Grandma’s Marathon 2012 Recap

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:

  1. 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.
  2. The fact that I am terrified to think about what my next year in running could actually look like.
  3. 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.

Well, then.

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.

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23 responses to “Grandma’s Marathon 2012 Recap

  1. Everything happens for a reason. I know the feeling to DNF a marathon and I must say, the strength you show in this post is inspiring! Wishing you a speedy recovery!

  2. I think I passed by that girl walking with the space blanket at mile 21.

    I was about 30 seconds away from turning myself in and not finishing the race, at 3 separate points between miles 10 and 13.1, due to nausea (which I’ve never experienced before while trying to run or walk a race…). I don’t know what caused it, but I never want to experience that in a race again.

    I hope that your excellent team at Tria can provide some good PT to kick this tendonitis in the nads. If it had nads. Which tendons don’t. But that’s not the point here. Just stay with me.

    Thank you for your excellent support – I know I couldn’t have gotten to or through this race without you!!

  3. Amazing, Kat. You definitely made the right choice because it’s not about running a marathon, it’s about running for LIFE. Congrats on your wisdom and positive outlook!!

  4. I’m sorry, that sucks. But the important thing is that you played it smart, don’t hate yourself and don’t hate running. I swear that is the most important thing to ever take away from a big race.

    And you definitely did the right thing DNFing. I ran TCM in 2009 with tendonitis across the top of my right foot. I had given it two weeks off, was feeling pretty good until about mile 5 or so then it all came crashing down. But I didn’t have the sense to walk away from a horrible race. I kept going. I crossed the finish line…with a bruised, purple foot. Not a good way to end a race but a great way to start hating running. I took months off and seriously reconsidered running – then I realized I was only fighting running because I didn’t listen to my body screaming at me. So yes, you did the right thing!

  5. Wow. That was a very positive response to what happened. I’m really glad that things are still looking up and happy! Yey!

  6. I’m so sorry to hear you had to DNF. That being said, you are handling it like a champ and I only hope if I am ever faced with having to make the same decision, I will handle it as classy as you are!

  7. So sorry to hear about the foot. I am glad you posted this because I was constantly trying to track you and didn’t see you in the results – i was worried. 😦 You are really taking it so great and you are a true champ for all the work you put into your training.

  8. Read every word. Sometimes it takes a stronger person to know when to “quit”. To better days and races. I wish you the best in recovery and in your future running endeavors.

  9. Wow! What a story. Sounds like you didn’t really have a choice, which was probably more frustrating than anything else. Hope the foot feels better soon:)

  10. Sorry to hear Kat! I hope you recover quickly and can get back to doing what you love!

  11. I can’t even imagine the frustration of DNF-ing a marathon, but I hope that today DID start fresh. We could wax philosophical about windshields and bugs, but I think that’s a bit of overkill. Heal your frustration, heal your body, and then get your ass back out there.

  12. Hey kiddo! Hope that you recover quickly. Nothing wrong with not finishing a marathon, they’re hard and you have been injured. Glad you took care of yourself.

  13. wow, what a story. Thanks for sharing–and yes, it’s only inspirational to hear how you’ve walked through it.
    Now don’t worry about long term nothing–Just enjoy a day. Or two…or a week or two. You’ve got lots of time! 😉
    I’m proud of ya!
    aloha

  14. Kat-You are so inspiring! Thanks for sharing this with us. You are a true champion. Inside and out.

  15. I may have already commented this a million times but it is worth repeating: I am so proud of you! Way to give it your all and be brave enough to even try in the first place. Talk about aim high! Now I hope you put your feet up, enjoy some well-earned R and R, lounge by a pool somewhere and read a good book while sipping your favorite cocktail out of a curly straw. Or something like that. Big hugs to you!

  16. Running side by side with you was the highlight of my weekend. You are incredible, Kat! You could not have run a better race with the cards you were dealt. No regrets – you did EVERYTHING you could to get to that start line, and now you’re doing everything you can to get healthy. Here’s to lessons learned, and the best DNF there ever was.

  17. You inspired me so much on your journey to the marathon, and now you have inspired me even more…by running smart. By listening to your body. Fighting thru the pain and keeping your head up and spirits high when it became unsafe for you to continue. You are a true competitor. Rest up, heal up, and know that I am praying for your speedy recovery.

  18. I am so proud of you. I wish I could give a BIG hug because you truly are an inspiration. I believe in my heart of hearts you will heal and come back stronger than ever. You girlfriend are a bad ass. #Runningpackinthesky

  19. Carmello was too there, she would not have missed a beat on that trail. Best 16.2 of the course…….

  20. So proud of you for doing right by yourself and listening to your body. I have no doubt that you will continue to kick ass and take names in your Revas.

  21. Thanks for stopping by my recap. It’s good to see that you made the right decision given a very tough situation. Runners can be very bullheaded and will often run through terrible pain, often to their detriment. It’s happened to me several times that I decide, I’ll be fine, and end up taking lots of time off running because I hurt myself. There have been so many instances where I thought, if I had just stopped running, I’d be fine now.

    There will be other races. In the meantime, take care of yourself. You’ll bounce back. 🙂

  22. just read your recap.

    THIS!
    “3. How very much I do not regret any of the training I did. I did right by me.”

    a dnf can’t take away what we learned while training, our highs our lows.. the experience!

    i looked at grandma’s last year and again this year as a possibility. the factor of crazy hot temps have swayed me away from it each time. maybe if i still lived in texas.. but living in CO.. ah! i mean.. i guess i could put my space heater in front of the treadmill.

    anyways, thank you for sharing your experience! this also reminded me that i need to stalk your blog to see what’s up next for you!

  23. Pingback: 18 Weeks | Tenaciously Yours,

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