Ah fudge. The marathon wasn’t great. Time to debrief and get it over with, or run the risk of falling off the blogging wagon like I did earlier this month. Goal: blog more frequently, not less.

Short and sweet, I dropped out at mile 19. Given that I hadn’t strung more than 2 miles together without walking in the week prior, still riding out the tail end of that persistent GI thing, I’m pretty pleased I even made it that far. Part of the reason I even showed up was the pre-paid plane tickets, hotel rooms, a rental car, and a date with an old and not-often-seen-enough friend.  Plus my dad and sister came along for the ride! Less than stellar race aside, it was a fun trip!

Superior, WI and Duluth, MN really put out for an awesome event. The course itself, though a bit boring, was well supported with aide stations every 2 miles — and accessible medical/drop points. Every hotel within maybe a 30 mile radius of the course provided crack-of-dawn shuttles to transport racers to the start line. At the finish, the bag check and family/friend reunification areas were incredibly organized, right on the waterfront. Most surprisingly, we were able to get lunch at Grandma’s — the marathon’s sponsor, namesake, and finish line icon — with hardly a wait. Batter-fried cheese curds yes, please!

As for the race, miles 1-8 were great. 9-13 were progressively hot and bright. At 14 I started struggling to tear myself away from the gatorade at the aide stations. 17 miles in and I gave up finishing before 3:30. At 19 I thought sub-4 seemed the best I could hope for, and decided to can it. Sub-4 is an admirable goal, it’s just not what I set out to accomplish that day.

There are times when it’s appropriate to slog to the bitter end, and times when it isn’t. I decided to drop out because:

  • My legs were so depleted I didn’t think I could finish without needing a wheelchair at the airport the next day. No, thank you.
  • I know I can finish a marathon, and didn’t need that validation.
  • I didn’t want my struggle quantified in terms of exact hours and minutes. Better to maintain a little mystery for the folks back home.
  • Between seeing a dear friend, hanging out with my dad and sis, and a surprise visit from my aunt and uncle, it was already a really positive experience. It felt okay to admit imperfection.

I had an extra surprise when I got back and had some routine labs done. Turns out I’m anemic again, womp womp. It took me by surprise because I’ve ditched vegetarianism, and eat more variety than I did in college. But it sure does explain a lot. Feeling a bit foolish for not getting worked up a month or so before the race, I’m chalking this one up as (yet another) learning experience. I really wanted to believe I could meet my nutritional needs through diet alone, but it’s not worth the headache, literally. After the diagnoses, I also noticed nagging fatigue and shortness of breath, which I’d written off as just symptoms of the end of a long training cycle.

Mostly I’m just ready to jump back into it, but a small percentage of my brain is still saying “ugh, all that training, wasted down the drain!”



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