Traci here, and what an incredible weekend.

As many of you know, it’s hard to know what to expect in a race. We train, and train, and train some more. We plan what to wear, what to eat, and how much to sleep the night before. We have running rituals that start the week before the race and continue right up until we cross the finish line. Even with all of this planning and preparation under our flip belts, we never quite know what to expect on race day, and this race weekend was definitely no different.

This was my fifth year in a row participating in an IMT DMM race event (thanks for the sweet Heel To Toe Club 5 year pin IMT DMM!). I have run the full marathon twice, the I35 Challenge twice (halfs), and “just” a single half once. Every year is my favorite year because I always have some personal goal I am trying to accomplish, like PRing, or maybe just supporting another runner and helping them push through the race.

For me the races started on Saturday in Kansas City. This year I talked my hubby into signing up for the I35 Challenge with me, both of us registering for the two half marathon option. Although he has ran a few half marathons with me over the years, this was by far the hardest he has pushed himself as a runner.

I need to rewind a little here though. A few weeks before the race my hubby started having random pain in his calf during some of our runs. One episode happened just six days before the race, and was so bad that I had to run home ahead of him to get the car and go pick him up just a few miles from our house. He took the last five days off before the race from running, got a massage, used lots of Biofreeze and Icy Hot, rolled like crazy, and said a few prayers.

While I was worried about him, I had no idea that I was also going to be hit with a road bump as well. A few days before the race a felt a little off, but nothing of major concern. The day before the race I woke up with severe stomach cramps, nausea, and chills. I told myself I was fine but on my way to work ended up vomiting into an old Sonic cup in the car while driving (thank goodness I caved and got the kids slushies the day before). I ended up getting antibiotics for a bacterial infection, went to bed mid morning and slept the rest of the day. I didn’t get to eat or drink much.

Needless to say, I was a little worried about our completing the weekend successfully. You runners know that this feeling of defeat just breaks your heart. After training and planning it nearly takes a train blasting into you to stop you from running a race. I was afraid that train had arrived at the station.

Saturday morning we drove to the Kansas City downtown area with plenty of time to spare, but the parking situation was just a mess. We waited in line for a ramp, since the lots were all packed, and as we were the next in to pull in, the city closed the ramp! They motioned for us to keep going but there was nowhere to go. We drove around for what felt like hours and pulled into a closed lot, somehow finding an open spot.

We were now running behind, getting out of our car ten minutes before the start, hustling to get down to the race. I had been taking antibiotics and a side effect can be loose stools. I had tried and tried all morning to go with no luck. As we were hustling to find the starting line, it hit me. Weirdly, we passed no port-a-potts. Seriously? We finally found the starting line but we were so far back behind our pace that we knew it was going to be rough. The KC Marathon starting line is known for being congested because they not only cram the full and half runners into it for a 7 am kick off, but they also jammed around 1,500+ 10K runners who started at the same time. Being toward the back of the start line put us with slower runners and many walking 10Kers.

I decided to wait and find a pott during the first few miles of race, knowing that this was going to kill our time, but an absolute necessity.

For several miles after the start the congestion of runners was really frustrating. Body to body for miles, and we were stuck around slower runners. I absolutely am not upset at those runners, I am PROUD of those runners and walkers for getting out there and crushing it, but it was stressful. Coupled with the constant urge to poop my pants for two miles, I was hurting. I finally found a pott a few miles in and after waiting in line for several minutes, then ending up taking quite a while myself… our race time was shot.

My hubby was a trooper and stayed with me rather than going on ahead. I love him to the moon and back for that because I guess I had forgotten something else about the KC race… THE HILLS.

KCs Marathon! Nearly 1000 feet of elevation up and down several times. This is the 26.2.

I have to say, Saturday was not pretty. THOSE HILLS. Luckily my hubby’s calf didn’t bother him at all so he was able to push me through the fatigue from getting over my illness and force me up and down those hills.

Well we got through it but it was our slowest half yet. I’d like to say at least ten minutes were wasted trying to break through the hoard of 10Kers and/or waiting for and using the pott. But again, we got through it. 2:18. Our last KC Half together was 1:52, so were were a little sad- but there’s always, tomorrow, we thought.

KC half 

Next up, round two. We drove to Des Moines, hit the expo, showered at the hotel, grabbed some food, and rolled, stretched, used an air compression machine, caked on the Biofreeze, got out the KT tape, and chugged water for hours.

Prepping for Sunday

Sunday morning we were pretty sore but excited to try to accomplish a second half marathon. I haven’t mentioned it yet but my brother was running the I35 Challenge with us except he ran two full 26.2s in two days! AND he was battling the flu for four days before the race. HE IS A BEAST. He even PRd in KC! But with his illness plus ours, we were quite the trio this weekend. Good grief!

Staying downtown Des Moines was amazing and I was so thankful to not have to drive into downtown before the race this year. The morning was a breeze.

Hubby, me and lil bro before the race

I LOVE the IMT DMM, I have run several other races in the midwest and THIS is my favorite by far. Chris Burch, the IMT DMM race director, has always told me to be honest about the race when I write about it. I wouldn’t feel right writing about a race and telling you it was great if I really didn’t feel that way.

So even though I love this race, my body did not. That morning I had been stretching and walking a lot to warm up my legs from the race the day before, but I didn’t try to run at all. As soon as the race started Every Single Step shot horrible pain into my ITBand in my right outer knee. I knew my knee was sore, but This. This was horrible. I have run through soreness before, but never 13.1 miles through injury. After a few miles I figured out a little weird run-skip-hop motion that kept me from bending my knee when I put weight on it, so although I looked like Steve Erkel from Family Matters prancing around, it worked and kept me running.

But I wasn’t the one in the worst shape.

The day before my hubby had supported me, pushed me through those hills, and held back even when I could tell he wanted to leave me in his dust and run faster to the finish line than I could manage.

Today, roles were reversed. Even though I had horrible outer knee pain, his was much, much worse. His was in his left knee, and it was excruciating for him. He ran about six miles on it, face cringed in pain the entire time. The day before we had talked the whole race, this race we were silent and just focused on not stopping.

Around miles 6 and 7 we both started to feel a little better and started to get a good rhythm going. We were still ahead of the 2:10 pace group and under the circumstances were were fine with that. We had wanted to finish around 2 hours, but had conceded to our limitations.

At mile 8, my hubby stopped to pee. I waited for him of course. Right before we stopped his knee had started to bother him badly again, and to be honest, mine never really stopped. He got out of the pott, took a running step and almost fell over in pain.

He couldn’t walk. He definitely couldn’t run. He looked like I had never seen him before. We got out the Icy Hot and slathered it all over his knee. After a few minutes he was able to limp-walk slowly, but he had to stop many times for more stretching and Icy Hot breaks. The 2:20 pace group passed us, we chatted with the pacer for a moment and he was so kind and reminded us not to push ourselves into a serious injury.

Then, we saw a medical tent. We stopped there and my hubby was able to get a roller and have his IT band rolled out. Folks- I have never seen this man in so much pain. They rolled his upper IT band and while they were doing it, I can only compare the pain I saw on his face to someone in labor.

They rolled him for a few minutes and we decided to see if we could finish.

We were both in a lot of pain but were determined to crawl over the finish if we had to. My hubby was able to do this crazy power-walk-run motion, while I did my very slow run-skip-hop and somehow- SOMEHOW- we made it through the last five miles. We even did it in under our new goal of 2:30, in fact we made it across the finish at  2:29:58 to be exact.

2 races in 1 weekend

Guess what? WE DID IT. And, although I will never be able to talk him into another I35 Challenge, he said he might be willing to run a full with me someday- as long as we NEVER have to run two distance races in two days ever again.

This whole experience was awesome because he pushed me through the first race, and I pushed him through the second. Couples who pray together, stay together. Couples who run together, stay together too.

Our biggest supporters

Thank you to the IMT DMM for everything  before the finish line: the expo, the awesome jackets and goodies in our packet pick up bags, the names on our bibs, the I35 challenge, and EVERYTHING you have provided for my blogging opportunity over the years. You guys rock!

Thank you to the IMT DMM for everything during the race: the amazing volunteers and supporters throughout the race, so many water and snack stations, the medical tents, the beautiful (FLAT!) course, the music and bands along the route, and so much more.

Thank you to the IMT DMM for everything after the finish line: The endless options of food solely for runners, the injury station, the photography opportunities, the pizza, the beer, reading names of finishers into the mic, the stage at the finish line, the AWESOME medals, and so much more.

I will see you next year IMT DMM. Thank you, thank you.

And as always, happy running.

-Traci of MamaGottaRun.com @mamagottarun