Wait, no it wasn't. I didn't actually do it. Allow me to explain...
I'm still not entirely pleased with myself or the experience and it's for entirely vain and ridiculous reasons I've yet to overcome. In layman's terms, I have a big ego.
To make a long story short, I dropped down to the half marathon (which is still a really long way!) and walked with a peg leg until yesterday afternoon ish.
Prior to this race I didn't actually know where Savannah was (read how unprepared I was here). We hit the road for what would become a 6+ hour drive to Atlanta Thursday night where we stopped for the night and I crashed on a friend's couch before getting up Friday and making the 3-4 hour drive to Savannah. We passed actual cotton fields and trees that looked like they were still in early October instead of November by their color and abundance of leaves. It was also very flat and very straight the closer we got. Seemed like it would make a great location for a long race.
Except I don't really like flat courses...
Anyway, I underestimated the toll sitting in a car for so long would take on my body. Getting out of the car at the expo felt like I had already run a race and was probably due to being not quite recovered from the marathon. I ignored it, stretched out a little and my travel buddy and I explored Savannah while we waited for the birthday girl to arrive.
We took a little ferry across the river from the expo to Savannah proper and enjoyed a little lunch and free margaritas before heading back to packet pick up.
Finally we were all together and headed into the expo. I used to really love expos but lately I've found them to be kind of draining. I'm particular about the size and when they're tiny like the one in Indy I feel too exposed to shop but when they're huge like this one was I just get overwhelmed and want to get the F out of there!
After we picked up our stuff
We met up with some Saucony folk for dinner and drinks (I conservatively went with water) but I didn't have much of an appetite so got grilled cheese and chips. Unfortunately they were barbecue chips which I hate. So yeah, grilled cheese and water, perfect carb loading. Speaking of Saucony, the guy we had dinner with came in THIRD in the half....
Race morning I woke up again feeling fine, not stellar. I still couldn't make the call whether I was going full or half but since the split wasn't until after mile 11 I had some time to figure it out. The good and bad about traveling for a race is how little you have to choose from when it comes to gear. I only brought 2 options for shirts, 1 pair of shorts and 1 sports bra but I had a ton of fuel choices and way too many pairs of socks. I ended up deciding on a pink out with my pink compression socks, pink fuel belt and pink No Meat Athlete shirt (buy on like it here!).
We left the hotel around 5:20 to get to the ferry lot by 5:45 since they closed parking at 6. We got a little turned around on the way but ended up making it with time to spare and getting a good spot. The ferry line wasn't too long but I did think it was weird they didn't start running until an hour before the race. The trip was short across the river and we got a great view of the sunrise on the other side.
We made it up to the start and looked for our corral. We were in corral 12 out of 21 so had plenty of time to get in line for the potty...or so we thought. While we were waiting we heard the National Anthem by an incredible opera sounding guy and then the countdown and the gun. They were holding corrals about 1-2 minutes apart so we did have time but when we found an opening to get into the chute we saw corral 13 coming by! A bit of a scramble and we made it to the back of 12 and found ourselves between the 4:30 and 4:45 marathon pacers. A random photographer jumped in front of us for a photo op and though it is hysterical, I will not be posting it online because I don't hate myself or Erin.
Then we were off! There was a small climb (if you can even call it that) over a bridge and a lot of people around us started complaining that "It was supposed to be a flat course!" I'm pretty sure that overpass bridge was the peak elevation gain but I understand flatlanders aren't used to it. The sun was OUT and it started to warm up pretty quickly. Not hot but too warm for my taste (which is COLD). The bands along the course were all really good and gave the race a ton of energy.
Around mile 4 we stopped for a potty break and lost a few minutes. I stopped my watch so I could keep my intervals (I was following very loosely) and know my true running time since I knew the chip would tell me my race time. The 5 hour marathon pacer passed us while we were waiting but she didn't get too far ahead.
Just before the 10k split I started to not feel so great at all. After only 2 miles I knew I wasn't having my best day but the extended break at the mile 4 pit stop gave me a little life. I generally take an hour to warm up which was right around 10k and I knew it was bad. My hip was hurting and a few other very specific places which is never a good thing. I tried to run it out, then walk then stretch and it never came around, in fact it started to feel worse. By mile 7 I'd pretty much decided on the half but my ego and stubbornness were persistent in telling me I could survive the full. If you know me at all, you know that survival is always my goal however not how I like to race. If I'm just surviving, it's not worth it. If it's not fun, don't do it. I also needed to make sure I didn't destroy myself before Ironman training even started.
By mile 10 I had to call it. Erin was totally cool with it since we both kind of knew it was going to happen and because even having someone with you for part of a marathon is huge in breaking up the monotony. I sent a quick text to Ruth to let her know I was about 5k out but going slow and she said she'd meet me at the finish. By this point my hip was totally jacked and had thrown my knee and ankle out of alignment causing more pain. Not to mention my left quad was yelling at having to take on extra work.
To be totally honest, I felt like an asshole and a fraud. After the split when Erin markedly picked up her pace (I lead her to a wicked negative split by the way) I just wanted to give up. I wanted to cry and yell at myself and hide in a hole somewhere. I fell into a dark place really quickly. I felt like I'd ruined Erin's race and birthday (um, ego much?). I felt like I'd never get through Ironman if I couldn't even get through a marathon (um, hello, I'd just gotten through one...). I felt like nobody would want me as a personal trainer even though I worked and still work my ass off reading, studying and keeping up to date with new industry developments. Also, I'm pretty sure the exam didn't require me to run a step. I felt defeated.
But then I remembered that I signed up for this for fun. Remember fun? Before splits and Garmins and dry-fit clothing I ran just because it made me smile. "Wow I ran a whole mile today!" "Oh my gosh I finished a real race!" "What?! A medal! Look at me!" I wore my cotton socks and a big smile when I first started this racing madness. What happened? I looked around me and saw a lot of people struggling. People with tears in their eyes and people with grins of disbelief that we were coming up on the mile 12 marker. I heard a woman say she just knew she'd cry if she made it to the finish. I told her she was going to make it. Then I said "We'll all make it! We're at mile 12!" Some people smiled and most wanted to kill me. Fuel and train for a full marathon and then run a half. You'll have a boatload of energy too!
Being around so many people doing their first half gave me a lot of energy and got me excited again. I'd forgotten what it felt like to just be proud of finishing, to be proud to even be there. I was still hurting. A lot. But I picked up the pace, kind of, and decided to enjoy my last 1.1. A marathoner came through around my 12.5 mark and we all cheered him on. Before I knew it I saw 13 up ahead and it was literally just a right hand turn into the finisher chute. My legs were lead but I pushed to the finish showing a much faster pace than I'm used to which told me it was still in there but buried under some seriously tired muscles. My watch was at 2:37:55 which I just realized is a new PR! Even my 2:42 chip time is a PR so that's good to know.
When I crossed the line a nice older volunteer called to me to try to give me a full marathon finisher medal since my bib said full. It was sweet and I laughed that she thought I'd run a 2:42 marathon. I finished the race STARVING. I'd actually been hungry the whole race even though I had a mobile grocery store around my waist and wanted something with substance. I found a bagel and they were handing out Justin's almond and maple almond butter packets. Exactly what I wanted!
Ruth found me and we walked over to the sunny field to hang out and wait for Erin. I stopped for ice at the medical tent and they literally taped it onto me which was amazing. My legs were tight and tired but nothing like finishing my past half marathons and I was really excited about that. We laid on the grass in the sun and I stretched out and phoned home. I knew my family was getting text alerts and wanted them to know I was ok even though I didn't do the full. I also sent Erin a motivational text.
Not too long after I'd finished Erin text me to say she was at mile 24. Holy moly! She was flying! Ruth and I got up and headed to the finish to make sure we caught her and she flew by like she was warming up. It was fun to cheer on a friend at the finish but definitely stung a little that I wasn't finishing too.
I was still in pain the rest of the day and into the next one when we drove back home and I definitely know I made the right decision. I might try a short run/walk tomorrow but I think I need to give my legs a break for a bit and stick to short runs. Rock 'n' Roll puts on a good show and it was a really fun experience, especially racing with a friend and having a sherpa. It's usually one or the other. Now that my ego has quieted down a little I can see that I had a really good race considering I was trying to cheat death by racing 2 marathons in less than a month. I'm all about recovery and ignoring it this time around proved to be a mistake.