Monday, January 14, 2013

Sea Wheeze: The End and the Aftermath

I've struggled with how to put this last bit into words.  See, in general, I consider myself to be a positive person, but my experience with the race at the end was really awful, and I want my account to be as honest as possible.  So, sorry in advance for the doom and gloom.


By the time we hit Stanley Park, we were only walking. My feet hurt, my back hurt, and it was all I could do not to throw myself down on the ground and sob. Uncontrollably.  For the rest of my life.

I sat on a bench at one point to adjust my sock; getting back up from that bench was one of the hardest things I did all day. We stopped at an aid station to get a bandage on the bottom of my foot for an emerging blister, and I desperately wished that the cot I sat on was the finish line. I stopped talking to Mr. Goodlaff because I was afraid if I said anything it would be something I'd regret. I was really, really angry. At myself, at him, at the course, at my feet, at the patronizing bastards at the cheer stations (in retrospect, I recognize they were trying to be helpful and inspiring), at everything.  I wanted so badly to give up.

But I didn't. And it wasn't because "I knew deep down I could do it" or "fall down seven times, stand up eight." I won't lie and give you schmaltzy crap about sunshine and rainbows and triumph and perseverance.

The fact is this: I didn't quit because I didn't want to be that girl. I didn't want to admit to myself that I was certifiably insane it wasn't the smartest move signing up for a half marathon when I couldn't even run half a mile. I didn't want it to be proven as fact that I was vastly out of shape for this. I didn't want to be the cautionary tale that they wheel out on a golf cart, everyone looking at you with pitying eyes, shaking their heads and saying later, she never should have tried. I did not want to have come that far and not cross that damn finish line.

I spent miles trapped in my own head, frustrated with myself, with our lack of training, with the world, and the only thing that kept me going, besides my overwhelming fear of failure, was the grim thought that anyone who doubted me, anyone who'd said I shouldn't do it or didn't have to finish the whole thing, would be proven wrong by the medal I would wear around my neck. Petty, but oddly comforting.

We walked so long that my feet were numb. I vaguely recognized that they were in pain, but ignored it. There were still people behind us;  I checked all the time.  We pressed on.

There's a joke I've heard that anyone can run 26 miles--it's the last .2 that gets you.  Well, 13 miles is nothing.  It's the last tenth of a mile that's a real bitch.  Around every corner, I thought we were almost done.  And after every corner, there was one more corner, and one more corner, and it seemed like it would never end.  Before the race, Mr. Goodlaff and I had talked about triumphantly running--sprinting, even--to the finish line.  I came around the last corner before the finish line, turned to him, and said (trying to hold back tears), "I can't do it.  I've got nothing left." 

It took every ounce of mettle and stubbornness I had to make it those last 100 yards.  When we crossed the finish line, they were starting to pack it in--it had been just over four hours by that point. Mr. Goodlaff and I clasped hands and passed under the watermelon for the second time that day, and this time, a lovely girl handed me a medal; she asked if we wanted our picture taken, and we (I hope, given my mood at that point) politely declined.

We walked a few yards, were each given a bottle of water and a juice box of coconut water (nastiest thing ever--I'd rather eat the goo again), and found an obliging curb to sit down on. 

Sweet, sweet pavement! I stretched out my legs, loosened the laces on my shoes, gulped down the water (spit out the coconut water), and tried, for the five millionth time that day, not to cry. We sat there, pathetic and triumphant.  A few short minutes later our relaxation was disrupted by some teenage boys doing race cleanup, sweeping up the trash in the streets.  Now, I know we were in their way, being perched on the street curb they were assigned to and all, but they swept and swept, getting closer and closer to us until their brooms were barely two feet away from where we were flopped.  Clearly they (and their brooms) did not understand that we had just accomplished something major. The looked at us with annoyance and dismay, so we took the obvious hint and got out of their way

Before heading back to the hotel, LK, Mr. Goodlaff, and I took an opportunity for photos by the Olympic cauldron:

Because that's how the athletes do it...

Maybe you remember the kerfuffle about McKayla Maroney's face at the medal ceremony (she was the Olympic gymnast who should have won gold but fell on her butt and won silver instead)? Well, McKayla was not impressed by our performance--neither were we...

Photo ops done, we headed back to our hotel and flopped on the bed.  I've never been more thankful for a bed in my life. 

It was when I got up from the bed that the trouble started. My left foot hurt.  A lot. I took a shower and my left foot still hurt. I had to hobble from the shower to the bed and the bed to the chair.  It was excruciating. 

There was ice, lots of ice. Mr. Goodlaff hobbled out to get us lunch--he had massive blisters on the bottom of his feet.  There was more ice.  We were supposed to go to a concert that was priority access for runners, but I couldn't walk. Still more ice.  LK came up to our room and we ordered room service because any other restaurant would have involved walking (you see where this is going, right?).  Through the night, ice.

The next morning my foot got better and then worse.  I iced my foot in the car on the way home, and about an hour away from Seattle, decided I should go to urgent care to make sure nothing was broken.  The nurse looked at my foot, told me it was probably a strain, and if it didn't get better in a week or so to come back in. 


It didn't get better. A few days in, I asked Mr. Goodlaff to get me crutches because crawling around our apartment was becoming undignified. If you ever find yourself in need of crutches, head to Goodwill--tons of them, and very cheap!  Also, crutches are deathtraps--crawling would have been safer.

I went to a different doctor for my check up and he said it wasn't broken. He told me I had probably torn or sprained my foot, and gave me the diagnosis: I had Plantar Fasciitis. I was to do stretches, and wear inserts, and it would get better.

I sort of did and it has.

I haven't run since the Sea Wheeze, and I'm off of half-marathons for the time being.  I think it was a bit extreme to go from never having been a runner to trying to do 13.1 miles in a few hours without having put in the proper training. I was Barney in that episode of How I Met Your Mother when he tells Marshall that you don't train for a marathon--you just go out and start running it.  He does and deals with the consequences. I did too.

I am willing to try again someday, but for now, I'm putting the training wheels back on.  Until I can run, and I mean really, really run a 5k continuously, without stopping, I'm not going to attempt a half-marathon again. 



  1. One day you will kick 13.1 miles ass again.
    I've never been patient enough for baby steps. Looking back, we probably should have trained more or realized that none of us were runners in the first place...

  2. You're amazing! Don't ever think otherwise.

  3. You really are amazing. I am a bit teary, Love you...Granny