No! The marathon did not kill me.
And as the old saying goes, that which does not kill us will likely result in a stress fracture or other pesky injury of that nature.
Do you realize how far 26.2 miles is?
I had no idea.
No idea until mile 22, when I was like ARE YOU KIDDING ME? FOUR MORE MILES?!? That’s like … FOUR MORE MILES. WHOSE STUPID BULLSHIT CRAP-ASS IDEA WAS THIS? I AM FEELING VERY ANGRY. THIS PARK IS UGLY. STUPID GEESE.
But I did it. I ran all 26.2 miles, without stopping, chafing, panicking, peeing, crying, or spraying diarrhea on anyone!
Myself <------ Winner!
For the first 18 miles I was borderline euphoric. It was a gorgeous day, sunny, high 60s for most of the race, what I consider perfect conditions. And I felt great. I was thrumming along on pace to finish in 3:45, and up until mile 21 I stayed right with the pacer. I’d done everything according to my pre-race plan. I alternated water and Cytomax at every stop, not overdoing it, but getting enough to stay hydrated. I took salt packets when they were offered. I smiled at people and high-fived little kids and ate that godforsaken GU every 5 miles. I didn’t go out too fast. Or too slow. I felt GREAT. Great! Great! Great! Wheeeeeeee! Marathons are fun!!!
Until around Mile 20.
There’s a reason they say “a marathon is not a race until mile 20”. Because at mile 20, I felt the first twinge in my legs. Not a dead-on cramp, but the suggestion that my legs were considering it. Like two bitchy mean girls giving me smirky looks, they wouldn’t come right out and say anything cruel about my Trapper Keeper until mile 21, but they were thinking it. And they didn't like my visor.
I saw Larry and the boys at mile 20, and my Grandmother and Uncle Greg and Aunt Brenda, who made these awesome signs.
That motivated me into mile 21.
Which is when I knew my legs weren’t kidding. Cramp. Cramp. Step, step, step, step, cramp.
I have long suffered from debilitating post-run leg and foot cramps that make it impossible to do anything but stand in the middle of my kitchen screaming WHYYYYY WHYYY, while the boys fantasize about what it would be like to have a real mom, who has dignity and self-control. So when the cramps started in earnest, I felt like I had to decide: Do I stick with the pacer and risk ending the race in Shelby Bottoms lying in goose poop wailing WHYYYYYY WHYYYYY, OR do I dial it back and just accept that I’m not going to qualify for Boston today or probably ever, @#$%! GRRRRRR.
I dialed it back.
And that is when I realized that running a marathon feels very very much like natural childbirth with the Pitocin cranked up to ten.
With one crucial difference:
At the end of childbirth, they give you a baby! (AND IT DOESN'T HURT ANYMORE!)
At the end of the marathon? You get a medal shaped like a guitar pick and it takes you approximately forty-five minutes to shuffle like a post-op geriatric from the finish line to the water station that is five yards away.
Walking was an issue is what I’m saying.
In the end, I finished in a respectable three hours and fifty-two minutes (and ten seconds), thanks in no small part to the most awesome training team EVER. Love these guys.
In the meantime, I'm using the elliptical to ward off mental illness (this is the first time in over a year I've gone more than two days without running), and I'm really looking forward to my next HALF MARATHONin September.