The One with the Marathon

I ran a marathon.

I just had to "say" that out loud because I still can't believe it.

I've always wanted to run a marathon but never thought it would be possible with my IT band injuries. 

I've been running my whole life.  When I was younger I did the little kid's track meets and would run with my dad.  In jr. high and high school I ran track.  At ASU I wore workout clothes to class every day and ran on the running trail on campus or around Tempe.  When Steve and I got married I went for runs after work and on Saturday mornings.  Basically there has never been a time in my life when I wasn't running.   Until I injured my IT band in a half marathon.  I was forced to take a year off from running and endured countless hours of physical therapy measures.  Who can forget this post?

When Larissa moved back she told me we were going to run a marathon together. I told her I couldn't with my injury, but she wouldn't take no for an answer. She carefully selected the perfect race for us and emailed me the training plan. It wasn't hard to start because we had already been running together.  We never skipped a workout, even when it was in the 20's and pitch black at 5 in the morning.  There were a few long runs where I had to stop and walk home several miles because of an IT band flare up, but I never gave up.

My biggest fear was that I was going to drive to Phoenix, fly to California, rent a car, stay in a hotel, start the race, and then have to drop out because of my injury. 

Race morning I was really excited,

and really scared.

Larissa took off from the start without me because she usually runs faster than me and she was going for a goal time a lot faster than mine.  She told me good luck and she would see me at the finish line.  I felt kind of sad to be alone for so long but had a great playlist and beautiful ocean views to keep me entertained. 

At mile 9 that all too familiar aching started in my left knee and the feelings of dread, humiliation, frustration, and despair started creeping in.  Then out of nowhere I noticed a girl running next to me and started talking to her.  Before I knew it, we were at mile 14 still talking away and I realized the pain had disappeared somewhere along the way.  I have never felt so much relief.  I truly believe she was my guardian angel and I would have dropped out if I hadn't been distracted by her. 

From here until the end it was smooth sailing.  I never hit The Wall, and even started to think I could get a sub 4-hour time.  I picked up my pace and slapped the mile signs as I ran by.  The only problem was that the course merged with the half-marathoners at this point and so I was stuck behind tons of people "running" at a 12 minute mile pace.  I had to weave in and out of crowds for the last 2 miles, but I knew I was getting close to the 4 hour mark so I started sprinting. 

I crossed the finish line at 4:00:24!  I didn't know whether to laugh or cry, so I did both.  So happy to finish, yet so close to a sub 4-hour time.  Larissa was waiting for me right at the finish line but she wasn't looking so good.  I was shocked to find out she had finished only minutes before me.  She hit The Wall pretty hard and missed her goal time.  She still beat me, and her best marathon time is way better than mine will ever be at 3:44.  Read her story, you will not be disappointed. 

It felt good to walk around afterwards but I noticed my toenails felt a little tingly.  I took my shoes off and was carrying them around, but one slipped out of my hands and landed right on my big toenail. I screamed from the worst pain I've ever felt and Larissa and I watched in horror as it instantly turned black.  I'm pretty sure it's a goner.

We had a great relaxing day after that.  Read books in bed, got our free burritos from Chipotle, watched the sunset on the beach, and went to bed at 7:30. 

I have a couple of HUGE thank-yous. 

First, thanks to Steve for putting up with me for the past 4 months and picking up the slack with the kiddos.  Training for a marathon is a huge time commitment.  He always gave me a hard time, saying things like, "you're going to pay money and drive and fly hundreds of miles to go run 26 miles??"  But the night before the race he told me he wanted me to do good.  The marathon website had an online tracker so Steve and the kids watched our progress online.  Every time I crossed one of those check-points I could picture them all cheering for me and it totally kept me going.

Second, thanks to Rissa for believing in me and taking me under her wing.  She molded me and made me into a better runner.  I had a blast on our mini-vacation, even if she did drive on the wrong side of the road at one point (dang foreigner).  We also could not quit laughing about the lady I saw during the race who had pooped her pants.  She was wearing black so I don't think she realized
everyone could see it.  Now, if she was like Kara Goucher or someone and running a 2:40 marathon, I might understand the need to poop your pants.  But to be running/walking a half marathon at a 13 minute pace, there is no excuse. Come on people!

Third, thanks to my family for babysitting.  My parents, Jason, and Steve's parents were always willing to babysit when Steve was busy and Larissa and I needed to go for a run.  I seriously could not have done it without their help and support.  At one point Jason even offered to trade me legs so that I could do this injury free. 

I couldn't even bring myself to tell anyone that we were training for this race because I was so sure my IT band was going to fail miserably and I wouldn't be able to finish.  There was even a point a few years ago when I wasn't sure if I would ever run again, let alone run for 26.2 miles.  I feel truly blessed to have come this far.  This was a life-changing experience and something to cross off my bucket list!

Runner DetailsRace Results
Name:Kimberlee Henling
Hometown:Winslow, AZ
Overall:421 out of 1198
Women: 122 out of 492
F 30-34: 24 out of 72
Age/Grade: 56.43% Place: 436
Finish: 4:00:24 Pace: 9:11
Tag Time:4:00:24
Gun Time:4:00:37
Split Times
9.4 Mi:1:27:27 Pace: 9:19
13.8 Mi:2:06:52 Pace: 9:12
18.0 Mi:2:45:50 Pace: 9:13
19.8 Mile:3:04:58 Pace: 9:21


Brooke said...

You are seriously impressive! I'm so happy for you! I have to mark a 1/2 off my bucket list...and I would have been one of those terribly slow people you were weaving around! Pooping their pants?!?!? Ewwwww!

Congrats! YOU ROCK!

Jamie said...

yea kim! i did'nt realize you have never ran a full marathon before. i guess i assumed you had cuz you have always been a freakin awesome runner! congrats! someday i want to run one too. the fact that you could do it with an injury gives me hope!

crew.of.henling said...

Yey! What an awesome sis experience and accomplishment! Inspiring... way to go!!

Paige said...

Congratulations Kim!!! That is amazing! You rock! I am way impressed. What an accomplishment! Way to go!

Terri said...

Wow Kim! I'm so impressed. That is a huge goal to achieve. You have been one of my heroes for a long time, but now. . . I have no words. Congratulations!