|My dream did not come true in HOU, |
but this guy's may have!
|It was still somewhat dark at the start, but I am in here|
|Find me in pink|
|The pace group|
|Probably the only time Ryan Hall|
will take a photo of the group I'm
|I just love these group shots|
My optimism lasted until about mile 10, when I fell off the pack. I tried my best to hang on, but I physically couldn't any more. The group pulled ahead of me and as I watched the gap widen, I knew that my dream was fading away. I teared up. It was truly over for 2020.
I decided I'd run to the half timing mat so my husband and dad would get my time and know that I was off pace and would be dropping. A bit before mile 12, my friend Laura passed me. I fought back tears when she asked if I was okay, and I told her I was too sick to do it and that I was going to drop out. She told me her husband was just ahead and she'd take me to him so he could drive me back to the finish line. I'd thought that was the option I'd want, but I found myself unable to step off the course; I thanked them and told them I was going to keep going.
I'm not completely sure why I couldn't bring myself to stop; I had truly planned to and my lungs sounded like those of an overweight smoker with COPD, but I just kept running. I thought maybe I'd run to mile 15 or 16, depending on when I saw a medical tent. 26.2 miles isn't intimidating to me at this point; 26.2 mile at a fast pace is, but not the distance itself.
Around mile 15 I spotted Ashley up ahead. I met her before Indy when we were both chasing the OTQ there, and we'd kept in touch on social media. I was sorry to see her because of what that meant for her goal, but I was also thinking that sometimes God gives us storms in our lives to help others through theirs, so she and I could help each other through the last 11 miles of this non-ideal marathon. We fell into stride together and chatted for the next several miles. Connecting with her at that point really lifted my spirits. We were nowhere near the pace we'd trained for, but we were blessed to be out there running.
Ashley stopped at a bathroom around mile 20, and at that point I figured I might as well finish. I hadn't looked at my watch the entire race - when I was with the pace group I'd just stayed with them, and after I fell off I'd just been jogging. I had some hesitancy about finishing over 3 hours, because I haven't run a marathon over 3:00 since the first time I broke 3:00, but my inner voice saying, "Who cares if you don't break 3:00? No one cares!!" won, and I decided I wasn't going to drop out when I physically could finish.
There are legitimate reasons to drop out of race, and I respect that when runners make that choice it's the right choice for them. There are races that I should have DNFed (ahem, Indy Women's 2018), and ended up super injured by not dropping. In general I think if you're going to cause an injury to get much worse or risk causing any long term damage to your body, you should drop. In this situation I knew I'd make myself more sick, but I didn't think there was a risk beyond that and physically I knew I could finish at a slower pace. Most of all, I wanted to continue. If the Trials window had been open a few more weeks and I could take another shot, I may have stopped, but I thought dropping would be very simple and it was not!
When I saw the mile 24 course clock, I had a brief pity party a la "I should be finishing right now" followed by "wait, I can still go sub-3:00 if I run 7:30 or under for these final 2.2 miles". Within the last 2 miles, I heard numerous spectators yelling for the sub-3:00 runners. I saw plenty of elated runners around me realizing they were going to go sub-3:00. I picked it up some to make sure, and I crossed the finish line in 2:58:35, for my 10th consecutive sub-3:00, which was definitely more than I'd expected during the second half of the race. My dad's video of the finish is here.
|Finish shot - half marathoners on the left|
The finish chute seemed long because I knew it truly was the end. There would be no "try again" for 2020. I didn't do it. I didn't do it at Houston because of illness. I didn't do it at CIM because I missed the race due to a death. I didn't do it at Indy because the wind. I didn't do it before then because I was never truly fit enough before Indy; I was close so I tried anyway though. This goal that I'd thought of every day for almost 3 years was not accomplished and never could be.
At the same time, I wouldn't take back any of the training I've done. It's disappointing that it didn't result in a marathon time fast enough for the USATF, but the process brought me so much joy that it feels silly to be too upset. Not every dream is meant to be realized, but every dream serves a purpose.
"God is within her, she will not fall." - Psalm 46:5
Read my post about the last-minute OTQ chasers here.
See the pre-race mention of the 2:45 pace group in the Fast Women Newsletter here.
Read the Runners World article about the 2:45 pace group here.
Recaps from my other four attempts:
Indy Monumental 2019