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I Gave Up During My 2nd Marathon

This isn't the report I want to write. This isn't how I imagined this would go. In fact, there wasn't anything about this weekend that went how I thought that it would be when I registered for the Harrisburg Marathon. 

And right now, I can't honestly tell you what I'm feeling because I'm not really sure what that is right now. I just know that I'm disappointed, and I'm so terribly angry with myself. I am so so so angry with me for giving up on me.

The week of the marathon I got very little sleep. Two days before the marathon Lil Man got sick. But honestly I don't think that this had anything to do with the very bad day that I had on Sunday.

I was excited and nervous before the race. And then we were off. I kept myself on pace. I have a tendency to start off too fast and bonk before the end. So for the first couple of miles I was on 'target', but I knew that I was struggling. Really?!? Within the first couple of miles I was struggling for a marathon!!!

It was awesome to see friendly faces along the course both running and spectating. And it was for these people that I kept moving forward.

Around mile 7 a friend met me and ran a little with me. She said she'd see me around 15ish miles. I was going to see my running buddy around 13 miles. I kept telling myself just make it to 13, and I'd see my running partner.

By mile 9 I was crying. I had the beginnings of leg cramps. I didn't have issues with cramps at all this go around with my training. So to have them in the race was quite unexpected. I was hydrating. I was fueling. I was on pace. But things just weren't going my way.

And slowly I watched my goal slip away. And that feeling was devastating for me - the moment that I knew that I wasn't going to reach a goal that I had worked so hard to obtain. And I cried some more - this time harder. And then I gave up. Yep, at mile 13, I told my friend I was done. I want to DNF. I just want to stop.

She yelled at me that I wasn't going to stop. I had trained too hard for this and I wasn't giving up. I kept moving. But I had no heart left to run this race.

I saw my friend around 15ish miles. I don't think she intended to run as far as she did, but she ran several miles with me and refused to let me stop. Seriously, she refused to let me give up. Another runner friend stepped out from the crowd, hugged me and ran a few steps.

No one would let me stop. Strangers urged me on. Funny now that I look back how I had given up on myself, but no one else had. They believed in me even when I didn't believe in myself.

By mile 17 or so, the leg cramps were pretty severe and my knee was pretty messed up also. But I had promised the friend who had just run with me that I'd make it to 20 to see my running partner .

And there she was in all of her bright colored cheery perky you-got-this self. And I cried. And I moaned. And I asked her to just let me quit. I was just 'done'.

She refused and said that I wasn't, and that I would finish and to just keep moving. And so we did. We ran into another couple of River Runners who were also down for the count. So our over-zealous over-cheerful you-got-this cheerleader pushed and prodded us one step in front of the other. She tried her best to get me to the finish in a faster time, but by then physically I just wasn't there. I tried running in 30 second increments, but the cramps and mainly the knee were just too much

Once we reached the River section we joked that we could just push her into the river. and walk off the course and be done.

Then the juggler man passed us. Yep, I got beat by a guy juggling balls while running. Oh, oh, don't forget the fairy who also finished ahead of me. (Not to mention that Pamela Anderson beat me in the NYC marathon.)

But in the end, I finished. And honestly, it was a PR. It just wasn't the PR that I wanted. And I'm ashamed to tell my time. I've never really been ashamed to tell my time before, but I'm embarrassed that it was 5:42:45.

And I keep telling myself that I finished a marathon, but right now I'm more angry that I gave up on myself.

But what I am proud of is the awesome running community that I am a part of. River Runners has forever changed my experience with running groups. It was overwhelming the support that I had along the course. If it hadn't been for them, I wouldn't have finished my 2nd Marathon.

Each race is a learning experience, and I believe I have a lot to learn from this one.

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  1. I felt the same way you did during the marathon on Sunday. I went out the first ten miles feeling great. Then after that, mile 10-14 were a wake up call to me thinking "why am I feeling like this already when I trained so well!?". Mile 17-22 were very brutal. I would like to blame the wind. A lot of seasoned marathon runners, fast ones, even mentioned that they were really struggling through those miles that the wind picked up. It hurt everyone I think. I didn't prepare for my muscles to feel that way, even when I trained and felt good at those mile points. I am so glad you had the drive to keep going though, you would have really been upset with yourself if you would have settled for a DNF. I am proud of you and happy that you kept going. I am glad to hear that I was not the only one who felt so terrible so early on in the race. Good job!! I am sure this isn't your last one, that is an even better feeling!

    1. Congrats on your finish! And yes, the wind was brutal :)

  2. Awwe man this post shows more than anything else how mental running is. I think that's actually the piece I am focused on more than my physical training for my next race.

    You are truly beyond lucky to have such a huge support system because while you wanted to stop their belief in you over the long haul is what will help you see that what they believe is true!

    1. Yes, I had an amazing support group from the running community! Good luck with your next race.

  3. I was so disappointed when I read the title, but that changed when I saw you finished. Congrats!

  4. You are a 2-time marathoner - even if you didn't want to be. It's amazing to me that you had so much support to help get you passed that finish line. AMAZING!! Congrats to you for listening to them and crossing that line. You are awesome!!

  5. This was a tough marathon and you are a tough woman for making it to the finish. I wonder if the changing weather system moving through was a reason a number of runners had a tougher time than usual. I ran the third leg of the relay and could see (and feel) the weather changing, temps dropping and the wind picking up during my last mile.

  6. Stop beating yourself up!!!!!!! You finished!!!!! You could have walked off the course, but you didn't. You may not have had the time you wanted, but you got a time, not a DNF. That's huge. <3

  7. First - GOOD JOB! You finished it and didn't quit. That speaks volumes for your tenacity and toughness! Running a marathon is not an easy task and even the best of the best have ones that don't go as they would have liked. Desi didn't even show run at the Olympics, Ryan Hall quit around mile 10 or so, etc. If it is a PR, enjoy the PR! There is so much more than just training involved, there is some luck too. Luck that your digestive system is happy on that particular day, luck with the weather, luck avoiding illnesses, etc. Many factors go into it that are out of our control on race day. :)

  8. I'm still so impressed that you DIDN'T give up!!! You finished it, even though it was ugly and hard and painful, you finished and trusted in your running partners to help you get over that finish line! Even if it wasn't a fast PR, it was a great PR because every other marathon from here on out you'll KNOW that you can go through anything and tough it out!

  9. Hey! You finished! Don't beat yourself up. I know it wasn't the race you wanted, but you completed another marathon! Not all that many people can say that. It sounds like you have an amazing support system, and that is something to be proud of, too! Congrats! You did it even though it was damn hard. Even though you wanted to stop, you didn't. Feel strong and brave and awesome for that.

  10. You know....sometimes I think we go through difficult set backs (financially, spiritually, physically, grief, etc) so we can offer understanding, support and reach out to help others. You don't realize it but if you only knew how inspirational you are! This encourages others and helps us all realize the mental and physical toughness of this race, appreciation for other racers who finish and who don't!, and how we are not alone in this difficult journey. Your understanding and sharing your honest experience possibly helped dozens cross that finish line when their goals seemed compromised by weather/pre-mature "exhaustion". I for one have been the MOST inspired by your sharing over all the other posts I have read.


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