My race did not go as planned, not even a little bit. Sorry in advance for the length, feel free to skip to the end to find out what happened!
The weather was forecast to be hot and humid as the race started with temperatures falling in the late afternoon. I wore shorts, a short sleeve tech shirt and compression calf sleeves. Laigha (running the half) and her husband met us at our apartment, we headed to downtown about 6:15. I was meeting my running group at Reunion Tower, one of the ladies works in the building and let us into her office to use an indoor bathroom. We headed to the starting corrals at 7:00. Michael had set up a GPS tracker on my phone, so I started it and sent the link to my family and friends who wanted to track me during the race.
There were only three corrals, A, B and C. I was assigned to A but decided to start in B with the rest of my group. Most of them started in the back of corral B but four of us headed towards the front and decided to stick together and run two by two for the beginning of the race. The starting line was a lot of fun, lots of great energy and confetti! We started off at a good pace, didn't bob and weave through the crowds but made good progress. The first part of the course took us out of downtown and into West Dallas. It's not particularly scenic and we still had the crowds to contend with. We bypassed the first water stop (I'd decided not to bring my hand-held bottle and instead just carried a plastic bottle that I planned to get me through the first, most crowded water stops and then ditch). We went across the Margaret Hunt Hill bridge, which is really beautiful! I had never gotten to see it up close.
Within the first few miles, I was HOT. The streets were wet as if it had rained, but it was all humidity. At the second water station, I knew I wanted Gatorade. I tried to stop but the crowds were overwhelming and the volunteers could not keep up with the demand. My small group got separated but we found each other again, thankfully. At this point I was already feeling the humidity, I was really struggling. We passed the Scottish Rite Hospital for Children, the benefactor of the Dallas Marathon. It was great to see people out in front cheering and as I struggled up the hill I tried to tell myself that it was nothing compared to the struggle these kids face every day.
Around mile 5 I saw a runner on the ground and paramedics lifting him onto a stretcher. I said a silent prayer that he was okay and wondered what happened to take him down that early in the race. (Apparently, Michael and some of our friends were right there, but we missed each other.)
Things started to go wrong at this point. Remember when I started tapering and I had some mysterious knee pain? I had chalked it up to "taper madness," that my body was just healing from the months of high mileage. Going through the hilliest part of the course, my knee started talking to me. Then my stomach joined in. I was frustrated already and walked up one of the steepest hills to catch my breath (and try to settle my stomach). I lost my small group but I knew I needed to hold back for a bit.
I started running again (slower) and around mile 6 saw two of my friends (Stacey and Suzanne), I laughed when I saw Suzanne's sign that said, "Run Faster, I Hear Banjos!" Then I saw three more friends (Dianthe, Sarah and Virginia). We went through Oak Lawn and Turtle Creek before the half marathoners split off. Then we ran through Highland Park. I kept telling myself I would run to the next mile marker and then walk, but it hurt more and more to run, so I took more frequent walk breaks. I noticed a lot of people around me doing the same thing. I thought about stopping at the Port-a-potties around mile 9 but it was a long wait so I skipped it. I was taking water and Gatorade at almost every station I passed, even if I could only manage a few sips.
At mile 10 I saw Michael and some of our friends (Judson, Elliott and Scott), it cheered me up to see them! They were pretty far away, if they had been closer I would have told Michael how much I hurt. Next we ran through the M streets and I finally saw some Port-a-potties with no line, so I jumped in one but... nothing. I didn't want to waste much time, so I quickly got back onto the course. Not long after, I saw two friends cheering for me ("We know her!" yelled Victoria), which also lifted my spirits. Next was a big uphill across a bridge. I had to stop and walk again, my knee just could not handle going uphill. All of a sudden, I saw my mother in law! I was so surprised to see her there (I thought she was going to be in a different spot) that I said, "You caught me walking!" Once I got up the hill, I stopped and stretched which helped temporarily.
Once I got to the lake, I was in a lot of pain. I walked the majority of the next few miles. I saw several people stopping at the medical tents and saw one girl walk up to one of the officers blocking traffic and said, "What do I do if I'm done?" I thought about joining her but kept going. I got so frustrated around the 15 mile mark that I took out my phone and texted Michael. "I'm in a lot of pain, I'm walking more than I'm running." He called, said he was just past the 16 mile marker and said I just needed to get to him. I walk/jogged to him and immediately stopped. I wanted to cry but I think my body was holding onto all the fluid! He walked with me for a little ways and helped me feel a lot better. He said even if I had to run/walk the rest, that I could definitely finish. We passed a couple holding a sign that said, "Beer after the race!" and Michael pointed to it, reminding me that I could have beer after I finished. The couple noticed that I was struggling and they chimed in, "Yes! You can have all the beer you want at the finish line!" I pushed on.
Around this point, I ran into Jessica and Michele from my running group. Jessica was miserable, she was severely nauseous and couldn't run more than a few steps. Michele was struggling, but feeling a little better. I walked with them for a bit and Michele and I jogged forward. At the 17 mile mark, the DRC had a water stop and I knew Brandon would be there. As soon as I saw him, I almost burst into tears (again). I told him how much pain I was in and he gave me some very reassuring words. I told him, "Even if I have to walk, I'm going to finish!" He told me later that after I left he got worried and tried to run after me, but couldn't catch up to me. What a great friend! I also saw two more friends who had made me a sign that said, "If this was easy, it would be called Your Mom."
At this point, the temperatures were dropping as a Northern wind came in. It was such a relief to feel the hot, humid air lifting.
Jessica and I walked together for a little while longer, I saw Scott and Laigha (who had her finisher medal from the half) just before the 19 mile mark as I was walking again. The 19 mile mark was a party! There was an MC and a big banner that said "Start," the MC explained that this was the start of the wall and the start of the hardest part of the race. There were Clif shots (or Gu?), water and Gatorade all handed out by Hooters girls. And... Port-a-potties! I stopped and (TMI) was finally able to get some stomach relief. I felt much better! This next section was super hilly, Jessica and I walked most of it. I got a tiny Dixie cup of cold beer from the Hash House Harriers at mile 20. A little bit after that, I told Jessica I was going to run ahead. I couldn't do much more than a jog, but with my stomach feeling better, I decided to go for it.
Once I started moving faster, I realized that my knee didn't hurt as much but that I still had very sharp pain radiating from the knee, up my outer thigh all the way to my right glute. Around mile 21.5, I caught up to running buddy Ritu. She was moving about the same pace I was and I asked if I could run with her for a little bit. She said sure, we ran together silently for a while. Around mile 22, we saw Vishal, who heads up all the DRC training groups, and his fiancee Ashley. Vishal ran alongside us for a minute and gave us a great pep talk. Again, I could have cried.
Ritu and I stuck together for the rest of the race. We took a few walking breaks but we ran (well, jogged) more than we walked. I ran into Kelly and Diana from my 4:10 group, Diana was having a rough day as well and Kelly refused to leave her side. The last few miles are kind of a blur. The spectators were so encouraging at this point. Ritu and I ran silently most of the time but coached each other when we needed it.
We got back to downtown and we were so close we could taste it! I heard one of the police officers tell us, "Just a quarter mile and you're done!" We were walking at this point and I said, "Let's finish this!" As we got to the finish line, I heard some people yelling Ritu's name and realized it was her family. I felt her determination and as we rounded the last corner we had an unspoken moment of "Let's bring it home!" We both started running as fast as our legs could carry us! (Which, let's be honest, was not very fast but it felt that way.) As we ran through the finish chute, I saw Michael as well as Dianthe and Sarah. Ritu and I ran across the finish line together and we were done!
My finish time was 5:40:41, which was nowhere near what I wanted to do. I'm so frustrated that it took me so long to finish, but considering all the walking I had to do I have to be okay with that.
I got my medal and a space blanket, chatted with a few of my running friends, then made my way to the finisher's area. I got my finisher's tech shirt, a beer (well earned!) and a bag of pretzels which were like sawdust in my mouth. My phone was almost dead and apparently Michael's phone had died, but I managed to get in touch with him and the rest of our friends. We visited for a few minutes and took pictures.
I changed into some compression socks as soon as we got to the car and put on a jacket as it had really gotten cold! We headed to Jake's where I inhaled a spicy black bean burger and sweet potato fries. Once I got home and showered, I put my feet up and just relaxed the rest of the day with an ice pack on my knee. It was so fun to get on Facebook and read all my runner (and spectator) friends' reports from the day!
I took Monday off work and got a sports massage which helped with the soreness immensely. My knee is definitely swollen, so I'm going to keep ice on it.
Part of me says that this race experience sucked and that I never want to do it again. Another part of me says that I need to show this course who's boss. We shall see!
And now on to our next adventure... we're moving next weekend. Eek!