I completed my 12th maraton on Oct 5th. I use the word "completed" because I am thrilled to have finished it. I'm battling a weird hamstring injury, I moved and changed jobs about 6 weeks before the marathon. My mind was not in marathon mode! I wanted to attempt the race because you never know what's going to happen on marathon day. I set 3 goals and I told myself that it's okay if I don't finish -I didn't want to risk long term injury.
I spent the week before the race resting and icing. I foam rolled, I got a massage and I gave my hamstring a lot of TLC. It was feeling better but the nagging sensation didn't go away. I wasn't sure my hamstring would last 26.2 miles.
Race morning arrived and my friend and I got to the start, hugged and wished each other luck. This is the first race I've ever started thinking I might have to bail out. I hooked up with the 3:30 pace group and hoped to hang on to that time. My training runs put me at a faster time but my leg wasn't making it through long distances so I decided to back off early.
I felt good until mile 11.5. At that point, we got stopped by a train (yup! only in Portland, Oregon will your race be stopped by a train!) and then began a slow, gradual hill. It's one of those where you don't quite realize you are on a hill until you see it on a map. My hamstring did what it had been doing at mile mile 15-18 in my long runs - just kinda stopped working. It doesn't seize up, cramp or feel sore; it feels like I'm running in mud.
At this point, I didn't think I was going to finish. I kept giving myself distance goals - just get to the bridge and then you can stop; just get to mile 18 and you can stop. Just get to mile 21. Jessica jumped in with me at mile 21 and helped me push through those last 5 miles. They were slow but i kept plugging along. I had to let go of my ego and say, I'm happy and proud to finish this marathon - regardless of my time.
The fans, especially my fans, motivated me and helped keep me going. I am so happy that I finished; that I didn't quit and kept plugging along. In my situation, I knew my hamstring and the sensation well enough to know that I wasn't causing more damage. If I felt that I was going to strain my hamstring and cause more damage, I would have stopped. Having support and "coaches" surrounding me with encouraging words helped push me through my mental barriers of "I can't keep going".
I learned a lot more from this marathon than the marathons when I BQ'd or PR'd. I learned that it's okay to change your goals and sometimes a finish is the best thing you could have ever imagined.