I finally ran my first marathon in May of 2015. I’d love to say this was a great first marathon experience and that I totally rocked it, but I won’t lie to you. Like a lot of firsts, it was sloppy, painful, and I probably wasn’t ready.
My training for the Vermont City Marathon began in winter, which I didn’t think would be too challenging since I’m from Syracuse, one of the snowiest cities in America. But Mother Nature decided that Boston was going to pay for all its sins, like Boston’s love affair with Dunkin Donuts and their horrible driving skills. This winter dropped storm after storm on Boston, and I don’t think a single runner I know got in all their training runs. I had a difficult time getting the mileage in even with a treadmill in the building because, well, have you ever tried to run 10 miles on a treadmill? Physically it feels like 10 miles, but mentally it felt worse than the actual marathon
After a rough winter, spring made everyone extra twitterpated. Everyone and their brother was out running again, and I definitely ramped up too quickly to try to make up the miles I missed all winter. I ended up injuring myself – it became difficult to lift my foot/toes, and walking became extremely painful. After a physical therapy visit, doctor visit, and a CT scan, I was diagnosed with a high grade shin splint as well as tendinitis in the tendon running from the front of my ankle up my leg. I was put in a boot at the end of April, and wore it until the week before the marathon.
The injury first presented at the beginning of April, so I ended up taking it easy for 3 weeks in April, was stuck in the boot for 4 weeks, and ended up having a week of running before the marathon. Needless to say, I didn’t expect it to go well. While I was in the boot, I continued with cardio training by biking and using the elliptical as much as possible. I was advised by my physical therapist it wouldn’t be the best idea to run the race, but I’m stubborn and had worked so extremely hard after undergoing knee surgery the year before. I wasn’t about to give up this dream I had worked towards for so long, so I decided if I had any pain in my tendon I would drop during the race. At least then I could say I tried!
The few days leading up to the marathon I kept doubting my decision, but I’m glad I ended up sticking with it. The course was so beautiful and the weather ended up being nearly perfect (for my standards) most of the morning. The day started out with clear skies, got a little
sprinkly around mile 8, then was very sunny and very hot for the last part of the course.
The first few miles of the race were wonderful, besides an annoying side stitch that lasted through mile 9. I was keeping pace, feeling good, and getting plenty of water and Gu. Matt was my pacer, and he helped keep my spirits up and let me know where all the hills were since he had done the race the previous year. I had pretty solid 9:30-9:45 minute miles for the first 18 miles, and then had some nausea hit me. I had never had tummy troubles on a run, and hadn’t changed anything about my running routine that day, so I was extremely disheartened by my tummy problems. I’m sure taking a month off of running didn’t do my body any favors, but I powered through it.
Around mile 20, I not only hit the wall, but my leg started hurting again from my tendinitis. I was devastated and so conflicted about what to do. I was already 20 miles in – what was another 6, really? I alternated between walking and running, and changed my mind about continuing about a billion times. I had told myself if my leg hurt, I wouldn’t run through it, but I was already so far that I couldn’t stand the idea of not finishing. I powered through, unhappily, to the end of the race. The last few miles I was limping and barely making it through, but a magical woman offered me some fresh watermelon and it helped lift my spirits. The last mile, there was a young woman also struggling to run, so she introduced herself and asked if she could run with us to the end. As they say, misery loves company, and we were both pretty miserable.
I finished the race as strong as I could, barely breathing towards the end since I was completely overcome with so many emotions about finally finishing my first marathon. I went up to my dad and dog who were waiting for us to finish, gave them a big hug, and laid down on the ground ready to never move again. I ended up feeling absolutely horrible about 10 minutes later, with some more nausea and obviously exhaustion. I hadn’t been able to eat much for the last third of the marathon, so I was running on E and my body needed nourishment to recover. Once I got some Gatorade, water, and a banana in me, I felt like a million bucks. I got right back into the boot to prevent any more stress on my tendon, and took plenty of time off to recover and let my leg rest.
Overall, the marathon was a wonderful experience. My mom, who has rheumatoid arthritis, even ran it! It was her second marathon. So, she’s cooler than your mom. We had lots of ice cream and beer to help recover, and it was a lovely long weekend with all my favorite people. Despite what I said during the entire last 6 miles, I can’t wait to do my next marathon!
Way to make the most of a painful situation and make it through with pure grit. Marathons are not easy, which is why such a low percentage of the population has ever run one. Congratulations, and I hope you run another, and another.