At some point early in training, I imagined myself writing this race report. I imagined myself writing about everything I had overcome since my first baby was born, about how the marathon was some kind of metaphor for my experience with new motherhood and how I had conquered it all. I suppose I hoped to find confidence on the other side of the finish line.
Friends, this is not what happened.
When it comes to parenting, I am still very much insecure. I still have ANXIETY. I still get at least one plugged duct every few weeks.
But when it comes to running, I feel pretty freaking proud of myself. Let’s recap. I ran a full marathon – my first for all intents and purposes – nine months after giving birth.
A friend of mine complimented me the other day about running while still breastfeeding. I found myself saying something like, “Oh, it’s no big deal. Her feedings are spread out far enough now that I can pretty much do whatever I need to do. Really, the hard part was training for the marathon when she was younger and still nursing frequently… I don’t know what the hell I was thinking.”
Because, you guys, the logistics alone were sort of ridiculous. Imagine fitting 16 – 20 mile long runs in between nursing every 2 hours. (Hint: I couldn’t.) Nursing a baby that would only nap with a nipple in her mouth, I might add. Let’s just say Ruby never wanted for (ahem, dried) electrolytes.
So it’s no surprise that the time my sentiments most closely resembled those described in the first paragraph was when I was lined up behind the start line.
The sky was grey, the sun still rising. There was a bit of wind. And a torrential downpour. Of the 9300 registered marathoners, 6511 finished. And I’m going to bet that most of the other 2789 didn’t bother to start. Can you really blame them? This is what the road to the expo looked like the day before.
Yet I still made it. I pumped the bottles. I woke multiple times during the night to feed the baby and still rolled out of bed at 4:00 am with my alarm on more than one occasion. I completed the training. I showed up.
The determination among the crowd was palpable. Only the truly dedicated runners were willing to tackle the storm. And I was one of them. It was in those moments, the few moments squeezed in between the disposal of my Walmart sweats and the gun that I felt the most accomplished. I almost cried. And then we were off.
I have far less to say about the race itself. The weather wasn’t as bad as it was supposed to be. I mean, it was. My shoes were soaked through before I even started running. I ran with a trash bag over my rain jacket until mile 20. But it didn’t impact my race as much as I feared it would. The wind wasn’t horrible. And the temperature was actually pretty perfect.
My nutrition and hydration, on the other hand, were less than ideal. I had to pee way too early in the race, and cut back on my fluid intake in order to minimize the risk of a potty stop. That was stupid. I knew it was stupid at the time.
I was running at least a minute/mile faster than my training pace and knew I was feeling too tired too soon by about mile 16. But I kept pushing. And telling myself that I just had to make it to mile 20. Then it would only be a few more miles, and then I would be done.
Well, I made it to mile 20. And bonked. Sort of. Honestly, my splits hurt a lot less than I felt. I may have cried a little around mile 22 or 23. From pain. Not from anything poetic or meaningful.
I’m still not sure why I fell apart. Was it a mental block after focusing so much on the 20 mile goal? My pace? Poor hydration? The classic 20 mile wall? Who knows? Probably all of the above.
It doesn’t really matter anyway. I fell back on the one thing that gets me through every tough run, “Just keeping moving. Put one foot in front of the other, and keep moving.” Hey, maybe it was a metaphor for life and parenting after all. Not an especially romantic metaphor, but a metaphor none the less. So let’s go with it…
Just like life, the race was far from perfect. It was wet, and I didn’t really know what I was doing. But I worked really hard and reached my goal. In fact, I met all of them. So when people ask me how it went, I answer genuinely with, “Really well.”
Finish Time: 4:29:49
Place: 108/425 AG, 1073/3278 Overall