Monday, December 20, 2010

This Ain't My First Rodeo

They say the third time is the charm. Good things come to those who wait. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, whatever that means, (not sure if that's relevant here). Once again, I have been defeated by the marathon. This time when it hit, it hit hard. Below the belt, even.

I will cut to the chase, since we all know that running is about numbers: 4:14. Those are my numbers. Not anywhere near my A, B, or C goals. Based on my recent half marathon finish, I was in shape to run a 3:34:21 marathon. Awesome. I knew it would be a lot of hard work in those final miles, but I felt like an 8:10 pace would not be difficult for me at all. Even running the half, finishing in 1:42 with an average pace of 7:49, was not difficult & I felt like I could have run it faster when all was said and done. I decided to pace 8:10's from the start with my A goal being sub-3:35. I was in excellent shape, training went well, my 20 miler was the kind of run they write songs about, & I honestly felt like this was a reasonable goal. Here are my splits up to 10 miles:

1 - 8:10
2 - 8:09
3 - 8:10
4 - 8:08
5 - 8:10
6 - 8:07
7 - 8:10
8 - 8:09
9 - 8:10
10: 12:27

Oh, I'm sorry, does something look out of place? yeah... it happens. What? Sh*t. It's humiliating, disgusting & it will happen to all of us one day. This particular day, I didn't think this was going to happen. In fact, NEVER in training have I had any kind of bathroom issues. Now, I've thrown up during training lots of times. Mostly that was due to those disgusting gels we have to choke down. I found one that works for me, & have never had an issue with them before. I use the apple-cinnamon Hammer Gel, & love it. I don't think this was the issue. I still don't know for sure, but for whatever reason, I started getting BAD stomach cramps & knew that if I didn't duck out quick I was gonna have an accident. This was a small marathon, & the course was a 3.275 mile loop. There were no porto johns along the loop, & the only bathroom was inside the student center at the beginning of the loop. Of course when this happened I was not near the student center. What did I do, you ask? Get me really drunk & I might tell you sometime ;)

I managed to make it to the half in 1:50, so I thought I could perhaps meet my B goal of 3:40. I was thinking that if I quit focusing on the stomach pains they would go away. Mind over matter. I tried my ipod for a while to keep my mind off of it, I prayed, I tried thinking of a song in my head & running to the beat of it to numb my mind... The above scenario happened a total of  FIVE times during this race. It's something I didn't expect, have never experienced, & wasn't prepared for. I'm not posting the rest of my splits, because it's embarrassing & what's the point? I will tell you that the one time I did go in to use the facility at the student center, my mile split was almost 17 minutes due to waiting in line. What a train wreck. I didn't cry, & still haven't, but it's hard to watch your dream just be taken away from you due to something that is out of your control. 

As athletes, we have all heard stories of this happening to others. Heroic stories like Julie Moss (above) dragging herself across the finish line at Kona after the same disgusting scenario. Mine is not heroic. I gave up. I'm not getting down on myself, I'm simply stating that once I saw that even my C goal of sub 4:00 wasn't going to happen, I said screw it. I walked a lot. At this point, I was severely dehydrated. Though I was going through all of this, I thought I should still take my gels & drink water, so I did. Not sure if that was the right thing to do or not, as I wasn't prepared. I started feeling nauseous at around mile 18, & after mile 20 I started throwing up. This happened three times, & then during the last loop I had no stomach issues whatsoever. All I remember from the last loop was a guy telling me to open my eyes, that I might run off the road. I was a full-on marathon zombie by that time.


I was extremely glad to have Jenn & Ashley there to help me through all of this, even though I was probably being mean to them. If so, girls, I'm sorry. I get like that when I lose control of my bodily functions. ;) Anyway, Ashley caught me as I was collapsing at the finish line, & she got me over to a chair inside the student center where I refused to drink my water like a child. She's a nurse & was very good at just telling me I had to do it. She was right, because really within a few minutes I was perking up & didn't feel like I might die any minute, nor did I feel like puking any more. In talking to her, I may have had too many electrolytes in my system & not enough water in the end. I don't know, but it was nice to have people there to take care of me & bring me things: like my medal. Thanks Jenn! We drove home from Springfield after going to get something to eat, & had to stop at Kum & Go for a big cup of water that I was instructed to drink all of, and I did. Like a good girl :)

All that being said, I don't think I'll ever run another loop course. This one was kind of crazy, with a lot of sharp turns & winding in & out of things. It actually crossed paths at one point so you had to be careful not to run in to others, or be run in to. The whole loop was on campus, so we got to run around the track inside the football stadium (once per loop, so a total of 8 times) which I really liked. It signified that the loop was almost over as we headed back into the quad & over to the student center again. They had Christmas music playing over the poor-quality PA in the stadium (also in a loop! - SAME songs over & over). Toward the end, when I was all but delirious, it started to remind me of Groundhog Day. I half expected to hear Sonny & Cher's "I Got You Babe" over the PA. What a wild ride.


Well friends, I know some of you will say that my time is great, & I should be thrilled that I finished a marathon, & all those nice things... Well, I'm really not. I feel like I wasted 16 weeks of my life, & I get to be sore for no particular reason. I will probably not be able to walk well tomorrow, as the muscle soreness sets in, & it will be hard for me to do my job. I guess I can take pride in the fact that I saw the thing through. I mean, I did pass the finish line a total of 8 times during this crazy thing, & it would have been easy to just duck out. To say I've had enough. That's just not my style. The fact that I couldn't just poop my pants & roll with it like you see some other people do during races will weigh heavy on me too. Maybe I just don't have what it takes to race this distance. The marathon is the only distance that I've had trouble with... three times. I won't figure it all out now, but I am going to put this notion of running a marathon to rest for a while. After all, running is supposed to be fun right? I'm going to work on strengthening my body, getting leaner, running some, & giving myself a bit of a break through January I think. We will see what lies ahead for me in the spring...


  1. Sorry to hear about the bathroom troubles.. I've dealt with it in all my long runs over 15 miles. I have to plan my training runs to pass a convenient store every now & then.
    I'll be one to tell you, your finish time IS great. You toughed out some tough conditions. To not quit at mile 10 makes you strong strong strong.
    You didn't waste 16 weeks of your life, you trained your body to do something really hard, run 26 miles! Your trained your mind to keep at it even when it gets hard.
    I saw the tweets that this was a poorly organized marathon, so try & be proud that you finished (WITH A GOOD TIME!!).

  2. The one thing that is so tough about a marathon is the training takes so long and you just never know what you will get on race day. It's a lot of time to invest and then you can really only do 1 or 2 a year at your very best effort and it it doesn't pan out...yeah...wasted training time. So sorry (again) to hear about this total suckfest of a race. I don't know that I could have even finished under such GI stress, since it came on so early in the race (mile 10!). Yes, running is supposed to be fun, and I think your plan to focus on something else for a while is a good one. That's what I'm doing. I know at some point I will do a full marathon again, but I'm in no hurry. Enjoying other things for now. And no WAY I would ever do a crazy loop course like that. 2 times around a loop is OK, 3 for me is a challenge. More than 3...I don't think I would EVER sign up for. And very bad planning of the course that it crosses over itself. :(

  3. you're one hella tough chick kerrie. ya, ok, you just couldnt't gut out a 3:35 with crappy shorts..really.i'm kinda heartened by that..who the hell could do that? honestly.marathons test your strength in all kinds of ways and i'm so not an expert with my 3, but all i can say its the mental strength that prevails. that's what you showed there. 4:14 represents a whole different accomplishment. not the one you wanted...but maybe one day,in a twisted way, it could be the one that shows just how strong your will can be...anything goes on race day.good weather, perfect health- cake walk. what you did, is a whole different deal.there isn't a medal big enough.

  4. You did not give up. Not in my eyes. The fact that you pushed through and still finished is amazing. Definitely an inspiration.

  5. You are so awesome, Kerrie. Seriously. I cannot imagine going through all of that during a marathon, let alone, having the willpower NOT to quit everytime you saw that darned finish line. I know how difficult it is passing my house or the truck over and over during a long run! I am proud of you and you WILL beat this marathon demon! You beat those darn hills at St. Joe! :-)

  6. You were so NOT mean to us - you just had us a bit worried. I'm glad we were all there for each other. The race aside, I had an awesome time hanging out and getting to know you better!

    Much love to you!!!

  7. Ditto what runnrgrrl said. The hard part is accepting the part of the race that was hard and knowing you beat that part. The time on the clock only represents one part of the race...there are few people who could have gutted out what you did that day (pun intended!!). Great job!!

  8. Kerrie - Thanks for posting the info about this race. When I thought my wife and I were going to be in Kansas City for that weekend, I started looking for a race and I found Run For The Ranch. I seriously considered it because of the afternoon start and because Springfield is my birthplace.
    Sorry to hear that you had such a difficult day on the course. Freak4Fitness is right, you didn't waste 16 weeks of your life. How many people run and finish a marathon in their lives? A quick search and I found this at, "There were 382,000 marathon finishes in 2005. Guesstimating the U.S. population at 295 million in that year, it works out to about .13% (and you have to take into account that many of the people who finished were not first-time marathoners)." So think about that. The number of finishers in 2009 was 468,000 so the numbers change slightly.

    Marathon Maniac #3215

  9. That certainly puts things in perspective, Wayne. Thank you. I'm feeling much better about the whole experience now that I've had some time. Not quite ready to tackle another one, but I do start half marathon training very soon :) That is a very good distance!