care if you’re marauding with an open container on the race course.
As I continued to walk, I knew that if things didn’t get any worse, I could probably walk the rest of the race and make it to the finish line under the time limit. I also knew that the beer would give me enough time to figure out if that was idiocy, an obscene act of self-martyrdom, totally unrealistic or a meaningful trek.
Meanwhile, I called and texted A LOT of people who were waiting for me much further down the course saying:
You might be thinking, Kat, why are you calling me right now, you’re supposed to be running. The answer is, I’m not.
And then, I saw this not 10 feet off of the road.
To which another runner observed, That’s what happens when you go out too fast.
By this time, all of the Rainforest Cafe-style humidity and heat had vanished for overcast skies and wind, which was obviously thrilling. I saw another runner walking ahead of me with a space blanket from the last aid tent and made a mental note to get one at the next stop. Nevermind the fact that if you’re cold enough to roll with a blanket, you should probably call it a day.
So when I crossed the mats at 16.2, I pulled off at the aid station to grab a blanket and struck out once more. Boldly, I made it about 500 feet, realized that not only was I now totally freezing but that I could barely walk. I did a 180, walked back to the tent and turned myself in.
I couldn’t actually speak to get the words out that I needed to drop, but after that 30 second period of serious despair, I swear to God I was totally fine. Please refer back to the list at the beginning for reference as to what will and will not make me cry in this regard.
And based on how well I’ve been doing at walking for the last 30 hours (I have yet to see a marathon finisher who looks even remotely as bad as I do, gait-wise), I know that there really, truly was not another decision I could have made.
My mind did not fail me. My heart did not fail me. My legs did not fail me.
My foot did.
That would be me in the hotel this morning.
So thank you all (if you’ve made it this far) for everything. I have never felt so love-bombed before a race in my life. The calls/e-mails/texts/tweets/comments/Facebook messages were very literally, overwhelming. And I don’t think I’ve ever felt so much support after a race either. I never once felt alone. Today I have not felt alone. And that means the world.
As Allison said last night: Tomorrow we start fresh.