Because of the upcoming triathlon season, I was given a small window of opportunity to have a running season. Winter isn't exactly a great time to have a running season in Ohio, but I thought choosing a marathon a little further south at the end of March would be perfect. There were a few things I didn't take into account though: (1) it could still be very cold and (2) the trees might be in bloom and allergies could be bad.
When we arrived in Baltimore on Thursday I was already feeling a little "off." I was stuffy and my throat seemed drier than usual. I also had a pain in my chest that has been off and on for four years. I chalked it all up to being dehydrated from flying. But it continued the next day when we traveled to Washington. I didn't feel sick, but didn't feel like me either. Dave registered for the half marathon and I picked up my race packet. We made it to our hotel, which was amazing, and headed to the grocery store to pick up some fixings for dinner. Yes, we had a full kitchen in our hotel room.
To my surprise, I was really relaxed about this race. I let everyone else hype it, but I was calm and realistic. I knew there would be no PR. I just wanted to have a fun race and enjoy running. I slept pretty well the night before and we were up really early on race morning. It was cold in DC and race morning was no different. It was in the low thirties at race time. What the heck do you wear with that kind of weather? I wore tights and two long sleeved shirts: one to wear, one to take off. This proved to be a mistake too.
We got to the race site, checked in our stuff, had enough time to take a bathroom break, and lined up at the start. Dave was in a different corral than me so we didn't get to pace off each other. The gun went off and so did I. Wearing my Garmin for the first time I paced right around a 9:00 for the first mile. Perfect. For the next six miles I tried to pace over an 8:30. At mile 6 I wanted to pick up the pace to around an 8:15-8:30, but this part of the course was uphill so I backed off. The course guide said this course was flat and fast. The Columbus Marathon is flat and fast. This was rolling. By mile 8 I was feeling bad. I would try to pick up the pace to what should have been comfortable but I felt like something was sitting on my chest. I couldn't breathe comfortably. I couldn't take a deep breath. I felt out of control. My legs felt like they were running through carmel and my mind was racing at a million miles per minute. What the hell was going on? I started to wonder if I should run the whole marathon. If I continued on it could a miserable, long slog. That is not exactly what I had in mind.
I continued on and felt a little better in miles 10, 11, 12, but then I needed to make a decision. The marathon and the half marathon broke off right before the finish of the half marathon. I debated over and over again in my head and finally made the decision. I would just do the half marathon and be done with it. And that's what I did. I finished the half, called my dad, cried a little, and found Dave. He had a great race with a new PR. Check out his race report here.
The silver lining in all this: the medal was cool and I got to enjoy and have fun with the rest of my time in DC.
So what went wrong? I'm gonna be brutally honest here. I am totally screwed up in the head since my DNF in Louisville. I am scared to death of the dark times in races. I have no idea how to fail. I have no idea how to succeed. I am torn between wanting to be a running and finishing what I started with Ironman. I have become comfortable with training and can't remember what it's like to race hard, finish strong, and most importantly, have fun. I have a lot to work on, mentally, as the triathlon season comes up quickly.
We returned home on Monday and there were many, many email exchanges between my coach and me. The very next weekend (this weekend) there were three marathons within driving distance of our home. Should I try again? There was also an indoor triathlon at the gym where we workout. Was it time to start my triathlon racing season? Or should I just move on with my triathlon training, keep my eye on the prize, and finish what I started? Details to follow....