My love/hate relationship with the Hogeye Marathon continues. We go way back, me and the Hogeye. Well, not WAY back, but far enough. The Hogeye gave me a nothing-if-not-memorable first marathon experience in 2012, rounded out Half-a-palooza in 2013, and 2014 came on the heels of Angry Feet.
Where everybody knows your name
This was supposed to be my redemption race after Little Rock. None of the training would be wasted, the timing was great, and the Hogeye is my hometown marathon. It was the perfect solution. My feet had other ideas… but Kyle and David were still on-track.
The start line of the Hogeye is a social activity, you guys. Party pics! Social media posts! Marathon Maniacs group photos!
I could go anywhere in the world to run 26.2 (or 13.1!) miles, but what makes this race special is the familiarity. I woke up in my own bed in my own house and stumbled into my own kitchen to make breakfast in my own toaster. I drove 10 minutes to my charming downtown square to socialize at the start line with other runners before running a race on the trails where I long ago lost count of the training miles. I ran the first few miles that morning (mostly uphill…) sharing quick hellos with fellow runners — some of which I actually know in real life but most with which I’ve only ever shared a friendly wave on an early weekend morning on the trail.
Familiar territory start to finish.
Ups and downs
The truth is, the hills are what make it the Hogeye! Starting out, we had plans to stick together for a bit. Kyle and David had a 5-hour marathon to run, Greg never has a time goal but planned to hang for a few miles, and I had zero expectations but was loving the weather.
That was just after the start. Greg on the far left in yellow, I’m a little bit hidden by the guy in the gray shirt, but Kyle, David and I are oddly in unison here! It didn’t last long. The boys were all feeling springy and after about mile 2, I never caught back up with them. I worried a little though — I kept looking down at my watch and I knew I was pacing ahead of my own expectations (and ahead of a 5-hour marathon pace) and they were pacing ahead of THAT. I hoped they didn’t wear themselves out and planned to see them again at the finish line.
Per usual, Jeff played pit crew, cheerleader, and course photographer. Seeing him throughout the course makes such a difference for me.
Expect the unexpected
Having maintained a minimal activity level between Little Rock and Hogeye, I went in with realistic expectations. I promised myself that I would walk when I needed to and that I would not beat myself up over my time or pace. The hills in the first few miles had their usual humbling effect, but once I hit mile 4 or so — I felt awesome. I kept looking down at my watch and thinking, “I need to slow down.” But having re-calibrated to the half course, I knew I didn’t have to save anything, so I just went for it.
Around mile 8 I allowed myself to think, “holy cow, I could PR today!” Where in the world did that come from??
Seriously, check out those paces. If only it had been a 10-mile race…
At mile 10, things started to fall apart. My legs were tired, I was walking through water stops (and then some), and I watched the pace on my watch get slower and slower.
Even with a rough stretch during the last few miles, I was having a great race. Admittedly, I was a little disappointed that I couldn’t hang on — but I kept reminding myself of the training I didn’t do during March and the strength it showed to bust out a sub-10 mile in the middle of the race!
In the last half mile of the course, when I knew my possible PR wouldn’t happen and I was ready to be done — I rounded a corner to find the best aid station of the day! Our church, The Harbor Church of NWA, had a great spot and they went all out with signs and cheering and high fives. It was the perfect pick-me-up and gave me the oomph I needed to finish the last stretch with a smile on my face.
After a morning of hills, the course ends with a sharp downhill toward the finish line. And my favorite boy was there to help me finish in style.
2:23! After some blog archive homework, I confirmed I haven’t run a half marathon that fast in TWO YEARS.
Remember last year when I met a blog reader during the Bentonville Half Marathon? The guys and I had just reminisced about that during mile 2 or so — then there she was! Hi Sara — it was great to see you again! (We even finished around the same time — the photo above/left is at the finish line.)
Pay it forward
The Harbor’s aid station was the perfect spot to circle back and catch up with my full marathon buddies. I know from experience that there’s nothin’ like seeing a friendly face in the last half mile of a marathon. And our spot was positioned RIGHT before the last hill of the course. So as Amanda, Kyle, David, and Alex rounded the corner and laid eyes on the hill, I was able to jump in and give them a little physical and mental companionship to the top. From the top of that hill, they could see and hear the excitement of the finish line and I would turn around — letting them enjoy the downhill stretch to the end. With all the back and forth up and down the hill, I ended up with 17 miles total that day!
The beautiful weather certainly helped, but I think the Harbor kiddos had a great time cheering the runners into the finish. Who knows, maybe “church at the Hogeye” will become an annual tradition.
So, an Angry Feet update?
When we left off, I had jumped through the orthopaedic hoops of X-ray and MRI, and obediently promised my doctor I would not do anything stupid. And I was rewarded with permission to run! The full, even! But I had skipped a few key training runs and made peace with a half marathon day — with minimal pouting.
Contrary to my expectations of a slow, run/walk day, I went on to have a kick-ass race. And when I woke up the next morning sore and tight, I hobbled to my follow-up appointment to get the details. Do you know what a sesamoid is? Yeah, I didn’t either. It’s a type of bone found at certain joints within the body — for example, the knee cap is the largest sesamoid in your body. And there are two sesamoids along the big toe joint.
Sesamoiditis. Common with runners and dancers. Likely, I’ll have pain off and on for as long as I run, but nothing is broken and nothing keeps me from normal activity. After reviewing my MRI and talking to the doctor about how to manage the pain and what I’m able and unable to do, I asked, “so — what do you think caused this?” He admitted it’s hard to say, especially when I’ve been running distance for over two years and have never had foot issues, but he asked if there’s anything I’ve changed recently — shoes, route, anything. I decided it was time to tell him about this…
Jeff has been telling me for years he thinks my legs are slightly different lengths, and he says my running style is “as unique as John Wayne’s walk”. My legs kick out to the side — SLIGHTLY! — with each step. It doesn’t bother me when I run and I never would have noticed it if not for photos.
And our best guess is my “unique” gait was magnified in the last few months by my running so many miles on the indoor track instead of outside in the ice and snow. The track is 1/8th of a mile so it’s a pretty tight circle, almost constantly turning — and putting weight unevenly on one foot or the other. So — wonky stride + running in a circle = angry feet.
My next appointment is with a sports therapist for a gait analysis. Hopefully, there are strengthening exercises I can do or other ways to modify my stride that will help avoid sesamoid pain in the future. Wish me luck!
And you may have noticed David’s shirt. The Hogeye is the anniversary of what is now Project Keeping TIME. Two years ago, Jennifer and I wore Tom’s name and the Foundation logo for my first full marathon. People started asking how they could get a shirt, too, and Project Keeping TIME was born. If you’re interested, we’re doing a special order this week — running/cycling/triathlon gear, just in time for summer! CLICK HERE for details. #neverquit