This is my final post about RnR NOLA and probably the best one if you ask me. There’s a crazy story to tell and a lot of lessons to be learned. It’s taken me a few days to gather my thoughts about this so here we go…
|Ready to go|
It was a little cool out, probably in the upper 40s, so I wore a hooded sweatshirt that I could easily throw away if need be. After hanging out in the race village for a little while, I ended up finding Mary and her hubby, we exchanged good lucks and then I hit up the porta potty AGAIN (at least twice before races, crazy I know). Before I knew it we were lining up in our respective corrals. RM waited with me for a few minutes before he had to leave. I was pretty comfortable with the temps at that point so I gave him my hoodie so I didn’t have to throw it away.
As I was standing there waiting to get this show on the road, I creepily eavesdropped on other runners’ conversations. I didn’t know anyone and I really wasn’t interested in chatting. I closed my eyes, thought about what I was about to do, and then bolted from my corral. Just kidding. Instead I envisioned myself crossing the finish line.
|Almost there, corral 14!|
My goal was to just take it slow. This was the first time I was attempting 26.2 miles and I didn’t want to burn out. Your first should really be about finishing, right? Time goals are somewhat unrealistic since you have no idea what to expect. Well, I didn’t want to believe that and over the past few months I secretly have had my eye set on 4:30. I could do that. Every long run (and short) proved that 4:30 was not unrealistic for me. I guess you could say that finishing was really Goal A and 4:30 was Goal B.
At the medical tent I encountered two lovely but overwhelmed teenagers who struggles to find bandaids for me. They seemed grossly underprepared – and grossed out! I grabbed some paper towels, patted myself down, took what they had to offer and bandaged myself up as best as I could.
After all of this fanfare, we ran through the French Quarter which was pretty cool before taking a turn up Esplanade Avenue. I was pretty warm by this point since there wasn’t a lot of shade but I was feeling okay despite the situation. I walked through the water stops as planned and managed not to fall again on Esplanade which was even more torn up than St. Charles.
|"I hate these bandaids. I want to die. No, I don’t want to die. I want to finish. I hope these socks aren’t ruined."|
I saw RM at mile 18ish taking pics and it was after that when the euphoria started to settle in for a few miles. I’m running! I’m running a marathon! Look at me! The music was good, I was singing to myself to take my mind off the last 8 miles and all was good in the world. It was hot but I was feeling comfortable even though I was slowing down.
Then came mile 22.
Yup, it’s real folks. All too real. Up until this point I’ve only read about it and heard horror stories. I didn’t think it would be a big deal, really, especially since I’m good at picking up the pace towards the end of a long run just so I can cross the finish line strong. This clearly was not going to happen – at least not now. My pace was hovering around 11:00-11:30/mile and I had to take a few walk breaks just to muster up enough energy to keep going. I wasn’t alone. It was at this point in the race where everyone around me looked like they were walking the Bataan death march. Everyone slowed, shuffled, and started to hunch over. Fellow thirtysomethings looked like they had the bodies of 90 year olds. Let’s just get this done, people.
I couldn’t be happier to see City Park. I was ready to be finished. I even hallucinated a little. Weird. I thought I saw RM with one of our dogs and proceeded to convince myself this was the case around mile 25. It wasn’t him and our dog did not fly to NOLA to see me finish my first marathon. Bummer.
I ran alongside one woman whose husband was there to encourage her to get through the last quarter mile. It was so sweet and even though he wasn’t encouraging me, I felt so happy for her. We were almost done.
I bolted through the finish line chute like I was being chased by a sasquatch.
I immediately hobbled over to the medical tent so they could wash off my bloody knees and had them ice my quads which were very sore. (Note to self: this will hurt even more tomorrow)
I think I had delusions of grandeur prior to running my first marathon. I thought there would be all this fanfare, tears streaming down my face in pure joy over having covered 26.2 miles. Nope. No one was there to greet me at the end. Now, this isn’t anyone’s fault – we had all agreed to meet each other in the family reunion area. When I got there, RM and Mary had already set out to find me to make sure I was ok. Once they came back, that’s when all the hugging ensued. But, deep down, I was mad with myself, I wasn’t even grateful that I was able to run a marathon. I was mad that after months of training it came down to a battle with a pothole at mile 3. I’m still trying to find the words to sum up all these feelings.
But, in the end, I ran a marathon. That’s all that should matter, right?
Have you ever taken a tumble on a run? What about during a major race? How were you able to regain your composure?