Saturday, May 6, 2006

And We're Off

Bang! And the gun goes off. Or so they tell me. My corral was so far back that I didn't actually hear it.

We all start moving forward, then we stop. Then we start up again. Then we stop. Walking. Walking. Walking.

Come on already, when do we get to run! I'm freezing. I'm numb. I think my hands are going to fall off if I don't start moving soon.

Ah, the starting line is in sight. But, we are still walking. Come on people move it!

Finally the starting line. Woo Hoo. And only 24 minutes after the gun went off. Yipee.

And my first official thought of the race is, "Man do I have to pee! Bad! Where are those bathrooms?"

I start running. Slowly. I am not going to make that beginner's mistake of allowing the adrenaline to con me into going out too fast.

The beginning is a nightmare of people. People everywhere. Mostly walkers. I picked such a slow finish time that most of the people around me are walking. So, I dodge my way around them but try not to pick up too much speed or do too much cross running back and forth.

By .5 miles I'm warming up, and I work my way over to the side of the road to toss off my sweatshirt on to the shoulder. Good bye Mr. Winnie the Pooh sweatshirt that I have owned for a million years. You are my sacrifice to the running gods this morning.

I finish out the beginning of the first mile, still moving slow. My legs are feeling pretty tight, and my knee hasn't loosened up yet.

Yes, Bathrooms!! Detour to the left. Standing in line. Forever! Peeing. Ahh. Open Door. And Running...

Ah, first water stop. Grabbing water. Running. Drinking. Choking. Oops. Really must consider a new strategy next time.

I hit the early part of mile 2, and my right thigh starts tightening up. Don't worry about it I tell myself. Just run through it. It will relax.

So, I'm cruising along and come up to mile 3, and bam. The knee loosens up. The thigh relaxes. I'm in a good rhythm. It feels great. I feel great. No, not great. INCREDIBLE! And at that point, I know I am going to own this race. It is as good as over.

I'm cruising through mile 3 and come upon the first gatorade stop. I grab some and STOP to drink it. Now that was stupid! Why didn't I at least walk? Lessons being learned here.

Ok, toss the cup and I'm off again. But wait. What's this? My shoes are actually sticking to the road from all the spilt gatorade. Just what I need - more resistance. How long is this going to last?

Luckily it lasts no more than a minute. Yeah!

I hit mile 4 and my shoulder starts in. Wonderful! It is too early for the shoulder. What is the deal? I figure it is probably from the hunching up to keep warm at the starting line. I spend the entire mile reminding myself to drop my shoulders and relax. It is blissfully gone by the end of the mile. Never to return.

I'm cruising through mile 5 feeling good. Just plugging away. Doing great.

I come upon a guy holding this huge sign. It said, "You have a choice. Are you going to just stand there or are you going to RUN?" And for some reason it almost reduces me to tears. I start thinking about what I am doing. And about my accomplishment of getting to the race. And about the fact that I am actually there running. And it is cake. Total absolute cake. I am not struggling in the slightest. I start thinking about Matthew and his fight against his leukemia, and about his chemo yesterday. And I almost lose it. Almost. But, at the last second I realize what I am doing and shake it off. Now is not the time. Not. the. time.

I actually miss the marker for mile 6, but know we are close since we are entering the speedway. Oh, the dreaded speedway. I know about the speedway. Or at least I think I do. I know that there is a huge down hill and a huge up hill going into it. But, I don't actually KNOW.

Hill? Hill? Holy Hill, Batman. Try Mountain you crazy people. I am barreling down the hill at an almost out of control pace trying to slow down without actually coming to a walk. Then I hit the up hill and it feels like someone is standing behind me trying to pull me back down. But, I persevere and make it to the top.

I start circling the track, and I know this is the hardest part of the race. But I don't actually KNOW.

I'm running and it's getting hotter and hotter with all the asphalt. The track is banked, and my knee immediately starts in. It's not hurting but it's uncomfortable.

I'm struggling to keep my pace. I'm slowing. And slowing. Why am I slowing down? Quick assessment. Breathing ok? Check. Legs muscles ok? Check. Shoulder ok? Check. Knee? Uncomfortable, but not painful. Ok, then why am I slowing down. "You have got to keep going," I tell myself.

I see two girls in front of me. They are moving through the crowd. Keeping a steady pace. I latch on behind them. And let them pull me the whole way around the track.

I exit the track, and I have never been so thankful to see flat ground in my life. I pick the middle of the road, no possible banking and make it my new home.

I hit the end of mile 9 and I'm cruising again. Feeling good. And my right foot goes into a pot hole. My ankle rolls. Not good. I'm not worried about the ankle. But I'm worried about the knee. Big time. A fleeting very sharp pain goes through it. I keep running and wait for another. It doesn't come. SWEET!

Ok, time to face the facts. The uncomfortable knee is here to stay. You can fight it or make it your friend. Just ride it out. Let it keep you company. It's steady and constant. Just there, not going any place. Make it your friend.

I round out the beginning of mile 10, and I'm in the groove. I'm in the blind numb rhythm where my body is moving with no effort. I'm in the zone. I'm golden. I can ride this the whole way in.

Mile 11 comes and goes. Doing great. Feeling great.

Half way into mile 12 we hit the bridge. And we start going up. Ugh. I make it. And hit the down hill. And take off. Like someone lit a fire under me. I look at my garmin. I'm running just over a 9 minute/mile pace. What am I doing? Slow down you fool.

Finish mile 12 feeling good. Cruise on through. Hit mile 13. Doing awesome.


I some how end up on the side of the road again. It's about half way through mile 13 and I'm passing a water station. I reach out and grab the cup almost without thinking. I slow to a walk to drink it. I toss the cup. I start back up. My knee laughs at me. It screams. It rebels. It tightens. It hurts.

And I know I'm done.

I hobble the last half mile plus.

I see the finish line. I take off. I give it every thing I have left.

And I cross the line....

Official Time: 2:42:32

Garmin Time: 2:36:47


Mile 1 12:48
Mile 2 12:29
Mile 3 11:53
Mile 4 11:38
Mile 5 11:26
Mile 6 10:46
Mile 7 11:48 (Speedway)
Mile 8 12:00 (Speedway)
Mile 9 12:14 (Speedway)
Mile 10 11:35
Mile 11 11:39
Mile 12 11:29
Mile 13 11:32
Mile .1 3:25 ( It was actually .31 miles - from the bathroom detour and the cross running to pass people)

Over all I'm very pleased. I feel like I ran a smart race. I learned a lot for next time. I can't wait for Chicago!!!


  1. Hey, good story, keep at the running! Few years back I did a few races myself. Bumped in her by chance. Yo-ho.


    We are so proud of you!!! The Chicago Marathon will be a piece of cake for you!!

    Your post made me feel like I was running along with you! Great job sharing the moment.

    I hope you sleep well tonight, you deserve it!

    Way to Go!


  3. CONGRATS to you, Runnergirl--knew all the time you'd pull if off--sometimes it just pays to be stubborn, doesn,t it? Enjoyed all the blogs of your experience, but the last one was the best.

    Aunt Vera

  4. What a great race. You learned a lot, you finished and it sounds like you had fun.

  5. congrats on the race and running through the pains and aches along the way. Chicago will be a breeze.