The Richmond Marathon 2014 was not what I expected.
I did not exceed my expectations.
Instead, I failed to meet them miserably, and still do not really want to write this race recap, except to be done with it, take the lesson learned, and move on.
Here’s how it went down: it was 29 degrees as everyone was lining up at the start of the race. It took me two times to get through the corrals of the people doing the half marathon to get to the corrals of the marathon, which were lined up side by side, on the opposite side of the road. By the time I actually got into the stretch of the road where the marathon corrals were located, my corral (4) was long gone, and I was swept up in corral 6 near the 4:45 pacer. (This was a bad sign from the get go.)
My watch was taking nearly ten minutes to connect when it normally takes only about a minute. It barely connected as the corral I was in took off. It continued to act funny and then completely lose GPS signal within the first mile. I tried turning it off and then back on again as I was dodging other runners. As I was trying to get it to work, it literally froze. It would not do anything. I am sure it was so cold out that the watch was not actually functioning. It started working again a mile or so later, but I didn’t pay a bit of attention to it at the time. At that point and moving forward, I only paid attention to my pace.
My legs felt fine the entire race. Even now, a few days after the race (and after a 1.61 mile run on the boardwalk under the Christmas lights), my legs feel fine. I’ve been a little stiff if I sit too long, but who doesn’t after a marathon?! The problem on race day was that even after having both my arches and my Achilles taped professionally by a KT tape representative at the expo the night before, my arches started to become incredibly painful, with searing pain and tightness around mile 12 or so. This in itself caused me to walk more than I would like to admit. Prior to this, I was on pace for a 4:20 marathon, which would have been a much sought after PR for me.
I trained with the aches in my arches all summer. I rested. I iced. I rolled them with a frozen water bottle. I rolled them over a foot wheel. I rolled them over a lacrosse ball. I taped my feet for long runs. I have worn socks with arch support, day in and day out. I have changed my shoes so that my feet weren’t getting used to just one pair of shoes. I have taken ibuprofen. I have massaged Bengay, Biofreeze, Arnica salve, castor oil, and various lotions with eucalyptus and menthol into my feet. It doesn’t feel like plantar fasciitis, nor does it feel like the tendonitis I have had since high school track.
The only thing I can think of is that my feet need rest. I was ready for this race. Mentally, physically, and emotionally. I knew the course. I knew what to expect. I was prepared to stay at a 10:00 pace no matter what. The very thing that was supposed to carry me successfully to the finish line was the very thing that held me back from the coveted PR: my feet. Instead, I pushed myself to run through the pain and run hard through the last few miles, racing down the hill to the finish line, and being grateful it was over. I wasn’t grinning when I was done. I was grimacing. You would too if you finished in 4:41:59 after having just completed the Shamrock Marathon in March in 4:28. I haven’t even hung my medal on my medal rack yet. I don’t know that it deserves a place up there. It’s just a reminder of a sore spot in my heart right now.
I have learned that even in the worst of pain, I can still finish a marathon. I have learned that I am not a quitter. I refused to give in to what my brain was telling me to do: sit down and give up. I have learned that I can run in the cold weather successfully, and much more quickly than I ever run in the heat and humidity. I have learned that there are ways to stay healthy and not catch the horrible bronchitis I seem to catch every time I taper. But I have also learned that I am not always going to reach my goals. I have learned that I am going to get over it, and try until I do. I am not giving up on my dream of qualifying for Boston.
I have learned that no matter what happens, I can finish this race. Metaphorically or physically.
“After all, I am a distance runner. I’ve been trained to keep going even when it’s hard. When it hurts. When it sucks. When I don’t want to. I look past it. Relentless forward progress to the finish. Call it what you want; stubbornness, endurance, determination, guts. Deep down, I don’t know how to give up. (And it’s always worth it in the end.)”
Live. Love. RUN. Passionately!