We went up to Burlington, VT on Saturday morning. We stopped at the expo to get my number before heading to my friend's house where we were staying. The plan was to have a pasta dinner that night and get to bed early. We walked down to the store, got everything we needed, met up with my mom on Church Street to say hi, and then headed back to the house.
|If you've never been to Church St, you should.|
We had a great dinner, and I was the first to head to bed around 9:30. My alarm went off Sunday morning at 5:30am. I got up, made coffee, and sat on the couch for bit to wake up. I made my usual breakfast of a GF bagel with peanut butter and a banana, drank some Nuun, and sipped on my coffee. Before I knew it it was time to get dressed and head out the door.
|Mary (running the first half of a 2 person relay) |
and myself ready to go
The start was less than a half a mile from where my friend lives, so we walked down to Battery Park where there were already thousands of people getting ready to run. I waited in line for a porta-potty, stretched a little, and then lined up right by the 4:00 hour pace group. I thought it would be good to start with them in sight, even though I still had every intention of running my own race. I noticed right away the sun felt warm. I tried not to think too much of it. I took a few deep breaths, started my music, and waited for the gun to go off. It was time.
My plan was to run the first half between 9:00 and 9:10/mile pace and then try to cut down between 8:55-9:00 for the second half (**side note, I haven't looked at my garmin or my paces, I'm not sure I ever will). The streets were packed with runners and spectators lining the side. It was incredible. The support and crowds were awesome. It was a great way to relax my mind and not overthink what I was doing. I kept reminding myself, "don't think, just run." The first 3 miles were a loop around town, and then we headed to an out and back stretch on a highway. It was then that I noticed the sun continuing to get warmer, and no shade in sight. I don't do well in the heat, so I knew I would need to stay on top of hydration to make sure I could get through the race without any problems. I alternated between water and gatorade at each water stop, slowing down to make sure I could drink enough. My legs felt strong and I felt very confident that I could hold the pace for the duration of the race.
|feeling strong and happy to be running|
My cheering/support crew (Ryan, my mom, and brother) had planned to see me at mile 9, which was just after the out and back. Ryan had bottles of water for me that I could take if needed so I didn't have to carry my handheld the whole way. Right before I saw them I noticed I was sweating a lot and starting to feel really warm. I thought it would be a good idea to grab a bottle of water while I had the chance. It's always so great seeing them along the course.
It wasn't very long after that when I started to feel pretty off. I almost felt like I could feel my breakfast in my throat. I felt nauseous and then felt a little lightheaded. I was hoping it would pass. I was still right on pace to finish under 4 hours and I didn't want to lose that. Unfortunately, as the miles went on, I continued to feel more uncomfortable. I took a couple shot blocks thinking maybe I needed the energy. It didn't help. I was approaching the half way point and I knew Mary would be there waiting for me to run by. I actually thought in my head at that point, that I was done. I didn't feel well, I was extremely warm, and started to comes to terms with the fact that I wasn't going to finish this thing. I was devastated.
I made it to the half way point and frantically searched for Mary. I spotted her and ran over, stopping when I got to her. She asked how I was feeling and I said not good. I said I was nauseous and didn't feel right. I told her I didn't know if I could make it. She asked me how much of it I thought was in my mind and how much of it was real. I couldn't tell. I started running. I knew I would see my family again around mile 15 by the biggest hill of the race. I thought I would try to keep going and depending on how I felt when I saw them, I would make a decision then. I know this is not exactly a good way to run a marathon, but I just didn't feel right. I couldn't tell what was wrong, but I knew something was. My legs still felt strong, but the rest of my body did not.
As I approached the hill, there were some drummers at the bottom, and huge crowds along both sides of the course. The energy was contagious. I saw my family and ran over to them. Ryan asked me how I was feeling and the only thing I could say was not good. I asked for more water and shot blocks. He frantically tried to search his bag for them, but I told him not to rush because the 4hr goal was no longer a reality. At this point it was just a matter of finishing, which I still felt unsure of. I took what I needed and shuffled my way up the hill.
This is where things get fuzzy. We went through some neighborhoods. I looked for a porta-potty. My stomach was in knots. I didn't see one anywhere. I ran/walked on, stopping at every water stop to drink some, and pour some in to my water bottle to take with me. Some of the houses in the neighborhoods had sprinklers set up by the street, some people were holding squirt guns. To those people, thank you. The sun was relentless and shade was scarce. The miles ticked on, and I watched the time on my watch grow higher and higher. I remember going down to the bike path and knowing there were only 4 more miles to go. 4 miles felt like 20. I remember catching a glimpse of the lake and thinking it was beautiful. I remember running by a field and seeing a pug trotting through the dandelions around mile 25. I cried. I remember seeing the 26 mile marker and picking up my pace. At least I could walk away knowing I started and finished strong, even though I'd like to forget what happened in between. I remember taking the last turn on to the grass, seeing my family once again, and then finally seeing the finish line.
Once I crossed the finish line, I frantically searched to find my family. There were so many people. Everywhere. I felt weak, and dizzy. I finally found them, as well as a spot in the shade. I braced myself on a tree for a few minutes. I still felt nauseous. I tried to walk around and move hoping it would help me feel better. I drank some water. Eventually, I thought I was feeling ok enough to walk back to my friend's house.
As we started to walk, I started to feel worse. I suddenly felt like I really needed to use the bathroom. We were walking right by one, so I stumbled in. Thankfully my mom followed me. I started to feel incredibly dizzy and caught a glimpse of my reflection in the mirror, I was super pale. My mom asked me if I was ok. I said no and that I didn't feel right. She grabbed me, brought me outside, and yelled to Ryan that they needed to get me to the med tent. So off we went.
I had my arm around Ryan and felt like I could barely hold myself up. Everything was spinning, my ears were ringing, my hands were tingling, and I felt like I was slurring my words. Once we got to the med tent, they put me on a cot, and took my vital signs. My blood pressure was pretty low, even lying down. I felt like I just needed fluids. They offered to give me an IV, but said it would take at least a half hour to get started. So I asked for gatorade and water instead (at first they said I couldn't have anything to drink, but since I had recently peed they let me have some). As I laid there, cautiously sipping my drinks, I very slowly started to feel better. Then the cramping started, in my hips, and then in my back. A very nice girl came over to stretch and massage me while I continued to try to drink. Ryan stayed right by my side in the tent, giving frequent updates to my mom who was having a nervous breakdown outside (they only let one person in with you, unfortunately). It took a while, but eventually I felt well enough to try to go back to my friend's house. My mom went and got the car to drive me back instead of trying to walk again.
We had a BBQ planned for after the race, I had been so excited for it. The BBQ happened, while I spent the day on the couch in a haze. I didn't feel quite right for the rest of the day. I felt dizzy from time to time, and felt like I had been hit and run over by a very large bus. All I could stomach was a concoction of fluids. It was not exactly the way I wanted to spend the day trying to get over what happened during the race.
Thankfully when I woke up on Monday, most of the fog had cleared and I was feeling much better physically. Mentally, it was a different story. Once my brain was capable of functioning again, I felt the extreme letdown and disappointment of what happened. Once again I was left feeling like I had been capable and trained for so much more. We walked down to church street again for some coffee, and then said goodbye to Vermont.
|I do love VT...|
and this was my favorite marathon course so far.
If you're thinking about running it, I would highly recommend it.
I realize being able to say I have now finished three marathons, is a huge accomplishment in itself. I really do. However, when the goal is no longer 'just' to finish, the accomplishment can easily be overshadowed by the disappointment of not reaching your goal. I know I can do it though. I know I can run a sub 4 hour marathon and I know I will run that marathon some day. I hoped it would happen in Vermont, but it didn't. However, I will continue to hope, work and believe in myself and my goals until it does.
And when it does? Then I'll have even bigger goals to work toward.