Apprehension. Now there's a feeling I haven't had at a marathon in a while.
Since my fall Tuesday night, I'd spent two days cursing, hobbling and ironing. Finally on Friday I could walk pain-free but my butt was still quite sore. I decided it was best for me not to try running at all until race day. Why am I doing this silly 50 states marathon quest again???
Oh yeah, I thought it'd be fun to travel and run marathons.
But there was no backing out. Dave was coming with me to the Delaware Marathon since he had to be in DC the following week anyway. The weather forecast was pretty good: party cloudy, 58 degs at the 7am start, high 60's later in the morning. I'd even been assigned bib number 77, which had to mean I was going to have good luck, right? Right??
Still, I had no idea what to expect. I'd never gone into a marathon not knowing whether I could run. OTOH, I knew adrenaline was a powerful pain killer. Here I am at the start doped up on a couple Tylenol 8-hours hoping for the best. Funny, I just realized I'm standing in front of some medical cots, things I was hoping not to see during my race.
For a smaller race (600 marathoners, 700 half marathoners, 200 relay teams), this race was very well organized with an attractive start/finish area (I like balloon arches). They also offered nice cash prizes to the top-3 open and top-2 masters winners, not that I was thinking I'd win anything.
50 yards into the race, my Achilles felt tight but my butt seemed to be OK. I was running and trying to stay positive. Woohoo, only 26 miles and 335 yards left!
The first couple miles we snaked along the scenic, flat Wilmington riverfront. This photo is actually from the race website as Dave had gone back to the hotel after the start of the race to get his free breakfast. Priorities!
Later, though, there were some hills and we'd see them twice since this was a double loop course. After mile 6 is where things started falling apart.
Because climbing hills requires using your butt and my left butt was broken (not really, but definitely not working right). To get up them, I had to use a lot of right hip flexor and my left calf so now they were complaining too. Hey, give us a break! We're not used to working so hard on hills. That's the butt's job. Yeah, not in our contract. We're going on strike. Blah-blah-blah.
Miles 6-10.5 seemed to take fooooooor-eeeeeeeeev-eeeeeeer and take a lot out of me. Not good!
Dave had his bike and was riding around on the course. He found me at mile 11, just in time to see my grimacing turn to relief as we headed back downhill.
But a little hill at mile 12 nearly locks my butt and legs up so I accepted Dave's offer to go back to the hotel and get more dope (Tylenol 8-hour) to hopefully get me through the race.
Back on the flat riverfront section was easier but I'm now just hanging on and only just over halfway done. It was the second worst I'd ever felt midway through a marathon (the worst being at the 2007 Olathe Marathon where I had major GI issues).
Dave is waiting for me at mile 15 with a baggie. I greedily grabbed it from him but dropped one and then another pill on the ground before I could get them into my mouth. ARRGGHHH! Now my hands aren't working!?!
Luckily, there are 5 or 6 pills in the bag. I saw Dave again a little while later and handed him the bag back with only one pill left. I swear I took only 2, though! (Technically, I know it is cheating to receive outside help during a race but I was past the point of caring.)
But unlike morphine or heroin, there's no immediate relief. I trudged on for a while dreading those hills and told Dave he should just go for a ride elsewhere and leave me to wallow in self pity. He refused. Perhaps he thought I took all the pills missing from the bag and would collapse any moment? I do look pretty awful in the above photo.
But then around mile 17, the drug starts kicking in! We're now back in Brandywine Park which had plenty of shade and the spring has begun to return to my step.
There are cute llamas in a zoo that I didn't see before on the first loop.
A pretty wooden foot bridge that I do remember from before but enjoy much more the second time (I've already passed the bridge so I'm not in the photo).
Nice river views.
And a wonderfully shaded bike path.
By the time I got to mile 19 where the hills began again, I was warmed up and ready to start racing!
Wow, what a difference. This time the miles seemed to fly by and the hills were no problem.
My high continued all the way to the finish. I didn't count the number of folks I passed after mile 20 at this race as there were so many relay runners passing me and distracting me (again, something like 200 teams!). But I know three people not wearing "Relay" on their backs passed me the last quarter mile, including one woman who happened to be in my age group. Oh well!
At least I finished and stayed out of the medical tent. Here are my splits for anyone interested:
First 5.2 mi (flat) in 44:46, 8:36 pace.
Next 13 mi (hills and flats) in 1:59:49, 9:13 pace.
Last 8 mi (mostly hills) in 1:08:39, 8:34 pace.
My watch splits (surprisingly even paced halfs):
1st half 1:56:11, 8:52 pace.
2nd half 1:57:02, 8:56 pace.
Final race time:
3:53:13 (8:54 pace), 4/29 F45-49, 39/212 Females.
Thanks to Dave for all the photos and support. No doubt it would have been much uglier if I'd gone to this race alone.
Now, time to see what all you bloggy friends have been up to. Thanks for your kind words of encouragement and for reading!