January 15, 2016

WDW Marathon Recap, an almost DNF and a Personal Worst

Awakening Sunday before my 2:40am alarm was no surprise for a race morning.  Fitful sleeping is usually the best that happens for me the night before a big race. Unfortunately my quick check of the weather on my I-Pad gave me race day humidity and  temperature details that would not be optimal for a goal race.  Putting that aside, it was time to focus on the present and get ready to go. After getting dressed, having my usual breakfast of banana, English muffin with peanut butter and Gatorade, it was time to go.
Ready to go!

Megan and Natalie were waiting in the Grand Ceremonial Hall for the walk from the Polynesian to the Epcot Monorail station. The trip to Epcot was seamless and we walked onto the monorail and then had an easy walk to the security checkpoint for the runners. After what seemed like a short wait in the DJ, holding pen area, we walked to Corral F and found a spot to relax for the race start. 
Fun entertainment on the walk to the corrals - photo courtesy of  Megan
The usual announcers kept us entertained and soon the wheelchair racers and corrals in front of us were sent off.  At this point, we all knew it was going to be a warm day for racing. Our plan was to start out with slightly under 10 minute mile pace and after the half, decide what to do from there.
Courtesy of Megan
Miles 1-5: This section of the course is really fun since you are energized by the other runners and you pass the entrance to the Magic Kingdom. We started near the front of Corral F and found the roads to be nice and clear.  However, we had not run more than a mile or two and all of us were sweating profusely.  The humidity was horrible and it made the running pretty tough for everyone.  At mile two, Megan and Natalie decided to start taking walk breaks and I carried on by myself.  At a big marathon, you are never really by yourself anyway.  By the time I got to the 5 mile marker I was soaked in sweat and had the realization that keeping a 10 minute mile pacing descending to a negative split for the last half of the race was probably not possible.  
Time: 50:10

Miles 6-10: Running through Magic Kingdom is always fun and since the runners were nicely spread out, I never felt crowded or confined with space during the race. After all the excitement of Magic Kingdom and then passing the crowds of spectators at the Grand Floridian Hotel and Polynesian Hotel, the next section is always tough. I was still feeling pretty good, but the humidity was definitely taking a toll on my body.  My pace had slowed and my effort was the same as it had been earlier.  At this point, I decided to still do the best I could, but not worry too much about my watch. Switching up from straight running to run/walk intervals made it a little easier.
Time: 1:41.51

Miles 11-13.1: Before we arrived at the Animal Kingdom park, we passed some of the animal handlers who were out with a goat, warthog, pig and others. I'm always excited to see them since they are close to where you enter the park. However, for me, running in this park is difficult because of the hard cement and uneven ground that you run on for more than a mile. You hit the halfway point of the race at the edge of the park and that is a very welcome sight.  My body still felt strong, but the humidity continued to feel oppressive.
Time: 2:14.49

Miles 13.1-20: For me, the hardest part of this marathon course lies between the halfway point and the exit from ESPN.  The time on the highway seems to go on forever, and once you hit the ESPN complex, you are dealing with many twists, turns and varieties of running surfaces making it very difficult.  Mentally challenging, this area can really make you wonder why you chose to run a marathon.  My pace for this area continued to climb and this was the first time I felt something weird going on with my left leg. 
Time: 3:31.41

Miles 20-26.2  Most runners will tell you that a marathon starts at mile 20 and I would be part of that group.  After departing the ESPN complex, it was time to hit those highways again for the trek to Hollywood Studios.  This area provides another mental challenge for runners especially the out and back portion before you enter the park.  During this stretch of time, I had my first medical tent stop for my left knee.  Just prior to mile 21, I stopped to slather Biofreeze on my knee and leg in hopes that it would make whatever pain I was experiencing go away.  Unable to run, I put my head down and contemplated what to do.  After walking for about 5 minutes, I attempted to run, hoping the Biofreeze worked it's magic and I was better.  Sadly, it was not and immediately I felt as though my knee might buckle under me and I would fall.  Now tears were welling in my eyes as I tried to decide if it was smart to continue.  Walking at a brisk pace, with only minor leg pain, I kept going and told myself I could finish.  Between miles 22 and 23 I stopped again for medical help and put more Biofreeze on my leg and grabbed some Tylenol for the pain.  At this point, I was hopeful that the Tylenol would kick in and I might be able to run a little.  After another 5-10 minutes of walking, I gave it another try at running.  No dice. My knee and leg were not having it and I would have to walk the rest of the way. This was the point in the race where I was considering if I should stop. Was I harming my leg by continuing? Would I cause long term damage?  My stubborn nature told me to keep going and so I went.  And it was hard.  And I hated every minute of not being able to run.  But I knew I would be really unhappy if I gave up.  So I cried some, and kept going until the next medical tent near the boardwalk when I added more Biofreeze to my unhappy leg.  At this point I knew I would finish, but it would not be pretty.  I had flashbacks from my two prior WDW Marathons, especially my first in 2013 which was my first ever marathon and part of my Goofy Challenge attempt.  I passed Christine and Tom in Epcot by Norway and Christine told me I was going too fast for a photo (I wasn't) and I told her to run.  Such happy memories and I was suffering mightily thinking about that day and the day she and I ran the marathon with big PR's at the end of Dopey Challenge 2014.  This was not my day, but I needed to be a big girl and finish.  So I trudged through Epcot and when sweet Cyanne called my name, I had more tears. When I finally made it to the gospel choir and round the bend, I was never so happy to see a finish line.  I looked down at my watch and realized that I needed to hurry to beat five hours so I hurried as much as I could.

As I passed the finish line it was not with happiness, but with relief and sadness.  Immediately approached by a volunteer, I collapsed into a wheelchair and was taken to the medical area. Upon reflection, I don't have any regrets but instead, ambivalent feelings about the race. I hope that changes and I can appreciate what happened.  Every race teaches us something and there are plenty of things to take away from this marathon.



Finish Time: 4:59.35
16/178 Age Group
1996/10315 Females
5398/19838 Overall
(Pam)

As usual on Fridays, we have linked up with the girls from DC, Mar, Courtney and Cynthia.  Check out the link here

69 comments:

  1. So sorry to hear how much you were hurting when I saw you around 26.1. I was never so happy to finish. Hope your leg is better. ----- Denise

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    1. Thanks so much Denise. It wasn't the best day to race, weather wise.

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    2. I ran Disney too as my first marathon this year. Makes me feel better to hear I wasn't the only one affected by the humidity. I had trained to run under 4 hrs. and then broke down in tears at the 1/2 way mark when I realized I just couldn't keep it up. Ended up finishing in 4 hrs. 20 mins. but it had felt so much harder than any of my training runs. I'm from Boston and just wasn't at all prepared for the weather! Congrats on finishing strong. that's quite an accomplishment!

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  2. You are such a champ. Such a champ. I hope that your knee is feeling better!

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    1. Thanks Susie, Enjoy the rest of your time in Cabo. It looks like a lovely relaxing vacation for you and your hubby.

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  3. Wow, that was a really tough race Pam. And yet you endured and pulled through so congratulations on that. It's interesting how conditions are sometimes taken for granted. The humidity was brutal but since I run in those conditions all the time it didn't really bothered me at all. Sure, I was dripping wet but I'm always like that when I run here. However many people were having big issues with it. You are a champion my friend. Don't forget it. This is why I look up to you. Congrats once again.

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    1. Thanks Frank. I really appreciate your comments. Hard races are much easier than the ones with no obstacles, and hopefully I will feel much better about the race next week.

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  4. Pam, I am so sorry to hear that this race went so poorly for you. It's so disheartening when things don't go well, and I can only imagine how bad it was because you are usually so positive and upbeat about everything.

    I know you have enough experience to know that they won't all be magical, but it doesn't sting any less when they're not. I hope you are able to get some rest and feel better. <3

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    1. Sometimes a race doesn't go your way and it makes you appreciate the good ones that much more. I will work hard to correct my imbalances and weaknesses so I am stronger for my next marathon.

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  5. I'm sorry you had such a tough race. "A true champion is someone who refuses to give up". That's what I think you are! I hope your knee is okay!

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    1. Thanks Monica. The one thing I can surely take away from the race is that I would not quit.

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  6. I'm sorry you had such a rough time. Your personal worst is still way faster than me...by A LOT. You are amazing and congratulations on having another marathon finish, even if it was rough!

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    1. Speed is relative Jamie. My fast is someone else's slow and vice versa. I think it is important to keep focused on our own training and improvements instead of others. Thanks for the kind words, I am proud that I finished.

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  7. Oh wow what a recap! How is your knee now? Does it still hurt? I am not sure that I would have had your strength to keep going. Congrats on finishing-it wasn't the finish you wanted but amazing none the less.

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    1. My knee is fine, it turns out that it is my IT band that caused all the trouble. I will be diligent about strength training to make sure this never happens again.

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  8. So sorry to hear about your knee, Pam. More than showing physical strength that day, you showed huge mental strength. It would have been so easy to just throw in the towel and wait at an aid station to be picked up. You might call it being stubborn, but I call it being mentally strong that you persisted on and still crossed the finish line. It might have been your personal worst in terms of a marathon finish time, but you should still be so proud of yourself for finishing what you started.

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    1. Thanks Kathryn. every race is a challenge and especially the marathon distance. But the one thing I can take away from this is that I can finish in adversity. It may not be pretty but it can be done.

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  9. Oh Pam, I was so sorry to hear about your knee when Christine text me after the race, I certainly know how debilitating and frustrating knee pain can be and how stressful it can be to decide whether to continue on with a race or not.

    Getting to the finish line in pain and in that brutal humidity is a huge accomplishment in itself and I'm sure after some time you'll be able to look back on this race and appreciate it for the experience that it was despite that fact that it wasn't what you were hoping for. Hope your knee is doing better!

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    1. Thanks Danielle. I hope your knee is improving too. I actually have and IT band issue that felt like knee pain because of the rubbing during the race. Hopefully my PT visits will make it go away soon and then lots of strength training to insure it does not happen again.

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  10. You just explained how I felt last year at marathon weekend and Tink! I am so sorry you had to experience that! I know it is so discouraging and easy to be upset about how the overall race went for you but I have but please think about some of the positive things. You were keeping a pretty good pace in the begining and you did squeek in right before 5 hours despite the pain! Congrats for finishing! I hope you are able to rest and find healing for your IT band/knee. -M

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    1. I remember you had really rough races last year at marathon weekend and Tink. Did your IT band ever totally heal? My PT guy was so helpful today and it looks like a few visits and I should back to some regular activities. Of course there is some strength training that will become a part of my regular routine as well.

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  11. Pam, you are fierce! I'm so proud of you for finishing! Rest up that knee and while it may have been a discouraging race your perspective is perfect, you can always learn something. It's a privilege to be able to run, not a right. You have great perspective and you'll come back stronger and with a healthier knee.You're something FIERCE! Congratulations!

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    1. Thanks Sarah. Rough race days happen and I am proud that I finished. Hopefully I can improve my overall body strength to insure this does not happen again.

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  12. Oh man... I hope your knee is feeling better and it's nothing too serious :( Way to persevere and push through! I hope that you can look back on the race after some time and think about it as a symbol of your toughness.

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    1. Luckily the steroids have kicked in and my knee and IT band are much better. I do hope that in a few weeks the race will have some happy memories.

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  13. You are on e tough lady.

    That's my biggest fear about running a marathon and you are in much better shape than I am.

    Rest up.

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    1. Darlene you can do it. With a good training plan, not upping your mileage too quickly you could definitely have fun running the NYC marathon. Plus, you could do some training runs in the city too to get used to the hills.

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  14. Oh no! Had you ever had pain in your knee like that in training before the race? I'm sorry you didn't have the experience you wanted, but you were definitely wise to keep your long-term health in mind and walk the last part. I think finishing a marathon is always an accomplishment, so congratulations!

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    1. No knee pain ever before and thankfully I was diagnosed with an IT Band issue, something I also had never experienced before. Now it is time to heal and strength train to avoid this again in the future.

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  15. Wow! Way to push through despite your knee problems!! Congrats!!! You are awesome! Hope your knee is better now!

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    1. Pushing through can be a dumb thing, but thankfully it turned out okay for me.

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  16. Oh man. I'm so sorry but you are so freaking tough. You are amazing, Pam!

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    1. thanks Courtney. but I think I am hard headed more than tough. :)

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  17. I'm so sorry about your knee Pam! I hope after a little rest it is as good as new!! Glad I got to see you Saturday.

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    1. Same here Kristen. Hope you had fun over the weekend.

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  18. Oh girl. I feel your pain. I had a similar experience in May 2015. It was awful. I completely sympathize!!

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    1. Yes, it stinks, but I bet you have come back stronger. Hopefully my 2016 will continue with some happy race experiences.

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  19. I'm really sorry the race didn't turn out as you wanted, but at least things went okay at PT (I saw your Facebook post) and hopefully you will be back to running and racing again soon. The most important thing is to always try to stay uninjured. Or when injuries do happen, get medical attention ASAP! Which you did and that rocks. It breaks my heart to see promising runners who do not take care of themselves and take a step back or off when injured.

    Even if you had to DNF, I would still be proud of you for attempting the marathon. Always remember DNF = Did Nothing Fatal.

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    1. I love that phrase, "Did nothing fatal". I am sure one day I will have a DNF. Any medical help is always warranted and needed after an injury.

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  20. So sorry to read about your pain. But you did finish a marathon and in the top 10% of your age group. Both of those things are amazing.

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    1. Thanks Karen. Focusing on the positive post race is always important!

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  21. Ugh! That sounds like tough conditions and then horrible pain. I hope you are feeling better now.

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    1. The steroids have really helped and now I am looking forward to getting through Physical Therapy and getting stronger.

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  22. I'm so sorry about your knee! But you finished under 5 hours! And 16th in your AG? I'd take that...

    I understand how you feel. I felt like that after my first Chicago. When you don't meet your expectations, it takes time to make it right in your mind. I completely get it. Of course, I had to go and run a few more marathons to help me over the hump.

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    1. It is hard to swallow a race that did not go your way, but focusing on rest and recovery is the best option after this race. Physical Therapy will hopefully get me back on my feet in no time.

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  23. Oh Pam, I'm so sorry to hear the race didn't go as you expected! Way to stick it out, you earned that medal for sure!! This reminds me of my Wine and Dine experience, I just wanted it to be over but was happy I finished. Onward and upward! : )
    Karen @karenlovestorun

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    1. Earning a medal was not the focus, but finishing was my goal. Races don't always go your way and adversity makes us stronger right?

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  24. Pam, I ran Disney too & the weather was absolutely brutal! I had suffered some illness & injury in November and missed a lot of training, so I was there to just enjoy the race without any goal times. However, I ended up finishing even slower than I expected by about 30 minutes. My knee was aching & the humidity was unreal. I am more chaffed from that run, then I was from the Ironman I did over the Summer! Congratulations on finishing a tough event!! I really enjoyed your recap!! :-)

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    1. Hope your took away some good memories from the race. Yes, the weather was brutal. Humidity is not a friend of runners.

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  25. I'm so sorry to hear that the race was so tough on you. Hopefully you can take the time you need to recover! This also reminds me why I hate racing in FL. That weather can often be brutal. Speedy recovery to you!

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    1. Thanks Lisa. Yes, I remember the Princess race 10k when we were both dripping in sweat a few steps after we started running. I should never plan to run a fast race a Disney....lesson learned.

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  26. Pam - I want to give you a huge hug. Thank You for taking me through the course one more time. I have to agree with so many points. As you know, I was running this Marathon as well. I struggled from Mile 13 on mentally. The humidity was another obstacle. I thought the course and the terrain were really hard, especially after the Stadium. All the running on the Highway seemed endless! In addition you had that knee pain. Let me tell you, YOU DID GREAT! You ran a great time with this knee pain, even if this was not your Personal Best. Very proud of you! :)

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    1. It is always good to hear the perspective of another runner who ran the same race on the same day. I appreciate your candor and feel that so many of us had similar feelings on race day. I have yet to hear of anyone who had a fabulous race in terms of time and experience.

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  27. I have chills reading your recap. I haven't run a disney race yet, but hope one is in my future. I applaud your perseverance and am glad you knew better to run so that you wouldn't make things worse. But proud of you for finishing and making it under that 5 hour mark. Congratulations on making it through this experience and adding it to your lesson learned bank.

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    1. Thanks Lara. I love your comment about the lessons learned bank. I need to remember for future use.

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  28. Oh Pam, I'm so sorry. Disappointing for sure, but you did the right thing. Have you gotten it checked out to see what is going on with it?

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    1. Yes Sue, I saw my orthopedic doctor and was diagnosed with an IT band issue and am in physical therapy. Happy to report that it is going well! :)

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  29. Wait the last part of your recap sounds so darn familiar. :( I too ran last weekend in the WDW Marathon, and I too had knee issues. I was no where near your times but gosh reading this I was back in my marathon all over again. I am coming from the Weekly Wrap link up but as soon as I realized we ran the same race, I had to back up and read your recap. Pam I'm so glad to connect with you but I soooo hate you had issues like I did. Your strong first half really carried you on your times. I finished 2 hours behind you, key word being I FINISHED! Thank you for joining us, I'm heading over to read your current post now. :)

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    1. That weather sucked for our marathon and I think that had alot to do with our times/finishes and possibly injuries. Congrats on the finish, it was a hard day to make even that happen.

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  30. Congrats on getting through! I know how tough it is when things don't go like you hoped or you have unexpected pain like that. I hope you can get to feeling better soon. I struggle terribly in humidity, my body just does not like it, I have only run once (Princess Half) at Disney, and the weather was okay for that, but I have been very hesitant to go back because of the weather. That is awesome you have completed the Dopey! I would love to a challenge like that....maybe in the California park lol

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    1. I think the CA races are a bit better because you are usually not dealing with humidity. We really enjoyed the Tinkerbell Challenge in 2015.

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  31. Pam, I'm sorry to hear about the struggles with your knee. I was hoping for your time, but went way over due to my own knee problems. I think disappointments are a result of expectations going in. In this one very rare instance, I had none because of my injury. Any other time, I would have been devastated with my performance and struggles. Please take a step back and look at what you accomplished. You should be very proud of your finish in those conditions and with your pain. You placed in the upper top 10% of your age group. Fantastic!

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    1. Thanks Holly. Every race is an adventure and they don't always turn out the way you like. I have more races to run but first I need to get this IT band under control

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  32. It's wild how races can go one way or the other. Humidity is my enemy and pain can be scary; you never know if it's just your body rebelling in the moment or something more serious. Great job getting through it. I think that says a lot about your mental toughness. It takes a lot to finish 26.2 and I think it's impressive you persevered when you could have stopped. I still think 13.1 is really hard!

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    1. I'm not sure about mental toughness, but I am definitely stubborn and hate to quit anything. Humidity is awful for runners and I don't know anyone who enjoys it.

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  33. Great recap! I felt like I was right along side of you. I hope your knee recovers quickly. How's it feeling now?

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    1. My knee is much better and hopefully I will be back to full activity in a few weeks.

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  34. I'm SO sorry that you struggled so much. It's so frustrating when something beyond our control takes over and our body just won't cooperate. I've struggled majorly in just about every marathon I've ever run, so I know how disappointing it must have been for you. I think you are a total ROCKSTAR for finishing this race, and it says a lot about who you are as a person that you were able to fight your way through!

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    1. Thanks Jennifer. I hope you and Todd had a great day. I enjoyed reading your half recap and those costumes were too cute!

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