This is Not a Race…Report

Race report. Well, a run that kind of turned into a race.

On Friday (October 28th! I’m way late with this) I left work early to go help with race registration and packet pick up for the next day’s marathon, 1/2, and 5k races. I was doing this to gain a free race entry into the marathon, though I was still unsure if I should even attempt it. I left from registration with a bib number folded up in my pocket and went immediately to the bar where I ordered a high gravity IPA. This pre-race decision was in an effort to convince myself I didn’t really care about 26.2 miles and probably shouldn’t even do it.

*Several* beers later, I fell into bed at my friend’s house. The alarm was set for 6am and when it went off, I hopped right out of bed and nearly toppled over. I was still slightly drunk. I began to get ready, and found myself moving on autopilot which meant I applied eyeliner to one eye before I realized that marathoning doesn’t usually require make-up. Oh well, eyeliner and a hangover. This was going to go great.

Stopped by Starbucks because the local joint wasn’t open yet and gulped down some too-hot coffee, knowing that I would later have that annoying skin peeling from the roof of my mouth. Parked, stuffed a few packets of Gu in my pocket and sportsbra, turned on my Garmin watch, and stared at my iPod.

Under normal circumstances I would NEVER wear headphones during a race. If I’m racing I need to be in the fucking race, not humming along to whatever ridiculous pop song is playing. This was not normal circumstances so I opted to wear the damned thing. I’m still a little bit ashamed of myself for it.

I timed it pretty well so that I got right to the start line as the pre-race announcements were being made. I never entertained doing a warm up, hoping that the coffee I’d drunk would be enough and the caffeine would lessen the hangover headache forming behind my eyes.

It was probably the least nervous I’ve ever been on the start line and as we got going, I firmly told myself THIS IS NOT A RACE. I was immediately mired in traffic but I didn’t care. I turned off my mind, only glancing at my watch to make sure I wasn’t burning any matches early on and thought about double fisting waters at the first few stops to hopefully make my head stop pounding. Maybe the beer was a bad idea. Just kidding. Beer is never a bad idea.

Then, I just ran. And ran. And ran. Not much happened. THIS IS NOT A RACE. Exchanged a few words with some of the other runners, made an inappropriate comment about bananas to one of the dozen or so cyclists that were on course, and took a potty break somewhere around mile 18. That break kind of threw me off, but my bladder was insistent.

I tried to get back into my rhythm but my right hip felt a bit off. I felt myself slowing down and finally stopped at the 23 (or maybe 22?) mile mark to stretch. An older man ran by and I decided to fall in behind him so that he would hopefully drag me through the last miles. I was kind of worried that my body was failing me. I hadn’t exactly prepared so well for this.

My leg hurt. I was slowing down. I was about to quit. And then I got intensely annoyed with myself. I wasn’t injured, just dealing with the natural breakdown that I know occurs during a marathon. My already low stride had become little more than an old lady shuffle so I experimented with opening up my stride and picking up the pace. THIS IS NOT A RACE, but I really didn’t want to drop out of this damned thing and if I was already hurting then I figured I may as well hurt a little more. I was also getting bored.

So I went faster. I decided that after a college career of suffering through 5k races where I constantly lamented my lack of speed, I could surely suffer through one more 5k. I allowed myself to race those last 3ish miles. Although I didn’t go crazy fast, I did drop my pace by nearly a minute per mile and at the end of a marathon where people are falling apart, it seemed like I was damn near sprinting. I was catching people like crazy. It was fun, even though I kind of felt like a jerk.

At some point, the cyclist that I’d made jokes to earlier rode up to me. After asking me what I was doing since I was going significantly faster than anyone else around, (“Finishing. I’m bored of running.”) he rode the rest of the way beside me, encouraging my pace and cackling like a mad person when we would startle a pack of people but drop them before they knew what happened. I looked for my new cheerleader after I turned into the baseball stadium and finished but I never saw him again. *Thanks man, your good karma surely skyrocketed after helping me finish*

Then, the worst part of the whole thing occurred. STAIRS. Because we finished on the infield of Greenville Drive’s baseball stadium, the only way to get out was by climbing an Everest-like set of stairs. I nearly cried.

But it was over. I went back to my friend’s house, and hopped in the shower. I was just kidding about the stairs being the worst part. OHMYGODTHESHOWER. Apparently those two Gu packs I’d stuffed into my sports bra had rubbed some skin totally raw. Yes I know that was a gross image, but holy crap when the water hit me, I forgot how bad my calves felt and actually did shed a tear. My legs were crazy feeling, making a nap impossible so I got up, got pretty, and went to a Halloween party.

I guess now I can say I’m a marathoner.

Results are at http://go-greenevents.com/resultsdetail/id/229

I got second in my age group and I think 12th female overall in 3:44ish. The competitor part of me is PISSED about that, but the part of me that was hungover and had barely even convinced myself to start the darn thing is just happy that I finished.

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