I’m going to be real. I’m going to be raw. I’m going to literally type what I wrote in my journal on Monday morning following the 2020 Marathon Olympic Trials.
Marathon brain is a real thing. Post marathon depression is a real thing. The marathon will break your heart, make you question your dreams, make you cry in public randomly. Too many feelings 2 days removed from the race.
The first mile went out super slow (6:18) and I ended up towards the front but I was fine with that because I figured someone would get impatient and I wanted to see the move since the field was so bunched. By mile 2 we picked it up – I literally never looked at a split but I was comfortable. I remember falling a bit back at the 10K fluid station but the field slowed and all of a sudden I was in the pack again. The surges would later hurt me but I tried to stay calm and cover stuff slow. Through 10 miles I was fine. No longer easy but I didn’t feel like I was forcing it. The hair pin turn before the halfway point got me. I lost contact with the pack but so did a few others. I couldn’t make up the ground like other times but I was not discourage. I saw the halfway split and knew I was running well (74:49).
To be honest, I don’t know exactly when it really went downhill. I had a few rough miles between 14 and 20 but I was holding my ground and still racing. The rough miles would come at the hills or super windy stretches but then I’d rebound…I just told myself that this feeling would pass. Looking back at splits, I think mile 22 did me in…it was at the fluid station going uphill and I dropped my bottle. Frustration filled me. It was the first time I felt discouraged. Up to that point, if I had a rough point, I got through it. My quads / hamstrings would cramp or spasm but I could ignore it. At about 22-23 miles I knew that I just wanted to finish. I don’t think I gave up, I just didn’t have it in my body to fight. At 24.5 miles I literally walked through a fluids station for a Powerade and drank it…then started running again. I remember people just passing me and I couldn’t respond. Never thought I’d run a 7:28 and 7:31 mid-marathon but I did.
Initially I wasn’t upset. Finishing was all I wanted in those last few miles which felt like an eternity. I put myself in the race and the race / course ate me up. I am not disappointed with my execution and don’t regret that. I am disappointed that I wasn’t good enough and that is making me question myself and my choices.
I know those feelings won’t last and I know that Saturday doesn’t define me. I’m 28 years old. I can have 2 more Olympic cycles if I want them.
Lindsay Flanagan posted this and it made me cry but also put things in perspective…”Many people don’t realize that the marathon is a beast. And, in your whole career you may only be lucky enough to beat the beast once. Just keep fighting, the day will come.”
Steph Bruce DNF’d in 2012, had babies in 2016 and finished 6th in 2020. No one has a perfect career. As long as I still love it and crave it, I’ll keep fighting. To be honest, it scares me a bit to try again but that too will pass.
I know that I could have run a more conservative race plan and had a different outcome but in the long run, Saturday made me better. I would have left the other scenario and thought “what if?”. I don’t have those “what if?” feelings. Instead I had to navigate being in a pack with arguably the best field of American women in history. That will make me better.
So, I’m proud and disappointed and grateful and scared and excited all at once.