Yes, yes. If fb and youtube haven't filled you in yet, Misty Movee and I completed our race and we are ecstatic about it. But, as usual for me, there has to be more to the story than that.
I was super nervous the day before. I should have taken that as a sign that I would succeed. As a performer, I know that the times I am totally obliviously un-nervous ahead of time are the times that I shock myself and bomb. Before my first half-marathon, I was totally not nervous. This time, freakishly nervous. Here's the deal, I know from experience that I can train superhumanly and some unpredictable body part can still malfunction and totally derail me. I don't so much trust my body. I was mostly feeling nervous that I would be unable (for some reason) to complete the race and that the disappointment would turn me into a crazy person who would never put her tennies on again. Also, I was nervous that this particular blog entry would end up being called, "Wellll, I tried....."
The course was gorgeous. Christi and I are both late-haters so we were pretty much first in line to pick up our numbers and show up at the starting line, way too early. It was cold and rainy. At mile 3 my left knee started murmuring to me. I had already taken four ibuprofen half an hour before the race, but I was prepared with Tylenol. There was a happy little bathroom at the mile 3 aid station, so I took advantage of it (as is my way) and thought, "well, that will do me 'til the next one". By mile four, my knee was speaking loud enough that I knew I would have to slow my pace and do some stretching. I happily told Christi to save herself and paced myself, wisely. I could still see her and I felt good that I wasn't slowing her down with my frequent stretches. My four Tylenol kicked in and the pain eased up. I got to the mile 6 aid station and there was no potty. I politely asked when there would be one and the aid person said she thought there was one at mile 9. Okayyyyyyy. The first half of the course was downhill and if you are a faithful reader of mine, you know that it's the downhill that makes my bladder badder. I mentally adjusted my projected point of relief to 3 miles ahead and kept on trucking.
If you are a slow runner and there is a turn around point in your course, this is the part of the race where your runner self-esteem might take a blow. The fast runners have already reached the turn around and have to run past you in the opposite direction to reach the finish line. It's amazing to see how far ahead the winners are from the rat pack and then after I get over being amazed, I get a tad embarrassed. I know that they have passed tons of people to finally come across me and I imagine they are thinking, "Why is she even in this race?" It's sort of easy to be a poser at the starting line when no one has seen anyone move yet and I am wearing my Ironman visor (thanks Julie). But after the turnaround, there's no fooling anybody. It took me about 15 uncomfortable minutes and about 30 runners passing me for me to get over myself. I had this thought, "Who knows their stories? Who knows why any one of us is here and what it took to get here? I don't know theirs and they don't know mine. I had to work really hard, for me, to get here." Then I started looking the runners in the eyes as they passed and I was comfortable again. I am an encourager by nature and when they would flash me a thumbs up, I would get a surge of energy, there in my turtle shell.
I reached the 9 mile marker, which was also the turn around. I was a little confused as to where the potty was, so I inquired. There was indeed, not one. Uhhhhhhhh. Gentlemen, skip to the next paragraph because I need to vent. At this point, my trusty diaper like pad (sooooooo fun for running 13 odd miles in BTW) was, to use a scientific term, saturated. It could not hold another drop of anything. And it didn't. So, with every movement I made from this point forward, my pad was squishing out into my panties and then onto my pants. I contemplated asking the aid station worker to hold up a blanket or something so I could duck behind it for a changing of the guard, but she came across real modest so I reconsidered and soldiered on. Seriously, it was disgusting. I wrapped my coat around my hips and hoped I would have that really, "rained on" look. Yeah, like it rained on my crotch.
When I passed the ten mile marker, something awesome happened. I got irrepressibly happy. You see, I have never gone farther than ten miles without crippling pain. I could feel that I was going to make it and I started hooting and hollaring out there in the woods by myself. I was smiling so big that my cheeks were causing wind resistance, I'm sure. (My face cheeks, you jerks.) Just three more miles! I was going to do it!
I passed the 13 mile marker and saw some kids. They told me that the finish line was close and that if I hurried I could make the 3 hour cut off. I was ecstatic. Then they took off the other direction to find their mom. A half marathon is 13.1 something miles and I started adjusting myself for my long-awaited finish line arrival. I positioned my jacket the best I could over my tell-tale incontinence issues, I pulled out one of my robot glasses ear phones so that I would hear the cheering AND the soundtrack, I practiced my smile and thought about whether or not I should raise my hands and run through cheering or just keep it cool. Then I looked around and realized I did not know where to go. The crappy thing about being a slow runner in a race that stops timing after 3 hours and fifteen minutes on a rainy day is that all the aid station workers, sign holders and pointers bail when they think the race is pretty much over. I had no idea where to go. There was no clear direction and I knew for certain I had now gone farther than required. I called Barry on my cell phone and he said that Christi had gotten lost too. But I had no frame of reference for were I was. I ran until the trail dumped me out at the freeway. I scrambled down a river bank and jumped a bridge railing. I was running through condos and businesses with no sign of a finish line. I was cussing/crying like a sailor/baby. I now knew I would not be clocked in at the 3 hour mark and I was reallllly upset. Barry finally sighted me and pointed me in the right direction. I stopped swearing long enough to cross the finish line quietly, but still angrily.
The other dumb thing about being a slow runner in a half-marathon is that they shut the party down before the last runners get there. All the party food, massages and what have you was all packed up and there was no fanfare to be sure. Next time I am going to run a 10k at the same time as a full marathon is going on so I get to party. Or maybe the 100 yard dash at a 5k. I excused myself to the nearest porta-potty and took pictures of my undergarments, for proof of what had happened to me, urinarily speaking, so I could show them to certain tolerant friends and they would think how much awesomer I was to have survived that, as well. Trust me, I want all the credit that's coming to me for that.
Once I stopped being mad about my anticlimactic finish, I got really happy. I refused to be last and I was not. I almost was, but it doesn't really count because I ran FURTHER THAN ANYONE ELSE IN THE WHOLE FLIPPING RACE. Barry calculated that I had run almost 14 miles by the time I finished. The restlessness in my mind that was born in my disappointing first half-marathon experience was finally laid to rest. I don't really want to do that again. Now I want to learn how to run, without the 2x2 walking intervals. There is a 5k in August that I am going to train for, running for reals. So, my adventures in running are not yet over. As slow as I am, I love it. However, I have learned that there are certain things you can't take for granted in any given race. Like, will there be potties? I guess races don't expect girls who have given birth four times and not fixed their bladder issues yet to sign up. In your face, races.