Race weekend started on Saturday - Sophie, my running partner Jim, my Mom, and I headed to St. Paul for the kid's events and to pick up our race packets. Sophie ran the toddler trot, which was very fun. It was a beautiful, warm fall day.
After the kid's race, we headed to the River Center for the expo. It was pretty crowded, so we did a quick loop through and were out. I did manage to pick up a TCM hooded sweatshirt (the one I bought in 2006 was pretty worn out!).
Sunday morning, I was up bright and early and ready to run. My mom and Sophie dropped me off at the Metrodome right before the 10 mile race started.
I had plenty of time to use the restroom and then to sit around and wait. I felt good - relaxed, ready to run my third marathon of 2011. My expectations weren't very high for the race - I thought I could finish under 5 hours, and really just wanted to enjoy the day.
Finally it was time to head outside and line up. I must have picked the wrong door to leave the dome, because I got stuck in a weird space lining up for the start - WAY back. No biggie. I think I crossed the start line about 8 minutes after the start of the race.
The first 11 miles of the race felt good. I kept a nice steady pace, right around 10:30 miles, and felt good. At mile 11, my stomch started to bother me. I started to feel like I was going to lose my cookies. Anytime I pushed (up a hill, or picking up the pace), I could feel the urge to puke in the back of my throat. To deal with nauesea, I stopped taking gels/drinking at the water stops. Smart, right?
By mile 16, my stomach was feeling worse. And, because I was dehydrated, my legs started cramping up. The cramping gradually spread and soon my lower back was cramping pretty significantly. All I could think about was laying down. Somewhere around mile 19/20, I did lay down. Just in the grass on the side of the road, and just for a little bit. It didn't really help.
So I got up and kept going. I consider the last 6 mile stretch of Twin Cities down Summit Avenue my "home" stretch - I love running down Summit, past William Mitchell (my law school) and feeling so close to the finish. But this time? I was so miserable and dejected. I would try to run, and then be on the verge of puking, and stop to walk. Repeat.
Less than a mile from the finish, I was walking, barely aware of my surroundings, and all of a sudden I heard my mom and Sophie yelling for me. I looked over, and they were there. I was so relieved to see them, sad that they saw me walking, and ready to start crying just from seeing them. I told them I would be done soon and started to run/shuffle on.
FINALLY, I finished. 5:21 and change. Nowhere near the sub-5 I had planned on. And certainly not the fun day I wanted. I crossed the finish line and was completely out of it. I had planned on meeting my family by the "W" meeting area, but it seemed so far away. I just kept staring at the W - bypassing food, drink, everything - telling myself that I could lay down when I got there. I finally got close enough and fell down on the ground in the shade of a big tree. When my mom, Sophie and my sister finally found me, I struggled to keep from crying again. When I finally got myself together, I pulled my sorry butt off the ground and we walked to the car. My mom snapped this pic of me and Sophie on the way.
I had some lingering nausea for several days after the marathon - not sure if I had some sort of bug or what was going on.
Back in the "old" days, a race like this would have devastated me. I would have been embarassed by my finishing time, down on myself for not living up to my own expectations, and generally negative about the experience. I think I have changed as a runner. Although I am disappointed about having a rough day and not enjoying the race like I wanted to, I don't feel bad about it. I know the difference between training for a PR and training just finish - and for this race, I definitely trained just to finish. I feel blessed to have the health and the opportunity to run races when I want - I feel proud of running three marathons in 2011. And, after a year of running just to finish, I am ready to train hard and see how I can improve on my marathon PR. :)