June 28th, 2011
I’d been stuck in the car for a full day, and a few hours the day before. And finally we were in Duluth, Minnesota. Traffic was backed up as we tried to pull into the area where they were having the running expo. The 5k was about to start and there were people everywhere. When we finally got into the building and I was standing in line to pick up my race packet. I couldn’t believe it. I was going to do a half marathon. Yet here I was standing in the full marathon line. When I had gone to sign up, the half marathon was full. So I signed up for the full knowing I would only run half. Knowing I would not receive a metal. Knowing I would get just a tee shirt. But when I picked up my packet there was no shirt in sight. The man informed only finishers got shirts. I was feeling even more crushed. Maybe I could do a whole marathon. I mean sure I’ve never run more than six miles at one time. But maybe I could just run the rest. Then I would get my shirt and my metal. I was going to do a full marathon. It just had to happen.
I was hit with a ton of nerves as I walked around the expo. I picked up two stickers. One said 26.2, and the other said 13.1, I knew one of these would go on my car. After the expo George, Erica and I drove around till we found some over priced place to eat dinner. When we finally got to the hotel room we listened to the new and were crushed as the weather man confirmed our suspicions. The following days forcast for the race was 48 and raining. We all tried to encourage each other that it would be okay. The cool air would make the race easier and the rain wouldn’t be that bad. Just the same though, that night when we were all lying in our beds, and we could hear the rain falling on the roof outside, there was this empending sense of doom for the day ahead. When I was a kid, I used to lay in bed at night and sing “tomorrow” from Annie, and the following day would always be sunny. So I lied there petrified of the following morning but softly sang “tomorrow” praying that the weather would hold out. Even though I was pretty sure I was wasting my own time.
The next morning all of us got up and got dressed for the race. George would be running a half marathon and needed to be at the busses for pick up an hour before Erica or I would need to get on the bus. Just the same though we only had one car. So we all left early. After George had gone off to his race, Erica and I sat in the car. It was freezing outside. And raining. “Maybe I’ll just run a half” Erica said from the front seat as I was curled in a ball of nerves in the back seat. I was just ready to get this thing over with. All the anticipation was killing me.
Finally we were in line for the bus. It was chilly and the rain had let up. I knew the chilly weather would make running perfect. The weather wouldn’t be able to aid in me getting hot from running. When we were dropped off at the starting line Erica and I walked around trying to figure out where to drop off our dry bags (they would be transported to the finish line). There were thousands of people all there to do the same crazy thing I was. Run… or walk… or both 26.2 miles. I couldn’t believe what I was about to do.
As we went to the starting line Erica and I were getting excited. All the energy from everyone really helped. I told Erica to go closer to the front and find her pace group. She was going to do the 5:30 pace group. I was fine being in the back.
And just like that the race was starting. We were all running. I knew I wanted to keep my pace at 10:1. So for the first four or so miles I ran ten minutes and walked one. Then I came across this lady. She told me I was doing great and was a shoe in to finish the full marathon. It was her forth. She told me that as long as I could make it to mile 18 I would be fine. And I believed her. She told me it might be a good idea to even slow down my pace a bit and save energy. So I started a 5:1, which eventually led into a 5:5. Well… time passed. Miles passed. People passed… me. Next thing you know it’s mile nine, and I just can’t go anymore. My back is on fire. My feet hurt. My hips hurt. My legs hurt. Everything in my body just hurt.
I looked down at the pacer on my phone and I still had four miles till I was at a half marathon. Four miles. Oh my god. I was walking at this point. Keeping one foot infront of the other. I have to finish this damn thing. Can I walk four miles? My mother walks four miles several times a week. Four miles is my favorite distance to run. Yet everything in me hurt. And I looked behind me. There was no one. I really was the last person, except for maybe three. Even the ambulance had passed me. I have to keep walking.
I’m not going to lie. I cried a lot in those four miles. Like head in my hands and heaving sobbing. Don’t ask me why. It’s like something strange took over my body. When I was walking it took constant motivation from a friend to keep me going. And one thing she said was “If it was easy everyone would do it” and I would run for a 100 yards or so, that kind of happened a few times. And I would have friends text me to motivate me and say things like “don’t give up” which led me to crying again because I knew I had given up.
Just the same though I finished 13.1 miles. And I was so glad I finished. And I swore to a friend that I would never do it again. That my running days are over. Anything more than four miles is over kill and all of this is bull shit. Yet the next day George, Erica, and I were all already talking about our next possible race. And I gave my 26.2 sticker to Erica because she finished the full marathon. Even though she’ll tell you she only ran 22 miles before knee trouble set in and she had to walk the rest… And George finished too. I was so shocked that we all finished. Because I think when I signed up not even I believed I could finish it. Yet I did. We all did.