On Saturday, November 4, 2017, I ran my 12th marathon. It also happened to be my 60th birthday.
I'd been sick for a few days before (cold virus) and woke up marathon morning feeling dehydrated. That, coupled with a few days of very little sleep, meant I started the race feeling run down with little energy. I didn't feel my normal pre-race excitement. The weather was not too bad, so I figured I would feel better as the day progressed. It wasn't too hot like some race days have been. However, there was a slightly damp chill in the air and a little wind. For most runners it might be considered nearly ideal conditions. But, many years ago I had an issue with hypothermia while snorkeling in a spring fed river (in Florida, of all places). Ever since then, my body has been more sensitive to cold, especially in my legs. I believe this contributed to the issues I had during the race.
The first 16 miles of the marathon went well. My pace was good, perhaps even slightly faster than planned, but not by much. Since waking, I had worked on hydrating with some electrolyte replenishing drinks and water, so I thought things were good and I was going to meet my marathon finish time goal. I should have know better. Shortly after mile 16, my legs started cramping. I believed that it was the issue mentioned previously. Whenever it's cold and damp, even if it's not freezing, a wind can send a chill through my legs and cause them to cramp. I figured I would warm up again soon, so I started walking, and I would stop every once in a while and try to ease the cramps. After attempting to run several times with no success, I noticed my arms starting cramping and feeling a little tingly. Thus, in addition to the cold sensitivity issues, I believe I was still experiencing dehydration.
Under different circumstances, I likely would have pulled out of the race and experienced my first DNF. However, to repeat, this marathon was on my 60th birthday. I ran NYC Marathon on my 50th birthday, so I couldn't stop the tradition. Additionally, for the first time ever, I had more than one family member waiting at the end. My husband is at every marathon, but this time two of my children came to town to see me finish. Also, my nephew ran the same race, so I knew he'd be at the end too. I couldn't let anyone down. It was a painful race. There was one point I broke down in tears, but I still had miles to go. At mile 23, my headphones stopped, so I could not listen to any motivating music or podcasts. I was so grateful to see the finish line. As I was hobbling to the end, I saw my family. The first thing I said was "I'm sorry it took me so long". At that point I felt it was one of the, if not the worst marathons for me ever, even though it was not my slowest marathon finish time. I barely got my medal and marathon hat, and then headed back to the hotel. I didn't visit any of the post marathon activity booths. I just wanted to take a warm shower. As a side note, as I was taking a post-race shower, I noticed my palms had a slightly bluish tint. It quickly went away in the warmth.
Why did I change from thinking it was one of my worst to thinking it was one of my best? The more I thought about it, the better I felt about my experience. I am grateful that my family was there and they were proud of me for finishing it, and even for just starting this running path I'm on. I didn't start running until my late 40's, and I finished my 12th marathon! At 60 years old! Before I started running, I would never have foreseen myself accomplishing even one marathon.
But, the most important reason I consider it one of my best marathons, is because I persevered in spite of the pain. No matter how much I wanted to stop at one of the aid stations and have them take me to the finish, I kept going. It's a good life lesson, too. I'm considering buying the marathon photo of me crossing the finish line as it shows how much pain I was in. It is a reminder that I have more strength than I give myself credit for. On to the next race!
No Excuses; gotta run