This isn't going to really be a "race report" per say, because honestly after the first 11 miles, it wasn't a race for me. It was a walk/run, say hi to my cheerleaders & wait for someone (Shane) to tell me I should stop so I didn't hurt myself any further. But, that's not what happened, I got a "suck it up buttercup," instead... and so, I did.....
Of course I can't start there without first going into the pre-race mishaps. And, now that it's over and done with I can totally laugh about it, but at the time -Not.So.Funny.
We left fairly early on Sat and went a back way to get to the start of the race. I wanted to see the course (which was a rookie mistake because I NEVER do this) because they had changed an out and back section and it looked like a good climb on the elevation map.
Driving the route you do see how much up there is in the first half. Certainly NOT a downhill course. Net down, absolutely. The new out and back, not pretty at all. A good solid climb for over a mile. But, I realized once I get done with that, the rest of the way is a very gradual straight descend, one of my strengths so I figured I could make up time there.
After the course, packet pick up, etc we were at the hotel & ready to check in when I realized my bag did not make it into the car. Yes, I know, how does THAT happen? I really have no good explanation, other than it just did. And it wasn't just a bag with some running shorts & shoes that could be quickly replaced. IT had my orthotics and my inhalers, etc.
My wonderful husband decided since he was 'only' doing the half he would start the treck back home to get my bag & I should stay. As soon as he left I got on the phone and started sending out messages to see if anyone could run by our house and possibly meet him along the way. Then I called our friends Bryan & Jamie that were staying in the same hotel & we had dinner plans with in a couple hours. They told me to come down and have a beer with them. I opted NOT for the beer, but company sounded great. Turns out they knew someone that was still headed down and happened to be right by my house and if there was a way in, he could grab the bag. We also had another friend offer to bring it down as well.
There REALLY are great people in this running/tri/friend community. Really, Really good people.
Needless to say several hours later, in exchange for a 6 pack of Fat Tire I had my bag!
Race morning was pretty flawless. I met a really cool (and fast) girl on the bus that said she wanted to start at my pace, around an 8:30 so she could get warmed up. IT was nice having someone to hang out with, since I didn't have anyone I knew staying at my hotel, thus riding on the same bus. The start was gorgeous. The sun rising over the mountains, wispy clouds above. Crisp cool air.
The start was very non eventful. You could see people taking off REALLY fast because the first mile is a GOOD downhill. My new friend kept an eye on her garmin so we were holding back a lot. The effort was so easy. First 2 miles about an 8:15 (which with that much down is REALLY hard to pull off when you could easy be in the low 7min mile range). I was happy to have someone to keep my in check. After a couple miles we had some rollers and I could feel the effort a bit on the ups so I gave her my gloves (she was still cold) and told her to go! She ended up finishing in 3:33!
I turned on my ipod and just did what I came there to do. Take it easy at first, no heavy breathing, and concentrate on good form. When we reached the out and back around mile 5 or so you could see the lead people heading back UP the hill. I realized then that Shane & I had not driven the FULL out and back and there was going to be even more climbing then I thought. This would normally not be so bad, except I didn't do a whole lot of hill running so I wasn't sure how much time I would loose. The hill was tough, but doable. I did loose quite a bit of time, bringing my avg between miles 5-8 from an 8:32 to a 8:48 ( I set up my garmin so I could keep track of both).
I knew that once I got to mile 8 though, it was a great descent (and straight) until mile 15. I slowly started to feel like I just wasn't in it. I was bringing my avg back down slowly, but my quads and under my knee caps started to hurt. I tried to take shorter strides, but as soon as I started to speed up the headwind was RIGHT in your face, pushing you back. I could get behind someone to draft (which WOW does that work when you have a wind like that), but then I'd need to pass them to keep my stride & form in check. Around mile 11 Things started to really go wrong. My left IT band started having pain off and on and I wasn't sure how long it would last.
I knew that my sister & niece were meeting Shane at his finish line & heading back up to see me on the course so I could see them at any time. Around mile 14 I took 2 more Tylenol and shortly after saw my family. I looked at Shane in pain and told him it was starting to get bad...but I'd run it out and see if it loosened up at all. The tylenol did seem to help, but the next time I saw them around mile 19 the road started to slant BAD and the dull pain went to a SHARP shooting pain. I stopped to talk to them, stretch it out and try to walk out the pain. The road was so slanted that even walking was hurting..... I don't know if it was the fact that Taylor was out there, or that I could do a 12-14min mile and STILL PR that kept me going, but it did.
Finally around mile 20 the road straightened out and the pain did subside a little. I saw my family again at mile 21, and Shane said that was it, they were going to the finish so I needed to suck it up and get there. I figured he's supposed to be my voice of reason so if he didn't tell me I needed to stop, well then I guess I was hobbling the rest of the way. I made plans with myself to walk until the pain made me limp, then I would stop, pull off the road do all the different IT band stretches (yes, I'm an old pro at this now) then run a faster tempo pace/Repeat. This is what got me to the finish line.
Taylor was there to give me a high 5 as I came down the shute. There was no sprint, or fast finish, I just needed to get there, and then head straight to the Medical tent for ice.
As I reflect back on the day I have a lot of feelings that vary. Yes, I finished and yes it was a dead on 7min PR. However, in the end I don't know that I would make the same decision. I didn't want my niece to see my quit, but in my heart I still know that the smart thing to do was probably stop when the pain got bad and not to do more damage on the IT band, like I did so many times to the other knee before surgery. I am also really happy about a few things. I learned how much stronger of a runner I am. I never once felt strained. I never once felt too fatigue or tired or like my effort was too much. In fact, at the finish I've never been so coherent after any sort of run race like that.
I know that I need to go to back to my surgeon, have an MRI and see what he thinks. I'm going to rehab the knee with rest, swimming and ART for a few weeks and go from there. Hopefully this winter/spring I will be healthy & focus on shorter run speed and races as well as getting back some of my cycling speed! Needless to say, once again I'm pretty sure stand alone marathons are just not for me. And, now that I've tried it (again), I am ok with that!
In the end, it wasn't about the medal, or the PR or the mental idea of not quitting - I didn't want Taylor to see me give up... even if I knew it wasn't really what I'd be doing, she wouldn't know the difference....
Someone on the course who did drop out, and my sister & Shane drove back to the start asked Taylor if she was going to be an Ironman like her aunt & uncle. She said, but only after I grow up first. Too cute.