Ah, race day. The day you have planned for, trained for, and spent a fortune on (maybe-but most likely if it is a Disney race, but this one was cheap). It’s a funny thing. After a decade of running, and I mean serious running, race day is just not that big of a deal for me. I mean sure-there is the excitement to the build up, the sense of accomplishment, the hoopla and foofah that accompanies it, but after ten years, it is well…different.
Let me try to explain. A decade ago, I would have sweat bullets the night before a marathon. I mean, I didn’t actually even RUN a sanctioned marathon until 2011 (four years after I started running)! At that time I showed up two hours before, making sure I had been up for at least two hours prior to that to make sure EVERYTHING was in order! I pre-fueled improperly and didn’t know a fartlek from a hole in the ground! My old Timex watch took a licking and kept on ticking, so I figured I could just run, run, run without regard to fueling or pace, or GOOD shoes! Lots of mistakes made, or as I like to call them, “learning experiences.” Experience is really our only teacher, right?
Fast forward to September 4, 2017. Marathon 12 loomed on the horizon. I really didn’t even approach it as a “race,” but as a training run and an excuse to go see my son who lives in the area. I threw a few things together: GOOD, tried and true shoes (you know, actual running shoes), moisture wicking clothing, body lube, and fuel which consisted of gels, saltstick, and amino acids. I HAD actually learned a few things in 10 years.
Since it was a smallish race with no road closures, I arrived about 30 minutes until the start. This is a rehash of my day.
Park. Plenty of time to wait in line for porta-potty and get that last minute nervous pee pee out. Wait-what? NO PORTA POTTIES?! To clarify, there were porta johns, but they were owned by MU and were locked. “Sorry,” replied said person, “You can walk 1/4 mile to the hotel and use that one.” Well, I wasn’t staying at said hotel, AND who wants to walk one half mile round trip before they run 26.2?! AH, treed area and storage building. Use your imagination.
Air horn, we’re off! Blinking lights galore as it is only 0600 AM and still dark. This was the BEST part of the race as one could not see the hills but just knew we were running up them by “feel.” The fist three miles felt great and flew by. The only hiccup was having to follow Mr. “Clicky-Clacky want to be body builder” in his pseudo running shorts/underwear! I don’t know what he had strapped to his back, but it was clacking the whole way. Speaking of body builders-less is more, but I digress. Speaking of digression…
Mile 3.3. Try as I might, this pre-race fueling thing has me looking for a porta-potty. Since I was using this race as a training run, I wasn’t focused on time. Miles, not minutes. Thankfully, I spotted a porta-john (totally unrelated to the race). It was like a water fountain mirage in the desert. Having taken my liberties & DIGRESSED the bowels, I resumed my run. Joy of joys, Mr. “Clicky-Clacky” was long gone.
Mile 6-ish. I met a guy running his 50th state. We would commence to playing “I lead, no you lead,” until around mile 20. Mile 7-8ish, I lost him on the hill. I kind of like hills. They make runs interesting.
Mile 8-9, we ran a bit of the Katy Trail. I’m not fond of gravel/chat running, especially on a non-closed course. Vehicles drove by leaving dust clouds to inhale. I walked a good portion of this while covering my mouth/nose with a cloth. There was a girl who passed me whom I thought was talking on a bluetooth. Nope-she was talking to herself. Whatever it takes people, whatever it takes.
Mile 12-the infamous “Easley Hill,” one mile of pure uphill torture. It gave me a good chance to stretch the legs as I took long walking strides up to the peak.
Around mile 13-14, I fell in with a couple of guys who were running around a 10 minute pace. I hung with them for awhile and we chatted about where we were all from and races that we had run. I don’t know whether it was the gels I was consuming, the oatmeal for breakfast, or the Gatorade, but SOMETHING gave me a bit of the bubble guts. I farted-twice-TOTALLY uncontrolled, in front of two guys I had never met before and at least would never see again (at least I hoped). Funny how that is so much of a SNAFU in North America. I mean, look-I am a nurse and it is a natural bodily function-but REALLY?! Don’t look at me all smug like you never FART! A decade ago I would have crawled in a hole and never came out!
After pulling ahead of those two (by jet propulsion, lol), I made it to the 18 mile aid station and more hills. There was Mr. “Clicky-Clacky” in his underwear without his clackers. He was walking. Two way traffic (again, NOT a fan of an unclosed course). I stopped to stretch. I heard a guy from a slowing vehicle yell, “Hey, a turtle!” I thought he was referring to me. No, there was an actual box turtle attempting to cross the road. I gave him a hand. A decade ago I would have let the little booger get ran over and smashed because it was all about ME and my TIME!
Mile 20, Mr. 50 state passed me again. I would always gain & pass him on the hills, he would pass me on the flats. I didn’t see him again until the finish.
By mile 22, I was incorporating the run/walk-4 minutes of running to 30 seconds of walking. Mile 23 led down into a trail and eventually back up into MU and the finish. There were a lot of bikers on the trails giving their thumbs up and shouting, “Good job!” I kept singing “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” in my head. A decade ago I would have been singing, “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap.”
Wonderful volunteers with water, Gatorade, ice, popsicles. They truly were what mad this race. The finish was an uphill, which led to a slight downhill to the finish. I loathe finish line photos. This one I look like a monkey. A decade ago I thought I needed to buy every race photo, good or not.
I had a medal thrust around my neck, and an Icy cold towel thrown around my shoulders. I made my way to the exit area and grabbed a few grapes and found a grassy place to lie down and get my legs up to drain the lactic acid. When I got up, there was Mr. 50 state. I had won the battle.
A nice couple in a jeep gave me a ride back to the parking area/start line. I met a guy from Houston who rode with them as well, and we discussed the flood. Nice people runners are. They didn’t even care that I was sweaty, wet, and gross. A decade ago I would have walked…uphill, barefoot, in 10 foot of snow before I set my sweaty body in someone’s vehicle!
I didn’t care about the time. I just cared about getting to the finish without hurting. Though from mile 22 in ANY marathon hurts, after 10 years of running, it hurts less. Walking up/down stairs afterwards is not a big deal. I don’t require a 2 hours nap BEFORE I shower. It’s really all a state of mind. When I was running for time, I hurt way worse. A decade ago a marathon was a pipe dream, let alone running Boston.
I checked results after I had gotten back to my son’s place and found that I was first in my age group. Another perk about a decade of running later in life-age group awards.
What has a decade of running taught me? Running, like life is a journey. There are ups and downs, highs, lows, victory, and disappointment. It’s not so much about the time, but about the journey. Running has taught me a lot about myself-what I can tolerate, what I like about myself, & who I like to be around. Running has brought many wonderful people into my life.Running has taught me to never give up even when circumstances seem impossible (or even if you fart in front of strangers, lol). Life and running can only get better from here. A grandson on the way, only 35 states to go (5 states a year to complete by age 60). Anxious to see where the next decade will take me. Adventure awaits.
Just an oldish chick running & loving life,