Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Country Music Marathon- Running- the end.


i made it past the split. I was energized and could not stop thinking, "i am going to run a marathon. a whole freaking marathon." I had't eaten the Gu packet i had picked up about a mile or so earlier because i was saving it to when i could drink some water after i ate/drank/gummed/swallowed the Gu.

Please remember that Gu has the texture of snot, and it makes you a little thirsty. therefore i knew that i would need some water to wash the Gu-snot down. So i made it to the next water station, sucked down the Gu packet and drank a little water. i took a moment to stretch and moved on.

The truth is that i dont remember much over the next 3 mile stretch. I remember the weather starting to take a downward trend. I remember running through a weird path thing with pretty trees and flowers. There was a sweet old black lady with two dogs that made me happy. We came around a curve and were on some random road. There was a 14 mile marker. I remember starting to feel a little alone.

I wasn't really prepared for this part of the race. My middle aged man friend had told me that the part where the FULL people split off the the half is really peaceful. For me, it was like a shock. All of a sudden i was alone. This is the part of the race where i know now that it would have been nice to have a running buddy. As the lonely feeling crept in, i realized that my knee was really hurting. Yes, i meant to type the word KNEE. I am certain that all of you were expecting me to type FOOT. well, so was i, actually. but it was my right knee, not my left foot that was in pain. At mile 15, i stopped at the medical aid tent because my knee was exploding in pain. Every time i bent my knee- aka ALL THE TIME- shooting pain shot up the side of my leg.

Some dude wrapped my knee up. And when i say wrapped up my knee, i mean he wrapped my leg from mid calf to mid thigh. It was tight. Needless to say, this left my knee pretty much immobile. I hobbled on with this contraption on my leg for the next mile. Walking and then running- willing myself to go on. After 1 mile, i took that stupid crap off my leg. It was too damn irritating.

I was so mad at this point. With all of my running for the last 4 months, i had never had any knee problems. And all of a sudden, my knee geeks out on me. All i could think of was my blog post having to tell people i didnt finish or having to call my boyfriend after the race and saying i didn't finish. Or having to post on facebook that i didn't finish. Or JUST NOT FINISHING. i couldn't bear the thought. I wanted to finish this race so badly.

So for the next two miles i managed to figure out a way to pull my leg around that i didnt have to bend it. I hobbled along, walking at times and running at times. Other runners would offer encouraging words. It just pissed me off becaus my knee hurt. The rest of me was FINE. TOTALLY FINE. but my knee? no. stoopid doo doo dumb.

As i neared the 18 mile mark, the rain begain. When it rains it pours, i guess. And that's when my boyfriend's and ellen's and martha's and my dad's voices in my head said, "permanently hurting yourself is NOT worth it." I started getting cold and put my little jacket back on. Then i put my hat on so that the rain wouldn't get in my eyes. i realized that my foot was hurting now, mostly because i was putting more weight on my foot now that the knee on the opposite leg was failing. This was not good. Not good at all. And i decided to quit. I kept run/hobbling and looking for the next medical aid station. I asked a police officer where the next one was. He didn't know. It was still pouring down rain, and my knee was exploding.

Finally, there it was. I saw the tent. I could quit. It was mile 18. I walked up to the medical aid thent and said, " I'm done. I hurt my knee."

They gave me a bottle of water, a plastic poncho and some tylenol and said, well the shuttle is about 3 miles down the race course.


Yep, that meant that i had to walk 3 miles to the next shuttle. I was so miserable. My knee hurt and here i had to KEEP WALKING just so that i could quit. Why on earth i couldn't quit there, i have no idea.

So, i walked. More like limped. I walked and walked and walked. All i wanted to do was stop and put ice on my knee. But i walked. I got to the next water aid station and asked some chick where the next shuttle stop was, she had no idea. Then out path kinda met up with the half marathoners for a bit. As i kept walking, i could see LP stadium, and I thought, this is ridiculous. I could see the stadium, where the finish line was, but yet still had to walk to some dumb shuttle. And then, the most miraculous thing happened.

Right where the marathon and half marathoners were supposed to split again- THEY WERE REDIRECTING THE MARATHON COURSE. They were directing both the half and full runners into the stadium to finish the race. Of course, this was in the plans all along because of the bad weather. Thank goodness. I walked on it. Hobbled on it. Tried to run the last little bit across the finish line but was in pain and quit.

It was a fantastically anticlimactic finish to this race for which i had worked so hard. I "finished" at 22 miles, or so the announcers said.

When i finished the race, it was still pouring down rain. Quite appropriate. I walked past all the food and free stuff they give you, dying to find the gear check UPS trucks so i could just get the hell out of there and home. I got my gear, called caroline to see where she was (we had obviously gotten separated along the course because my time got super slow when i was run/walking and because of the weather) and get directions to her house. Then proceeded to my car.

My car.... hmmmmm where was my car? Not where i thought it was. Yes, even more icing on the cake of "ha, take this, elise" --- i had to hobble around the parking lot for about 10 minutes looking for my car. REMEMBER- it was STILL pouring down rain. I slipped at one point and that did not feel very nice.

Upon finding my glorious vehicle of rest, i climbed in the back seat. I took off my wet shirt and put on the clean dry one that I, so intelligently, packed in my gear bag. I pulled off my soaking wet shoes (the whole, "don't run in puddles" rule was thrown out the window once my injury depression set in. splashing through puddles was the only bright side of those last 7 miles). I crawled from the back seat to the front (this was difficult because i was sore and injured). Then i sat in the parking lot, listening to harry potter on tape, calling my handsome and health conscious boyfriend (who made me feel a zillion times better), and waiting for the traffic to move.

Caroline had sweetly collected lunch for me, and she and her sweet husband, jeff, offered my a comfy seat for lunch, a dry place to change clothes, and a friendly hour to relax (slash ice my knee) before hitting the road. Though my race may not have been a success, i will forever remember the love those two showed me during/after my race. Good friends are hard to come by, and these two are gems.

From their house, I hit the road back to memphis. The country music marathon was behind me.

As you can imagine, I am not satisfied by this race at all. I am unhappy, embarrassed, and irritated. I have, however, learned a few things.

1. My knee injury is my IT band. Which is good and bad. Good- because it doesn't need surjery or anything. Bad- because it can come back very easily.
2. I need to be more flexible and have stronger hip muscles to get rid of my IT band problem.
3. I need my training to last longer, and i need to build up slower.
4. I need my mileage to get up to 26 miles before i run the race because my body will not just add 6 miles on at the end.

To remedy this situation, i will be doing a few things in the weeks to come.

1. No running for 2 months. This is to heal my foot and my IT band. A little rest will be good and smart.
2. I will be going to Bikram Yoga 3 times a week. This is HOT yoga- as in yoga in a 105 degree room. I have already been to one class. Expect a blog post on this.
3. I will continue to go to spin class 3 times a week.
4. I will be doing a little more weight training, and particularly focus on my hip strength.
5. I will be wearing my Vibrams to increase my foot strength.

So, here goes folks. Let's see if we can't get it right eventually. It's all about doing what you love and loving what you do (and not hurting while you do it).

Ultra love.

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