How My First Marathon Completely Fell Apart

Given the nature of my day job, I’d obviously heard and read about the pesky IT band. I diagnosed my own injury the same morning I realized I had one—so my trip to the orthopedist a day later was more for affirmation than an explanation.

The trouble with IT Band Friction Syndrome is that, once it sets in, the only real remedy is rest—and I had a very limited amount of time for that. I was prescribed a steroid and an anti-inflammatory ointment and told to be sedentary for the next 10 days.

I was. It didn’t matter.

On race day, I felt reasonably confident—especially given the complete absence of a taper. But less than a mile in, I felt that familiar stabbing pain. I told Jared—who’d joined me for the race—that I was in trouble.

“You think?” he asked, dubiously.

“It’s too early,” I replied, with the grim realization that the next 25 miles would be far more challenging than I’d hoped.

My wife, Katie, along with her mother and sister, were supposed to be waiting for us at mile 8, so I’d pinpointed that location—along Dallas’ Greenville Avenue—as a sort of reset button. I’d see them, stop for a moment to say hello, break out the BioFreeze from my FlipBelt, throw back an energy gel, and be on my way. The night before, perhaps fearing the worst, I’d even packed a thicker sock and a more stable shoe in a bag for Katie. During training, I’d occasionally switch shoes at the halfway point of a long run. For whatever reason, the swap seemed to give me a psychological lift, and I wanted to have the same option on race day—just in case.

But at mile 7, the knee pain was beginning to intensify. No matter, I chugged a beer and high-fived a few supporters, expecting to see my own support team just around the corner.

They were nowhere in sight.

Less than a mile later, I ducked off the course into a parking lot, caked on that BioFreeze and told Jared to get lost. I’d slowed him down enough for one day.

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About the Author

Kolby Paxton

Kolby Paxton is the running editor of ACTIVE.com and—you guessed it—an avid runner. Arguably the least impressive football player to play stand on the sideline at the University of Oklahoma, Paxton eventually graduated from a directional school you’ve never heard of in a town you’ve never heard of before the Associated Press named him Oklahoma’s Best New Journalist—while working at a paper you’ve never heard of. After earning a master’s degree he’ll never use from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Paxton and his wife relocated to Dallas, Texas, where he would become the self-proclaimed voice of the common runner. In his free time, Paxton enjoys hanging with his beagle, cheering for the Rangers, and yelling at the Cowboys. Follow Kolby on Twitter or Instagram.
Kolby Paxton is the running editor of ACTIVE.com and—you guessed it—an avid runner. Arguably the least impressive football player to play stand on the sideline at the University of Oklahoma, Paxton eventually graduated from a directional school you’ve never heard of in a town you’ve never heard of before the Associated Press named him Oklahoma’s Best New Journalist—while working at a paper you’ve never heard of. After earning a master’s degree he’ll never use from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Paxton and his wife relocated to Dallas, Texas, where he would become the self-proclaimed voice of the common runner. In his free time, Paxton enjoys hanging with his beagle, cheering for the Rangers, and yelling at the Cowboys. Follow Kolby on Twitter or Instagram.

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