Well, I ran in the Steamtown Marathon last weekend and I didn't reach my goal of running a 3:50 marathon time. However, because of all the difficulty I had I'm pleased with my effort. I finished in a time of 4:32:59, which is about the same time I ran the MCM last year. The difference? I had to walk the last 5 miles of Steamtown.
I was running with my friends Helenann (who finished in about 4:05) and Cathy (who finished in about 4:12) and we were doing very well. The weather was beautiful and we felt great! Our time was right about where it needed to be through mile 18. I did have to stop for the bathroom twice in those first 18 miles which was not expected - I think I'm going to have to change my long run fuel source.
Like I said, at mile 18 we had to cross a chip timer and I was 4 minutes over my desired pace but feeling OK. I actually thought I just might be able to make up that time or at least come close. Then the wheels started to come off, so to speak. Somewhere between miles 20 and 21 I felt like my legs might want to cramp so I stopped for a second to do a little stretch. Of course, when I stretched my quad, my hamstring cramped - go figure! The cramps weren't too bad though and I got right back into the race. Then, shortly after passing mile 21 I turned a corner and got a VERY sharp pain in my right knee. The pain was enough to make me stop and walk a little. I thought that if I walked just a bit, maybe I could shake it off and still finish near the 4:00 mark - I would have been absolutely thrilled with that time. Unfortunately, I was not able to do much more running. I was completely unable to run any of the uphills, I could run a few steps on the flats but then the pain would really shut me down again and I could do some shuffling on the downhills.
I have to admit that quitting crossed my mind for about a millisecond but I told myself that it was not an option. I had put too many training hours in and Coach Mary (at LL) had helped me too much for me to not honor this commitment. I even put on my shirt PWE2 to help me remember what I was doing this for. I kept telling myself to stick with it and I would be a success - honoring commitments and keeping self-promises is the important part, not the time it takes you to cross the finish line. I will have other opportunities to run 3:50 marathons and that will be an awesome accomplishment. However, this one may actually mean more to me because I didn't give up even when parts of me really wanted to.
Anyway, I decided that I would walk until I reached the last downhill to the finish line. At that point I really wanted to run that last downhill. I was able to accomplish this and the rest is history as they say. I've taken this week off but want to get back into some easy runs this upcoming week. I've also let my nutrition slip a bit the past week and need to get back into that groove as well. I think I'm experiencing some of the depression (for lack of a better title) that I've read some people experience after a big event like this. Most of it has manifested itself in my inability to eat right this week. I just want to eat fatty, junky stuff and am having a really tough time getting the ship righted. I will do it though!
Remember, the journey is the important part and not how long it takes you to get there! Oh, and the Steamtown Marathon is a great marathon to run. If anyone reads this and is considering doing a marathon, I would highly recommend this one. It isn't easy but the scenery is breath-taking (leaves were in full color) and the race itself is well run and well supported!