Its all over–I can’t believe it. My anticipation leading up to the 2014 KBVCM was greater than any previous KBVCM. This year I knew that I was going to be running the marathon since the fall, thus I started training earlier, and started mentally and physically preparing myself since November. Traveling to Rwanda, life, and an injury all presented different challenges to my training schedule, but somehow I persevered and managed to make it to race day.
This year was going to be my second marathon, and as I said goodbye to my boyfriend near Sherman Street, I made my way in between the 8:00 and 9:00 minute mile signs. All of the people, excitement, and sunshine made me feel so alive. First of all I couldn’t believe I had made it to the start. My foot felt great, I was sporting my new compression stockings, I felt rested and ready. After the national anthem sounded and everyone prepared for the start I told myself to go out there, have fun, and be prepared for whatever happens.
The first 8 miles were a breeze which surprised me. I figured I would feel some foot pain, but I didn’t! The out and back on the beltway was hot, and I couldn’t help but remember 2013 and how cold I was on the beltway. Part of me wanted to run faster to get the dreaded out and back over with, but I stayed on pace of 8:45/mile. When I reached Park Street and saw my boyfriend on his bike waving at me, I felt a surge of excitement. We both knew that at any point in the race my foot could act up, and I think he was surprised to see me cruising ahead of the 4 hour marathon pacer. As I turned the corner downtown and saw the spectators and my parents, tears sprung to my eyes. Somehow in the three KBVCM events I’ve participated in, the spectators and volunteers seemed more enthusiastic in this race.
One of my favorite parts of the marathon is seeing the spectators cheering. Every ordinary day people seem so caught up in their own lives (me included). At the grocery store people can get grumpy, or in parking lots there can be some passive aggressive anger towards strangers, but during the marathon, complete strangers are cheering for you, clapping, smiling, and shouting, “you got this!” Its quite magical.
As I ran down Pine Street I remembered one of my nursing coworkers was signed up to be a volunteer at the aid station past mile 11. When I saw my colleague and friend cheering in his volunteer shirt it gave me the energy needed to get through the Austin Drive section, which for me is always a tiring little loop. As I crossed the halfway mark my foot started to ache a little, but I shrugged it off. “JUST KEEP RUNNING,” I told myself. Running up battery brought tears to my eyes again, as it has each year. The drummers, the spectators, my parents, boyfriend and friends scattered throughout made me feel like I was not alone and pushed me up the seemingly huge hill.
At the top of the hill my foot started to throb a little more, and I started to get a terrible feeling that I would not finish the race. I ignored it until mile 16 when I realized that I had to make a decision before getting too far out onto north ave in the little neighborhoods. I slowed my pace to 9:00/mile and combined a walk/jog for about a mile. When I passed Burlington High school I knew it was over. I made it to about mile 17 just about the same time my boyfriend was biking alongside the runners.
As I cried and cried he asked me what I wanted to do, and I decided to call it. I hobbled off course and accepted that I was done. This decision almost seemed harder than actually finishing. My foot wasn’t as sore as it was when I first injured it, but it felt as though if I continued I may end up off of it all summer. I went into the race with the mindset that I wouldn’t be stupidly stubborn. There is a difference between fatigue from simply running a marathon, and pain that could be detrimental.
All in all, it was a great experience, and I can honestly say I ran a really strong 17 miles. Stronger than my 2013 marathon. Now, 2 days post marathon I feel pretty good. I’m glad I made the decision I did, even though it was very disappointing. Once my quads feel better and I’m more rested I’ll start running slowly again. Up next on the agenda is to go on some hikes with my friends who have been so patient while I’ve been training when I’ve said “I can’t hike and risk hurting my foot before the marathon.” I also plan to sign up for a half marathon this summer, and focus on mountain biking. I’m not sure when I’ll do another marathon. I plan to let myself heal emotionally from cutting out of this one, and just enjoy the Vermont summer.