I did it! 26.2 miles. I trained, I ran it, it’s done!
Cheryl and I headed to the park at about 6:15 to get our chips and do gear check. We found someone kindly enough to take our pre-race picture.
The first ten miles were awesome. I felt great, I was right on pace, the running world was my oyster. I did come across some overly excited, overly loud runners around mile six and after hearing them talk, almost yell, for five minutes, I knew I had to leave them in the dust. First they were talking about how their relationship was never going to be the same now that they’ve run a long-distance race together. Then we weaved down below the road on a bike path and they said, “Oh my god, we were just up there and now we’re down here!” That was it, I kicked it up a notch and left them behind.
I kind of needed to use the bathroom from the get-go, but there was always a line at the port-o-johns. Finally, somewhere around mile 10 or so, I saw a Park Authority bathroom. So I popped in there, to the luxury of a flushing toilet and running water. I then continued on my way.
And then it happened. My IT band starting tightening up on me. The pain shot from my hip to my knee on my left side. At times it continued down to my ankle. I stopped to stretch everything out which seemed to help for about a mile or so. Then I stopped and stetched again, which worked for about 3/4 of a mile. And it just got worse from there.
The second half of the course was a little hilly, but not too bad. I walked up most hills, because that’s usually my strategy when I train on flat terrain and have a hilly race. Once at the top of the hills, I’d run down the other side which usually felt pretty good on my IT band. It got to the point that I was stopping and stetching every five minutes. My pace had gone to crap. It was now a battle of will to finish.
And a battle it was! Giving up was never a consideration for me, but man did it hurt! Walking hurt worse than running, but my stride was all sorts of screwed up, so running was more tiring than it should have been. I would run (really more jog at this point), slow to a walk, regret that I had, and then stretch so I could try running again.
Around mile 21 I completely lost it. I was in pain, I still had five miles to go, and I hit a low. Not “The Wall”, so far I’ve never hit that. No, this was just our right pain, sadness that I was not going to make it under five hours (my goal), fatigue, frurstration (this was not an injury I had been dealing with) and I lost it. I looked around, saw I was alone, and just let it go. I cried pretty good for a couple of minutes. I called Alan (I trained with my cell phone on me, so I ran with it on me) to get a boost. He didn’t boost me very well. I asked him, “I can do this, right?” His repsone was, “Yeah, you trained.” That was it! No enthusiasm, so encouragement, more like, “Why are you calling me?” But the tears and hearing his voice were enough to get back into it.
Those last five miles took me over an hour, but I got through them I ran until my legs couldn’t handle the pain and gait, I walked until I couldn’t handle the pain, I stopped, I stretched, I repeated.
At mile 23 I started counting. Each runner had their own little trick to get them through a rough patch or the last few miles of a race or run. My trick is to count to sixty. If I count to sixty ten times, that is approximately a mile for me. So at mile 23, if I counted to sixty ten times, then I’d me at mile 24. And so on, and so on. It got me through and I made it to the finish!
It was grueling, it was painful, it was incredible, it was over! I crossed the finish line and there were no tears, until I saw the medal. A guy held out my medal and I lost it. I started crying tears of joy and of pride. A volunteer ran over to me and asked in a very concerned tone, “Are you okay?” I said, “Yes, I’m just emotional.” Cheryl came over to join me and lauged at my tears, because I warned her about them and she had had tears of her own. She knew.
We went back to the hotel to shower, change and check out. We then headed to Taco John’s for our first post-run meal. . . a six pack and a pound plus a small super nacho. Dude, it was awesome!
And so, it is over. I know I complained at times about the training, but I loved doing it. The run could have been better, but I am proud of myself for digging deep and finding it within myself to finish. Will I do it again? You bet! Will it be in the next year? No way! I am going to just enjoy running for running’s sake for a while and then look into doing a half-marathon. Maybe even do another triathlon.
Cheryl, I think we showed them “some courage” and definitely showed them “how to get the work done!”
Thanks to Cheryl for sharing the media for this post, and even more so, for sharing this experience with me. It was awesome!!!