This marathon starts early, at 7 am, so it was a very cold wait for the start. They were nice enough to have coffee available, which I don't drink, but it was nice to know it was there! I did a lot of stretching during the wait, trying to prevent injury. The race kicked off with a loop through Harpers Ferry National Historic Park. We crossed a sand pebble lane, and I was feeling the cold on my legs, which were in shorts. I had a long sleeve technical shirt, gloves, and a long sleeved cotton shirt of Paul's that he said he wouldn't mind if I ditched during the race. So it was chilly but I started warming up quickly at least. We followed another sandy pebble lane to the Murphy Farm loop, which was scenic and interesting. From there, the race went into historic Harpers Ferry. Restored buildings and cobblestone streets delighted me - I remember turning to the guy beside me and saying, "This is so cool!" and he readily agreed. After that, we crossed the Potomac River on a footbridge that is part of the Appalachian Trail. The sun was coming up behind the mountains, and the view took my breath away. The footbridge was covered in ice towards the end (yes, it was that cold!) so we had to walk, and everyone also walked down the circular staircase at the end which led to the C&O Canal towpath. This path ran along the river from mile 5-15 or so, and was small gravel/dirt. It was around mile 10 when the unthinkable happened. That pesky old IT band went out. I had been running really well, and at that point was on target for a 4 hour marathon. So I had to ask myself - did I want to stop, and not risk further injury, or did I want to push through, which would lead to a more severe injury, but also would allow me to see the rest of the course and receive a medal at the end? I chose the latter.
I saw the boys when I came out of the woods at mile 15, and told Paul briefly that I was injured. I had slowed down significantly at this point, but wasn't having to walk too much. That was about to change. I hit the hills and my IT band had shooting pain radiating down my entire leg. It absolutely wasn't going to allow me to run hills. So I walked them. I realized as I walked across the Battlefield of Antietam, step by step, that it was the most beautiful day for a run. Statues of Civil War soldiers towered over corn fields, and the sun beamed over bright blue skies, and I wouldn't have missed that for the world. After passing by historic Mumma Farm, we headed into Sharpsburg, Maryland, where I got to see the boys again.
As for me, my IT band is more torn up than I expected, and I'm guessing I'm facing about 6 weeks off (at least). I'll be headed for some ART work on it as soon as I can get in, and hopefully it will improve more quickly than expected. Also, pictures of some of the historic areas I mentioned here will appear in future posts, so stay tuned!