I had rested my foot all week with the hope that it would alleviate the pain I've been having. I was concerned that I wouldn't make it through the race at all, particularly when the pain started talking to me at the starting line. My plan was to just take it easy. I would only run for as long as it didn't feel significantly painful. Once the pain started to increase, I would slow my pace or slow to a walk to keep it from getting increasing. Worst case scenario? I would stop at an aid station and ask them to send the trail vehicle to pick me up, essentially quitting the race. I have NEVER done that and I REALLY didn't like the idea that I might have to do so.
The race started. There were only about 400 other runners so I didn't have to fight the beginning-of-a-race-crowding that usually drives me so nuts at bigger half-marathons and marathons. My foot felt okay and I felt strong and well-rested (weird!). I missed the first mile marker because I wasn't paying attention, so I didn't split my watch. As a result, I had no idea what my pace might be. But I decided that it didn't really matter today. I wasn't going for any pace goal. I just wanted to make it to the end without hurting myself.
I felt pretty good for most of the race. My foot started to bother me between miles eight and nine, so I dialed back my pace a little bit. I had taken a gel just before the start and then again at the six mile mark, but around mile 10 I was really feeling fatigued. I slowed my pace a little more. What I really wanted to do was walk, but I knew that I wouldn't be able to start running again if I did. So I just kept on going.
I had forgotten how serenely peaceful it is to be alone in my own head on long runs like this. When I was training for my first marathon in 2006, I used my long training runs as a sort of meditative time. The rhythmic timing of my feet on the pavement and my coordinated breathing put me in a very relaxed mental state where I can think clearly without the distraction of the constant chatter in my head. It's one of the reasons I love long-distance running alone. Don't get me wrong, I love going on runs with James. But it's a very different experience when I can do it all by myself.
James finished ahead of me and walked up the course to meet me and run me in around mile 12 (I think - I was actually feeling quite delirious by then). I'm not going to lie, the last 3/4 mile or so was really tough on me. I was getting tired, my foot was hurting, and I was running into a head wind. But I made it. Officially, my finish time was 2:21:57 (10:50 pace). Not a PR (which would have to be faster than 2:14:58) but I was quite proud of myself for it. I ran the entire race and didn't walk, which is a big deal for me. My goal at the marathon in November is to do the same thing... which I've never done before.
I finished 89th out of 140 women, no break down for age divisions. I earned 12 more Grand Prix points, pushing me up to 5th place in my division. The woman leading my division has enough points that she's competing for the overall prize, which means that if the Grand Prix ended today I would actually be in 4th place out of 12.
As for the injury report, I'm going to write a separate blog about that because there's just too much to talk about to include here. Check back soon!
And may the peace of the Lord be always with you.