That Time I Ran a Marathon

by Kim on May 23, 2012

The Madison Marathon is only 4 days away! I’m not actually running it (thank goodness…the predicted high for the day is 92!), but it makes me remember, with both longing and horror, the time I did run it. Much like this year, it was a hot day.

Nay, a freaking hot day.

I decided to copy and paste the recap of that race here (I grabbed it from my old blog), so that I can always look back and remember the joy, torture, thrill, pain, excitement, and trauma of that day. The recap is pretty short because, as I discovered, writing race recaps can be pretty boring. It’s like “I ran for awhile…and then I ran some more…AND THEN I ATE A GEL…and then I continued to run…” I was boring myself so much as I wrote this that I went into progressively less detail as I went along (you’ll see). So it’s really more of a light race summary than a race recap.

Now that you’re on the edge of your seat, allow me to completely change the subject. Guess who’s two months old. What??

Who needs necks?

Ok, sorry. Here’s the much-anticipated recap summary…

(Rewind to May, 2010)

I ran my first marathon ever on what was, thus far, the hottest day of the summer. Lucky me. The weak were taken out by heat stroke, the wise wore idiotic little water belts, and the naive just wondered if they were supposed to feel this dizzy, as they veered into trees. For every drop of water you took in, you sweated out two within 3 minutes. The math was devastatingly simple.

Here’s how it all went down.

They day before, I was a nervous wreck. Even at that point, 26.2 miles seemed unfathomable…I wasn’t sure if that was a bad sign. I distracted myself by hammering down carbs all day, like it was the day after I’d quit the Atkin’s diet. Nothing had too many calories.

Then, it was the night before. I planned to go to bed early, since I was getting up at 5:15 AM. And I did “go to bed” early. It was the sleeping part that alluded me. By 2 AM, I was confident the whole counting sheep idea was a complete hoax-when you’re trying to shut down your brain, why is it helpful to force yourself to recite numbers? That does take SOME brain power. Plus, you have to picture them jumping over your bed (which is a bit disconcerting in itself), and you might end up devoting extra brain juice to giving them different features and names…trust me, it’s a slippery slope, straight down into Wide Awake Land.

Anyway, I would have given anything to get as much sleep as I did the night before a) my first day of high school, b) the day I left for college, or c) my wedding. I’d even take the night I slept over at a friend’s house for the first time (that one was rough).

On the bright side, by the time 5:15 rolled around, I couldn’t WAIT to get out of that bed. I might have slept for two hours, tops.

I started to go through my typical long run routine: coffee, oatmeal, 2 Tylenol, stretching. To avoid waking anyone up, I ground the coffee beans in the bathroom with the door shut. I applied my bad ass American Cancer Society stick-on tats. I was ready.

Two hours later, I was at the starting line with hundreds of other crazy people, so nervous my hands were shaking. I had no idea what to expect, so to be safe, I anticipated the worst. (That I would trip, of course.)

Finally, the crowd started inching forward and my heart started to pound. I fumbled with my iPod to cue up Chariots of Fire, my send off song (dorky? yes).

The first twenty steps or so felt AWESOME. Well, ok, the first 10 miles were all pretty easy going. It was around 80 degrees but we were mostly running through a shaded forest. Every few minutes, a couple runners would bail to go relieve themselves in the woods.

Then, things started to get rough. It was seriously very, very hot. Miles 13-19 were completely shade-free, directly under the burning sun, along a stretch of unforgiving, black asphalt road. I was trying to keep pace with a pacemaker, and I watched myself go from striding easily ahead of him, to slightly behind him, to falling behind the next pacemaker, to way behind that pacemaker…and so on.

At mile 23, a cop came up to me on a bike and said these dooming words: “You know the race is canceled, right?”

Stunned, I slowed to a trot. “What?” I was clearly hallucinating. I must have been more dehydrated than I thought. I began to hyperventilate a little-I mean, all these months of grueling training, for nothing?

As it turns out, this cop was slightly misinformed. Technically, they stopped timing the race and recommended that we walk, due to the intense heat…and the fact that they had run out of ambulances and were no longer able to keep up with the heat strokes (no worries). But most of us forged on.

Miles 24 and 25 consisted of lots of sprinklers set up in the road, thanks to the fine cityfolk in the area who took pity on our poor, barely alive bodies. A few people delivered handfuls of ice to runners. There were lots of signs. So that was fun.

At mile 26.2, I quite anticlimactically coasted into the finish line. I barely even remember the moment I crossed it. By that point, I was already distracted thinking about removing my timing chip and turning it in to the right person, turning in the timing chip for the person who bailed out of the race halfway through and asked me to turn it in for them, collecting my medal, collecting some free chocolate milk (yess), and getting out of everyone’s way. I didn’t really feel the urge to collapse, puke, scream, or even sit down. I didn’t feel much. It was a weird, overwhelming, boring sense of “well…that’s done.”

Marathoner, whaaat?

Best of luck to everyone running this weekend!!

~Kim

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