Sunday, August 30, 2009

Spirit of Columbus 1/2 Marathon

5:15 wake up call. It wasn’t exactly rise and shine since it was still dark out but it was nice to have Julie and Stacy staying at my house to distract me.

7:30ish start time. So we heard that the race started 30 minutes late last year and at 7:30 we were lined up and waiting to go….and this year was only about 15 minutes late so I guess that’s an improvement.

This is also when I noticed that this “walker-friendly” race must not have many walkers registered. I was lined up right behind the 10:00 minute pace team and there wasn’t anyone behind me.

Gun goes off! I was only worried about the first 3 miles….and it turned out that my worries were completely rational. Right off the line I was last. Even after 5 years of distance walking, I’ve never been last.

Mile 1: Where the hell is the mile marker? I know I’m slow but I’m not a 20 minute miler! I also understand what John the Penguin Bingham is talking about when he says “You might be a penguin if there is a cop car behind you, hitting you in the knees and there is a truck picking up the cones as you go.” The motorcycle cop almost fell off his bike because he couldn’t go “that slow.” And then I overheard the police cruiser guy tell another officer that he couldn’t even idle “that slow.” Thank you, CHIPS, you’re awesome.

Mile 2: Where are the F*ing mile markers?? I still have no idea where I am in terms of pace or distance. Now, most of you know that I whine a lot when I’m not happy. It is pretty common for me to WANT to quit during a long race but I’ve never actually done it and I’ve never actually MEANT it. It is NOT common for me to be having these thoughts in the first 2 miles. My shins were on fire and the constant noise of the police cruiser 5 feet behind me was a little overwhelming. I have never been so close to giving up and I got a wicked case of “floppy feet.” I was fighting back some tears. Again, tears aren’t something I whip up unless it’s mile 26 of a FULL marathon and in my opinion, those tears are EARNED!

Mile 3: Finally! A mile marker!! Despite the awful start and the burning pain in my lower leg, I was only about 2 minutes behind my target pace. But then an EMT decided to get out of the ambulance that joined the parade behind me. He thought I would like some company. As much as I would have loved company, I was mortified to be walking with the EMT. “I do NOT need your help thank you very much; I’m a well trained athlete that just happens to be slow.”

Mile 4: I was catching up to a “runner.” I told the EMT that was STILL chattering in my ear to give me another quarter mile and I will catch up to her, pass her and leave her wondering where I came from. And this is exactly what happened. The burning was slowing fading and I was picking up the pace. As I passed the “runner,” the EMT stayed with her and I was off.

Mile 5: Finally! I was hitting my stride and getting more and more comfortable as I strolled down the middle of the right lane of Riverside Drive, just south of Hayden Run Rd.

Mile 6: Where the F* is the water?? They were out of water at the water stop so that just agitated me. Nothing makes me angrier than a race that advertises that it is walker friendly and then doesn’t fully support the race course. It did validate my type-A personality and when I want water, I want it NOW and I’m going to prepare for that so I had water with me. The good news was that I had made up all the time lost in the beginning and was now 30 seconds AHEAD of pace so I backed off a touch.

Mile 7: Why is this hill so steep?? We came out of Griggs Reservoir Park and had to walk up the hill that I remember sledding down in the winter as a kid. I don’t remember struggling to run up it back then while dragging a sled…weird. I also passed another “runner” while in the park. You have no idea how satisfying that feels to a walker but I’m sure it’s a little annoying if you are the runner being passed….oh well.

Mile 8: Hmmm…I wish I would have worn a hat. I had lots of sunscreen on (as always) but the sun was glaring right in my eyes. And once again, “Why is this f*ing hill so steep??” I felt like I was crawling up Riverside towards Lane Ave.

Mile 9: The Perry Township police were doing their best but sometimes you can’t stop an elderly Upper Arlington couple that wants to get back to their mansion after enjoying their Bob Evans breakfast. Despite the lane that was coned off and the police blowing their whistle and waving (and me throwing my arms up in irritation), an old man came into the race lane and passed me on my right. I would have been toast had I been wearing headphones.

Mile 10: Lonely and BRIGHT! It was a long, quiet mile. There was no traffic and I was walking the EXACT same pace as the clouds were moving. I kept swearing that there was shade in front of me but then I would get there and the cloud would just keep moving. It was like an oasis. I did spot the Columbus skyline and that meant I had this in the bag! I also had the terrible dilemma of being thirsty and having to pee. Do you keep drinking more water to deal with the thirst and risk peeing yourself or do you risk dehydration?? I went with the water and prayed I’d make it to the finish.

Mile 11: I started to regret the decision to wear my old shoes. I thought maybe the new shoes had been causing the shin splints so I stuck with my magical Disney PR shoes. But after a full marathon, a triathlon and MONTHS of training, these shoes were shot and my feet were feeling it. I still had to pee and there weren’t ANY port-a-potties along the course. I shouldn’t have been surprised I guess. This wasn’t Disney World after all.

Mile 12: Bless those kids at the water stop. You could tell they were bored out of their minds but they cheered for me anyways and their water was ICE COLD. I don’t forget things like that. This is also when a car was driving towards me with all the windows down and a whole car load of people were yelling GO TEAM. I don’t know who they were but that was the BEST feeling….but I still had to pee.

Mile 13: I could see the finish line and when I looked up I could see people wildly waving and screaming and yelling my name. I was too far to see who it was but then I heard a “GO PURPLE” and it didn’t matter who it was other than it was one of my team mates and I had goose bumps….and still had to pee.

FINISH! I saw that my fans included some Team in Training alumni and my momma. I smiled for the camera and THEN stopped my watch as we always instruct our TNT people to do. Even with my unofficial watch, I knew I had done it. The official time was 3:14:10 which is 8 minutes faster than my previous personal best, which was less than a year ago. My victory was short lived. I was ready to find the race director and kick him in the shins. They were out of medals, finishers t-shirts and hats. I was fired up. That is unacceptable to advertise all these wonderful benefits and then not provide them. Where were the sponges, oranges and all the other fuel along the course?? I won’t be recommending this race to any other walkers and I certainly won’t be signing up for the Spirit of Pittsburgh Half Marathon as planned.

But in the end, despite not having a medal, I know I got a new personal record in the half marathon and that’s what I was ultimately after. Besides, if I wanted to be fully supported and entertained, I would do the Disney races.

Several hours later….I’m suffering the consequences of my floppy feet. In the first two miles, my feet were kind of flopping around and I kept kicking my left ankle bone with my right foot. I now have a bruise and raw skin. That’s fun! The real pain of maintaining that pace won’t begin until tomorrow. I wonder if my boss will notice if I wear Crocs and never get up from my desk.

As always, thank you to those that have listened to me whine through my summer training and had more faith in me than I had in myself. Thank you Team in Training for giving me a purpose!! And congrats to all my racing friends that were out there today-I know a lot of you also PR'd!

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