I’m happy to report I can once again claim the title of “marathon finisher”! A co-worker was surprised when they asked me how it went and I said “I finished” as my response. He looked at me and said, “well, that’s kind of given with you, isn’t it?” Yes and no was my reply. Finishing is never a given and the only reason I’ve finished some in the past is out of sheer stubbornness and nothing else. Thankfully, I didn’t have to rely on that this race, it went much better then the previous two. Here’s the recap:
I love the hype that surrounds marathons. I love the business marquees that welcome all runners to town. I love dinner and drink specials area restaurants/bars offer marathoners and their families on race weekend. I love the promotional signage the marathon distributes to mark the course, discourage overnight parking and promote the race. This pre-run hype is what gets me jazzed and excited and it makes me feel a part of something “big”. But this race had none of that. No hype or no promotional energy and that definitely meant — buzz kill.
While I knew going into the weekend that this was a small race, I still had anticipated a bit more hoopla. But since the town wasn’t going to provide us excitement, we had to make our own. And we did that in the form of shopping. After we got our packets we found a fabulous (fabulous to us girls, not our husbands) store that was so charming, I wanted to buy one of everything. I even wanted to buy their fixtures… which consisted of old windows, old doors, antique tables and dis-assembled couches. I was in shabby chic heaven!
A quick nap for myself while the others went to the hot tub was followed by a nice pasta dinner. The restaurant was full of a bunch of teenagers heading to their prom. We were taking bets as to which ones had a wallet full of condoms and which ones would still have a wallet full of condoms the next morning. I’m guessing most of them weren’t getting lucky because they were all way too awkward and twitchy to get any serious action.
After dinner, it was off to bed. I did not sleep well, which isn’t too surprising. But the difference this time, is that I had something to do every time I woke up… check the weather forecast. Lord, I was obsessed. But it wasn’t my fault. When it’s a complete downpour and there’s a huge storm rolling through the area, you can’t help but get a bit preoccupied by that. And every time I checked the forecast, it got worse and it looked like rain during the marathon was a for sure thing and most likely so was a thunderstorm. The thought of this race being cancelled because of a storm, made my stomach hurt.
When it was finally time to get up, it was still raining out. And based on the most recent forecast it was still supposed to storm during the race but the race was ON, according to an early morning email from the event staff. Whew!
I woke up earlier than I needed to because the race started at 8am, which felt late so even waking up earlier than needed, still seemed like I was sleeping in. Also, I wanted to give myself an opportunity to really wake up and not just “be awake” and then head out. This strategy seemed to work well for me. I was a bit less stressed than other races. But in all honesty, the lack of hype the day before and the fact that I really didn’t have to concern myself with the logistics of getting to the start on time like in some races, had me a bit more relaxed than normal.
But get this. Just as it was time to leave the hotel, guess what? It stopped raining!! And it didn’t drop one more raindrop for the rest of the race. It was completely bizarre considering what the forecast had indicated. Some would say it’s a “race day miracle”.
The race started off pretty uneventful. As mentioned earlier, not a lot of hype so I just kept telling myself it was just another training run and there was no reason to be nervous. And it really did feel like a training run. Especially once we broke from the half marathoners around mile 5. After that we were pretty much on our own.
My motto since January, the beginning of training, was to just try to have more fun this year. And that carried over to the race too. I was lucky enough to talk my husband into running with a camera so we were able to snap some photos during the actual marathon. I really tried to have fun, even talking one of my running buddies into going down a playground slide. It was all fun and games (and running) until we got to mile 8 or 9. By that point we were all out of playgrounds to romp on, we didn’t have any half marathoners to chat up, the 3-hour car ride to the race the day before had used up all of our good conversation and spectators were few and far between. It was in one word… boring. By mile 11 I was so freaking bored I just wanted to take a nap. While boredom is definitely NOT the same thing as hitting the wall (I know, I’ve been through both) it sure does test your mental prowess.
I wasn’t the only one bored, I think we all were, I know my husband was for sure. I probably could have counted the # of spectators on one hand (okay, there were a few more than that, but not many). There wasn’t any entertainment on the course and no bands or music and very few signs. It was bbbooorrriiinngg. But, on the positive side, it was extremely pretty. We had some very scenic views and the overall course was beautiful. But I was still sssoooo bbbbooorrreeeddd. Beautiful scenery only gets you so far in a marathon. There needs to be something else.
Beside extreme boredom, my only other trouble spot was my feet. Good lord, they hurt like a son of a bitch. Wowzers! They just ached. I didn’t have a sharp pain or an injury. It was just a deep throbbing ache, from what I could guess, was the result of the pounding on the uneven road/surfaces.
But that’s it… boredom and sore feet. No hitting the wall at mile 6. No hyperventilating at mile 16 and mile 22. I was sorta running the whole time not wanting to count my chickens before they were hatched, but I thought I may actually have a good marathon for a change. But then just as I thought that, I’d feel like I just jinxed myself for thinking those thoughts and had myself convinced that the other shoe was going to drop at some point and “something” would happen. But nothing did. It was uneventful. And I couldn’t have been more thrilled.
Because boredom was such an issue this race and because I usually try to break long runs up into segments so they are more mentally manageable, I continued that tradition during this run as well. When I got to the half marathon mark, I was trying to get pumped up by telling myself, “I only have 13.1 miles to go.” And then I set my sights on the 16 mile mark because, “I only had 10 more miles to go” and that was followed by mile 17 where, “I would only have single digits left to run”. I kept this up until I finished the whole race. But what I found interesting is that every milestone I set, where I thought I’d have some sense of relief because “I only had 10 miles left” didn’t provide me with any relief. I was thinking there would be some proverbial weight lifted off of my shoulders with each milestone but it never happened. I wasn’t any happier at mile 15 as I was at mile 25. Only having 1 or 2 miles left to run was no consolation at that point. I think at some point, once you’ve already done one marathon and the new and shiny excitement of doing it for the first time is gone (and we’re back to condoms and prom!) mental mind games can really play havoc on a person.
So, there you have it. My recap for marathon #4. While I am 4 for 4 when it comes to starting and finishing a marathon, I never assume it’s a given. I appreciate every achy step and mentally challenging mile it takes to get to the finish line. I’ll be taking a small hiatus from training and from blogging. I’ll be looking to start back up with training in June for our fall marathon. Training hard in the heat and humidity should be interesting. I’m sure it will lead to many curse filled blog posts.
But until then….
I’m NOT gonna run!