And so it is done. I ran that marathon. Oh, yes I did. Crushed it. Showed it who was boss. I am the boss! Ha-ha! No, I did not and no, I am not.
But I did finish (Yeah!).
In 4:22 (Boo. I ran my last marathon in 3:45 seven years ago, but who’s counting…).
2nd in my age group (Yeah!).
Out of six (Boo).
(16th out of 46 women; 42nd out of 98 finishers.)
* * * * *
I loved it. I loved the excitement and anticipation; the adrenaline, planning and lack of sleep. I loved it right up to about mile 18 when I began to think, this is so stupid. Why do I do this? Why am I not picking up sea shells by the seashore? Why am I not sleeping in on this Saturday morning like most normal people? I even convinced others to go with me, change their schedules and lose sleep for this event. No – it’s worse – they volunteered! My dear parents actually thought it would be fun to tag along for this.
My crew, the troopers.
My folks came to Laramie on Thursday night and we drove five hours west on I-80 to Utah. We stayed in a hotel in the small but tidy town of Coalville, 20 miles from Morgan where the race was held. We went to Morgan first to get my packet which had my bib, time chip and various swag. We took advantage of the pasta dinner (included in my entry fee and $7 for non-runners) and enjoyed taking in some of the pre-race excitement and being with other runners and their families.
The next morning my dad drove me to the start. I would meet him and my mom at the finish line.
The race started at 5:30 a.m. The course meandered through the local valley, passing farms and houses. We ran by one homestead bearing a worn sign: “Stoddard est. 1880.” I imagined families ecstatic to find this sheltered valley during the westward migrations which took place in the 1800s.
I didn’t carry a camera but my dad caught up with me at a few places during the first half and captured the early morning segments.
Full of hope and visions of glory. Ha.
I felt great and knew that the half-marathon I ran two weeks prior was working its magic for this run. I passed the halfway point feeling strong and ready for the second half. The sun started to crest over the surrounding hills and within a few miles the heat began to add to the challenge of finishing under four hours.
Somewhere after 18 miles the marathon part of this marathon showed up. It got tough and I felt like I was wading in mud up to my waist. I had to walk-run-shuffle the rest of the way. There were aid stations every mile for the second half. Cheerful volunteers handed out water and Gatorade, sponges, candy, gels and ice pops. I took advantage of every station. At one station there were a few cheerleaders doing what they do best in uniforms and with pom-poms. They had signs at their station; one happily advised “Rah Rah Ree! Don’t blow out your knee!” Thanks, gals!
There was also a couple in a golf cart driving up and down the road watching for flagging runners and handing out wet towels to anyone who wanted one. I saw one runner take advantage of this ride and jump in. He was done and in that moment I wanted to be done too. But I kept on.
* * * * *
Eventually, a million years later, when the earth decided to burn up, I shuffled to the finish line, which may as well have been 100 miles away, the way I was feeling. But there it was, the end. I did not care at all about running at that moment. I was empty, distracted, and despite having just (mostly) run 26.2 miles, I could hardly walk.
The final turn. I didn’t even notice that little girl at the time.
It was great to have my folks there to be with me and celebrate my finish. We hung out for a long time, watching and talking to other runners. We met another runner before the race, Tori, who had locked her keys in her car. My dad helped her by using his AAA membership and arranged for someone to come out to unlock her door. She was very grateful. We got to know her a bit and really bonded with her. Meeting Tori was a highlight of the morning and we missed her after she left.
Fellow runner, Tori.
We returned to the hotel, packed, and began the road trip back to Laramie. I felt satisfied even though I didn’t achieve my goal of finishing under four hours. I ran farther, better and faster than I had during my training runs and felt much better at the half-way point than I did in the half marathon two weeks ago. I redefined this race as another training run in preparation for my next marathon…which will be on August 17!
I knew on the drive home that I’d try again. I’m in peak shape now, and again, have reached a tapering level. I’ll run for maintenance for the next three weeks and trust my body to do what it’s prepared to do. We are made to move. Given the right fuel, rest and training, I believe we can go beyond self-imposed boundaries. I want to test that belief. I love to run and I want to continue to train my body to go far. It’s a journey I’ll stay on for as long as possible.