I ran a marathon last weekend. It was a weird one for me. I had zero expectations for this marathon. It was just a case of wanting to squeeze in one road marathon in the Fall, because I LOVE Fall races. And Fall road races have such a buzz; I just couldn’t pass up the chance to sneak one in. And also… When did I become a person that “sneaks in” a full marathon? That’s ridiculous.
So, I had come off of my 50k-ish feeling pretty good. I did some road running with my ONE friend that likes to start running early enough that we get to run through campus trying to figure out if the people staggering around are Up All Night or Up Early. It’s a fun game. Any who, after a particularly spectacular run, we both decided to sign up for the marathon. We were drunk on amazing long run.
And after that, all my other “long runs” in preparations for this race were crap. So… I showed up for the race questioning every choice I have ever made in my entire life.
No build up, no long runs over 13 in a month, no game plan, just one big experiment.
The race day forecast was crap with a side of crap. 40ish degrees and rain, just what a runner with no game plan wants to see. Was it enough to make me want to collect my shirt and skeedadle? Well, I considered it, but chose to give it a shot instead. I started the race wearing a garbage bag to keep my core dry and warm and a visor from a triathlon I never competed in. I hate hats and visors, but if it was going to rain for the entire 5+ hours I was gonna be out there, I couldn’t handle the idea of rain pelting my eyeballs the entire time. Side note: wearing a visor from a triathlon that you never did means that you have to explain to too many strangers that you didn’t do the race and when you swim it looks like drowning and biking it terrifying. Perhaps it’s time to invest in a visor of my own….
FINALLY the race started! My feet and hands were wet and cold, so I decided to keep my fashionable trash bag vest on until some warm blood got circulating to my appendages. No point in getting my core wet before my feet regain feeling, right? After four miles I had feeling in all appendages and although my hands were still cold, they weren’t numb. So at this point I was able to rip off my garbage bag just like Hulk Hogan used to rip off his shirt.
One of the things I LOVE about road races is the people watching! There are so many more people there and I love to see what other people are wearing, eating, doing ect… Within the first 6 miles I saw a guy that had to be over 6 feet tall doing some kind of stretch/ muscle loosening thing where he would swing one arm around in a large circle and kick a leg up. I don’t know what this did for him, but it was AMAZING to watch. I’ve tried to recreate it to show people, but I can’t do it. I also ran near a girl that was in some zero drop shoes and was constantly stopping to stretch her calves. When I saw her run I understood why. I’m not kidding you; her heels NEVER touched the ground! Holy crap! Thank goodness she was running the half. I think her calves would have exploded if she were running the full!
Soon after I lost the garbage bag I realized that a potty break was inevitable. So, at every port-a-let I would assess the line and run right past it. The lines always seemed too long (any line was too long). This is hilarious because it's not like I was going to WIN the freaking race! Why couldn't I wait a minute or two to use the potty? I just kept running... sure that something better would come along. AND I WAS NOT DISAPPOINTED!!!!! Just off the path we were running on there was an indoor bathroom with flushable toilets and EVERYTHING! And no line. But the real magic was the heated hand dryer. I stood there and thawed out my hands for 2-3 minutes and it felt like heaven. Eventually I realized I needed to get back to work, so off I went.
The rain stopped and I was able to remove the visor from the race I never even attempted that felt like it was squeezing my head like a giant pimple. Life seemed better. And there were a few tiny out and backs where I was able to see some of my friends. Seeing friends and removing visors made things better.
At about mile 12 the half marathoners headed to the finish line and we kept moving forward. I always start races where there's a half and full thinking, "oh I love having the half marathon people here, it makes it so much more exciting". But by mile 8 I want them to be gone with a passion that overwhelms my soul. I can't stand hear them brag about how they are almost there and have almost made it, blah blah blah. You and your smart decision, get outta here!
Then we started another out and back. This out and back was closer to 5 out and 5 back. But it felt like 450 out and 3ish back. Fun thing about such a long out and back? I was able to see ALL my friends that were running. YAY! So, find your friend became a fun time waster. Another time waster was obsessively ask the lady beside me how much longer til the turn around? I really try not to be that person, but it kept happening. I like to think I helped her to a faster finishing time... because she was trying to get away from me.
Right before the turn around I finally saw my friend that I had been trying to catch for the whole race. I spent the next two miles focused on catching up with her. Yeah! Another project! When I finally caught her, I actually passed her. This is not as jerky as it sounds. You see, my hip flexors were a crampy mess and she walks faster than anyone I know. When I tried to walk with her it was impossibly painful, so I kept going. About a mile and a half later, my hip flexors loosened up, she caught me and we decided to spend the last three miles of the race together! Because running a marathon is hard, why not run it with friends!
So we took our time walking and running (ok her walking, me falling behind walking and then jogging to catch up with her). We caught each other up on how the race was going, w
hat was driving us crazy (why did it take that lady 21 miles to take her poncho off?), t
ried to figure out if some things were real (were there like 6 dead snakes on the road or did we just pass the same two snakes three times?), and we definitely embarrassed a kid that was too busy rearranging his privates to hand out water at the aid station. It was a perfect way to end a race that started in a less than perfect way.
26.2 miles of running and a fun day with friends. Works for me!