“Pain is temporary, pride is forever.” It’s the quote that was displayed on the back of my high school gymnastics team sweatshirt, the one my mom lovingly put on a sign for me during the Cleveland Half Marathon this past May, and the reminder that many spectators provided us with throughout the 26.2 miles of the Columbus Marathon on October 21st. Part of me chuckled each time I saw it because of the frequency of its appearance throughout the last eight or so years of my life. This time around though, it was different. During what was my first marathon, that quote served as more of a challenge than a reminder.
I guess I should go back and summarize my training for my very first marathon. Prior to January 1, 2012 I was not a runner. Sure, I ran a couple 5ks and didn’t do too terribly (I thank my leftover gymnastics endurance!), and I maybe ran once a month, but I never would have called myself a runner. I made it my 2012 New Years Resolution to run a half-marathon and registered for the Cleveland Half Marathon on January 1st. I told myself (and anyone that asked) that it would be the farthest I ever run. I had no desire to ever run a full marathon. Half was good enough for me. About a week after the half was over, I changed my mind. About a month after the half, I bit the bullet and registered for the Columbus Marathon in October. My training for the marathon started off well, but was less than ideal closer to the end. A minor surgery kept me from training for a week, followed by a work trip that sidelined me for another week. The fact that I had not trained for those two weeks had me feeling pretty nervous about the race. Still, I was determined to do my best. Four days before the race I was involved in a fairly serious car accident that left both cars totaled. Before I could get out of my car I could already feel pain in my knee and was freaking out a bit about how I was going to run the marathon!
Fast-forward a couple of days. I made the decision to tough it out and do my best. I had been told that there was nothing structurally wrong with my knee, but that I would likely experience some pain from a pretty bad bruise. I went to the Expo on Saturday with my parents, enjoyed some free goodies, and met up with my friend Lindsey and her husband Kyle. The three of us enjoyed a nice, light pre-race dinner at Aladdin’s and headed back to our hotel. Sunday morning, Kyle dropped us off at the already crazy starting line and we found Corral D. Thank goodness for the free gloves we got because we were COLD. By the time we finally crossed the starting line, it was no longer dark and the energy of everyone around us was full of excitement! After weaving in and out of the pack of runners we started with, Lindsey and I found a good pace and were making excellent time. Kyle joined us for bits and pieces of the race, feeding us protein bars along the way. My parents were cheering along the side of the route throughout the race and I believe they caught up with us six times total! Of course, even at Mile 2, my mom cried as I ran past. Sigh.
I managed to finish the race with a time of 4:25. Though I was disappointed that I had to walk throughout part of the race, I was definitely proud of finishing before my goal time. After getting my medal and food bag and finding my family, I went straight to the medic tent to get checked out. The doctor told me to take the standard week off from running and to make a doctors appointment if I was still in pain. Nine days later I still feel a little pain in my knee, but otherwise feel fully recovered. I have not run yet, but am planning to do so in the next couple of days. I am participating in the Hot Chocolate 15k in Columbus on November 18th, so I’d like to get back out there sooner rather than later!
Throughout my training I had joked about how the hills I had no choice but to train on would make the flat-coursed marathon feel much easier. I wasn’t wrong about that, thankfully. There was apparently a period of gradual uphill running but I honestly didn’t notice it. If you want to train for a hilly marathon, come train in New Concord. I truly believe that, as much as I hate these hills, they were a huge advantage during the race. Something else that I learned during my training is that I have to be hydrated or I struggle immensely. Thankfully the race provided plenty of water and Gatorade along the route, and I carried my handy water belt with an extra supply as well. I didn’t need my extra stash much during the race (except for when I snacked), but it was absolutely imperative on my training runs. Note to self: even though I may look like an idiot, it is well worth it!
Immediately after finishing the race several people asked me if I would run another marathon. My immediate answer was a resounding “NO!” One marathon was enough. And then several days passed, and I got to thinking that maybe I’d like to try for a better time. Everyone wants to PR, right? So, while I haven’t registered for another marathon or even decided which one I’d like to train for, my answer to that question has changed. As long as my body will allow it, I’m pretty confident I’ll run another marathon (or two) in the next couple of years. In the meantime, I’d like to get my body healthy again, improve my speed, and do a better job with weight training, etc.
So, while my pain was pretty intense the last few miles of the race, it was, in fact, temporary. I recognize that my body is not the average 25 year-old woman’s body because of the many years I spent as a gymnast, but I know that working through the pain is worth it to accomplish the goals I set for myself. The pain may last for a couple of days, but the knowledge that I ran a marathon is something that will last forever.