Monday, April 26, 2010

13.1 Miles

Saturday morning, my alarm went off at 3:30. Jay asked what time it was, I told him to go back to sleep, which without argument he promptly rolled over & complied. I hit the floor, belly full of butterflies. Kept telling myself that I had to eat, even though I would rather vomit. But knowing what my body would have to do in a few hours I forced down my Kashi cereal, keeping with my friend's advice to change NOTHING about what I ate pre-race. Left my hubby and boys sleeping soundly. Getting on the interstate in the pitch dark of night, lighting bolts streaked the sky in the distance. I said a prayer that the weather would hold off. It was forecasted to be nasty. The race organizers had already limited the marathon to 4.30. If you weren't on pace to complete it in that time you'd be directed to finish the half. Into downtown Nashville I went and parked in the first lot of LP Field I came across. Wandering across the parking lot to locate where the shuttle bus would take the runners over to the start line at Centennial Park, I met a nice woman from Denver, CO. She travels around to the different cities to run in the marathons. I arrived at the park at what would be 2 1/2 hours prior to my start time, which worked out for my benefit. One because I had a nice dry seat at a picnic table under a tree where we didn't get wet when the rain shower hit at 5:30. I met a woman who also works for the same company and several out of town people and we had a wonderful, fun conversation. It all put me at ease and took away almost all the nerves. The rain shower let up, the clouds floated away and the sun came up on a beautiful morning. We knew more was on the way when they announced the race would be starting 15 min early (another plus at being there so early) some of those arriving later, missed starting with their gate number- including my marathon veteran friend who didnt arrive until 10 min after the early start-five min before the original start. What has proven to be a controversy after the 37th corral was released the pulled up the mats that record your start time, so people arriving after that couldn't compete at all. The city is very hilly and you might not notice it as much in a car but out there hoofing it on foot- OMG. I started out well and felt good for most of it. I walked- a lot. A fast pace walk but I couldn't run up all those hills, especially at the beginning. Around mile ten, when I had to go up another hill at the State Capitol, I lost the will to live. My goal was just to keep moving. The crowds cheering on side of road began to annoy me. "Looking good runners, keep going, you're almost there, woo hoo!" Just shut the hell up. It was at that point also, where I began to notice the wind picking up and the sky darkening. At 1.8 miles to go I began to hear announcements telling runners they recommended leaving the course and seek immediate shelter due to inclement weather. At 1.8 miles to go? Hell, no. They were going to have to drag me kicking and screaming by force off of that course. I had not come that far and trained that much to stop there. If a tornado touches down somewhere in the vicinity, I'll consider it. I'd been walking for the past mile and decided I had to pick up and finish quickly and hope they wouldn't force me off the course. I began to run with everything I had. My hip and knee hurt. I was exhausted. The sky opened up and the rain came down, lightly at first then harder, drenching us. I couldn't see once my glasses go so wet. So I just stayed course and followed along. Cross the Woodland Street Bridge people on the sidelines yelling that the finish line was around the corner and down the hill. I rounded the corner and didn't see anything. Where the hell is it?!? They said it was right here? Less than a mile from the finish line and I still can't see it! Please, God, I'm begging you.
It was the longest mile of my life. Finally I turned another corner and through my water covered glasses- there it was. A beacon of hope. An oasis. The angels sang the Hallelujah chorus. It was beautiful. Praise God- just keep me moving til I get there.
I made it. My time: 3:00:38. I was drenched and cold but I made it 13.1 miles. I had not run a single step before January. And I completed a half marathon. I picked up my metal from the people who were throwing them at us. I'm sure they were just in a hurry with the threat of inclement weather but dang. I wandered aimlessly through the athlete area seeing what sort of post race food they had to offer- nothing was really striking my fancy until I saw these snicker protein bar sort of things. I wanted nothing more to locate the gear check area so I could retrieve my stuff and get my cell phone to let everyone know. Jay had the kids and I told him with how many people would be down there & threat of bad weather to not bring them down there. There I was a little bummed slowing limping through the family reunion area to get to my stuff, I mean I just did this accomplishment for the first time ever and no one is there to share it with. I didn't think it would bother me until that point. Then I see a man, holding an umbrella standing next to the path- it was Jay! He was there. He'd taken the kids to his parents house, from there he used their computer to track my progress and when I neared the end, he drove down there to meet me. He tried to see me cross the finish line but wasn't able to. But he did the next best thing for me- used his shirt to dry off my glasses! I was a happy woman. Back at my in-laws house I showed WC my metal. He asked me if everyone got one of those. I told him only people who ran it in 4 hours. I did it in 3. He seemed impressed. He asked to wear it. Then a little while later he asked me if I wanted it back. He's seen me working out on the treadmill and I hope he takes a lesson from it. If you want to do something, just put your mind to it and work as hard as you can. You can accomplish it.
While I was able to complete my goal, I feel sorry for many marathoners who were not able to. It seems that they were pulled from the course before many of us half marathon runners were done, even if they were on pace to complete it in 4:30. Many people who were attempting to qualify for Boston didn't get to finish. Many people who were pulled at mile 20 were recorded as having ran 13.1. Loads of people are unhappy. I understand organizers not wanting a disaster on their watch. But I think they did jump the gun a bit.


Michele said...

I am just so proud of you!!! So proud!!!

Sarah said...

Just read this after linking in from Michele's blog. What an awesome acommplishment to complete a half! I fully know what you meant about being a little bummed when you finished and there was no one for you in the family area. I'm so glad that J met you at the finish line!!! I did a 10-miler a few years ago. The weather was perfect and I ran (and walked) a good race that I was proud of. I did the whole thing with a huge Kool Aid smile on my face but when I got to the end I didn't know anyone so I just got my food and left.

What a great example to set for your kids!

Wish you guys lived closer to Michele since I really enjoyed hanging out with your family at the christening.

Take care,
Aunt Sarah