yesterday, i ran my first marathon.
and, unless something crazy* happens, my last.
despite some crazy nerves the week leading up to the race, i woke up on sunday feeling pretty good. i repeated everything i’d done before every long run i did during training… peanut butter and banana on toast, a glass or two of water, a few pages of a magazine i’ve been meaning to read. sunglasses always, and the gear i’ve worn and loved along the way.
maybe it was the cold, or the time of day, i don’t know. but the only thing yesterday that made me happy was being done with marathons.
the first 5k felt great. slower than i’d have liked, but i was surrounded by hoards of people. i saw b, gave him a big sloppy kiss, and kept going. 5-10k, i started feeling that pesky hamstring that’s been plaguing me and hampering my workouts for the past couple weeks. i figured i was just not fully warmed up yet (or something) and kept going. 10-15k, the pain started becoming very, very real. but thank goodness for boystown. between the men in drag (think glittery pink strapless dresses) and the ones dressed as cheerleaders (complete with pleated skirts and pom pons), and running into ali and chrissy exactly where i thought they’d be, my pace stayed strong.
then, it got bad. after 15k, my hamstring pain was not only behind my knee, but was now running all the way up to my glute. my feet were hurting in ways they hadn’t before (at one point i was convinced that my metatarsals were going to just spontaneously rupture). and worst, my knees. i’ve had minor pains in the ol’ patellas before, but never as bad as this. i both wanted to pull them off my legs, and was convinced they’d do so on their own. PLUS, i had 17 miles to go. i wasn’t even halfway done. and even though i was making sure to hydrate and have gels at my normal intervals, if not a tad more, my body felt completely empty. already. UGH.
then, seeing an old teammate (who i didn’t expect to see at all) and b again helped me get to the halfway point, and then 3 more miles. at mile 16, the pain was so intense that i did the unthinkable, the one thing i told myself i wouldn’t do: i walked. how could i? what was i doing? that’s basically quitting, i berated myself. why bother finishing? i texted my parents and b that it was “the bad hurt” and that i was walking; that i would be later than anticipated to our planned meeting spots. it took everything to not stop in the aid tent i passed.
in my head, i wanted nothing more than to quit. my goal time was already long gone, and the 4 hour mark that i thought would be a breeze based on all of my training times was slipping through my fingers. what was the point? at a minimum, i had to keep walking unless i had a darn good reason not to.
then, i started bargaining with myself. i knew i’d never forgive myself for walking the remaining 10ish miles without a fight. i walked through water stations and a block past, and would slow jog until the next one. i repeated this for 6 miles, because i knew b was meeting me at 22 to run with me. i texted him that i hurt and was running later than expected, and when he asked how he could help, i just asked him to help me get to the finish line.
first i got through pilsen (nobody warned me about pilsen - mariachi bands! sketchy candies in tubs! a man spraying a misting hose like… never mind) which was LOUD. disorientingly loud. i gave up on my trusty playlist** and succumbed to the giant speakers blasting on every block. then, chinatown. surprisingly nice. not empty at all, contrary to the warnings i had gotten.
finally, 22. i saw b and immediately sped up a bit. he pushed me harder than i could push myself. he let me walk once, and that was it. he knew i’d regret not leaving every last iota of strength on the track. he told me he was proud of me. he told me that the last 4 miles were just a drop in the bucket of not only today’s running, but everything i’d been doing since spring to prepare. we saw the 4-hour pacers and they gave me hope that somehow i’d made it under the wire***. he got me to mile 25.5 before peeling off**** to let me finish on my own. here’s a picture i’m too cheap to pay for of him looking cute and me dying. you’re welcome.
at mile 26, i saw my parents screaming their heads off for me. i mentally prepared for the “death hill”, as my dad called it, which you have to get over before the final straightaway. on a normal day, it is nothing. at the end of 26 miles, it is your worst enemy.
i rounded that damn corner and left everything i could on the straightaway, nearly collapsing into my cousin upon crossing the line. finally, i was done. i didn’t care what my time was any more. i had finished.
i really cannot thank everybody enough for their support during this marathon. to those of you who contributed by being there (shout out to my parents and b for keeping me going), donating, responding to my panicked emails (especially lauren), and even sending song suggestions, thank you from the bottom of my heart. after relying so heavily on the support of others, i vowed that unless i have a very good reason, i’m going to cheer on the marathoners every year.
now if you’ll excuse me, i have napping to do and food to eat. i did it once, and that’s plenty for me. where do you people get all those endorphins from?!
* dad wants to run together when i’m 30 and he’s 60. i hate to say i’m already considering it. but if he doesn’t convince me, nothing else will.
** playlist details forthcoming
*** turns out the pacer was for the 8:00 start group… yikes.
**** he apparently narrowly avoided being physically pulled from the course by cops near the finish line!