Phew! The marathon is done. Before I tell the whole story, I have to say a couple things. I'm happy I'm done and that I finished. I have had a really rough few weeks with school ending, falling and hurting my knee, getting a cold, ending a relationship and dealing with some BS that seems to be going along with that, trying to find a job (which is still not quite settled), dealing with my condo (I'm a landlord)... pretty much life has been rearing its ugly head at me. I am being seriously tested everyday or so it feels. When I started the race, I was so stressed and angry and in a bad mood from other things in my life, so it was hard to concentrate.
That being said, I feel like I did pretty well. The last long run I had was my 20 miler! All those physical things I mentioned above led to a super lazy taper. The race started at 7:30 AM and it was in the upper 60's and humid. Right after the gun went off, we started moving. The thing about big races (we had 16000 runners in Pittsburgh) is that it takes FOREVER to cross the start line. I think we started around 7 min and 30 sec after the official start. Thank God for chip times!
I lined up around 4:45 and 5 hour pacers because I figured that was a safe bet for my finish time. My first marathon (in 2005 in NJ) was 4 hours and 57 min. Almost immediately after the race started, the skies opened up. It wasn't a torrential downpour during the whole race, but there was a steady rain the whole time. My whole body was soaked. Shoes, socks, capris, shirt... Let me tell you, everything is much heavier when it is soaked with rain! I tried channeling all the stress from the last few weeks into the race. I actually felt pretty good physically for the 19 miles.
At mile 20, my hips started to hurt from some IT band issues. I don't always have IT band issues, but I can tell by the way they felt that it was the IT band. It was way worse on the right than the left. Let's just say that sometimes it felt like bone was grinding on bone in the middle of my hip. Ouch! I decided to do some walk/jog combinations for the final 6 miles of the race so I wasn't in too much pain. Even walking hurt, and there were several times where I took a step and almost fell on the ground from the pain in my right hip.
I think I needed some of that quiet walking time by myself. It was kind of peaceful and quiet in some of the neighborhoods and I took some time to just think and look around at the scenery. Miles 21 to the end were mostly flat and downhill, so I jogged here and there when I felt okay. I stretched a few times as well.
At mile 25, I decided it was time to go! I did one final stretch and I just ran. It's crazy what your mind can do for you... it didn't hurt and I felt like I could go and go! A few of my friends were at the finish line with a sign cheering me on as I came through. I was smiling and fist pumping as I passed by and made my way to the finish line for a final chip time of 5 hours 13 minutes and 41 seconds. Not too shabby for the state I'm in emotionally, plus the rain, plus the hip and the need to walk a bunch at the end!
Here in lies the danger of marathons... I know I can run faster but I really don't want to do another one. I wonder though if I will... I think after a few years you forget the pain and then it sounds like a great idea. Stay tuned for 2014!