I stood frozen. My eyes quickly darting between the ground in front of me and Brent buckling the kids into the minivan.
A middle-aged man sipping a 64 oz diet coke looked out at me over the dashboard of his early 90's Blazer. His expression a mix of perplexion and amusement.
Should I call for help? I sputtered out a faint "Brent...". He couldn't hear past the kicking and back arching of carseat belting 3 children. I took a deep breath. And stepped down.
If there has been a day you have ever stood paralyzed at the edge of a 4 inch curb at a gas station....I am pretty certain you've run a marathon too.
That's best way I can describe the marathon.
Oh, and lest I forget WET!
I did better than I ever anticipated with a Boston Qualifying time of 3:31. Incredibly, the most amazing part came the last 3 1/2 miles. It was a true testament of the power of the mind. Here is a breakdown of the whole experience.
I better start with Friday. In this tempered and censured version I will describe my demeanor as anxious. My nerves were on edge, including short fuses and free-flowing faucets. This looming fear of not qualifying, working so hard and then cramping up....it was more than I could handle. Somehow I muddled through packing for 5 people, a 4 hour car ride, a tension filled dinner, a bewildering expo, and a quick emergency change in accomodations.
The original plan consisted of staying at my neighbors vacation home in St. George. We arrived at the house and it was beautiful. But...the stickers were on everything. The garage was full of boxes for TV's, appliances, sheets, towels, candles.
It was a moment as a mother of 3 children ages 5 and under, you dread. Brent made an executive decision to call the local Best Western and relocate the family.
Four scattered bags of trail mix, one catapulted apple/banana/cereal mixture, two little bed jumping monkeys, and $150 of price gouging later, I was certain Brent was much more sagacious than I gave him credit for. Grandma, the caretaker for the trip was extremely relieved.
By about 8 pm Friday, the anxiety succumbed to exhaustion and peace. I packed my sweats, gloves, beanie, food, water (it never crossed my mind to prepare for rain...this is St George we are talking about, red rock desert), pinned on my number, re-laced my shoes (3X), and strategized the best way to carry my hammer gels. (Which btw I totally recommend. They have no simple sugars, no artificial colors or ingredients, and are the only energy supplement I can stomach, cliff gels, shot blox, gu's, literally make me gag!)
Lying in bed about 9 pm, I was lulled to sleep my the piercing screams coming out of my tiny Pip. Children like Callista should definitely come with volume control. It felt like forever until I was finally asleep. I stayed in that semi -comatose state (so familiar to me from my freshman year of College, certain I was hearing everything my professors said as my head lay on the crook of my elbow...only to awaken at the end of class unable to articulate anything from the last 50 minutes) until about 10:30, when finally my mind closed.
Three baby feedings later at 2 am, Emmett was ready for the day. Thus, so was I. At 3:30 am, I grabbed a banana, a piece of bread and my husband and we headed out to catch the 4 am bus. He left me with a kiss and hug and prayer for luck.
Lesson 1: Bring a camera. Why didn't I bring a camera? The staging area at the start of the race was hopping. Spot lights, emcee, music blaring, bonfires raging, port-a-potties not yet brimming, and a few light sprinkles. The only slightly foreboding feature came as I looked up and the flags, flapping violently towards us. Not the direction I wanted.
Within a half-hour the wind had not let up and the rain was coming steadily. We took shelter, hugging our knees inside large black garbage bags. My spirits were still high. I thought the rain would pass, remember this is the desert I kept telling people. The emcee carried on a continous cheerful monologue filled with fun facts about Sunny St George (I couldn't tell if he was joking. I don't think he was.) and the marathon "to build a vacation around." Out of 32 years of marathons, this was only the second time it rained.
6:20: I located Camie my running partner. I never saw Marie my training partner. She was one of those "Elites." You know private toilets with no lines, and exclusive barrel fires :) Still no anxiety. I was pumped.
6:45: Gun shot. Soaked through but spirits high we started our run. All 6000 of us.
Miles 1-13: My body cooperated with all of my demands. I shed the garbage bag after 3 miles and my gloves at about 10. Camie and I discussed strategy and held our anxious, adrenaline filled bodies back. Compelling ourselves physically and mentally to hold the pace on our Garmins. Above all, we wanted to finish strong, which means starting slow. We fearlessly blazed up "Veyo Hill" and beyond.
Mile 15. Don't our faces say it all? We had the amazing unexpected surprise of seeing Brent!
Camie actually teared up, and she's only met Brent once in his role as the 4-wheeler hero of our Hope to Hobble run. I didn't anticipate seeing Brent until mile 21. But at 15 it was exactly what we needed. Just about this time, I started to notice my knee and the cold, and the hills... I still felt amazing and we were ahead of pace. Right on track for a faster second half.
Miles 18-21: These miles were the hardest. There were some serious drops in elevation and Camie was pushing me hard. I lost a gel and felt a bit flustered. My feet felt like saturated bricks (not possible I know) every joint from the hip down ached. The head wind blasted rain into my face making it hard to open my eyes.
At this point I made a decision.
I could suffer through the next 4 miles or start singing Rocky. I chose the latter.
Miles 22-26.2: My mind said absolutely not to my rebelling body. For 3 1/2 miles I was elevated into an amazing runners high. I hooted, hollered, sang, and cajoled the spectators into cheering the entire way in. Camie stared straight ahead and as I encouraged her I only got dirty looks. I was certain she was furious with me. But a little part of me knew. Keep her going. She wanted me to leave. By this point it was clear we would qualify. I knew we could even break 3:30 if we pushed. If the table were turned, I wouldn't have wanted anyone to leave me, no matter what I said. I didn't leave. We started together and we would finish together.
I think the crowds thought I was bonkers. All these pained faces pushed by them, zoning in only on the pavement ahead...and here I was screaming and cheering and trying to get as much clapping, thumbs up, high fives as I could. It was fun to see the surprised grins on their faces as they burst into supportive cheers. (To the spectators credit, they were freezing and soaked. I'm certain in years past they were more vocal.)
At mile 25 we saw Brent again. Another perfect boost. I told him to hightail it to the finish line. He didn't quite make it. But don't worry. As we ran through the final .2 mile shoot I lifted my hands and beamed and got the crowd roaring. It was the ultimate feeling of accomplishment. I don't think I stopped smiling those last miles. Not to mention I ran splits in the low 7's.
The official time came in at 3:31.23. I had alot left in me. I could have easily shaved a few minutes off, but it was more important to come in together. As we got across the finish line, Camie threw her arms around me. "You crazy woman, your ADHD got me through." It was worth it.
After 5 minutes I started to shiver with cold and fatigue. I was exhilarated and exhausted. I found my extremely nutty running partner Marie. She came in with a PR of 3:03. But she didn't escape passing out as she crossed the finish line. (A bad habit of my highly competitive friend.) She finished top 20 for women and 7th in her age division.Camie and I. We'll all be in Boston together!The ice cream sandwiches, and ice massages would have been better replaced with hot chocolate, broth and steam showers. Who would have thought. Remember this is the desert.
Yesterday afternoon the 4 inch curb was a hurdle I wasn't sure I could cover. Today I am taking the stairs gingerly, but amazingly I don't feel wasted. So how do I feel? I bit disillusioned...what should I tackle next? :)
t h e m a y f i l e s is foremost a family blog, chronicling everyday life. Life including natural, healthy eating (with recipes thrown in at random), home educating (with ideas popping up sporadically), an attempt to homestead on .2 acres (with very meager yields), raising 3 of 4 children with a rare genetic disorder, and lots of highly personal family triumphs and failures. You may also find an eclectic array of musings on politics, exercise, sewing, emergency preparedness, backyard chickens, and religion. This blog isn't a campaign to glorify anyone or anything. Just simply a record.