This was my most difficult training season so far. I moved from Akron to San Diego in February and had a lot of adjustments to deal with. Getting used to city streets and dealing with busy intersections and stoplights was not fun. The life stresses of finding a job to pay rent for my 180 square foot apartment and navigating my new surroundings negatively impacted training as well.
After I got “settled” I realized that I lived pretty close to a very large (and famous) park, where I could run to and around in with little disruptions – unless there was some event going on. My shorter, mid-week runs stayed steady and I was able to PR a few times. But as I began to build mileage I felt slow and sluggish on my long runs. It was hard to even finish and my times were discouraging. My boyfriend had to pick me up a time or two because by the time I finished I barely had enough energy to move, let alone walk home. My last few long runs however, got better as I became more and more excited for race day. I knew everything would have to go right for me to qualify, but there wasn’t a doubt in my mind that that wasn’t going to happen.
I lived within a mile from the start line, so at 5:30 a.m. I began walking towards the beginning of sweet victory? I had had plenty of water and my usual banana with some peanut butter. I packed a fuel belt with nutrition packets that I would carry with me this time. I decided it was better to have a little extra weight than deal with another ulcer incident.
This race was much bigger than either of the others. I was sitting, waiting, watching the excitement unfold around me as the time drew near. I had about twenty minutes and I needed to pee so I jumped in a loooong line of runners also wanting to empty their bladder before the start. The line did not move as quickly as I thought it would. The announcer had just given a ten minute warning and there were still a crap-load of people in front of me. Five minutes…ugh. Alright – I guess I was just going to have to hold it until after the race or pee myself during, because I certainly wasn’t going to take the time to stop and pee on the clock. I made my way to my assigned corral and found my place. I was nervous, excited, and a bit frustrated that I didn’t get to pee, but there was nothing that could be done now.
The gun went off and the masses bolted. I made sure to find my pace group and planned to stay with them at least through the half and then maybe break away. Actually sticking to the plan, I made sure I was drinking and eating at all the right times. In case you were wondering, peeing while running is impossible. Oh well. I still wasn’t going to stop.
Around mile 16, my legs began to get really heavy and I struggled to keep up with my group. My legs had never felt like this before, not this bad. I didn’t understand. Was it because I couldn’t pee? Were my compression shorts too tight? I didn’t know, but my group began to disappear, taking my hope with them. This was awful. The pain in my quads became worse until it felt like I was ripping the muscles apart – fiber by fiber (I was). The pain made me start to run a little funny so I also acquired a sharp pain in my left foot. “An inflamed tendon or something,” I thought. It hurt so much to keep moving, but I had to at least finish. I stopped to walk up a hill in the course and then began to hobble the last 4 or so miles. I looked pathetic so I did get some attention from the medic cyclists, but told them I was fine and just cramping. Crossing the finish line at 4:14 (my worst yet), I wanted to cry – from the pain, from the failure, from everything. I was helped to the medic tent, but didn’t stay long because my hydration/nutrition were fine, it was just my legs that were screaming. Stumbling around looking for him, my boyfriend managed to spot me in the crowd and carried me home.
Not being able to walk after a marathon doesn’t sound that out of the ordinary, but I had trained hard for this and was physically ready. I had never had muscular pain like that before. I later found out that not peeing and holding it might have been the culprit – though I think in reality I just hit the wall hard. My too tight compression shorts probably played a small part, also. Anyway, my quads locked and as I kept running I really was tearing them to shreds. After my previous marathons, I either ran the next day or two days after, but this time it was a solid week that I was struggling just to walk around.
Because of my small frame and slowing race times, some of my family began heavily suspecting anorexia. It was frustrating because I didn’t have anything to give them to convince them otherwise. Eighteen months of training and digressing race times was all I had, even though I knew with each race I was fully capable and fueled to qualify. Stuff just went wrong. But with past disappointments and new doubts, I thought about quitting. But the fact that I already registered for the Charlotte Thunder Road Marathon in November and now having something else to prove to my family is what kept me from giving up.
David Crowder Band – Let Me Feel You Shine