I started out strong. I definitely was holding back, and when I looked down at my watch and saw anything OVER my goal pace of 8:35, I told myself to slow down.
Mile 1-8:39 (warm-up)
Mile 4-8:28 (Slow Down!!!)
Mile 6-8:27 (Seriously. Slow Down!)
Mile 7-8:53 (I can’t hold it any longer. Must pee. Yes, I did it in a porta potty and not on myself.)
We entered Churchill Downs at Mile 8. Too cool. Got to run around the racetrack and even saw some thoroughbreds out for their workouts. I briefly thought about stopping to take a picture on my iPhone but decided against it. I didn’t want to disturb my rhythm.
Around Mile 8.5, the marathoners split off from the mini (half) marathon runners. They took a left and we took a right. I’m not gonna lie. I was a little jealous. They only had 4 ½ miles left. Lucky ducks.
At Mile 10, I saw one of my girlfriends who I had dinner with the night before. Since the course didn’t offer Powerade until Mile 13, I gave her a bottle of it for the next morning and planned to refill in front of her house, which happened to be directly on the route! I gave her little guy a high five and collected the Powerade from her excited (so cute!) daughter, refilled my bottle and was on my way. Thanks, Amanda! You guys rock!
Another girlfriend (my friend’s twin sister) lives about a mile down the road. I gave her a Powerade as well (back-up plan). I saw her and her sweet girls cheering for me, which gave me a little boost. Thank you, girls!! Erin, if you are reading this… I almost stopped to use your toilet. Haha! It was right about here-the 10.5 mile point (again)-that I started feeling a rumbly in my tummy. Uh oh. Breathe through it. It’ll pass.
Uh, no it won’t.
DAMNIT!! Stupid intestines!
(Side note: I really need to figure out a new hydration/fueling plan in the future.)
Luckily, there was a porta pooper around Mile 11. Whew!
I’m pleased to report that there’s no sequel to Marathon #1. I didn’t blow up the joint this time, and I was able to catch right back up now that I was at least 5 pounds lighter!
(I’m kidding about the 5 pounds, BTW.)
It’s right about here that reality slaps me in the face. At this point, I was still feeling pretty decent. I was about 1-1/2 minutes over of my split time, but I wasn’t worried because I still felt like I had it in me to pick it up a bit. I’ll just pick it up in the second half, right?
I got to Iroquios Park and realized that I had forgotten about that beast. She used to work me out during high school, but somehow over the past 18 years of not running her, I had convinced myself that she wasn’t that hilly. Huh? I guess it’s kind of like how you forget about the excruciating pain of labor ... Then you make the (questionable) decision to have another child. During labor the next time, you’re thinking to yourself,
“OMG, I FORGOT HOW MUCH THIS SUCKS!”
Yeah, it was something like that.
Mile 12-9:52 (Ouch)
Uh oh. I think I may be in trouble.
I get to 13.1 (halfway-WOOT!!) miles around 1:55. I’m now 2 minutes behind where I need to be, and I still have about 2 miles of rolling hills left before we get out of the park. Mind you, this is on legs that have already been pushing themselves for almost 2 hours. This isn’t a good sign. Also, it’s starting to get warm outside. And guess what? I’m not used to any amount of humidity AT ALL. Not that it was really that humid but still. It didn’t feel like the desert!
On the front side of the park around Mile 14, an older guy runs by me and asks me what my time goal is. I tell him it’s 3:45, but that I’m not sure it’s going to happen today. His goal was to simply get in under 4 hours (seeing as how he ran a marathon 2 weeks earlier-Oh by the way, this was his 39th marathon!). While I never caught the guy’s name, he would prove to be tremendously helpful to me for the last 11 miles (I lost him right at the last mile). Thank you, Mystery Marathon Man! We essentially exchanged leads for the last 11 miles. He’d walk through an aid station, and I’d pass him. Then he’d catch back up, pass me, and then say something really encouraging (“Way to stay strong.” “Lookin’ good.” etc.) I’d keep him in my sights and pass him at the next aid station. He’d catch up with me, and so on and so forth.
At Mile 18, we merged back with the mini-marathoners. This was the back end of the group: the ones walking the race at around a 15-20 minute mile pace. SUPER ANNOYING. Mystery Marathon Man and I had to constantly weave in and out around these people to pass them. He pointed out that this was using a lot of excess energy (which neither of us had), and I concurred. I may actually write to the race director to point out how cumbersome and irritating this was to the marathoners.
We break off from the walkers around Mile 20.5. Thank God.
You can see that I’m losing steam. I wouldn’t say that I hit the wall, but yeah. I was really feeling it at this point. Maybe I was trying to crawl over the wall or something. My legs were burning and felt like they were made of lead.
And then… Oh sweet Jesus, is that what I think it is up ahead?
More rolling hills.
Focus. Dig deep. Keep going.
I kept running. I didn’t stop. I did the first hill… Mile 22-9:43
I lumbered through the next hill… Mile 23-10:00
Then I got to what I shall name “Zombie Hill.” It would be the final hill of the race, and guess what? I took a look at the 10 or so other people WALKING IT, ahead of me, and I gave in (up?). I walked too. It was like Night of the Living Dead. We were all, literally, dragging our dead bodies up the hill.
Mile 24-10:55 (Yowzers)
I told myself I’d start running as soon as I got to the Mile 24 sign.
It’s around this point that the 3:50 pace group blows past me, and I feel a bit demoralized. There’s absolutely no way I can hang with them now. Perhaps if I had paced myself more appropriately and started out with the group, maybe I’d have enough in my tank to be finishing with them. Oh well. It is what it is.
At Mile 24.5 I see Evan, my mom and my stepdad. My mom starts wildly cheering at me through a random guy’s megaphone thingie, Evan is holding his sign, and my stepdad is holding his sign upside down (Love it! I laughed on the inside. I also made fun of him after the race…). So awesome! Gave me a major boost.
Or maybe it was the 10-piece bucket of Original Recipe chicken from KFC that I snarfed down that gave me the boost.
I'm kidding about the chicken. Pretty sure a 10-piece at Mile 24 would have simultaneously given me a heart attack and ruptured bowels.
A couple of minutes later, I round a corner and see my sister, dad, and stepmom. My sister starts screaming at me and runs beside me in her flip flops for a while. My dad, who unfortunately got food poisoning the day prior, runs with me for about .5 miles until he has to stop because he thinks he might poop in his pants (*giggle*). Poor guy. He was planning to run the final 10K with me, but being on the toilet the entire previous night sort of squashed those plans. I do appreciate the .5 he put in, however, and I apologize to him for not doing anything but grunting and giving 1-word answers to his questions (“How are you doing?” “You feeling ok?”). I wasn’t much of a conversationalist as we approached the final mile marker.
I see the Mile 26 sign, and I take off. I need this to be over NOW. I’ve been keeping track of the time, and although I know it’s tight, I also know I can and will break 4 hours.
I round the corner with .2 to go and I cross the finish line with absolutely nothing left in the tank.
I make my call to Mike, and of course…. update my Facebook status.
(Stop rolling your eyes/making fun of me for that, Mike.)
I grab my medal and my banana, and I hobble away in search of chocolate milk and a place to lay down and DIE, er... I mean STRETCH.
And that’s all she wrote for #2.