On October 5th I ran my first 26.2, the Maine Marathon, in Portland. It’s taken me over a month to sit down and write this recap, and even now I find it difficult to put my feelings about the whole thing into words. I’m happy that I finished, however the race was one of the hardest fought battles I’ve ever had. Nothing, not even long training runs in 90 degree heat, was ever so difficult.
Portland itself is a beautiful city, and a great place for a race. We stayed downtown just a few blocks from the water, and all the restaurants, bars, and coffeeshops were easily accessible. Kate and I decided to make a whole weekend out of it, and even convinced two of our friends to spend the weekend up there as well. Friday night we grabbed a local brew at In’finiti Fermentation & Distillation, and then passed out pretty much immediately upon getting into the hotel room. Saturday we got up early to walk around and find coffee. We stopped at Bard Coffee which was a great little spot with good coffee, and a free take a book/leave a book thing that was attached to the local library. We moved along from there to my favorite spot of the weekend….the HOLY DONUT. This place was amazing! They have awesome donuts made with Maine potatoes. Mine was actually sweet potato and was so deliciously sweet and starchy (good carbo loading right?) We had a great day exploring Portland, and even ventured a few towns over to the LL Bean Flagship store
fleece heaven in Freeport. Kate would have probably lived there had I let her. I would run another race in Portland just to go back to such a cute little city.
Then came race day. I was pretty nervous from the start for a few reasons: This was my first 26.2, I had been nursing some runner’s knee for a while now and wasn’t sure I would even be able to finish the race, and I had slacked off on my long runs because of my knee so I didn’t know if I’d have the stamina to finish. All in all I was pretty freaked out. Surprisingly as soon as the gun went off most of those feelings faded away. I don’t know if it was the adrenaline or what but I felt good, really good. The KT Tape on my knee seemed to be doing it’s job, breathing was easy, and my splits were good. The first ten miles went great and I was only a little over my splits for the half I had done in the spring. I went through the 13.1 split at 1:43, so I was right on pace to finish around 3:30 (which was my secret goal).
The wheels came off about two miles later. I hate this expression but, I hit the wall, a big fucking wall. All of a sudden my legs wouldn’t turn over, everything burned, and my knee was feeling a little sore (but not too bad to stop). My hamstrings were the worst, they just wouldn’t chill out no matter how much I stretched, massaged, or walked. It wasn’t cramps, but just pure battery acid being poured down the back of my legs. I felt like I could barely run. The shuffle started and it never went away from there. I would walk a little, run a little, shuffle a little. The most annoying part was that walking made everything hurt the most, but I didn’t have the energy to all out run. I was stuck suffering on and off for 11 miles. I have never wanted to quit so much in my life, but at mile 19 I wasn’t gonna stop now, I wanted that medal, and I’ve never had a DNF so I wasn’t gonna let this be my first. Seeing Kate and our friends at miles 16 and 19 did help. She had more food and Nuun for me. That helped a bit and I pushed through the next mile and a half pretty well. It was a hopeless battle though and I ended up finishing at 4:28 which was completely embarrassing.
A lot of people have told me since that I should be proud to have finished, which I am
not. However I still don’t feel happy with my results. In the back of my head I knew I should have switched to the 13.1 on race day. I was running injured, unprepared, and wasn’t confident. The knee only got worse after race day though and I haven’t been able to run much since. The last three weeks I’ve done zero running which has been hard, but it’s what my body needed. On Saturday this week I rode the spin bike for 45 minutes and felt no pain or tightness in my knee. Foam rolling and stretching has made my whole leg feel better and I think I’m ready to start slowly getting back into running shape. I told myself I’d wait until Wednesday since I have the morning off, and I plan on logging just a few trail miles!
I wish I could get a re-do for the whole thing, but since I can’t I’m setting my sites on the races I have planned next spring. I want to run the Vermont City Marathon again, but I’m still deciding whether or not to do the whole thing or just half. No matter what races I pick I’m just gonna keep moving forward, you can’t dwell on the past but you can learn from it.
[I also wrote a review of race on BibRave if anyone wants to check that out there]