December 13, 2009

SB International Marathon (Race Report)

So I know this race report has been a long time's been an entire week since the marathon. Let me just say that it was a miserable marathon, and I've sort of been avoiding reliving it. But after having time to reflect on the race and with some supportive words from friends and family, I'm ready to share and ultimately move on to what's next.

As I mentioned in my previous post the night before the race, I woke up that morning feeling nauseous. My immediate thoughts were nerves and lack of sleep. But as my parents and I drove up to SLO to visit my brother, I found myself feeling even worse. As the day wore on, I started to panic a little. I knew that this was the worst time to feel sick, and all I could think about was my 4 months of training and hard work being spoiled by bad luck. I started to lose it and cried a lot, couldn't eat, and was just miserable. I kept telling myself that with some rest I might feel better, but also tried to prepare myself to alter my race plan if necessary. It never crossed my mind that I wouldn't run, just that I might have to run slower than usual. That night we headed over to Stacey's for a home cooked pre-race pasta dinner. After not eating all day, I finally had a bit of an appetite and was able to eat something, and felt a bit better after. We called it an early night and I headed home, hoping (praying) that a good nights sleep would do the trick.

My alarm went off promptly at 4:30am and I dragged myself out of bed. My stomach was still not happy, but I convinced myself it must be nerves and got ready and headed to Tom's. Stacey picked us up and we got dropped off at the start, luckily just a mile or so from us. As we waited in the cold, it was announced that due to a car accident on the freeway, we would be starting a half hour late, at 7am. Not really a big deal, especially since this was the inaugural race and we were expecting some bumps. The number of runners at the start was surprisingly small, but that only meant a lot of familiar faces from the Santa Barbara running community and Team in Training, which had a great showing. At one point the announcer asked who was a first timer, and as a bunch of hands around me were raised, I smiled to myself as I kept mine at my side : ) Finally the gun went off, and as I crossed the mat I pressed start on my new Garmin Forerunner 405, this being it's inaugural run. We started out a bit faster than the pace I was hoping to maintain (11:30, to break 5 hours), but we all felt ok and kept it up. The first half of the race consisted of a loop and a half in Goleta, making it super easy to see our families twice each time through.

Around mile 7, I started to drag a bit. Then at mile 8, I had to stop. I felt awful, weak, and nauseous. My arm started to feel completely numb and I got dizzy, which completely freaked me out. I immediately knew I needed to take it easy so I could at least keep going. From that point on, things were pretty miserable. I don't really want to relive every moment of it, but I had to resort to a run/walk for the remainder of the race. I had zero energy, and because my stomach was acting up I couldn't get down any Gu. It was hard to walk, and I couldn't help but think that everyone who saw me probably thought I was under trained, too tired, etc. I know I shouldn't have cared, but I did, because I know I'm capable of more. As I continuously had to stop to walk, I felt my goal slowly slipping away. I was more than bummed. I was trained for this physically and mentally ready, but fate was not in my favor. And to have me conk out so early on sucked, too. The weather was absolutely perfect, but all it takes is one little thing to change everything, and there's nothing you can do. Let me just say I have so much more respect for walkers because being out there for so long is incredibly tough. I did barf. Twice. I adjusted my goal to simply be to finish. And slowly but surely, I moved forward.

At mile 23 we approached what we affectionately call Piss Hill, a gnarly half mile incline that practically forces you to walk, and still wears you out. Finally at the top, the last 2 miles were slightly downhill with views of the Pacific Ocean...not a bad way to end a race, huh? I've never wanted to finish a run or race more than I did that day. My body hurt, I was exhausted and weak, and a bit disheartened. Those final .2 miles were definitely bittersweet, but regardless of the journey that gets you there, crossing a finish line will always be incredible. It was a personal worst, by nearly a half hour, but I made it under 6 hours, which I had decided to make my new goal along the way. I'm proud of myself for finishing, and I don't blame myself. I know shit happens, and there was nothing I could have done. I know I have a lot more in me and if anything, I'm even more motivated now to reach my goal. But am I disappointed? Hell yes.

Thank God for my running buddies Tom and Stacey. And my parents. And my friends. Tom stuck with me the entire race. I can't really put into words what that meant to me, or how grateful I am. But there's a real good chance that without him, I wouldn't have gotten to that finish line. I saw my parents 4 times along the course, and each time they were ready with medicine, fluids, and words of encouragement. And cameras to document my misery. See the pic above for my thrilled reaction to the photos : ) And at the end, I spotted two of my friends, Sarah and Jackie, and immediately started to cry as I ran toward the finish with them alongside me. Thank you all so much, everything you said and did meant the world to me.

I cried a bit more after finishing, but was super relieved to finally be done. I got my beautiful medal (the secret reason I refused to quit) and we took a bunch of pics with the gorgeous ocean as the backdrop. When I took off my shoes, I discovered the biggest blister known to man. Literally, it was a monster! Surprisingly, my toes felt great, so the bigger shoes must be doing their job. Afterward we went out to lunch. I was kind of bummed about my stomach feeling bad because one of my favorite parts about running long races is eating shamelessly the rest of the day. I knew I needed something, though, and I managed to eat a plain veggie burger. All I wanted to do at that point was shower and sleep, so my parents dropped me off at home. I opted to do an epsom salts bath over an ice one, because I'm a wimp. It may not have been quite as effective, but it helped. Unfortunately I had to put off the sleep I wanted so badly because, lucky me, I had a paper to finish, due the next day!

My parents came over for dinner and made stir fry, and the next afternoon I drove them to the airport. The following week I had finals, so I was busy busy busy. I embraced recovery and didn't even think about running until Wednesday. I didn't have time the rest of the week, but I'm meeting Tom tomorrow morning for an easy 9 miler, my first run since my disastrous marathon. I'm actually looking forward to it. It's been raining cats and dogs the last couple days, and I'm kind of hoping we get to run in the rain a bit! So now that marathon #2 is in the books, what's next? Well I'm glad you asked : ) I need a marathon redemption, so Tom and I have decided to train for and run the LA Marathon on March 21st! I'm pretty excited for it as it has a brand new, flat course, it's the 25th year, and it's in an awesome location. I also have a bunch of 13.1's planned, and hopefully I'll be posting a 2010 race schedule soon!

p.s. review of Juliette (my Garmin 405) coming soon!

1 comment:

  1. Rachel - here's the bottom line. you finished your second marathon...despite its many challenges on the day. after 30 marathons i still believe the marathon is the boss...and can kick your/my ass any time it wants to. give yourself massive hugs and high fives...and kick up that training for LOS ANGELES. see you there! cheers. you're a star.