This is not going to be a very polished race report. As I write this, I am flooded with sadness at the news that “Haliku” another Blogger, originally from Vox died tragically several months ago. I am not sad to find out now, as we had no connection except through the Blog, but…I feel a great deal of loss. The world has lost a great man, and a man who probably was unaware of it, but was a great great help to me when I was struggling with my training earlier this year.
But. I do need to publish up a race report, so that I will do.
I Learned so much from this race and while my time was frankly, SHAMEFUL…it was worth it for the experiences and the time spent with friends.
I got into town on Friday Night and went to the Pre-Pre Race dinner. My friend Wendy, Todd and Tanya joined me and we had a great time. We all got to meet such greats as Olympian runner Keith Brantly, Zola Budd, Frank Shorter and Bill Rogers.
Frank shorter fitted my first pair of running shoes when I was 6. So he sort of stared and stared at me for a minute when I told him that. Finally he said, you must have been really young! Anyway, it was fun.
Saturday was an 8K race, that Wendy, Tanya, and Todd ran in. It was really some of the best fun to be a spectator. On Saturday we were also joined by Babak and Jim my running pals from long time now. By Saturday I began to feel extreme anxiety. Jim unfortunately put a lot of pressure on by joking about us running a 4:30 marathon. He has a very dry sense of humor and so I thought for sure he meant it. Todd ran the entire 8k with a Teddy Bear, so I felt the need to include such a photo. Todd is a really accomplished runner! Anyway off topic, I wish Jim had told me his real plan, which was to run and get my past the first half or “THe point of no return!” and then go his own way.
We had a great pre-race dinner at a place called Squid Lips and were joined by more people, Dan and Andrew who were in from California. I enjoyed meeting them all.
Sunday morning dawned as a Gray and hazy day. Nice to cut the Florida Sun! There was a line for the Port-a Potties which was fine. People were in good spirits and chatting and I started to feel ok about things.
We lined up and after a bit of stop and go, and the National Anthem, we took off. Jim did mention “throwing down some tens, and that is where my “issue”began. I ran my fastest mile of the year chasing him during that first mile. Thats not really how one is supposed to start a 26.2 mile distance race. Within a mile and a half of course I had to drop back a bit. I was a little angry at Jim because he just was so optimistic that I could blast out that time, when frankly I couldn’t, I’m not running that speed. So about mile 3 I started to do a bizarre run walk, and found Jim to be really annoying…bless his heart! I LOVE Jim. He ran my first half Marathon with me, and then came all the way to Florida from Utah, for this race (My first Marathon!). I am not used to running with others, so I felt a lot of pressure to talk with him, or keep up or something. He is an astute fellow and tried to rectify this by pacing behind me…which made me feel as if I had sort of a stalker. Finally at one point he went to the Port a Potties and I took off. It took him about 4 miles to catch up to me and he suddenly realized I was actually running better on my own, so at the second bridge he left me which was about mile 12.5. Also right about Mile 12. 5 my friend Tanya was there to cheer me on. I only saw her for a minute, but…it was really cool to know that she chose to spend her day waiting for me to zip by her on that corner!
At the half way point, I started to feel pretty good. I had done one of the causeway bridges and really enjoyed running over the water and watching the birds play. My time was about 4 minutes off my PR half time, so I was also feeling fine about that.
Jim took off and I felt like the world had been lifted from my shoulders. His last act was to let all the children at the aid station know my name. There is nothing like running up to a mile 14 aid station and having 7 little kids and their Mom all screaming your name and giving you high fives!!!
I was starting to feel pretty good as I continued on. My 20 miler in training had taken my 5 hours and 5 minutes or maybe a bit more. So I was extra happy to see that at the 20 mile mark I was at about 4 hours and 20 minutes. Things were starting to get a little strange. At mile 21, I noted that my hands had completely Swollen to the size of “Mickey Mouse hands” I had had enough water, but I suppose the constant swinging of the hands caused them to swell… I pondered this until the last bridge crossing at mile 23 or so.
At that point, Babak and Todd who were fresh off the half joined me. Seeing them made me feel like a total star. They joined me and got me up and over the hill. Sadly, I started to do a lot more walking and complaining and slow down and down and down. In retrospect, they probably should not have come out. It helped my mind but not my time. At about mile 24, my garmin watch ceased to function and I started to really freak out. I had no concept of where I really was on the course and could not see the finish line. I started to blubber a bit and feel very angry because I just could not find the finish. In my tiredness, I had a recurring thought which was that I could Never ever stop and I would have to run walk run forever. The saddest thing was that I physically felt pretty good, but mentally I could not bring myself to actually run. So I waked, jogged and walked again. This was the time period where I was entirely un-prepared. Todd. Bless his heart is just a little like Richard Simmons. So….Imagine being really really tired, and sweaty and then having this come and join you…It was hard
for me to deal with, as all of my mental reserve had been exhausted. Plus, I am an adult, and I understood that these two guys were trying to do whatever it took to get me done, and it isn’t nice to not be grateful!
The end of course did come. finally! When I ran in I was very surprised because the announcer actually announced me and my “entourage” did cheer me loudly, but…apparently there were a few others who knew me too, because the crowd went really wild. I had had some conversation with the race director over email, and he was cheering for me louder than anyone! He came and shook my hand and told me how glad he was I decided to do the Marathon and not the half. It was nice. Had I finished in the middle of the pack, instead of very nearly last, I would not have had the special attention!
It is hard to explain what goes through your head when running that distance. I appreciated each and every volunteer. They were some of the best and most cheerful volunteers I’ve encountered. The encouragement they game me, especially after mile 20 was so helpful and it’s hard to describe again how the words of a stranger can mean so much….
As far as the course, it also is great. Apparently you can see Dolphins playing, but I did not. But the bird life was incredible for a running race… Except for the bridges, the race was flatter than flat, until the last 2 miles when you do go up a series of hillocks. (Looked like mountains at the end). The bands were not as plentiful as expected and were not exactly bands, mostly brass groups and some steel drummers. Aid stations were presentand had supplies right up to the bitter end. The police were super friendly. Everything was set for a perfect race, except that I frankly was not trained well enough to execute a decent race. I did a great first half and an acceptable 20 miles. after mile 22 though, wow. I was unprepared for the new mental games my head engaged in with me.
So yeah, of course I plan on another. I have a new training plan. In April after the half, I plan to start again, and train up using my new knowledge! It was not great, but it does feel nice to tell people that I did indeed complete a Marathon.
Haliku, the blogger….came on in november and reminded me that no matter how fast or slow I was it was just getting used to “time on your feet” throughout my training I said that to myself. I am so sad that he didn’t get to learn of his contribution to my running life. And I feel for his family and friends. Get out there people and do what you love, because you dont know when you may not have the opportunity to do it again.