My training for the Twin Cities Marathon this year was some of my best training ever. My long runs went great and I did more strength training than ever before. I also feel like I was able to balance my training with the rest of my life, and I took a lot of pressure off of myself by feeling like I had to post each and every workout on social media. I felt like I was running for me, and really enjoyed the process.
Everything was great until an easy 12 miler 2 weeks before the marathon. I felt fine when I was running, but after the fact, I started feeling pain in both of my feet on the inside of the arches as well as the inside of the knees. Whenever I experience something like this, I usually take a few days off to make sure I feel better before running again (Sorry if this offends you. If you believe in running while injured, go for it!).
This time, I didn’t feel better in a few days. I felt worse. I scheduled an appointment with a running physical therapist as soon as I could get in to see what was up. My fear was that I had stress fractures in my feet, but they were able to somewhat rule that out with an ultrasound, which would’ve caused pain if there was a fracture. I did ultrasound therapy as well as electrical stimulation therapy to try to help speed up healing. My knees felt better after the first day, but the feet took a few treatments before they felt okay. I tried a one mile run a few days before the marathon and was still in pain and was pretty freaked out about it.
I always run in the same Pegasus 34’s and have never had issues with them, but I recently tried on an older model (the 32’s), and realized how much more supportive they were. I have high arches and the 34’s aren’t even touching the arch of my foot. I think I am due to go in to a running store and get fitted again, but at this point I couldn’t switch to a new shoe. I decided to run in my Pegasus Turbo’s which felt the most supportive of the options I had trained in.
If that wasn’t enough, I woke up 2 days before the race with a sore throat and body aches. I tried to rest and hydrate as much as possible, but the nerves between my feet and knowing I was sick made it really hard to sleep the 2 nights before the race. I also forgot to pick up the wristband I needed to access the VIP area that I signed up for, so I ended up going to the race expo twice the day before the race.
When I run a race, I try to have A, B, and C goals. For this race, my A goal was to finish in 3:45. This would be really fast for me, and I don’t think I was trained for it, but you never know what can happen when adrenaline kicks in. My B goal was 3:50, which I planned my first half pace for. My C goal was to finish in under 4 hours, which would still be a personal record for me.
Race morning, I was really stressed out and didn’t feel great. I was too nauseous to eat more than a few bites of bread. I didn’t know how my feet were going to hold up, or my body. I didn’t even know if I would be able to finish the race, but I wanted to try. I paced the first half at my B goal time and felt okay. I didn’t have any foot pain which would have caused me to drop out if it got bad. I didn’t take fuel as I normally would because my stomach couldn’t take it. I knew my friends would be cheering at mile 20, so the thought of seeing them carried me to that point. After that, I really started to hurt.
The Twin Cities Marathon gets really hilly the last 6 miles, which adds a level of difficulty when you are already exhausted. Last year, I felt strong the last 6 miles, but this year, it was hell. My body was drained and hurt everywhere but when I stopped to walk at water stations, it felt even worse, so my best option was to continue running. At mile 24, I considered stopping at the medical aid station because I didn’t think I could keep going, but I looked away and kept running forward. My pace fell apart the last few miles and my goal became just to finish the race.
Last year, the last mile was so joyful because you run up to the St. Paul Cathedral, and its a downhill to the finish line at the State Capitol. This year, I didn’t even enjoy the end of the race. I was just happy it was over. I still ended up beating my 4-hour goal, with a finish time of 3:56:48.
I am really proud of the time, knowing just how difficult the race was for me. I’m a little bummed because I know I had the potential to achieve more, but I did the very best I could given the conditions, and still ran it faster than I did last year. I also know that I am stronger than I could ever imagine because those last few miles were no joke. I also realized that I ran an entire marathon on basically an empty stomach without any fuel other than water. That is a miracle in itself! I was so sick that I didn’t even end up eating the rest of the day.
I’ve already sworn off running a marathon ever again, but we’ll see how I feel once the pain wears off. I normally really enjoy the sense of accomplishment after a race, even if it was hard, but this one was so miserable that I don’t think I could ever do it in those conditions again.
I still love running but plan to take some time off to let my body and mind recover. This is why I think it’s so important to keep in mind that running is a hobby, not an identity. I’ve been enjoying yoga and strength training the last few weeks when I couldn’t run so I plan to continue to do more of that in the mean time!