Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Marathon Report

 TL;DR: It was awful. I finished.


My First Marathon: Sunday, December 11

(And many sincere thanks to ENELL for giving me this opportunity)

This is a mix of Facebook status updates and stream of conscious writing, because it's my blog, so there.

5:00 AM Wake and grab gear. Discover that new hydration pack bite valve has no valve. Grab pocket knife and make a hole.
6:00 Race out the door and drive to the train station.
6:07 Dart up the stairs to the platform only just in time to catch the train.
6:45 Arrive at event site.

7:05-8:30 Shimmy and shiver violently in the hecking cold.
7:46 I got to pet a doggo named Connie. Let's do this.
8:03 Was beginning to worry because I had no pre-race poo, but then I remembered I didn't eat dinner last night.

8:37 Begin. I decided to walk the first mile since I was freezing and very literally needed to warm up and didn't want to make the mistake of going out too fast. This was a good decision.

10:16 Hokay, that second 5k was uphill, so you may ooh and ahh at my negative split.

10:30 Goddess bless the spectators offering beer! Or, perhaps: Bacchus bless the beer bringers!

I got to run the first 15K with a friend who was running the half marathon. And then the two courses split. Holy crap: the stark visual contrast of separating from the half runners and immediately turning onto a dead empty street on a gray day with no other participants in sight. Demoralizing much?

At that turn, another marathoner on the course asked me where everyone was and ultimately decided to go with the half runners instead.
But within the next mile and for the rest of the race, I slowly caught up to and passed a sparse but steady stream of other participants.

Halfway thoughts:

Who. the. FUCK. designed this bitch-ass hilly course?!
Also, I would really like a moist towel to wipe the salt from my face.
Also, I would really like to take my shirt off because it's getting warm, but my arms will chafe and I cannot handle that for 13 more miles. Maybe I'll take it off later.

I'd had super sexy negative splits on each 5K to that point and completed my first marathon half in 3:04. My best half marathon ever was 3:07. I was tired and decided to walk mile 14 and stop to pee.

I legit think dementors were consulted in designing the back half of the course.

Miles ~15-17: Fierce headwinds off the lake, nearly constantly. I ducked my head to keep from losing my visor and trudged forward. The sun was starting to come out and the air was getting warm (not good).

Miles ~17-20.5: Begin ALL concrete concrete concrete, boring trail with slight incline. The never-ending, never-changing, soul-destroying type of hill. Turn after turn, mile after mile, it just KEPT GOING. Even if you know nothing about running, you can imagine that it isn't SO bad to suck it up and run uphill for a couple minutes. But can you imagine doing it for an hour?

I was MAD AS HELL and let the anger carry me through that stretch, those miles which are often cited by runners as the most mentally challenging part of a marathon course, even without terrain to contend with. I literally stormed up that whole stretch like an angry cartoon with a bone to pick and mean mugging that would put Phelps to shame. Which worked, but I couldn't run any of it.
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(Above: Me)

I snapped a selfie at the 18-mile mark. 18 was the longest training run I'd managed before the race. My fingers were swelling and beginning to be uncomfortable. I had no idea how much worse they would get.

I let three photographers in a row over the course of many miles catch how I *really* felt and look forward to seeing those photos.

I was SO glad to finally turn back onto the segment of the course that I recognized since it was an overlapping out and back. It felt like the home stretch.

My heart just sank at seeing the 23-mile marker. When would I EVER finish?

Moments later, my right femur head shouted in sudden pain: "Hey, bitch! ... Wanna do the pimp-walk limp for the next mile?—Cuz you're gonna." (Yes, my joints have conversations with me. Usually it's my saying, "STFU, knee! I don't need you!")
The final two-ish miles just went through a really ugly industrial part of town. Like, come on.

A too-peppy runner told me when I was at the last quarter mile and pointed out the photographer to encourage me to run. I think I ran. My brain sent signals to that effect. The pictures make it look like I sort of tried, anyway.

Finish line (or what was left of it)

When they say there's a 6.5-hour course limit, what they mean is that the elite runners in the first wave—who can finish in 3 or less—get a 6.5-hour time limit.

So when the slower runners, who are made to start 35 minutes LATER, run about (or less than) 6.5, the whole event is packed up and gone when they reach the finish line but for the photographers and a few saintly volunteers with medals and gear check.

Whereas many other marathoners talk about being overcome with emotion and crying when they crossed the finish line, I wandered around the area sobbing because THERE WAS NO GODDAMN WATER ANYWHERE AT THE EVENT SITE FOR FUCKING MARATHON FINISHERS!

Aside from being anti-climatic, that's really fucking fucked up.

No food or medics either.

The course was fucking awful and I would never recommend this event to anyone.

I got my things, cried more, changed clothes, and dragged myself back to the train station for the 35-minute ride back to my car. I decided when I got in my car to stop at the pho place on the way home to order takeout for my lonely post-race meal.

The end.

... sort of.

I really thought I would need to stop running altogether for a good long while after this race, but I have some 10K Pokémon eggs to hatch and am likely to try on Saturday before Sunday's freeze. #gottahatchemall

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