Monday, December 12, 2011

Now I'm a Marathoner

CIM 2004
On December 4th, 2011 I completed a full marathon, the California International Marathon! 26.2 miles! For the last seven years I have been dreaming of accomplishing this goal. I had attempted this same marathon when I was training with Team in Training in 2004 but I didn't get further than mile six due to a knee injury. At the time I was in physical therapy and everyone knew I wouldn't be able to complete the race but I wanted to try. After all, I had been training for months and I didn't want to just give up before even trying. After that disappointing day I realized how much I really wanted to cross the finish line but that dream seemed way out of my reach.

June 2010
In 2010 I decided to try to run again. I signed up for a local 5K and started training. It was frustrating starting from scratch but liberating at the same time. I was very careful to increase my mileage slowly and paid close attention to my knee. Everything went well, the training and the race, and running spark was lit again. I continued to run a race every month for the rest of 2010.

January 2011
It felt great to be running again and to be apart of the huge running community here in town. I continued to run a race every month in 2011 but also accomplished some bigger goals. There was a half marathon in the bay area on my 31st birthday. I thought completing that would be an awesome way to celebrate me getting another year older so I registered and started increasing my mileage even more. The race was great! I killed my goal time by about fifteen minutes and even though I was exhausted and barely made it to the finish line on my feet I felt accomplished .
Mermaid half on my birthday
I ended up doing another half marathon in 2011 but after mile one my calf muscle spasmed (I never felt anything like that before) so I walked/hobbled my way through the rest of the 13.1 mile course and across the finish line. It was kind of a bummer to not be able to run the course but, I still had no knee pain.

I don't really know when or why but I decided to train for CIM-the same marathon I was forced to drop out of years before. I ran my long runs on the weekends either around my neighborhood or along the bike path that follows the river. My weekday workouts were done at the gym and I was luck enough  have my family so willing to help with watching my kids.

weekend training run
The last month and a half leading up to race day was not so good. I was sick a lot and the season change caused some problems with both my asthma and allergies. I skipped a lot of workouts and some of my long runs. I was worried that was going to reflect negatively during the race but as I stood at the start with 8,000 other runners I felt ready. I knew that I was strong and I could get through the race. I really had no regrets about my training, only my shoes.

I had planned on going to my favorite running store a few weeks before the race to get fitted for a good pair of shoes but I never made the time to go. That was the biggest mistake I made. The shoes I had been training in were really roomy in the toes and this, I found out, was not a good thing. The bottoms of my feet felt raw and were burring from sliding in those roomy toed shoes on every downhill stretch. By the time I got to mile fourteen it was almost unbearable. I had to take a lot more walking breaks through out the race than I had planned and before I knew it, the event trucks were driving by and cleaning up the aid tables and the mile markers. That was so discouraging.
Hi Dad! I made to mile 13 this time!

One of the highlights of the day at mile thirteen. That's where my parents, sister and cousin live. They all live on a little street just off of Fair Oaks and they all came out to cheer me on. My husband and kids were there too. It was great having them out there. I defiantly didn't feel the pain in my feet when I was running by them. Just seeing them smile and yelling my name made me so happy. My dad was a runner and I think I made him proud.

shoe switch at mile 20
Around mile fourteen I sent a text to my husband asking him to meet me at mile 20 with another pair of shoes. That made a big difference in the comfort of my feet but so much damage had already been done I still couldn't run much. My friends also met me at mile 20 and one of them joined me for a few miles. That was really awesome. He was a great support.

Finally I was running past Capitol Park so I knew I getting really close to the finish and on the corner I saw my husband and our two kids. They were all excited for me and that gave me the extra little boost I needed. The kids ran with me to the finish shoot then went around to the finish so they could see me cross. After 6 hours, 46 minutes and 26 seconds, I crossed the finish line. I met my family after receiving my medal in front of the State Capital and I was beaming. I did it! I completed a full marathon and I was still standing.

Afterwards we went to my dad's house and I got a good look at my poor feet. I ended up with red patches all over the tops and bottoms of them and the mother-of-all-blisters on one of my toes. I can't believe I was running on that thing. The blister hurt for two days and caused me to limp around the house.

I knew that the marathon distance was going to be tough for me when I started training. I trained and raced with the mindset that this was going to be my only marathon. After months and months of training I was excited for race day so it would be over. The day following the race I was glad I had done it and glad that it was over but now, a week later, I'm disappointed about my time. Really I just wanted to finish but I had a secondary goal of finishing in five hours and my time was almost two hours past that. So now I keep finding myself wondering if I could finish in a better time... I don't know... the training is pretty grueling but maybe someday I'll change my mind and run another. For now I'm planning my goals for 2012 and so far there isn't a full marathon on that list.    

Am I more happy I did it or because it's over?