First up: even though I did not finish this race, I still am very proud of my performance. And I'm also proud that I was finally smart enough to know when to quit before I really injured myself.
I have a long history of knee injuries. I first got diagnosed with patella tendonitis while playing ultimate frisbee my freshman year of college. I have not been able to play competitive ultimate since. I did 8 months of physical therapy and was finally able to get back to working out. I was told that I shouldn't run, so I started crossfit and mostly did a bunch of rowing as a running substitution. A few years later, my stubbornness got the best of me and I decided (without talking to a doctor or PT) that I was now healthy enough to run again... so I signed up to run a marathon. I trained for 4-5 months, did a mediocre job, missed some training ones, and totally ate it on race day. I finished in 5:55:50, limping across the finish line. Got myself another 6 months of PT and took another year off running. When I started running again in earnest in May 2015, I decided to take it slow. I did mostly just 5Ks in 2015 and did my first half in May 2016 after running all winter. I've had a few setbacks, but overall my knees have been doing pretty well. Which bring us to...
This past Saturday at the Roxbury Marathon. The route is pretty brutal and it was 18-20F that morning. The water in my hydration pack actually froze! I started off strong. My coach had recommended that I lean forward (really, resist leaning back) while going down hills. That really helped me gain some speed without killing my muscles. I was able to keep up a 9:30 pace for the first 16 miles. Sometime near the end of mile 17, my right knee started to hurt. It was a familiar feeling and I immediately started walking. I tried running a bit more, but then the pain got worse. I walked the last 1.75 miles and called it quits at 19.25 miles (my third out of five loops), a total of 3:26:46. Had it not been so cold, I still could have finished in under 5:30... even walking the last 8 miles.
I have never run that fast that far, so I'm still really proud. My second fastest half was at a 9:33min/mile pace, and I managed to keep that up for an extra 3 miles. The cold plus the hills plus my knee just did not end up being the best day for me. I'm feeling pretty good today, so after another couple of days of rest, I'm going to keep running and try another marathon in the fall.