That my friends, and faithful blog followers, would describe the great birthday run of 2012. Miserable. Hot. Hilly. I’m just keeping it real. This one may have been worse than childbirth.
This race my ever faithful running buddy Courtney and I were joined by Lindsey, Court’s twin and the girl with the crooked arm, and Leah, my long run gal who shames me with her super sonic times. We were a foursome setting out to conquer the Publix marathon.
Wayne says that I love the festivities of race weekend better than the race itself, and that is so true. Running a marathon is so much more than the actual race. It’s the “experience” and it begins checking into the OMNI, digs a step up from Motel 6, our usual lodging, but hey, this is race weekend.
Next stop is the Expo. Ahhhh, the anticipation is building as you wander along the vendors and dream of the Big One. No, not the race tomorrow, the BIG ONE, like the Boston, or the Marine Corps, or New York. Rubbing shoulders with runners that have run those, scanning the crows to see if I can find Zola. After grabbing every freebie and tasting every assortment of power drinks known to man it’s time to decide if the $30 for Yurbuds are worth it. I decide that since it is my birthday weekend, and since I have been getting tingly shocks from my present earphones when the sweat gets bad, I’ll drop the $30. Money well spent, although I probably would have been better off with electrocution via wet earphones at mile 23 the next day.
Pasta dinner is next. Props to John Sharpe, Court’s finance, who not only selected THE BEST PASTA place in the ATL but there was no wait and he even chauffeured us. Oh I may add, he introduced me to “The Civil Wars” and I am officially hooked.
We topped it off with frozen yogurt and then settled into our luxury room for last-minute preparation. With clothes laid out, and butterflies starting to whirl, we turned in early and I felt a deep sense of happiness, doing this race thing with my two “daughters” tucked in beside me.
While the Court, Linds and I have been around the block a time or two, this was Leah’s first Big One and it was so fun to see the excitement in her eyes. There is nothing like the morning of. The excitement makes your skin tingle and everyone is in high spirits.
After last-minute iPod checks, setting our watches and reminding my posse to stop and drink at every water station, the whistle sounds….and we walk for another 15 minutes to reach the start line…..take a couple pictures…….
and then we are off…for real…
Listen, this post could take you all day so I’ll give you the short(er) version. The route was gorgeous. The sun was just coming up and we were feeling great. The posse left me early on, and I settled in with a barefoot guy that I wanted to talk to (my next venture in running)
I mean really, what can beat the skyline of ATL at sunrise?
Or the beauty of excitement of water station of mile 6 when you are in your groove and people are laughing and high fiving that the first quarter of the race is over?
Agnes Scott was breathtaking with its cherry blossoms in bloom. “Run like a Girl” signs lines the road and I was feeling great.
And then, it began to go south.
By this time, a nagging pinch in my right hip was beginning to turn into a full on pain. I stopped and stretched. The sun was beginning to get HOT, and I was feeling those early signs of fatigue.
I’ll be honest, you cannot run a marathon alone, at least I can’t. I always find a “friend’ to chat up and if it were not for “barefoot man” I would not have made it.
He talked me through 15-18 about how he started running barefoot, the 13 marathons he has run barefoot, and on and on.
B y the time I reached mile 20 I was miserable. The hills were never-ending. The heat was unbearable and worst, nausea had set it. As you can see, my time was shot. I gave up on this point on a sub 5 hour finish, and just hoped I could make it to where I knew Wayne, for the first time, was waiting on me.
Barefoot man made me take walk breaks with him, and frankly, I thought I was through with running. When we hit Central City Park, I took a sip of warm water from the station and that was it. 9 Water stations worth of Gatorade, warm water, a bag of sport beans, and possibly some remnants of last nights pasta primavara came up and out, right at mile 23. Barefoot man offered me his water jug and insisted that I keep it, a good running friend, that, and I don’t think he had much of a stomach to watch me puke all over the sidewalk.
I walked the rest of 23 and felt the sun pulling water right out of my skin. My spirits turned sour and I battled fatigue, irritability and exhaustion for the last 3 miles. Wayne text me in route. The pictures had stopped, and I text back, “mile 20 sick” “Mile 23, I’m nauseous” “.5 mile so sick”
Just up ahead I saw a spray shower and I stopped with barefoot man while we let the spray cool us. Nothing in my life has ever felt so refreshing. By this time, “Leprachon woman” (she has a thing for St. Patrick’s Day and as head to toe green) and “rich old man” joined us.
We hit the last two miles in a run walk pattern. I was semi conscious, listening to them talk about the virtues of run walk vs. running hills vs. walking hills, blah, blah, blah blah….
And then,I saw it….. the green taped banner come into view. Barefoot man told me, “Come on, let’s run the last half mile, you can do it. Your husband will be so proud of you.” And so we headed up the hill. I wanted to cry but really, I had nothing left in me. So I trudged on,and then it returned, my fire. I felt energy from somewhere in my chest, and my feet picked up the pace. The stop clock, with finish time long forgotten, flashed that I made it in less than 6. A horrible time. A beautiful 5:54.
Publix marathon had not beat me. I was not sitting on the side of Marietta street, or in the back of an ambulance. No street sweeper wagon for me, not today anyways. And there was Wayne, smiling and waving. Leahwas yelling, “Go girly”. I thumbs upped over the finish and swore under my breath, “never again” About that time, I felt barefoot man pat me on the back. I turned and we shared a victory hug. “You did it” he smiled. “See you next year….barefoot” I smile back, “Yep, see ya’ next year”
He disappeared into the crowd. Hmmmm… who would have thought an angel would be show up barefoot and in black running shorts?
I joined my girls at the finish line, took my shoes, off and we laughed and moaned about the horrible race.
After a few days off, and a good nights sleep, we will be planning for Savannah, or maybe even Nashville in 2013. Princess warriors always are looking for the next conquest.