Race Report: Run With the Horses

I don’t even want to write about it b/c I’m so upset about what happened. Let me cut to the chase since I already built up the suspense: basically, my marathon race turned into a 6 mile run and then a 20 mile nature walk of pain. Yes, I finished (barely), but I finished 90 minutes after I wanted to.

The day started well – I had gone all-out to lay my gear out and have everything charged and ready to go. I even created a special “Run Wyoming” playlist that I was excited to run to! I woke up on time, got myself ready, and enjoyed a Clif Bar for breakfast (I only had one bar and I decided to bring that as fuel for the race and have the Clif Bar for breakfast). I was running a few minutes late when I headed off to the race start in the pitch black, but still arrived with plenty of time to get on the bus. I boarded and got lots of hellos from other Marathon Maniacs who saw my shirt.

There were just two schoolbuses of runners in the full marathon, so about 100 runners? We were allowed to wait on the buses until the start, which was nice and warm. It wasn’t freezing outside, but it was definitely chilly enough that the bus option was nice. I chatted quite a bit with the people on my bus, especially the Marathon Maniacs and 50 Staters, and we realized that if we took away all the Maniacs and 50 Staters, there would be only about five runners left in the race!

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All of sudden, someone announced that there were just a few minutes before the race start. We left our drop bags and climbed off the bus, but everyone seemed to just be hanging out, so we did too. I started to meander over to the starting line, and noticed a guy counting “6… 5… 4… 3… 2… 1.” We idly wondered what he was doing, and then collectively we realized that was the start of the race! We all started a few seconds late, but half the people weren’t even behind the starting line left, so I got a bit of a head start by being in the right place at the right time :) This meant that I could count the women as they passed me, and by mile 1, I was holding strong in third place. I started to wonder if I had a chance at winning an overall medal, which would be pretty awesome.

The first six miles were indeed uphill, and I walked up some of the hills, but so did everyone else, so it didn’t really set me back anyway. Around mile 4, I started feeling a little twinge in my knee, but not pain – just a bit of a cramp. Forgetting my run two weeks ago, I didn’t think much of it. By mile 5, however, I had remembered, and I was scared. Was my knee going to start acting up?

The answer, at mile 6, was yes. The uphills were done and the course was flattening out into a nice roll (but no more elevation climb), but I was forced to take it easy and start a run/walk plan. This was what I had already been doing, but my original plan was to go for a full run as soon as the course flattened. Unfortunately, that was everyone else’s plan, and I started to be passed. By mile 7, I found myself in 11th place among the women, and by mile 8, I had lost track. I kept trying to run when I could, but my knee was getting pretty nasty so at this point I was only managing about 1 minute running to 10 minutes walking – basically the opposite of the Galloway program.

There was no way I was quitting – I promised myself that. I tried to just keep going, putting one foot in front of the other, and reminding myself that I had already covered the hard part of the race, and that the rest was going to be a piece of cake. I tried to enjoy the view – which was gorgeous – and snapped a ton of pictures as I walked (will post later – having some problems getting them off my camera).

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There were no horses around – they were ahead with the runners, while according to my stupid Garmin pace buddy, I was several miles and many minutes behind where I wanted to be. In general, my electronic equipment served only to disappoint – the music on my iPod would start to give me the runners’ high,and I would try to run, and then fail miserably, walking slower than before. Finally, while approaching mile 13, I realized I couldn’t run any further. It was now all walking, all the time. So off I trudged.

The miles passed slowly, and I tried to see just how fast I could walk. If I pushed a 12:00 pace, I could break 5 hours! Ha. A few miles later: if I pushed a 13:00 pace, I could break 5:30! Ha again. I kept debating whether to still eat all the fuel I had brought, because I wasn’t really using any energy to walk, but in the end glommed it down as planned because it was tasty and I wanted it and I was upset. Emotional eating at its finest!

The downhill miles were hell on my knee. I settled into a nasty gimp as I slowly made my way through miles 20-24. There was no more walking fast – there was just getting down the mountain and to the finish. I saw hoofprints in the dirt and horse poop on the ground, but that was as close as I got to the long-gone horses. At mile 21, I thought I missed the mile marker, but then it turned up at 21.3. Hoping that just that one was misplaced, I pushed on, but mile 22 was also at 22.3, and so were the others after that. Great, with my injury I was now going to be doing 26.5 miles.

At mile 23, I met an awesome Marathon Maniac who was also walking – Rob. We walked and talked for the last 3.5 miles, and one thing that made me proud was to see that his slow jog was about the same tempo as my fast walk. That made me feel a little better, but I still longed to run and just finish in a respectable time for me. No chance of that anymore though. I realized I wasn’t going to make 5:00, or even 5:30. At best, I might squeak out a 5:45 – but only if I really hustled. I powerwalked myself into a sweat, swinging my arms as hard as I could. The boy and I had been joking a few days ago about how my legs are in awesome shape from running, while my arms are just okay, so maybe I needed to teach myself to run marathons on my hands. I realized that if there was a time to try, this was it! However, I stayed upright, figuring that the only thing worse than finishing 90 minutes later than I wanted to would be not finishing and ending up in the ER with a head injury when I inevitably collapsed.

As I rounded the turn to the finish at mile 26.1 (actually mile 26.4), I decided that if it crippled me for life, I was sprinting to the finish. After all, how much damage could 1/10 mile sprint do? I sprinted in just ahead of Rob (sorry, Rob!) to finish just under 5:45 (I think – times aren’t posted yet and I forgot to stop my Garmin until a minute or so later). My knee didn’t hurt a bit after I finished – of course. A few hours later it got sore again, which actually made me happy – I hadn’t walked this race for nothing.

Overally, totally frustrating for a race I could have totally rocked. I’m so mad that I squandered this opportunity. The race was probably one of the best I’ve done from a logistics standpoint – perfect weather, awesome pre-race and post-race meals, beautiful scenery, and great support at the water stations (every one had some type of yummy food – M&Ms, bananas, granola bars, etc). The medals were gorgeous – big, beautiful horseshoes. I wish I could have gotten one :( I know I’m trying to do the 50 States, but I loved this race so much and was only disappointed by my own performance, so there’s a good chance I’ll be back next year.

1 – 0:09:35 – 157 bpm
2 – 0:10:32 – 163 bpm
3 – 0:12:02 – 159 bpm
4 – 0:10:52 – 161 bpm
5 – 0:10:06 – 157 bpm
6 – 0:12:38 – 150 bpm
7 – 0:10:10 – 155 bpm
8 – 0:10:49 – 158 bpm
9 – 0:10:15 – 155 bpm
10 – 0:11:21 – 151 bpm
11 – 0:12:00 – 143 bpm
12 – 0:12:52 – 141 bpm
13 – 0:14:43 – 128 bpm
14 – 0:11:48 – 141 bpm
15 – 0:15:22 – 124 bpm
16 – 0:14:28 – 131 bpm
17 – 0:14:45 – 124 bpm
18 – 0:12:53 – 137 bpm
19 – 0:14:01 – 134 bpm
20 – 0:13:41 – 133 bpm
21 – 0:15:48 – 117 bpm
22 – 0:14:44 – 122 bpm
23 – 0:16:56 – 106 bpm
24 – 0:17:55 – 101 bpm
25 – 0:15:10 – 109 bpm
26 – 0:13:01 – 139 bpm
27.51 – 0:07:48 (15:17 min/mi) – 145 bpm

Race stats:
Distance: 26.2 miles
Time: 5:44:19
Pace: 13:07
Overall place: 62/80
Age group place: 6/6

Pictures are here.


  1. Yes, it was a gorgeous day and the view was awesome. I finished a little better than you (2nd overall in 3:05:36) If it makes you feel any better(maybe?), I went to my doctor on Monday and was diagnosed with bronchitis. My legs were fine, but my chest and stomach hurt all through.

    BTW, I was the guy in the tight red shirt you talked to just before race start about maniacs/50 staters. :) My blog entry will be posted in the next few days if you want to read MY report :) http://www.docott.com/run

    A finish is a finish! Being a maniac, you know the next one is soon, so shake it off and cross off Wyoming!

  2. you finished laura!!! awesome job for that… you could have easily stopped but you didn’t! that says A LOT. i hope your knee feels better soon and i hope you start to feel better too…i am sure it was a very hard day. one more state down!!

  3. Don’t let your time get you down! You did your best with an injured knee, there’s nothing to be upset about. If every marathon was easy, it wouldn’t be worth doing! Take care of your knee, rest, and start planning your next race.

  4. Hey, you finished! I’m quite impressed by that alone. I hope you can figure out what is up with your knee, so it doesn’t happen again.

  5. This sounds exactly like the half marathon I did in Cleveland where I had to walk the second half. Its miserable isnt it? All you can think is when is this thing going to end? Great job sticking it out!! Maybe you should take a break now!

  6. Laura, if you’re running 50 marathons, not all of them are going to be stellar…at least you finished, had a good time, and didn’t get injured. Congrats on that!

  7. A finish is a finish! You did it. Don’t let the time get to you. It is your tremendous effort that got you across the finish line. You could have easily bail out but you never did. You had the courage to wrap it up by crossing the line. Kudos!!! WTG !

  8. I’m with laminator-all of the “mega-marathoners” I know are aware that they aren’t going to run their best times if they’re running marathons so often…just do it for the experience.

    That being said-congrats on finishing another one-and definitely get that knee checked out!! better to get whatever may be wrong nipped in the bud now… :)

  9. Way to gut through to the finish. I echo what everyone else says: the marathon is a strange race, and some simply go awry. The key now is making sure you’re not hurt b/c the knee sounds like an overuse injury. Good job finishing another marathon.

  10. Hi Laura, i agree with everybody here, you finished the dang thing!!!! You did not quit!! You pushed…that, to me is being a winner!!!

    By the way, i found your blog from Ted’s. It’s a really nice blog. I am going to put you on my blog roll, is that OK?

    Nice to meet you!!


  11. I’m so sorry about your knee, my friend. It looks like a lot of people had shitty runs this weekend. Rest up and make sure you’re better before you do another marathon!

  12. Sorry about the bad knee–hope it feels better soon. Those splits are still rocking fast for walking that distance! Especially with an injury!

  13. Good job for fighting through the pain and finishing the race – I’m not quite sure I could have done the same. Maybe I missed this somewhere – but why didn’t you receive the medal? Was there a time limit?

    Take care of yourself – hope you get home soon :)

  14. No time limit, but five other women signed up the day before the race apparently. That put me in 6th place for my age group :(

  15. Wow…you are my hero. I don’t know if I would have been able to struggle through. I am so proud of you!!

    I am also very happy that it had nothing to do with the shrimp boil (cough).

  16. Oh, poor Laura. That sounds like it was so hard. Big respect to you for finishing. Now take care of your knee so you don’t hurt it worse!

  17. Girl, I am SO sorry to hear you had a rough race. But the best thing is that you kept moving forward and finished… maybe it wasn’t a perfect day, but you still did it! That’s more than some people can say. You totally still have a lot to be proud of!

    Definitely see a doctor about your knee and take it easy. I know injuries suck, but it could totally be a result of running such long distances without too much training and be an overuse injury.

  18. Sorry the race didnt go like you planned, but you’ve already run more marathons this year than I’ve run in my entire life. So, wow. wow. wow.

  19. Oh bummer! I’m so sorry to hear you didn’t have a good race. But hopefully you’ll be able to get your knee issues straightened out (going to a physical therapist really helped me).

    Also, you can NEVER rely on Garmin during a marathon, at least for distance. Even just swinging your arms can cause it to be off. I merely use mine as an indication of my pace.

  20. Great race report as usual! :)

    Sorry to hear about the knee. At the rist of sounding like a parent: Take care of it of you may not be able to be a 50 stater.

    That being said, the runner in mea says way to go to gut it out.

  21. I know this didn’t go like you wanted but please don’t feel like you squandered the opportunity. You couldn’t control what your body gave you and you still went out and did it. You gave it what you had on that day. My dang feet don’t cooperate beyond about a HM so I’m totally jealous of your finish!!

  22. I’m so sorry to hear about your knee. If it makes you feel any better, 5:45 is only a little slower than an average time for me! I ran this marathon, finishing quite a bit after you, and would’ve been happy to be under 6 hours, but I knew it wasn’t going to happen this time, so I didn’t even try ~ I just ran/walked and enjoyed the view. Some marathons are like that. :-)

    I found your blog from Doc Ott’s blog, and will put it on my list! I enjoyed your account of the marathon, although I am sorry this one disappointed you ~ there is always next time!

  23. Wow, I heard about this race a year or two ago, and I really want to do it someday. I’d love to see your pictures if you can get them up.

    I know how frustrating it is to have to walk your marathon. I had the same thing happen to me in my first. Luckily, I only had to walk the last 9 miles. Congrats on finishing though! It takes a lot of dedication. Hope you recover quickly!

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