I’m mobile-ish now. Did you know that? I can put weight on my legs, sometimes for entire seconds at a time, before scanning the room frantically for a chair. This morning I went to the gym and did 10 minutes on the bike and 10 on the elliptical just to try and take a role-call of which body parts were present and accounted for.
Quad: *weakly* Here…
Glutes: Present (of course they are. They’re ALWAYS present).
Calves: Um…they went to the nurse’s office. Should we take them their homework?
It was good, though, because it loosened everything up. It stayed loose until I got to school and had to sit through 8 hours of incompetence from a teacher who is worse at teaching than Helen Keller, because at least she taught tolerance. Our current teacher is a fool. The only thing I’ve enjoyed about this block so far is watching the students revolt every time she opens her mouth and says another stupid thing. But I digress.
I ACTUALLY wanted to offer a quick synopsis of the marathon, since I’ve only offered a cursory list spewed from an addled brain.
4:45 a.m.–Awake to discover that San Antonio is 36 degrees F, even though it’s still been in the upper 80s every day. Put on sweatpants and sweatshirt over my running gear. Eat a Luna bar and put on my awesome temporary tattoos that show me the pace/time markers on my very own arm. Feel disgruntled that my bib doesn’t match my running outfit for shit.
5:10 a.m.–Discover that the lone hot chocolate that I tried to order from Starbucks is actually a mocha. Become irate and call the manager, only to become more irate that they aren’t taking your anger very seriously. ALL I WANT IS A FUCKING HOT CHOCOLATE!!! Feel misunderstood.
5:15 a.m.–Stop yelling at the phone and redirect my attention back to being nervous. Determine that, despite living in the outer suburbs of the seventh largest city in the US, and despite the fact that the race is all the way downtown, that if I were to run from my suburb home to the center of the city, it would be less than 26.2 miles. Feel depressed.
5:45 a.m.–Arrive at shuttle station and immediately have to go to the bathroom from all the hydrating I have been doing. Enter a Port-A-Potty voluntarily, despite my vows not to do so. Ever. Board a bus with other marathoners and half-marathoners and contemplate my future. Feel apprehensive.
6:50 a.m.–Arrive at race start. See TONS of people milling about like ants. Very fit ants. Realize that this is a very dangerous concentration of athleticism smack-dab in the center of the most obese city in the U.S. Feel concerned that there might be a rip in the time-space continuum.
7:00 a.m.–Wait in my corrale with other runners. Wonder how some of them will physically be able to run either a half- or a full-marathon. Remember the stories about how American Indians used to trick buffalo into stampeding towards a cliff. Look around for American Indians. Do not see any, although DO see someone dressed as a gladiator. Wonder if the gladiator is actually a matador, which would also explain the sheer size of the competitors. Realize that there is a weight class for really heavy runners. The men are called “clydesdales” and the women are called “athenas.” Wonder why the women are named after a goddess and the men are named after a stocky-ass horse. Feel a-feared of becoming an athena someday.
7:30 a.m.–The race begins. Remain in place waiting for your corrale to be released. Feel antsy.
8:20 a.m.–Finally begin running. Sprint the first four or five miles, weaving around people and shedding layers of clothing. Feel joyful, gleeful, and graceful, leaping like a gazelle past crowds of cheering fans that must be cheering only for me. On account of my grace and speed and all.
8:50 a.m.–Realize that I have 22.2 miles left to run and am already tiring. Also realize that I am not particularly graceful, and also my nose is running a lot. Feel tired.
9:30 a.m.–Have to pee again. Find a Bill Miller BBQ restaurant and dash into their facilities, hoping nobody will see you. There is a line of other runners. Decide to blame any potential slowness in the race on this phenomenon. Feel like I have to pee.
10:10 a.m.–The race course splits, with half-marathoners veering to the left and full-marathoners to the right. Mood is lonelier, given that only 20% of the runners are doing the marathon, and that most of them are much faster than I am, leaving the crowd sparse and joyless. Am excited to be halfway done, since I’m so tired. Realize that I have 13.1 miles left to run. Feel suicidal.
12:00 p.m.–Am approximately at mile 20, and am becoming very emotional. Am holding it together when a girl about my age runs in front of me (speedy bitch) wearing an AHA shirt. The shirt has a picture of her and her dad on it with an “In Memory Of” caption and the words “for daddy’s girls everywhere.” Become hysterical with grief, making my throat close a little and making running even more difficult. (In fairness to myself, my dad passed from a heart attack 4 years ago, so I would have been emotional in the grocery store if I saw that.) Feel beside myself.
1:00 p.m.–Still running. Legs are clearly about to give out. Incredible stomach cramps. Quadriceps audibly detaching from my skeleton. Knees have left the building entirely, leaving what feels like a collection of those lame-ass samurai knives that pasty, overweight computer gamers tend to have lining their rooms. Next to their blanket with the unicorn on it. Begin a verbal cadence of “I can’t I can’t I can’t I can’t I can’t.” Chris rescues me (again) but giving me a kiss and telling me that he’s so proud and I can do it and I’m doing great and we’re almost there. Realize that he is probably lying, since we’ve been on mile 22 for close to 6 miles. Feel almost certain that I will die any minute from pain or despair.
1:25 p.m.–See mile marker 26 in the horizon. Pick up the pace again, gritting my teeth and ignoring my body’s pleas to stop, threats to give out, and stabbing reminders of my plight.
1:30 p.m.–Pass mile marker 26, with a cheering crowd on either side. There is a bend in the road, on the other side of which is the finish line. Feel absolutely elated with relief. Also feel somewhat disoriented with dehydration.
1:31 p.m.–Turn the corner to see…a very, very, very steep uphill of .2 miles, littered with the crushed dreams of the people who got to that point and threw up (I’ve heard there were many). Curse the person who designed a course that is designed to completely demoralize and destroy you at the very end, just when you think you can stop, by putting the hardest hill in the last .2 miles. Ass-hat. Stop praying for death and start actually fearing it.
Now, at this point, Chris grabbed my hand and we ran the rest of the way. I stared at the ground and tried to detach from my physical body just long enough to reach the finish. I can’t tell you how grateful I was to have him there with me. He’s capable of running much faster, but he has never left me behind on a run, nor has he even admitted that he could outrun me if he chose to do so. I’m lucky.
We had friends down from Austin, the female half of which I went to high school with and was BFF with for years. She was there when I was 13 and got drunk for the first time at my parents new years party, and she was the one who helped me hide the trivial pursuit game that I threw up on (although I’m also pretty sure she was the one who dared me to eat a dog biscuit right before the vomiting occurred). After a girl-skirmish over things in and out of my control, I can’t tell you how nice it is to have her around again. Anyway, she was there with her lovely husband taking pictures as we crossed, despite having run herself. She ran the half-marathon in 1:48, which is ridiculously fast, and then had to wait for HOURS while Chris and I ran the other course. So I have photos of those last few minutes, and will post the finish-medal ones when they’re posted. My friend, Kristen, and a blonde vampire of unknown identity. The sun was bright; I’m not really an albino.
Chris and me, freezing our asses off pre-race. Notice all the clothes? They were shed in the first mile.
The walk to the starting line. If we had only known…
Our run to the finish line. I look almost like I’m going to collapse, ironman-gatorade-commercial-style.
So that’s my big thank you to my peeps. And thanks to all of you guys who cared enough to check my blog to see if there were signs of life. As you can see, I’m feeling very lovey-dovey about things now that I’m healing.
As for post race, well, I don’t remember much. They gave me a metal blanket that was silver inside and yellow outside. The yellow side attracted bees, which pissed me off. I remember that. Then they gave me a medal and took my picture with Chris. There was a line with some food winding its way back to the reunion area. I got some fruit snacks and a banana for sure. Then some other stuff. And a smoothie that I wouldn’t drink because it had 200 calories and wasn’t going to be very tasty (sounds anorexic, but I was holding out for a burger, and even runner-girls have to make choices now and then). I did get my burger, though, when the four of us went for lunch. It was awesome.
So that was the big day. I was slow, but I finished, and I’ve got the limp to prove it. I wore my finisher’s shirt to school yesterday as a dare to anyone who wanted to challenge me for not going “business casual.”
So I’m slow, I guess. And my remedy for this is as follows: I’m running another one in less than 3 months. It’s a REALLY hilly course, so I may not improve my time, but I’ll keep running until I do. Mostly because I love carbo-loading.