Sunday, December 10, 2017

CIM Miles 22.5-26.2: The beginning of the end

Around mile 22.5 is where my short-lived 2:45:00 dream for this race began unraveling.  My neck began spasming, which is something I've never experienced before.  My legs were still intact, so initially I didn't worry and kept pressing.  I needed 3.5 more miles around 6:15 to make my big dream come true.

The neck pain quickly worsened, and I felt like my neck was being pulled backwards, like a puppet on a string.  I tried to pull my head forward, to tilt it down or to the sides, but I couldn't.  It quickly progressed to where I couldn't see the road due to my neck angle, plus I became dizzy, and my peripheral vision was off.  I looked downwards towards my nose and focused on the head of a runner in front of me.  My mantra morphed into, "Just get to to finish, just get in, just follow her in" over and over.

In the final miles, the marathon will find your weaknesses and rub them in your face.  A tiny rub becomes a blister, a chafe from a seam becomes a bloody wound, a niggle becomes a limp.  My recent issue with benign paroxsymal positional vertigo (BPPV) was my weakness, and it was exposed.  I've crashed in the final miles of a marathon before, but this sensation was unlike anything I have experienced.  We all have to run with what we have in any given race, and this was simply what I had.  The weather, course, and field were conducive to performing at 100% (a rare combination that all runners sure seek!); the BPPV was not.
I received about 12 professional photos illustrating
the posture I ran with for the final 3.5 miles, hahaha!
One thing that was odd is that I was still passing people.  At mile 20 I was in 73rd female position, and I finished in 65th female position.  A handful of people passed me during those final 3.5 miles, and each time I would think, "Sara, that's supposed to be you; you are supposed to be having that strong finish", but I was doing all I could to just get in. 
In retrospect, I feel foolish for in no way considering my health and only thinking about getting to that finish line.  Since I'd had the definitive BPPV diagnosis, I knew what was wrong, and as the name says it is benign, so I like to think that this information was in my head informing my decisions.  I would never want to jeopardize my long-term health for a marathon time; if the choice is between a PR and running for the rest of my life, the choice is always running for the rest of my life.  I didn't think about the options, I just thought about getting in.  I knew my dream was fading away, but I didn't know by how much because I couldn't look down at my watch to see my final 3 splits, and I also knew I could still PR.
This was all I could muster for the finishing shot,
but, hey, I wasn't stopping my watch in it!
I fought with all I had, and I was so relieved to see the mile 26 sign as we turned towards the capital (it was tall so I could see it looking up!).  I was so relieved that I was going to make it in.  I could see the finishing clock up high, and I could tell I was still going to run a significant PR.  I made it over the finishing mat and immediately fell to the ground, something I've never done before.  I've always thought that people are being overly dramatic when they do this, because I always give a race all I have yet manage to stay upright, but this was just different.  I was overcome with so many sensations:  excruciating pain, joy to finish in a PR time, and disappointment that my 2:45 dream actually wasn't possible this day.

My dad's video of the finish is here.

I grabbed this from my finishing video (see the video here)

A PRs a PR
Just to be technical, my average pace was 6:22.7, haha!


  1. Those finishing pictures with your head back look so painful! You looked strong in your finishing videos though!

    1. Now I can't look at those photos without laughing! I knew they'd be taking them at the finish line but I just couldn't move my head for the life of me.

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