Monday, October 31, 2011

MCM According to Sal

As I hobble around like Frankenstein on this chilly Halloween day, I couldn't be happier that the Marine Corp Marathon is yesterday's news. It was truly a fantastic experience and I am ecstatic that we were able to see our goal through. Going from hardly being able to run one mile to knocking out a marathon in less than a year was no small feat - and though I'm not sure I'd recommend it to others, I am very proud of all of the hard work that went into making this dream a reality.

Given all of the knee and IT band issues I was having leading up to the race, I certainly expected to have some pain while on the course, but I hoped that all of my foam rolling and 3+ weeks of rest would lessen the inflammation around my knee and I'd be able to trot along using the strong base of running I had built over the last few months. What I did not expect is for my knee to act up in such an abrupt and severe manner as it did yesterday. I started strong with my whole crew, including Liv, but at mile 1.5 - far earlier than I ever would have imagined - my knee let out an audible POP and I saw the rest of the race unravel. It came on so suddenly and unexpectedly that I felt dizzy from the stress and disappointment. That was the last I saw of Liv, and frankly, I worried it was the last I'd see of the course, too. My knee throbbed from pain - sometimes as sharp, shooting pains, but every so often lessening to a dull, slightly-more-tolerable pain. It popped a couple more times as I attempted to run again, so I called my fam and asked them to have Advil ready at mile 8. 

Over the next several miles, the pain would come and go. I experienced another major POP around mile 11 (exactly when the photog was snapping a pic, of course... would love to see that lovely snapshot). The pain was so crippling at times that I worried trying to fight through would cause long-term damage. That's when my incredible training team came to the rescue. PTW (the boyfri) could have finished the marathon in under 3 hours if he wanted to, but he stuck by my side from start to finish. He pushed me when he could tell I needed it, and backed off when he knew I was already fighting as hard as I could. Not once did he grumble or mumble when I slowed to a walk or took yet another stretching pit stop. And he was one of many members of my support crew... 

Two of my brothers and sister-in-law joined me for most of the course, distracting me from the pain that slowly spread from my knee to every last inch of my body. They ran ahead and pointed out mile markers and upcoming snacks and gave me something to focus on other than my diminishing strength. They made me feel like I was doing much better than I really was, and for that, I'm forever grateful. My entire family made posters and waved around Bama foam fingers and Halloween balloons.

Even my sweet lil' 1.5 year old nephew stuck it out through the freezing cold (with an earache no less!) to cheer me on and put a smile on my face.

It was no doubt a day that I will never forget. I can't thank my parents, brothers, sisters-in-law, nieces and nephews, boyfriend and many, many friends for all of their cheering, running, praying, poster-making, texting, emailing and commiserating.

Though running is typically a solitary sport, yesterday felt like anything but. Having a network of support had an immeasurable positive influence on my performance yesterday, and I can now proudly say, "I've run a marathon." 

P.S. Stay tuned for Liv's entirely different recap of the course. She pretty much dominated the race yesterday - so much so that we didn't even get to take photos together afterwards because she was already eating lunch (sigh). Very proud of Liv for sticking to her training plan and showing the rest of us first-timers how it's really done.


  1. A huge congrats! You are a marathoner!! Sorry you had such a tough time with the ITB. I know how debilitating it can be. You showed real mental toughness to stick it out.

  2. So, so proud of you two for finishing! Sal - I am so impressed you stuck it out through your injury. Can't wait to hear Olivia's account! -sb

  3. yayayayya!!! so proud of you girls! next year, let's swim a marathon....

  4. you DID IT!!!! Congrats!!!

  5. thanks so much, guys! such a fun experience and SO glad it's over.

  6. p.s. Neens, you still owe me swim lessons so I can join you guys in a triathalon.