Yesterday I ran my 6th marathon and it proved to be my most challenging yet. It has me questioning my ability to run 26.2 miles feeling good, especially late in the race. (Does ANYONE feel good running 26.2, or more, miles??) It has made me face the fact that my body really does not like running that many miles. I’m feeling incredibly sore this morning… every inch seems to be aching.
I am taking into consideration that the Oregon Marathon yesterday was my 6th marathon in just a little over 14 months but never before had I walked during a race. I started walking at mile 20. A super grumpy psoas was causing my entire right side to tighten and the heat was starting to get the best of me.
Like most races, it started off great. I was even extra careful to not start too fast which is something I struggle with. By mile 2, I settled into my goal pace of about 8:10, and held on there until mile 10. It was around that point I started to feel the first twinges of pain that raised a little flag but I ignored it and continued on, though my pace started to slow just a little.
Just past the halfway point, things took a turn for the worse. Literally. We turned onto a gravel road that was covered in big, loose rocks. The switch from pavement to the gravel sucked and my pace dropped. It was starting to heat up and there was no shade, anywhere. I will say that I was impressed with the number of, and well placed, aid stations. I took water at every single one because I knew the temperature would be rising quickly with a high near 90 degrees forecasted.
My pace continued to slow and I was in a lot of pain. There had been a girl ahead of me for nearly the entire race that I noticed was starting to slow too. Just past mile 20, she started to walk. I caught up to her and asked her if she was okay because she had looked really strong. Her quads were giving her trouble and she asked if she could run along side me. We ran, and walked some, the rest of the race together. It was her second marathon and she was hoping for a PR, which she did. I was grateful to have someone to run with those last few, miserable miles and that I got to see her cross the finish line and fulfill her goal. (Because I was WAYYYYYYYYYYYY off from my goal.)
My hope, of course, was to get a PR myself. I was hoping for anything under 3:35:00. Given the amount of discomfort I was in, I was just glad to finish. And given the amount of walking I did, glad to finish with a (barely) sub-4:00 hour time.
My official time was 3:59:08. I was the 20th female overall and 4th in my age division.
I am humbled by the experience. It has left me considering the need to reevaluate my relationship with the marathon. My body was truly unhappy yesterday and as frustrating as it was, I knew I needed to pay attention. I want to run for many, many years to come and if I wreck this precious vessel, I’m screwed. So I feel fortunate that even as disappointed as I am in my performance, I played it smart which I’m sure will serve me well in the long run.
The Oregon Marathon was done really well and I really have no complaints other than the gravel sections of the course. The course was primarily flat on rural roads in Oregon farm country. It was truly beautiful. The course even takes you through the oldest covered bridge in Oregon, built in 1916. I thought that was pretty cool!
The event company, Uberthons, does a great job. It seemed to be well-organized and I loved the fact that the day of packet pickup was held indoors with plenty of space for runners to chill out and take advantage of the restrooms. I already mentioned the aid stations, but really, I thought they did a great job providing adequate numbers of them along the course. I didn’t stick around for any of the Oktoberfest fun post-race but next year I will. (I’ll be running the half marathon next year!)
Compared to how I’ve felt post-race on the last few marathons, I have a feeling I’m in for a longer recovery from this one. Today is dedicated to resting. The only thing I want to do is eat and nap so that is all I’m going to do! Because being that I’m a runner, I’ve got an event next weekend to get ready for. Fortunately, it is NOT a marathon!!