Well, it’s Friday morning and the marathon has now been over for five days. Today, I am finally walking (mostly) normally–except for the whole going downstairs thing–and, except for a little post race cold (did you know running a marathon actually sort of ruins your immune system for a few days?), I’m feeling pretty good.
So, how did it go? It went well. It went very well. Was it painful? Definitely. But John and I both ran PRs and qualified for next year’s Boston Marathon, meeting our intended goal, so we are mutually pretty stoked.
John ran a 3:04 (his previous best time was 3:09) and I ran a 3:18 (my previous best time is 3:30). So, was all of the pain worth it? Yep, definitely.
The race came with it’s challenges for me. I had to work through the IT band syndrome, which has been haunting me for the last 1.5 months, plus a few additional complications from Mother Nature which decided to surprise me the morning of the race…BUT the weather was in the 60s and cloudy, which was GLORIOUS, so I cannot complain. I have never run a marathon in less than 75 degrees and sunny, so this year’s weather made a HUGE difference for me.
I enjoyed GO! St. Louis Marathon’s new course. Was it flatter? Well, maybe it was flatter but my Garmin watch data gave me proof that it certainly was not flat (but, really, you can’t run a race in downtown St. Louis without any hills).
I loved going over the bridges crossing the Mississippi! It was fun to look down at the water, up at the sunrise reflecting off of the Arch and the STL skyline and across at the flow of runners crossing the parallel bridge. It was also kind of fun to explore East St. Louis on the other side. PLUS! The race included a 3.5 miles “Bridge Challenge” where the fastest runners in each age category for this section of the race won a prize. Even though I told myself not to get “sucked in” to this challenge so early in a marathon, I actually won 2nd place for my age group and got a medal and a giant chocolate bar!
(The view was kind of like this. Maybe a tad cloudier.)
The hardest part of the race for me was my IT band. An IT band runs from a runner’s hip to her knee and all down her thigh, so the pain was focused on my knee but radiating down my thigh and into my hip. The IT band started to hurt at mile 5. Yep, with 21 more miles to go.
The thing is though, I’d prepared for this. I knew it was going to hurt because, well, it’s injured! So, when I began to feel it I gave myself a mantra. I told myself Just because it hurts right now does not mean it will get worse. To me the idea of a sharp pain increasing for 21 more miles was too much to handle. But the idea of a pain that may or may not reoccur occasionally throughout the race was manageable. It hurt for most of the race, let’s be honest, especially going up and down hills, but giving myself this mantra really helped.
(I had to tell myself this numerable times on the course.)
Despite the pain, I was able to maintain my pace. I loved the increased distance in Forest Park because it is definitely the most gorgeous place to run in STL. Plus, home field advantage, right?! I saw my family and these signs in Forest Park, which was really helpful and gave me quite a boost.
(My sister heard these kids say Daddy, what does my sign say? haha.)
By the time I hit around 19-20 miles, I knew I was going to qualify for Boston, so I decided to try to get in around 3:15.
At mile 24 I swore that my toenail fell off. It was so weird. I actually felt my toenail disconnecting from my toe and could feel it digging into the top of my foot. I seriously teared up at this point with such dramatic thoughts like AH! My toenail is gone! I’m not going to make it, I’ve lost my toenail!! coursing though my head. BUT, weird thing is, when I finished the race and took off my shoe to inspect the carnage, MY TOENAIL WAS STILL THERE!! WHAT?!?!?! Was I hallucinating?! Perhaps. Did I pop a blister and get confused?! Maybe. WHAT THE HECK!!! This was a weird/low point for sure. At this point in time, I have all ten toenails, but four of them are a lovely, deep shade of plum.
Alas, miles 24-26 were the hardest for me. A lot of uphill. A lot of mental struggle (i.e. the phantom toenail) so I ended up crossing the wire in 3:18, not 3:15, but I was still elated and very happy with my time. I got 7th place for women, and so was content.
John’s Big River running buddy, Andrea, actually won 1st place for women with a time of 2:54, so that was pretty exciting, to actually KNOW the winner!
I reunited with John’s family at the finish line. John’s dad ran the half which is AMAZING! It was his first major race since having open heart surgery a few years ago, so we were really proud and happy for him.
Eventually, I found John and walked around the finish area while watching him devour three Ted Drewes ice cream sandwiches (best I could manage was a Gus’ pretzel) before we collected our baggage and headed home.
The afternoon after running a marathon is simply THE BEST. I showered and laid in bed ALL day and it was truly glorious. Good for my legs? Nope. But glorious, nonetheless.
My IT band is still pretty messed up (hence the trouble descending stairs), but now that the race is over I plan to take a little break from running and get it healed, hopefully in time for my favorite race, the Zoo 5K.
The night before the race, though, I enjoyed a wonderful “Fancy Nancy” themed bridal shower for my sister, with all of my aunts. One of my aunts asked me a few questions about the marathon.
“Do your legs hurt while you’re running it?” she asked.
“Do your feet hurt?”
“Well, then why do you do it?!” She said.
I know I’m supposed to be a writer, but I seriously tripped on my words here. I think I said something about “Uh, well, I like to…uh, goals, I want, I can, ummm….”
Really eloquent, I assure you.
So, why do I do it? Why do any of us do it (let’s remember I was not alone out there)?
I think it’s best summed up by the marketing masters of Nike in this video below.
That’s why I do it. That’s we we do it. Because marathon runners are a different sort of breed.
I am thrilled that John and I will get the chance to join the very best of that lot next year at America’s greatest race.
See ya next year, Boston.
Until then, maybe a little rest.
(John flying around mile 18)
(Happy to see my family)