The time came round all too quickly and while I was confident about the race I am not really surprised with what happened.
There were a few pivotal long runs I missed and some personal issues that knocked me about somewhat.
Add to that an up close encounter with wildlife that nearly stopped the car on the way that morning, which certainly didn’t make it easier to concentrate on the job at hand.
On arrival at the race precinct I attend the photo session with some of the other marathon girls before hunting out the bag drop. It was then I discovered my ear buds had disappeared. Looking everywhere resulted with nothing surfacing, meaning I had to run with no music. I have done a half with no music but 42kms was a whole different thing.
I feel this was yet another factor in what was to happen later on.
Doing some stretches and loosening up felt good, and I positioned myself at the back of the group at the start line. I’d rather overtake people than feel like I am holding others up or getting in the way of faster runners.
The first couple of kms were a loop of the housing estate where the factory is located and I paced myself carefully, working on not overtaking too many, on simply breathing and taking it easy. And then we were heading down the hill and onto the main road. There were a few people around, mainly the half runners arriving for the 6.30 start. A couple of inclines before heading down to the second drink station and hitting the straight.
The first 5kms I was pacing alright, not too fast and feeling strong. My drinks were good, stronger than I anticipated which would prove handy in the later hours. One last incline (a killer) and we were on the bridge and heading for approx 11-12km mark. More high fives and cheers from the running group I’m in (Running Mums Australia, aka RMA) which was awesome. The turnaround arrived and on looking back towards the Cadbury factory it looked so far away. I felt good, not too tired and no aches or pains. Passing the point (17kms) where last year I hit the wall, I smiled as I felt strong and so completely different to where I was 12 months ago.
I was cruising along alright, starting to tire a little at the 20k mark, and slowing myself down a little, though still no indication of what was to come.
The turnaround for the marathon is at the bottom of that first hill near the factory (22-23km)and it was just after that my knee started to twinge and buckle slightly. More high fives and cheers as I slowly make my way along the road. I smile as best I could, although it probably looked like a grimace. By the time I had finished another km my knee was in agony. It was like a knife was jammed in the side and with each bend of my leg it twisted just a bit more. I started a hobble limp type run and on reaching the top of the last slight incline I almost couldn’t move, tears were running down my face, attempts to stop them were useless. Walking was no reprieve from the pain, and attempting to run was pathetic. The conversation in my head came to a conclusion and I limped into the drink station unable to speak aside from blubbering through tears that my race was ending at this point.
I finished the Cadbury Marathon at 25.4kms in 2.52.05.
I started the race and it ended with a DNF.
My conversation went along the lines of – do I finish, no matter the time and risk never being able to run again, or at least for the rest of the year OR put aside the pride of finishing (at well past the cut off time of 6hrs) and get out while I still can, where I can recover and move onto the next race.
This is one of those positions that we know may happen, and dread it. I had said once before I would rather a DNF than a DNS. When the time came though, it was still a decision I dreaded. And not one I ever want to repeat.
The hardest and yet the easiest decision of my life. I plan on running for many years to come and my running ‘career’ was not about to end like this.
To say I was disappointed is an understatement. My husband wasn’t overly surprised, saying he had a bad feeling about this one. He is the most supportive guy and I got huge cuddles and an ‘I’m so proud of you, don’t ever think you did the wrong thing, or be upset, what you have achieved is so amazing, only a fool would have continued’.
The tears were needed on my part. I was stoic and somewhat philosophical about it, knowing that next year I will conquer it. I can’t win them all, some races are bad….yada Yama yada. Next year I will do the full at Cadbury.
The next day was a different story completely. It was like the enormity had set in. I was a blubbering mess and treated up at the mere mention of certain things. A friend went to hug me and then said ‘don’t you dare, look at what you’ve achieved, look at what you have done, don’t you dare cry on me!’ It was hard, but I controlled myself for the most part.
A lady at work a few days later said she had tears reading my post, thinking so close yet so far, assuming I was only a half km from the finish. If that was the case I would have crawled there. My co worker said she would have dragged me over the finish got me thinking, if it had been half a km or up to 5kms, I would have pushed through, struggled but done it. Five kms is not the 17 I actually had left and it would have been the hardest of my life.
This post has taken me nearly two weeks to post. One because I wanted to let the mourning pass, and really think about the race, two because we have been busy. You may ask why the word mourning. It’s about the loss of a race, the no being able to do it. Mourning is just the right word.
I have mentioned I earlier posts that each race, each training run teaches you something, you learn from everything you do.
I now know what that lesson was. I had already stated that I was going to be concentrating on more strength workouts – for both my running and pulling everything in a little tighter – and two weeks after I had made this goal the reasons for it became incredibly clear. I have to do mor wife I am to be a better runner, if I am to get through each race more comfortably. A tough way to learn a lesson, but sometimes that’s the way it goes.
I had a self imposed break for a week and then started my strength workouts and jogging as far as I could before my knee hurt. The first two runs I got to 3kms and had to stop. After a week of strength work I went out again. The idea was to take it easy, walk as needed but get hopefully 5kms done. Well, what a difference already. Four super quick kms later, my knee twinged just once and I felt strong the whole way. I followed my idea and scoffed at the first km thinking the gps was out. Imagine my surprise when I stopped tracking at 4K and saw the whole splits. Wow! For that day at least my knee was my friend again. I will be looking at a short runs and slowly building up to the 10 for my next race. Continuing my strength, and will add in extras this week specifically for the ITB (which I’m pretty sure is the problem).
Bring on this year, I am feeling strong and positive about what is to be and where I am going now.
Keep running and be safe out there,