We all woke up at 4:45 on Sunday to get to the race on time. There were 30,000 runners (yikes), so we braced ourselves for unbearable traffic. We got there an hour early, pumped and ready to run.
Funny side story: After taking a million pictures before the race, I headed to (what I thought) were the public restrooms. While in line, I got asked by a woman holding a tray of hors d'oeuvres and cloth napkins if I had a VIP port-a-potty sticker. Excuse me, what? Of course, I didn't. So I had to wait in a ridiculously long line where all the other "commoners" emptied their bladders.
Finally, I lined up in our corral. While I waited for the countdown, visions of PRs danced in my head. I wanted a 4:10 finish with a secret goal of breaking 4 hours. I knew it was going to be extremely difficult, especially since I had slacked on my training. But I was optimistic. I was ready.
When we heard the countdown, we started running. Gazillions of runners packed like sardines all scrambling for a spot to run. It was such an adrenaline high. I love marathons. I love running with thousands of other crazy people who think 26.2 miles sounds like fun. I love the crowds, the signs ("Run faster I just farted!"), the cheers. It's all so glorious.
Everything was fine... until I hit mile 7.
Two women stopped abruptly in front of me. I quickly had to dodge to the right to avoid crashing into them. And that's when it happened... pop goes the knee. As someone with a history of knee problems (ACL surgery, knee sprains, etc.), I knew this wasn't good.
The pain was excruciating, but what I could I do? I didn't have a phone. I had no idea where Grahm was. Somehow I managed to walk/hobble/run seven more miles; every mile I was just praying to see my husband. Once I saw him at mile marker 14, I collapsed in his arms and sobbed. I knew it was over.
He held my hand, comforted me, and walked with me (very slowly) five more miles. At mile 18, it was obvious I couldn't do much more. I was in so much pain, and we were moving so slowly. It was horrifying and embarrassing. I couldn't NOT finish. I had to... I had to finish.
Grahm very sweetly told me that he thought I should stop to prevent further injury, but offered to walk the next 8 miles with me if that's what I really wanted. I knew I couldn't do it. Once again, I sobbed in his arms...realizing this would be my first marathon to not finish. So much training. So many long days of running. All of it was gone. I felt like a failure. We got shuttled to the finish line with a van full of people crying because they didn't finish either, for whatever reason. It was incredibly depressing company.
I'm not sure what I would've done without Grahm. He comforted me and whispered so many encouraging words. He told me he was proud of me for doing the hard thing, stopping. While I'm still embarrassed and frustrated with my dumb ol' knee, I feel incredibly blessed to have married such a wonderful man. He's my number one fan, even if, for the first time, I didn't get a finisher's medal.
Rock and Roll Marathon, I will defeat you next year... if I can ever move my legs again.