Hail my running brothers and sisters! I’ve had a day to think about this race, which will now be known in my mind as the “The-Race-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named” and I have this to say…wait…did you hear that? That gigantic sucking sound! It must have been the sound of either the thunder and the police diverting the marathon mile 22 or my groans of pain as my body seized up into a giant cramp at mile 18.
First let’s say that I am glad for a couple of reasons that the race director decided to cut the marathon short as the storms rolled in. We were lucky in that we had pretty decent weather for the first 3 and half hours, but then the clouds came followed by rain, strong winds, thunder, lightening and then almost hail-like rain. There were tornado watches all over middle Tennessee later in the afternoon, so I think that the race director had no choice. The part of the course that was cut off ran along the river, through a park, around a small lake/large pond with trees lining the course. If that isn’t begging for a lightening strike, I don’t know what is. Did it suck not to finish? Yes, but the safety of runners, and myself particularly, have to take precedence.
The other reason that I was glad that they diverted us was that I just wasn’t sure if I would have been able to make it. Like I said, the day started off fairly well, weather-wise. A bit cloudy and warm, but still pleasant. Unknown to me, the race director decided to start the race 15 minutes early (I assume to get ahead of the weather), but I was already in my corral and ready to go. As I took off, I felt strong, and my pace seemed pretty easy. I did notice that at mile 2, I started to get hot. Really hot. I ended up grabbing some water the next stop and splashing myself more with water than drinking it. Despite the weather predictions, a fair crowd of supporters came out to cheer the runners on, and that was awesome. I high-fived kids, waved to bands, and said thanks to volunteers. I saw several friends along the course, and their cheers kept me going.
As I’ve said before, I was going out chasing that elusive BQ. While I knew it wasn’t realistic, I intended to chase it (And for the record, every time I line up in a certified marathon, I’m chasing that BQ until I get that damn thing). My pace for the first half was strong. I was just shy of a BQ qualifier by a few seconds until I stopped at mile 7 and 13 to “relieve” myself. At mile 11, I felt the grumblings of a cramp in my left calf, but I managed to run through it, though my pace did drop. Unfortunately for me, the cramps continued to nag me till mile 15 and I could no longer deny situation. Both my legs were cramping from thighs to my toes. I could barely walk. And when I saw the 3:30 pacer pass me, I was crushed. Crushed. I tried to stay with the group for half a mile, but I had to give up on that when my legs wouldn’t cooperate. At some point around mile 17, I was passed by guy juggling tennis balls. If I had the strength, I would have reached out and punched him in the back of the head. I still managed to feebly thank volunteers and high-five kids (they came out for us. Give them some props, after all). By mile 18, I saw a fellow running buddy pass by me. I said hey and we both belly-ached over how we had blown the race, but we were gonna finish it. Seeing that he still had more juice in him, I urged him on and continued in my pain. At mile 20, I saw my family and ran over to kiss and hug them. I told them I was hurting, but I was finishing the race. At mile 21, my friend, TK found me and started pacing me despite having just finished the half-marathon herself (2:09:23 PR! Awesome job!). Between seeing my family and her act of kindness, I managed to dig deep and keep moving. At mile 21.5, the police had blocked off the next 4 miles of the course and directed us to the finish. I was disappointed and relieved all at the same time. Many of the runners around me were complaining that they should have been allowed to finish, because they felt great. Had I the strength, I would have told them that they should have run faster if they felt so damn good and then they may not have been diverted! With less than a mile into the finish, I told TK that I was gonna burn it all and finish strong. She told me to go for it, and I “took” off. I crossed the finish line just in time to be caught in a downpour.
Final thoughts. I’m disappointed in my performance. I wasn’t tough/strong/fast enough, but I will be next time. Next time, I will be better prepared, and even if I don’t get that BQ, I won’t be writing another blog about my epic failure (and for those who were wondering, to quote The Blindside, it tastes like vinegar). I may not have finished the way I wanted, but I wasn’t quitting (even though I really wanted to quit especially when my legs seized up at a couple points). A special congratulations to my friends who raced the half or full: TK, Matty, Mia, Bill, Jeff, Julia, Stacey, and Jim. A heartfelt thanks to the city of Nashville, the volunteers and supporters who made the experience great despite my performance. A special thanks to my friends (practically family): the Barts, the Trocchis, the Lights, and the Knights/Demosses. Finally, I can’t thank my own family enough for coming out to support their insane father/husband who doesn’t know any better than to come out of the rain. Their love and support have kept me motivated when my own stubbornness has waivered. I could not have done any of this without their love and patience.
Okay now for the hard numbers: 7:34, 7:34, 7:49, 7:42, 7:48, 7:28, 8:07, 7:43, 7:34, 7:36, 7:40, 8:16, 8:27, 8:59, 9:32, 9:00, 10:23, 13:05, 16:18, 16:39, 12:42, 10:28, and 8:02/mile.
Some days, you beat the marathon. Some days, it beats you. Twice. Mercilessly. With a large, spiked club. And then spits on you. Later kids!