Staring at the 11 mile mark, where the half marathoners cut off and the full continue, I start debating in my mind. ” Do I want to do 2 more miles, or 15?” I repeat this over and over. “2 or 15?” I see many yellow bibbed marothoners cutting off here instead of continuing. It’s almost 80 degrees for goodness sake. I tell myself, “the doctor really didn’t want me running the full, but my leg feels fine.” So, knowing that my husband and Mandi are tracking me, I continue. I didn’t want to disappoint them…..or myself.
For most of the first half, I took things very slow. Walking whenever the hills got too steep since I was told this was harder on the Tibia. Mine was already fractured, but healing. There were many hills. It seemed like there were way more uphills than downhills. As slow as I was going, I still managed to stay with the pack. Of course when there are 31 thousand runners, there is bound to be a pack.
People are stopping to stretch, businesses are handing out pieces of cut up fruit, everyone is complaining about the hills. But no one gives up. I keep my eyes open for a port-o-potty without a long line and finally find one around mile 4.5 or so. There was only about 10 people in front of me, some weren’t even runners. No toilet paper, but luckily Mandi had given me a Cucumber face wipe, so I used that. I did feel fresh!
The second half was a bit more tense. Once the halfers cut off, I was alone. Not completely, just without the massive crowd of blue bibbed runners. I follow two girls with bandanas hanging from their water belts. I figure they look like they must know where we are going and I am a little challenged when it comes to my navigational skills. I follow them to the next water stop, then lose them. I never did find out why they were wearing those bandanas. So, once again, I am alone.
My leg feels fine, so I start to run a little more. The hills don’t seem as bad when you are not purposely taking it easy on them. I tried to do what Erika taught me, since she is a master hill runner. The heat is bad and the humidity makes it worse. I seem to be all over the course because I am trying to run through every sprinkler and water hose. At the water stops I now take two cups of water. Drinking one down quickly and dumping the other down my back or legs, which were burning up and sweaty. I see people laying on cots with wet cloths on their heads and I feel for them.
I slow down to walk again at what I now know was mile 18, I see runners passing me on the other side. I look for my friends. There’s so many people and they are going much faster than I can see, but I thought I saw Erika run by me. She looked solid and that gives me a little more strength. This was already the furthest I’d ever run. My training had been cut off at mile 18 due to the stress fracture. I look at my Garmin to see the time and it isn’t working. Totally, off. So I start looking at the clocks and deducting 15 minutes because I was no where near the front of the pack at the starting line. I keep telling myself to speed up because there is no way I am going to come in under 6 hours at this pace. So I do.
I have been following two men wearing heavy, light blue suits for quite some time. I’m so hot right now in this little running skirt and T-shirt. Why would they run in a suit and tie? Trying to get the foot and thigh pain out of my thoughts, I start coming up with reasons for their idiocy in my head. Maybe they are planning on proposing at the finish line to their girlfriends? That would be an original way to do it. Hope the ladies appreciate the agony they just went through to be original. Maybe they are both expecting boys? Their suits are powder blue, which is the color for a baby boy. Thankfully, a lady in a pink top and white hat runs by me and talks to me, I was starting to want to throw things at the suit wearers. This is also her first time running the Nashville marathon. She is from Pennsylvania originally , so we have a little bit to talk about since I lived in Erie for 20 years. She was from Hermitage, so as it turns out, we didn’t live close at all. Her Garmin also went out on her, and she was glad since she was no where near the time she wanted to be and didn’t want to keep being reminded. I liked that answer.
We laugh at the bands. By this time, they are getting pretty tired and their playing skills are going downhill. Right before the entrance to the park, a solo girl is now just sitting on a stool strumming her guitar. Someone brings her a beer. I want a beer. I don’t even drink beer, but that beer looks really good. What I wouldn’t do for something cold, right now.
We see another sprinkler and a man on his knees taking pictures as we run through it. She didn’t want to get wet, and moved over to the side. I closed my eyes, raised my swollen hands and let the water hit me dead on. I didn’t care. Honestly, the only make up I started off with on this day was my Smashbox, O-Gloss. I knew it would be hot. Wish I could see that picture.
Before I knew it, the mile 24 sign comes upon us. A man runs by me, takes his racing shirt off and throws it off to the side of the road. He yells, “This course sucks. I thought they were changing it!” and continues on. The lady in the pink shirt keeps getting ahead of me. She is obviously in much better shape than I, but I don’t want to lose her, so I speed up. I just keep thinking that I only have 2 miles or so left to go and then I can get an Iced Tea.
By this time, people are passing me left and right, so I know I must be near the end. I lose the girl in the pink shirt, so many women are wearing pink shirts, it’s hard to tell them apart. Then I realize they are passing me because we are running down hill. The heat must have been getting to me, because I don’t even remember seeing the mile 25 or 26 markers. I stop running for a minute to get my bearings and figure out where I am. Then I see Mandi. She is yelling at me to run, the finish line is just around the corner. I think I may have cursed here. Then my husband comes out from the crowd and offers to run me in. He runs with me for about 20 feet before they make him get off the course. Then I turn the corner and see the finish line. I just want it over, so I speed up. I run through it and get my medal. I am dying for something cold to drink, so I find my husband and he gets me a blue frozen lemonade. He hugged me then told me I stink. I reply, “yes, but is my lip gloss still on?” He said it was not, then kissed me anyway.
After the race was over, we hopped on a shuttle and went for some Mexican food. Not the best food, but certainly the best company in the entire world. These are the people who inspire and encourage me. They make me feel like there is nothing I can’t do. And even though I think they got my time wrong, I feel pretty darn solid right now and am looking forward to the next race. If I can do this, I can do anything………and do it faster!
After dinner, Mandi and I hobbled around the corner and got massaged. They confused us, she got the magic fingers of Buddy and I ended up with her Masseuse and got a freebie hot stone one thrown in. My legs felt amazing after she was done. We went back to the hotel, got dressed up and went out on the town. I managed to get my swollen feet into my high heels but couldn’t walk very well in them. Anything for fashion, right? Our friend, Andy rocked an old time quilt like cowboy shirt that looked adorable on him. I think he got more compliments than we did. I never did get to wear the pink cowboy hat Erika bought me. Oh well. If I ever go to Texas, I’ll have one handy.
Now that I am thinking clearly, this was the best trip……EVER.