Monday, January 20, 2014

26.2: In Training

This is supposed to be a post about how I rocked my first marathon. This post is supposed to be about how I surprised myself by running it under my quietly personal goal of 4:30:00. It's supposed to be about checking the monumental marathon task off my bucket list. I was prepared to run the marathon Sunday. My head and my heart were in the run. My right knee however, decided January 19th, was not going to be my marathon day.

Sunday morning began like every successful race day begins. I was PUMPED and EXCITED to run this race. My husband, Kate, and I shared a hotel room, (traditional race weekend travel buddies) and when the alarm went off at 5:00am, we jammed out to Eye of the Tiger. I bounced around barely containing my positive patty overwhelmingly excited energy. I can be annoyingly enthusiastic.

I had met with the  Marathon Pacer at the expo the day before. I joined the 4:40:00 pace team led by Tom who would be running is 100+ marathon and he felt very confident that 4:40:00 would be conservative for me. He confirmed what I already knew about first marathoners having pacing issues which is what makes those last miles even more difficult and troublesome. He was so kind and patient while I pestered him with my 18 million questions. I knew pacing the early miles of the race would be difficult for me. 

We met up with the Sole Sista crew at 5:45am traveling to the start line. Six of us were running the Louisiana, three going for the half, three going for the marathon. These women are incredible. We met through an organized run group through our gym last year and have become such great friends. I'm so thankful to have these women in my life. They make Saturday morning post run coffee dates a weekly highlight and celebrating finish lines a cherished experience. I can't imagine race days without them!



Off to the start line we went! I planned to meet up with an old friend from college who would also be running her first marathon with her aunt and friend. The three of them were so nice and welcoming. Having a familiar face on the road can totally alter the course of a race. 

I positioned myself in between the 4:30:00 and 4:40:00 group. I planned to force myself to make that my home for the next 4 and half hours. I was amped and excited to run this race. I knew I could do it, I knew I would do well. The weather was perfection, the route was beautiful, and I had so much support at this race. I had this, and I knew it.

The gun sounded and the crowd began to move. I started my run and fought the urge to take off at a fast pace. Slow and steady wins the race. Be patient. Go slow. I felt fantastic. It took all of my self coaching to begin the race slowly and patiently. The course is a Boston qualifier and is advertised for it's flat yet scenic course. In south Louisiana we are pretty hill-free, however at 3/4 of a mile in we hit one and I could tell a lot of people were under prepared. I however felt great. At mile two came an over pass and let's be real, that's as hilly as it's getting deep down south. I felt awesome. No worries no stress. I've already caught up to the 4:30:00 pace group. SLOW DOWN. Use your head girl!

Mile One: 9:58
Mile Two: 9:58
Mile Three: 9:52

Mile three, my right knee starts hurting. I had concerns about my knee before the race. It had been bothering me since my 20 mile run but I decided to ignore it. I wanted to run the marathon this day. I have this personal theory that if you don't acknowledge something out loud then it isn't real. Running is all mental right? I'm not about to vocalize this knee pain.

Mile Four: 9:52
Mile Five: 10:26
Mile Six: 10:05

Keep running. The more I run the more it hurts but I'm ignoring it. I must've thought about every single internet meme I've ever pinned about being tough. The marathon is going to hurt. It's a long way to run. Be strong!! I'm trying to think about anything besides how bad my knee hurts. The route was gorgeous,and I'm trying to enjoy it. The miles are ticking by and my pain is increasing with each step. At mile 8 I walked the water stop and had trouble getting going again. At 8.5 I felt something pop and a nearly bit the dirt. I've caught up with one of the ladies from the start line and she's alarmed for me. What's wrong?? It's my knee.

Mile Seven: 10:07
Mile Eight: 10:13

There it was. I'd said it out loud and I'm fighting the tears. I know it's over for me but I'm not ready to admit defeat. I knew my husband and our close friends, who had made the trip to see me do this, would be around the ten mile marker and I wanted to see them. I felt like that would give me the boost I needed. I'm holding on to the minute hope that a boost will get me to the finish. It was incredibly painful but I kept going. I was mad at myself. How can I look them in the eye and tell them that I had to quit? Quit is such an ugly word to me. I don't want it attached to my name.

Mile Nine: 10:39
Mile Ten: 10:34

At the 10 mile mark Tom, the 4:40:00 marathon pacer, has caught up to me. He put is arm around me and I can't say much without crying. Hot mess express marathon edition. He asked me if I could drag my leg another 13 miles, I know I can't, but he's trying to cheer me up. He was so kind to me. I'm approaching the split and I see my husband and friends. I'm so embarrassed. They're there cheering for me. Kat is 8 months pregnant and standing on the side of the road with a sign and a big smile. Here I am, the loser who can't. I felt so ashamed of myself.

I stopped to tell my husband what was going on. I know it's over. I'm crying. I'm devastated. It's not going to happen for me today. After that last stop with them, I can't kick my knee out behind me anymore. I can't bend it at all. I force myself to take the half split and head to finish. I felt about three inches tall. I felt like a loser.

Mile Eleven: 12:44

 I can't bend my right leg. I'm dead leg dragging it, but I'm determined to finish something. I must've been asked fifteen times if I needed medical. The cart, the sad cart, is trailing me. The only way I'm getting in that cart is if I'm dead. It took me 45 minutes to go 3 miles. Three embarrassing miles. I keep asking myself if I'm being a wuss. Could I have done this? I can't get running again at all period and I'm still beating myself up.

Mile Twelve: 19:20
Mile Thirteen:19:43

People were so nice to me, nearly everyone who passed me asked if I was ok. All I could say was, I'm going to make it! I tried to smile, but honestly I'm beyond words. I was devastated. My life had revolved around this singular task. For months. All of that training. All of that time. To finish a half like this? I dead legged walked it in. I rounded the corner to the finish line and I saw my Mom. Then I really lost it. I was so ashamed for her to see me like this. ME. I am stronger than this. My entire close circle of friends was at the finish line. All of them. All of the people that I love had come to see me run my first marathon and I can't stop crying. They've got signs with my name on it. They're cheering for me. They're here to see me  finish the marathon and I did not do it.



Seeing my Mom made me think about a time when I had been a real sore loser. I was five, and playing on a summer tee ball team, The Marlins. My team had lost and I cried. When we got to the car, my Mom was upset with me, and she said No kid of mine is going to be a sore loser. Be gracious! That was the only option I had left. To be gracious. They gave me a half finishers medal, that I don't feel like I deserve. I walked three miles and finished in 2:40. I hobble into medical. When they pulled up my tight, I saw my knee was starting to turn purple and blue. Taking the half was obviously the right choice.



Everyone was so nice to me as I'm trying to sort out how I feel about this huge personal failure. All of my people are waiting for me outside of the medical tent. The medic who is poking at my knee asked if they were my family. Yep, every last one of them. That's my family. All of those people that I love so much. There for me when I'm a winner and when I'm a loser. In that moment I felt incredibly low, but I felt so loved. I felt like I had wasted their time even though they assured me I hadn't. I wanted to dig a hole in the ground and get in it. I wanted to go home and feel sorry for myself. I wanted to forget this day ever happened. I saw the physician on staff who seemed confident it may just be my IT band. The only thing I know definitively today right now is I have a knee sprang. I have to see an orthopedic surgeon when I'll get some answers. I'm seeing the knee man, who comes highly referred. He's in surgery today, where I hopefully won't be next week, but I have an appointment tomorrow. I'm hoping, praying, and crossing everything I have that I don't need surgery. That will mean a long recovery time.

Success is fun, and failing really sucks. It's pretty simple. Failing is not fun. It was a shitty way to feel. It still feels shitty. I hated having to tell people I didn't do it. I couldn't do it that day. Writing about it is hard, but this happened and I have to own it.

After leaving medical, I decide to make the most of the day. I've dead legged walked three miles, my knee is iced and wrapped. The way I see it I can hurt here or I can hurt at home. We grabbed some drinks and head to the marathon finish. It was hard to cheer for others accomplishing what I couldn't, but I'm glad I did. I'm glad I was able to cheer for my friends as they finished their marathon. Seeing my Sole Sisters finish was the greatest feeling, and know they would have done the same for me. I felt inspired to continue, and excited to try again.




I wouldn't trade that time at the finish line supporting others for anything in the world. My first marathon will come. Crossing that finish line will feel even more glorious now than it would have yesterday. For now, I think I'll take up swimming.


Email me

Daily Motivator


40 comments:

  1. Girl...Stuff happens!!! Dont give up!!!! Take care of yourself and keep going!!You're an inspiration to me!!! Tks. Good Bless you!
    Sincerely, Leiza S.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Leigh Ann, I am so sorry the race ended up this way; I know you trained hard for this one event. And I am so sorry that you're injured. Since you are half my age I'm going to go all mama on you. Listen up, girl! YOU ARE A ROCK STAR! YOU HAVE DONE AND WILL CONTINUE TO DO AMAZING THINGS!! This is one thing. One day. There are so many great things and great days both behind you AND ahead of you. I AM SO PROUD OF YOU! And you should be proud of yourself too. Chin up, sweetie! :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Seriously in tears for you...like ugly crying...wth is wrong with me??? I know you wanted this so so badly and I think you are right, your next try, when you cross that finish line, it's going to feel so amazing...better than if you had done it yesterday. You are one bad ass chicka. Take care, heal well and enjoy the pool...for now!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm so sorry to hear this happened since I know how bad you wanted it but you will get your marathon!! I don't doubt it. This is a bump in the road but in the end you'll get it. Chin up and take care of that knee for now. :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Don't be so hard on yourself! Take care of yourself first and then take your next marathon by storm! I am proud of you for accepting that you couldn't make it to the finish and further injuring yourself. You are one of the hardest workers I have ever known and I have faith that you will run 26.2!

    ReplyDelete
  6. My heart is broken for you, absolutely broken!!! But honestly, to pull thru the pain, and finish the half...that's HUGE and a real commitment to not giving up. AND THEN to cheer on your friends, that's character. You are lucky to have family to support you no matter what and they are lucky to have you! Fingers crossed and prayers prayed that you don't have a long recovery :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. My heart is literally broken in two for you. I love you and I am here for you girl! This wasn't your day but you will have another I know it because that is the bad ass you are! xoxo

    ReplyDelete
  8. Oh no..you poor thing. I saw your post on IG and my heart just went out to you. I wish I could have been there and told you it happens. It happens to those that train and train and train, and I know how much you have trained and how much you've put into this. I'm so sorry honey. I don't think any body would ever think you would be a quitter. You dragged your leg three miles my determined friend that's crazy sauce right there. I'm proud of you, and I'm crossing fingers and toes that no surgery is needed.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I'm so sorry to hear that! I have been following your training and rooting for you! Sounds like you did an amazing job regardless and sometimes you just have to listen to your body. Great job, hope the doctor is able to give you some relief :) You will make that 26.2!!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I feel so bad for you, I truly do. I know how hard you trained and dedicated your life to it. The day will come. You have to take care of yourself first so that you'll be able to accomplish this goal. You can and will do it one day!

    ReplyDelete
  11. I had tears reading this, and that has never happened before, lol. I just feel so much for you right now. I hope it will heal without surgery. I will be looking for updates!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Ok you made me cry too! I've been following your training and when I saw your IG post yesterday I wanted to give you an internet hug! Your hard work and positive attitude are such an inspiration to me. I hope you have a speedy recovery and I'm sure you have 26.2 in your future.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I'm so sorry! I will pray that you don't need surgery...

    ReplyDelete
  14. I think it's great that you listened to your body and stopped when you did. That being said, it still sucks, and it will always suck. But I know your positive spirit will get the best of you and you will be back at it in no time. And everything does happen for a reason. Thinking of you!!

    ReplyDelete
  15. My heart breaks for you! I'm so sorry that you weren't able to finish. You listened to your body and pushed yourself as far as you could, so that doesn't sound like a loser to me at all! Nope. It sounds like a winner! I'm praying for you to get the absolute best news from the doctor tomorrow. Smile, pal! You are a rockstar!!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Girl you have the best spirit and my I was devastated to hear this over the weekend. I know the training you put in - the work - the time - the effort but I if I know you right - you will use this to pull through and make your first 26.2 even THAT MUCH SWEETER. Hugs and much love my friend.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I'm at my desk crying. You're beautiful. Let's make a swim date.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Leigh-Ann, you are still amaze-balls--no amount of miles will make you that, you just are! Praying for some answers and glad you didn't hurt your knee anymore, love you!!!

    ReplyDelete
  19. You are truely an amazing girl. I have no doubt that you will one day have a full marathon medal. Keep your head high....it's all going to be okay. (((HUGS)))

    ReplyDelete
  20. Oh, I'm teary-eyed just reading this. I never comment, but I want you to know that you are one of my BIGGEST motivators. I'm a BRAND NEW runner with my eyes on a half next year. You are awesome! You'll do it!!!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Leigh-Ann you are such a strong person. I was so heartbroken when I saw that this weekend. Keep your head up girl, one day that marathon medal will be all yours! {{HUGS}}

    ReplyDelete
  22. Oh man girl, this post was so hard to read because I can't even imagine how frustrated you were. You've trained SO hard, and you did everything right-- why should this happen? At the end of the day, all you can say is that 26.2 wasn't in the cards for you today. But I know (KNOW!!!!) you will kill that race someday. And victory will be that much sweeter. Hang in there lady!!

    ReplyDelete
  23. You didn't fail at anything - you are a bad ass for finishing the half marathon with a bum knee!!! Even if you had sat down when your knee popped you wouldn't have been a quitter. If you ask me, you above ALL other people that ran the half earned that medal more than the rest of em did because you did it with a bum knee! I know you will reach your goal of marathon status... its just going to be delayed a bit! I hope the knee is an easy rest and recover with PT. Hold your head up high, you ran a half marathon with a bum knee!

    ReplyDelete
  24. I was so heartbroken this weekend for you. I love your positive attitude and one day you will get that medal!!

    ReplyDelete
  25. I thought of you this weekend, sweetie. I am so terribly sorry that you didn't get to finish your race this time. This is not a failure. It's a learning experience. You are an amazing, determined woman that will succeed. It may not have happened this weekend, but you will do it. I have no doubt. It would only be a failure if you failed to train or you failed to try. Honey, you had your heart in this and you trained well. You simply had an injury and there's no shame in that. It happens.

    ReplyDelete
  26. My heart hurts for you, I could not keep it together reading this. You are not a failure in any way, shape, or form. You have such a positive attitude! 26.2 is in your future, yesterday just wasn't the day. Keep your head up!

    ReplyDelete
  27. I'm still routing for you!! I can't imagine how painful (physically & mentally) it was for you to finish the half. I'm sorry it didn't work out how you wanted it to, but you are SO STRONG and SO DETERMINED and you'll run your full sooner than later. If it makes you feel any better you beat my half time even though you dead legged it the last 5 miles;-) You STILL ROCK GIRL!!

    ReplyDelete
  28. I am so sorry this happened to you. I absolutely know where your coming from as I never got to the finish line of my marathon either. It's a tough sport! I am praying you won't need surgery and have a quick recovery. I love that last line about swimming. ;) One day you will cross that finish line!!

    ReplyDelete
  29. As someone who had a crap-tastic marathon as well....here are a few things that made me feel better:
    1.) Don't you feel like this has totally lit the fire to see what you're REALLY capable of? I can't wait to do another some day (not for a few more years) and KILL IT!
    2.) Runners are the nicest, most supportive people ever.
    3.) Think how much hard work you put into this....alllll of that, every minute made you stronger. Yes, you didn't get to finish the big race, but all of those training runs made you WAY tougher than before, mentally and physically.

    That day just wasn't your day, but you'll get it soon. I hope your knee feels better. Keep us posted!

    ReplyDelete
  30. I am so sorry for what you went through. I know your heart and soul were in it that day but your knee just had other plans. It was not your day but you will get yours!! And you will come back stronger and healthier and kick some serious ass. You are far from the loser you may think you are...I can not even run ONE mile, never mind 13 with a bum knee. The fact that you made it that far is a testament to how badly you wanted it and how strong you are. Your true marathon day will come and watch out world...it's going to be amazing! Wishing you the best of luck with the doctor and healing to come!

    ReplyDelete
  31. I'm sorry Leigh Ann! But way to stay positive - you WILL run a full marathon. January 19th just wasn't your first one. Maybe it'll be NYC ;)

    ReplyDelete
  32. Leigh Ann, this was heartbreaking to read. I am so sorry your knee couldn't keep up with you. But again, you come out on top with your positivity and bright shiny attitude. This is why we all love you and keep reading Elle Noel. Keep your chin up!!

    ReplyDelete
  33. Leigh Ann, when I came running up behind you around mile 11 and saw you hobbling my heart sank. We all knew how hard you had worked for this. I didn't even know what to say when I got to you, but you just waved me along and said, "No, no! Keep going, keep running!" And I have to admit, I cried for a few minutes after that. Even in all of your pain and suffering you were still encouraging others. "When people show you who they are, believe them." - Maya Angelou

    ReplyDelete
  34. Ouch! Just reading about your knee made me cringe!! Good for you for listening to your body and stopping, though, that must have been the hardest thing ever. I know you're going to come back strong from this!!

    ReplyDelete
  35. My heart broke for you just reading this! I can't imagine all the emotions you must have gone through, but ultimately you made the right decision, and it sounds like you know that. Kudos to you for being smart and not making a bad situation even worse. You are so determined, I have no doubt there is another 26.2 in your future!

    ReplyDelete
  36. I'll blame the preggo hormones and say that's what made me cry reading this. (But we all know I'm a big fat baby growing liar. :) ) After suffering from knee issues myself I sympathize with you wholeheartedly. Take care of yourself Pretty you'll rock a full marathon yet, I know it! xoxo

    ReplyDelete
  37. Your story brought tears to my eyes.
    So much time, effort, and love (yes, love) goes into training for any race.
    You have absolutely nothing to hang your head about. You finished a *half* with a bum knee.
    Take some time to heal, there's a full in your future!

    ReplyDelete
  38. My heart broke for you when I saw your Instagram post after the race...and I was just tearing up reading your story behind it. You have such a positive attitude about everything and that will definitely help get you through the recovery process. You will come out of this a stronger person and when you do get that marathon medal it will just make it that much sweeter! You are such an inspiration! :)

    ReplyDelete
  39. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  40. oh wow, I'm so sorry this happened to you. It's nice to see that you are able to go on though and this hasn't stopped your love for running.

    ReplyDelete