The M2B 1/2 Marathon; my mind vs. my knee
When I began my weight loss journey, I could barely run a mile without tears streaming down my face and my heart bursting out of my chest. Running was always my greatest enemy; a villain looming over me constantly. Even in my navy career I hated running, and only did it when I had to for my mid year physical exams.
When I began losing weight I decided I needed a measurable fitness goal, so I decided to shoot for something truly unbelievable; a half marathon: 13.1 miles more than I was comfortable doing at the time. A good friend of mine that I looked up to for all fitness guidance suggested the M2B 1/2 marathon in Ventura, it had an 8% downhill grade and typically perfect weather, and was a year away. Sold!
I started with several 5k’s until i started to get a little faster, then 10ks, and then a couple of 15ks. I suffered multiple injuries throughout the year; plantar fasciitis, hamstring strain, and finally a hip/knee injury from my last 16k trail race. I thought the last one would spell disaster for my 1/2 marathon dreams, only a month away from the big race. I decided to finally get help and after a few A.R.T. sessions, sports massages, and tons of yoga, my hips and knees felt about a solid 70% the day of the race.
My original goal prior to my injury was to reach the finish in under 2:10, but after getting hurt I just wanted to finish without stopping. If I had to walk, limp, or crawl across the finish line I would have felt like an utter failure. I needed to finish strong, I needed to complete this year long training on a magnificent high note.
I did all my pre race traditions the day before; a good yoga class, drink a gallon of water at least, allowed myself a few more carbs than normal, and went to bed with 10 hours to rest.
At the start line I had friends with me, all ready to attack this new milestone, we were all virgins!
Mile 3, I felt the pressure starting to build in my knee. I tried not to let the villain whisper doubt in my ear, but damn it got through. The next 10 miles I battled my inner demons while trying to ignore the pain.
Mile 6: I really was convinced my knee would give out at any second. The pressure mounting within my knee felt like a time bomb about to go off at any moment. One wrong step and I was done for sure! This is where my pace went from a solid 9:22 upwards to 10:00/mile.
I focused mainly on getting to mile 10; I tried to imagine the race in small increments to keep my spirit up. After mile 10 I only have an itty bitty 5k! I can do that surely!
Mile 8 dumped us onto the beach finally, the salty ocean breeze breathing new life into me. The pain was real, but somehow I was still going. This was going to happen, I’m too far to give up now!
At mile 10, we actually got a glimpse of the finish line. It was a 3.1 out and back at this point. This was the hardest part of the race for me, I kept waiting for the turnaround point but it just wasn’t coming soon enough! It felt like the longest 3 miles of my life, truly.
Mile 11.5: we finally turnaround and head for the finish. People lined the course, cheering us on. If only they were there the whole time! A new lighting crack of pain hit me like a gunshot up through my right foot and into my knee, sending me into tears and hyperventilating. I must have sounded like an absolute madwoman, running and gasping for breath, my face red with agony. I could finally see the finish line, and it sparked me into a sprint. I regained my breathing by closing my mouth and dashed for the end, Ray beside me, people cheering on as we passed the runners ahead of us.
As we passed the finish, I break out into a flood of tears, as the volunteers tried handing us medals and clipping our timers. I don’t remember much of it to be honest, except falling into Ray’s arm and just crying for a solid 5 minutes. My body was aching, my heart soared, I was just absolutely overcome with emotion. For the first time in my life I had actually completed a major goal (I tend to back out when I get bored or suck) and did something I really couldn’t imagine just a year ago. I ran 13.1 miles, and I can finally say “I’m a runner” without laughing afterwards or ending the sentence curled up in a question.