A few weeks ago, I ran the Nashville Greenway Marathon on a chilly Sunday morning. I had never been on the Nashville Greenway before even though I live only an hour or less from several trail heads. I didn’t really know what to expect except a few hills.
My 13-year old caught a stomach bug on Tuesday of race week, and sure enough, it hit me on Thursday. It wasn’t a bad one, but I wasn’t at 100% by the Sunday start. Almost though. I ran two easy miles on Saturday to test my tummy and to shake out my legs.
A small group of about 94 or so of us started at 7:30 a.m. I knew about 6 or 7 runners and 3 volunteers. It’s always nice to see friendly faces at races out of town! I tried to hold back somewhat in the first few miles, averaging around 10:15 or so. In hindsight, I probably should have run more like 10:25 or 10:30 per mile early on as a warm up. (My best training run had been 18 miles at a 10:28 pace though.) It’s just hard to know.
Somewhere between miles two and three, I saw a runner just ahead whom I kind of “knew” through Facebook and Twitter and mutual friends. I sped up and caught him and introduced myself. As it turned out, he had also had a virus in the last few days and was not feeling very well at all. He was considering turning around and running back to the start. He said he’d decide for sure at 8 miles. We chatted and the miles passed quickly. I was aware that I was running more his (sick day) pace than mine, but I was enjoying the conversation. There were a few spots where the course wasn’t very well marked, and I was glad to run with someone who knew the Greenway route. Race-day buddies are always fun. You find out things in common like you are both parents of three kids, you have run some of the same races in the past, and of course you share your philosophy of running and races you hope to do and tell race stories from ones you have run. There is never a shortage of conversation (or maybe that’s just me!). I have been blessed to pass many, many miles with a new friend in many of my 14 marathons.
We were running somewhere around a 10-minute pace—sometimes 9:55, sometimes more like 10:10 for a long time. The eight-mile-mark came and went, and my friend kept going. Around mile 12 or 13, the pace really caught up to me—much earlier than it should have, honestly. I began to fade. Legs felt heavy. Energy was flagging. Ugh, that’s the PATTERN I’ve had in all of my recent marathons. Things are hard earlier than they should be. Yes, I often go out a bit too fast (but not crazily so), but that wall just keeps on moving earlier! I’m hydrating. I’m taking in carbs every 40 or 45 minutes. But it is as if those carbs never make it to my muscles in the form of energy! It feels much like the way I feel on a carb-depleted run. However, on those runs, I am usually running slower. Hmmm....
Finally, around 14, I had faded to a 10:30 or 11:00 min mile pace, and my friend was feeling better, so he went on. My body was saying STOP and walk. I began to run/walk. It was as if my legs couldn’t run another step, but I forced them to keep moving. I remember at mile 16 thinking I could just walk the rest of the way and trying to figure out how long that would take!
When I saw the mile 20 sign, though, it was as if the cloud lifted a bit. There is something MAGICAL about seeing that 20-mile-marker. You know you are going to be alright. It may be painful, but you’ve come that far, and there’s just a 10K left. I started running more and more. I ran fairly well in the last two miles of the race, especially. At that point, “running well” means an 11:30 pace, but not walking any or much at all.
I didn’t get really discouraged when things fell apart. Things have fallen apart in my last 3 road marathons. I think I’m getting used to it! It happens and you just dig deep and FINISH. Around mile 20, I knew I could probably come in under 5 hours if I didn’t walk too much. For me, under 5 hours is still an OK day. Under 4:45 is a good day. Under 4:36 would be a GREAT day. It’ll happen sometime…. Maybe. I kept my emotions under control though and enjoyed the beauty of much of the course. There were some really scenic areas along fields and the river. I was really impressed with this beautiful greenway and plan to return to run there again!
This was my first full marathon since my Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis diagnosis on February 28. It is an autoimmune disease in which my immune system is attacking my thyroid. The thyroid gland regulates metabolism and energy and endurance. I PRAY that falling apart around mile 13 isn’t my new normal. I don’t want to run strictly half marathons. I want to run marathons and ultramarathons. I can let go of the idea of running fast a little easier if I get to run FAR. I just have to adjust my expectations a bit, I’m afraid. Maybe faster times are ahead of me, maybe they are behind me. Symptoms of Hashimoto’s include muscular weakness and lack of stamina. Another potential symptom is associated with malabsorption of vitamins, like B1 (Thiamin). You know what B1 does? It allows your body to convert carbohydrates to energy. One studied showed that MONSTER doses of B1 made a big difference in the way Hashimoto’s patients felt. When you take a monster dose, even if little is absorbed (the rest is excreted in urine), you are closer to getting a “normal” amount. I started supplementing this week!