Just before the run I tweeted that I was about to embark on the physical trial of my life, man, was THAT an accurate statement!
Before that, though, was the entirely unnecessary drama brought about by my being so easily distracted and terrible with details. I forgot to go to the expo the day before the race to pick up my race bib and timing chip! Oh my goodness. They said on the document I had from them that race bibs were not handed out on race day. I remembered two hours after the expo closed with a sudden breaking out in sweat and a deep groan.
I decided to drive to Mandalay Bay's convention center in hopes some poor clerk was assigned the job to take care of mindless people like me. I was greatly relieved to find a sign posted on the closed doors that I could pick it up at 4:15 am at the Solutions tent.
So, my best friend Mark cooked me up a spaghetti dinner for my pre race dinner of carbs. I went to bed early and got up at 230 am drove to the Strip and after an illegal running of the barricades, a feat I seem to do every major race, and driving over a median I parked two casinos down at the Excalibur and made it to the Solutions tent at precisely 4:15, bravo!
Since it was quite cold at 34 F, I went inside the Four Seasons hotel which shares the parking lot with Mandalay Bay and warmed up in this lovely room with a couple other runners from Seattle, Vegas and Australia. The Christmas decorations did my soul good.
Then I went to the Rockin Runners tent to meet up with my running partners. We were planning on being together for the first 11 miles before I split off for the full as they were doing the half. The cold began to seep in but I did escape the point of shivering with my 3 layers of clothing (actually 5, but who's counting).
We were in corral 24 and I was surprised to have to wait for 45 minutes after the gun went off for us to get to the Starting line. But at 7 am, we were off!
I had to run across the street at about mile 4 to catch a porta potty, one of the drawbacks of drinking coffee (but well worth the performance enhancing boost) and was supposed to meet Dee and her daughter Megan at the next light. They reported they waited 8 minutes for me but I saw neither hide nor hair of them and must have passed them right by for they caught up with me at mile 8 when I was in yet another line for a porta potty. I waved them on and discovered inside that I was chafing and bleeding quite a bit- an alarming sight! But a few miles later I discovered how to stop that nasty little problem, for the most part.
Now, this is where my real trouble started. At mile 11 the top of my left foot started hurting for no real reason. I didn't trip or turn it or anything. I thought my laces were too tight and stopped to loosen them but they were not tight at all. A mile and a half later I started walking hoping it would improve. The first slow jaunt I did seemed to be better, but it soon worsened. Just then, I met with Diane from my running team who does a lot of walking. So I decided to join her.
We ended up walking the next 13 miles together. For the first half of that my foot worsened and the sickening realization gripped me, I was injured and it may not go away. I found out the hard way that walking 13 miles in the cold air with a sore foot can get quite painful even if you have recently run 18 miles with little pain.
I was very grateful that I had someone with me and I told Diane so and she replied she felt the same way. With such a damnably long distance ahead of us we both knew discouragement may have caused us to do the unthinkable.
I thought our walking pace was just fine since the cutoff was at the 17 minute per mile pace but we must have not been walking what I estimated to be a 15 minute per mile pace because the race official's car that signified the cutoff was gaining on us. We decided to run. For the last few miles of walking the foot pain seemed to lessen and I was shamefully thinking I was continuing to walk for mere reason of convenience and laziness, you know, going too easy on myself.
The first two quarter mile runs we did actually felt better than the worn out walking pain I was experiencing. Poor Diana, though, aside from her aching muscles that initially forced her to walk so much, she was now experiencing her blisters getting raw. They were quite slow runs, I must admit. And when we did the third and fourth jaunts my foot pain which had transferred to my ankle flared up. I thought I'd have to walk the rest of the way for fear of having a total ankle blowout.
Then James, the organizer of our training team appeared on a corner, he was waiting for his last two runners. He tried relacing my left shoe but the pain did not abate whatsoever. Dianne kept walking and was 40 yards ahead of me. Then the ominous pace car was RIGHT behind me, telling us he was the official car for the cutoff. For the next mile and a half he was in my peripheral vision, a mere couple feet behind me, and I forced my hurting ankle to speed up for fear he would pass me and I would be a DNF, Did Not Finish.
I caught up with Dianne and together we pressed on to about 24.5 miles. By this time I had a slight limp. By mile 25 we passed a couple and I was slightly relieved, but then they passed us back. Ugh, I was thinking if I was lucky enough to finish I would be the Very Last Runner, sheesh!
Then for the last half mile James convinced us to run it in. But I could only go half the speed Dianne was able to muster cuz of the pain. So, I ran with a limp and very slowly passed up about 5 walkers, there was this lovely group of young cheerleaders whooping and cheering and doing back flips for us. I was grateful that they stuck it out for so long a time.
Then came the blessed 26th mile! Only .2 to go and I hoped fervently that I wouldn't have an ankle blowout. The Finish line loomed ahead of me and I beared down trying to go as fast as the pain would allow. I crossed it finally at almost exactly 7 hours and this big burly guy put the quite lovely marathon medal around my neck. A few feet later this cute young gal tied the space blanket around my neck and was so enthusiastically saying how I deserved it that I got choked up thinking about what I had just accomplished. I was a marathon man....
Monday, December 7, 2009