Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The good news is I didn't shit my pants in public

Yep. I did it. I ran the Philadelphia Marathon and I hit my goal time down to the second. And because I know you were all waiting with bated breath: I didn't shit my pants in public.

But that Wall? The one that every runner has heard about and I'm willing to bet not very many have actually experienced? That one? The one that makes you wish for death because surely death would be better than the pain that you're going through at that moment? When you seriously consider stopping, curling up on the pavement and letting all the other runners trample you like Mufasa in the wildebeest stampede that scarred your delicate childhood? When you begin to question just about every life decision that has landed you in your current predicament? When your conversation turns to grunts and you have no idea how to will one foot in front of the other? Well I hit that wall head on. Twice. And jeebus Christmas on a telephone pole it was no picnic in the park.

Now I'm sure nothing bores non-runners more than a runner talking about running, but because I'm still riding the tail end of the wave of that post-marathon high, I'm going to talk about it anyway. So sit on it. But for everyone's sake (myself included, because in case you forgot, it's post-marathon week and I haven't had a drop of wine in like, a week and a half, so I have a lot of catching up to do) I'll be succinct.

I ran. A lot. It was a beautiful day in Philadelphia and perfect running weather. I went out feeling great; hit my stride around the first mile and felt strong. Somewhere around mile five though, I started to feel a twinge of sharp pain behind my knee. At first I thought I took an awkward step, but after a few more strides, it wouldn't go away. OH HELL NO. Now, I managed to make it through almost four months of training -- and not just your mamby pamby jogging either; I'm talking every day I was out of my bed at 4:30 a.m. to log some miles before work; my weekends revolved around my long runs FOR MONTHS -- without feeling a twinge of injury pain. Not a twinge. And suddenly, five miles into my marathon, there's stabbing pain in my knee? It's like the god of running was all, Oh you thought you were going to prance on in here and have FUN? HA-HA you stupid, stupid girl. KABLAM! You shall feel my pain! Job well done, someone get me a Coke. Son of a bitch.

Of course I kept going, and I managed to maintain my pace for another ten miles. Then around mile 16 it hit me. Or rather, I hit it: The Wall. The pain was now shooting from my hip down to the bottom of my knee. My gait shortened. My feet felt like they were shuffling. My pace slowed by minutes and if it weren't for my running buddy Jordan, I might have just curled up on the sticky curb and let the wave of used Gatorade cups and the sickly sweet stench of failure and despair wash over me. But with Jordan's constant encouragement, I powered on.

After a few miles of death and despair, largely spent longingly watching the spectators holding their cups of beer and shaking their cowbells and taunting me with their smiles and cheers of encouragement while I slipped deeper into a spiral of hate and self-doubt, I found a second wind. That beautiful, sacred second wind. And for a few blessed miles I glided. I'm going to do this! I'm going to hit my goal! I might even break it! The rest of the way will be easy! I am the golden god of running! My spirits buoyed and I felt on top of the world. And then as suddenly as it came, it left me in the dust. At mile 24 I hit it again: that motherflipping Wall.

I'm not going to do it. My legs are lead. I need amputation. I welcome death. I am NEVER doing this again. And that's when Jordan's gentle coaxes of encouragement got mean. No we will NOT slow down the pace now. We have come TOO FAR to not hit that goal now. We are GOING to cross that finish line strong. Finish strong? I just wanted to finish without vomit all over my chest. Jordan picked up the pace and I stayed with him. One by one we picked off runners ahead of us. Step by step I made it closer to the finish line. With one mile to go we were back to my original pace. By mile 26 we were damn near sprinting. My thoughts became hysterical. The pain had evaporated. The faces and screams of friends, family, and strangers blurred into one giant blob of adrenaline. My legs were pumping faster than I thought possible. The finish line ... I could see her. I looked at my watch. I had less than a minute to cross the finish line at my goal time. I wasn't going to make it. And then ... I did.

I made it. I crossed the finish line at my goal time of 3:45:35. A whole 25 seconds to spare.

And even though by mile 25 I was vowing never to put myself through that traumatic experience again, now I totally have to do it again next year so I can hit my NEW goal of 3:40. Imagine what I could do if I could just stay injury free for the whole run! I could do it!

Thank you to everyone who supported me. Thank you to those who donated to Back on My Feet (which, by the way, you can still do); to those who came out to cheer me on; to those who sent messages of Good Luck and Congratulations. You guys are awesome. When I wasn't thinking about death and failure on the marathon course, I was thinking about you. Especially you assholes who told me you'd be binge drinking while I was running. Fuck all ya'lls.

And now it's Tuesday, I'm walking like a 88-year-old arthritic with a pole up my ass and my worst enemy is the stairs. The good news is I only have two days of massaging my legs under my desk before I can get belligerently drunk on red wine, cry into my candied sweet potatoes because I miss my family and eat myself into a coma. Turkey Day, here I come! WOO!


Becky Mochaface said...

Congratulations. Running a marathon is something I have zero interest in ever doing but I applaud those who take on the challenge because it is a sonofabitch. So, good job, my friend. Good job.

rory said...

Sub 4???
Way to fucking go. You are frickin' amazing.


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