Marathon Countdown – My Relationship with 26.2

I’ve talked about things that I’m doing in the weeks leading up to the NYC Marathon (another post about it here), it’s equal parts preparatin and to keep my sanity over the next couple weeks. I’ve done 3 marathons before (2 and 1/2 really… keep reading) and none of them have particularly gone well. Here’s a brief recap and why I’m nervous about NYC this time around:

My First Marathon – the ING NYC Marathon in November, 2007
Not really having any clue of what I was getting into, I willingly threw myself into my first marathon. I had no training buddies, no coaching, nothing other than the fact that I knew how to run and I liked it. Highschool cross country and track were the base I thought could get me through my marathon, it didn’t end up great. I finished, which was good, but I hurt every step. I had no idea what my iliotibial band was before this marathon, and for years after this marathon, but I should have, and I should have learned how to prevent it feeling like someone was knifing my hips every step from mile 7 or so on.

I finished with a time of 4:21:39. And as soon as I stopped running, this nasty little thing called the runner’s high, immediately forgot about the pain and I signed up for another marathon.

NYC Marathon Medal

My Second Marathon – the Paris Marathon in April, 2008
This time I was going to be smarter about my training, so I signed up with Team In Training and thought it would be great to run with other people, have coaches and a plan for my training. But as life would have it, I rarely got out of work in time to make it to practices and I like doing long runs by myself. But the training was going good until a couple weeks before the marathon, my left knee really started to bother me. Again, if I had only known what a tight ITB can do to a runner, I probably would have avoided this problem once again. I went to the doctor about a week before the marathon, long story short, I spent that week with ice on my knee and very little activity. I went back hours before my flight to Paris and he told me I shouldn’t be walking on my knee, let alone running a marathon.

My plan marathon day was to run the first couple miles, I was with TNT and I wanted to be part of something I had trained so hard for. I was going to take pics, have some fun running, then jump out of the race and be a cheerleader. I should have known that that wasn’t to be the case, I’m pretty hard headed sometimes. So, once I started running, I decided I could keep running, and halfway into the race I was on the other side of Paris and would have to walk back anyway, so decided I would just keep running. Around mile 20 my slow jog became a walk, I think I cried my way through miles 23 and 24 because it hurt so bad. But I finished! A slow 5:51:54 as my time, but I finished marathon #2!

a few of my favorite things... eating & running

a few of my favorite things… eating & running

My Third Marathon – the Nike San Francisco Marathon in April, 2008
After some rest, for both my body and my ego, I decided I’d give the marathoner in me another chance. This time I set my sights on the Nike Women’s San Francisco Marathon. Again, I signed up with Team in Training and thought how fun a women’s marathon with Nike was going to be, and let’s be honest, a Tiffany’s necklace is always a great incentive. Again with the training, and the loops of harlem hill in preparation for those San Francisco hills (which, let me tell you, central park hills are nothing compared to the hills on the course). Everything was going great, I was on track with my running, I felt great and was super excited, fast forward to San Francisco… I had plans the night before the race to meet up with some friends I made when I lived a semester in Florence. They lived in San Francisco and we went to dinner, I didn’t get anything crazy, and it was a restaurant they were familiar with, no problem right? Wrong. I went to bed around 10ish and woke up a little after 11 not feeling so great. What happened next was not ideal, the food poisoning was here! I spent from 11p.m. till the moment I had to be out of the hotel, up and puking. Thankfully my assigned TNT roommate never showed up, I would have kept her up all night with my barfing. I literally was the last person out of the hotel that morning, off to the race starting line I went.

The sun wasn’t up, the streets were packed and at one point I fought my way to the side of a building and some very nice ladies moved over and let me sit down in the cramped corral. Maybe it’s wasn’t their kindness as much as the fact that I looked like I may barf on them any second. Either way, I sat on my butt taking deep breathes till it was go time. Off we went. I felt ok for the first couple miles, the stubborn me again, thought I could do this. I made a decision along the way that finishing the 26.2 was not attainable, but made up my mind to make it to that 13.1 mark. Seriously dehydrated (I couldn’t even keep water down), I struggled my way along and as soon as I crossed that finish line and got my little blue box, I made a dash for the side to puke once again. As I was carried to the bus that would shuttle me back to my hotel, I was happy, I at least made it as far as I did. So when asked how many marathons I’ve done, I usually say three, even though I’ve only finished two, this 13.1 was harder than any 26.2 I could imagine. My official time was 2:34:11

Me and my fat face before the poisonous dinner, look how happy and innocent I am

Me and my fat face before the poisonous dinner, look how happy and innocent I am

Uphill running vs. Downhill running

Uphill running (I hate everyone) vs. Downhill running (Running’s the Best!)

So that’s a little recap of my marathon history and why I’m overly stressing and driving my husband nuts about this upcoming race. I know I’m way more ready for this year than I ever have been, I’ve put in the training and I’ve learned so much along the way, but the marathon and I have had a bad relationship, here’s hoping we get along this year!

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