Three weeks out from race day I decided to look at the course map. I usually don’t do this because I’d rather have it be surprise where I’m running. When I signed up for this race, for whatever reason, I thought it was a flat course. WRONG. I saw the elevation chart and about peed in my luon pants. Already having slacked on training a bit, I went completely below the line. I was eating fear for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. People would ask are you ready? Are you excited? And my response would be, “uhhhh… yeah.”
It’s so funny how we can trick ourselves into thinking we can’t do something. I could have backed out. I could have transferred my registration to the half marathon but I didn’t. This was my “Do one thing a day that scares you.” I was flying to Ohio to be with friends and family. I couldn’t NOT do it.
So, the week before I stocked up on healthy pre made meals from MyFitFoods and bought $25 worth of electrolyte enhanced water from Whole Foods, as well as coconut water and chia kombucha tea. I popped 2-3 Emergen-C packets a day (way more than you need I promise) and knew that if I did everything I could to physically prepare myself all I’d have to worry about was my mind.
Marathons are 95% mental toughness, 5% physical.
My alarm went off at 4:15am and I’m up. I’m shaking. I can’t let anyone know how nervous I am right now. I eat a pack of black cherry shot blocks as we zip away to the start line. I kiss my husband and hug my family. Here we go.
I was fortunate enough to have a good college friend with me running the half we paced together with solid 10 minute miles for the first 6 of the course. Then she broke off and I entered the point of no return.
Mile 14. Shit, what was that? My left foot started to hurt and my toes went numb. The hills we’re getting to me. I’d been to Canton a million times and never noticed this? A couple miles later the pain subsided but in the back of my mind all I was thinking about was the fact I may have a stress fracture.
Mile 18. Here comes the rain. For about 20 minutes I was pelted in the face by rain drops. My shoes we’re soggy, feet numb. I had to keep chugging along. The rain water was pooling in my ears and my left ear bud stopped working. I didn’t really care much about my iPod, if the rain ruined it so be it. I had to keep running.
Mile 23. Oh… my… God. Should I move to the side of the road and die? The “wall” people talk about was here, much later than I’ve ever experienced it before. I saw a man put on a stretcher and I wished it were me. Noises we’re coming out of my mouth I’d never heard before. Right around this time I came up next to a guy who asked me if I was okay. He also appeared to me in great shape but limping a little. “Yeah, just locking up a bit” was my response. He said, “Yeah, I’m pretty sure I just blew out my knee. I just need to finish this thing.” Oh my god, how hard core is he? We wished each other well and I trotted off ahead.
That the thing about most runners. What I love so much. We’re hard core. We don’t know how to give up. We could have blood coming out of our ears and we’d still want to finish the damn race. Everyone is so supportive of each other on the course. “Are you okay? You got this! Come on! Almost there!” It’s all you hear… and it’s enough to get to you to the end.
The Canton Marathon finish was one of the best in my opinion. It didn’t feel like it dragged on forever. Sometimes the finish will twist and turn and feel like a damn obstacle course. The finish line was on the field of Fawcett Staduim at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. My new thing now is crying when I get close to the end. I think its the crowd support. Everyone wants you to cross that line, receive that gorgeous hunk of metal. I’m not sure if it’s the pain or not but tears stream down my cheeks. I see my family, I hear my name being called.
I cross the finish.
I almost collapse. I suddenly feel so sick. I’m cold and wet. My dad wraps a solar blanket around me and I block out my surroundings for a few minutes. People we’re talking to me but I honestly don’t remember a whole lot of it.
I did it. I feel sick and can’t walk very well but I did it. And 4 minutes off from my PR none the less! With all the hills I’d like to think I could have done this race in 4:30:00 if it were flat. I didn’t expect to be as fast as I was for this race. My average was under 11 minute miles the whole time. You can really make up speed on those down hills (and boy, were there a lot of those)
I’m happy to report that nothing is broken or fractured in my foot. I just strained some tissue and ligaments. I’ll be back at it in a few weeks. Enjoy the photo of my giant sausage foot J
I’m going to take a tiny break from marathons. I’ll get after it again in January.
Liz and I around mile 6.
Sweet, sweet, victory.