The Space Coast Marathon was yesterday. We finished in 4:42 and some change. The first 21 miles went really well; we ran between a 10 and 10:30 pace, hydrated properly, ate a few gels, and cheered on the faster runners who had already looped back around (it is an out-and-back course). RF and I wore matching shirts and shorts, and everyone kept calling us "the twins," which was kind of fun/funny - especially since I am about 30 pounds heavier than she is, and 7 years older.
Between miles 21 and 22, I hit the wall. It happened so quickly and suddenly that I truly did not see it coming. One second I felt fine. The next, it was all I could do to keep putting one foot in front of the other. My legs felt like concrete and my brain shut down. I did not want people to cheer me on. I did not want RF's encouragement. I wanted to be invisible so that I could fight my way through the last few miles entirely on my own. At one point a well-meaning spectator yelled at us to go faster and it was all I could do not to turn and scream "FUCK YOU" while flipping her off.
A weird thing happened with RF around mile 23 or 24. She was clearly feeling totally fine, and her chipper comments to me and to the other runners were wearing on me. I knew I was holding her back and I felt horribly horribly guilty about it. So in addition to the mental challenge of simply continuing, there was also this overpowering sense that I was failing her. I asked her to please run on ahead, and I meant it. It would have made me feel better - less guilty and more focused. In no way was I testing her loyalty. She refused. A few minutes later I asked her again, and she turned and snapped at me, saying that I was trying to make her feel bad.
At that point it was all I could do not to cry. I also hyperventilated a few times - literally could not breathe, and had to pull to the side and put my head between my knees.
In the end, the physical pain was manageable, but the mental/emotional confusion was nearly intolerable. Truth is, I cried at the finish line, cried in the shower, took a break from crying to eat lunch, and then cried for two straight hours in the car. And it wasn't crying out of relief or crying because the race was hard (which it was)... It felt more like the kind of crying that taps into old sadness.
I can't say I feel particularly good about the marathon. I know we went out to fast; had we reined it in more, I would have had more gas in the tank at the end. So I feel bad that I did not follow common running sense. I know my friend was capable of a faster time, and the way she kept checking her watch made me think she wanted to do more than finish. I don't really understand what happened to me mentally at the end; it was much worse than the soreness in my legs. And I feel bad for not having a more positive feeling about this run. Why can't I have a sense of accomplishment? Why do I have to be so negative?
My outlook might change in the next few days, and I'm going to give it time. Right now my brain is just worn out.