Before I even discuss my whole marathon experience, I feel inclined to let you guys know that I have barely left my bed for the entire day today. I woke up in the hotel this morning, ate breakfast, packed up the car, let My Gazelle drive us home, arrived home and got immediately back in bed. I haven't left since.
Well, that's a lie.
I got up to make a sandwich.
Because food is really important to me.
I am worthless today.
It's kind of because I ran 26.2 consecutive miles yesterday. On a body that was already angry with me. It wasn't that I was trying to batter my body even further, I just knew that I had to complete this marathon (one way or another), because I was positive that I would never attempt another. The training process was just too much for my body, and there was no way that I was going to put myself through it again.
I began the day very positive.
Prepared. Ready. Excited.
My plan yesterday morning was to begin the race very slowly.
My friend James, who I did a training run with ages ago, decided to start the race with me at a pace that was painfully slow for him and his own wonky knees. It was so nice of him to start with me, but when the pain in my fibular head surfaced around the 5th mile, I knew that my time with James was short-lived.
I was feeling guilt-ridden because I didn't want to hold James up, and I knew that he was battling with himself on whether to leave me or stick around. I knew he didn't want to leave me behind to suffer alone.
It was sort of like we were stranded at sea. He didn't want to leave his friend there to get eaten by sharks, but he had to save himself.
At mile 10, I told James to feed me to the sharks. It was just time to let a sista go.
I was almost thankful. I didn't want him to be held back, and I also felt like an injured animal. I wanted to suffer in silence.
I haven't felt motivated or even interested in doing a full analysis of when exactly everything started going downhill fast, but I think it was around mile 12. I could only stop and adjust my Cho-Pat strap so many times before accepting the fact that the pain was there to stay. Wogging was the only option at that point.
For the next 8 miles, I walked 1/4 mile and jogged 1/4 mile.
Those were 8 really long miles.
But not nearly as long as the 6 miles that I completely walked at the end.
I kept trying to jog, but it was not happening.
At mile 21, I came upon a race photographer, and I actually covered my face and bib number as if I was part of the witness protection program. To say that I had come to terms with the fact that I had crashed and burned during the race would be a lie.
However, I wasn't quitting.
Oh, I WANTED to quit, but I was lost. Baltimore is not exactly the safest city. The race course is really sketchy. I'm still not sure why the course takes you through every ghetto in the city.
Or why the race officials didn't consider cleaning the dead rat carcasses off of the road before the race.
I guess I had time to ponder these and other mind-boggling things while I was walking. It was very lonely out there as a marathon walker.
The race volunteers were literally packing up the tables. It felt like I was walking through a carnival after closing time.
It was kind of depressing, but I had other things to worry about. After mile 20, I honestly had a difficult time focusing on anything other than the unbearable pain in my extremities.
My lower back.
My knee. My knee. My knee.
Oh, my knee!
To say that the last 6 miles in particular were complete and utter torture would be the understatement of the century.
When I hit the mile 25 marker, I looked at my Garmin, and it said "25.12". I knew that when my Garmin said "26.32", this nightmare would be over.
For the next 15 minutes, my life revolved around arriving at "26.32" on my Garmin. I continued walking until I got to 25.80, and then I hobble-jogged the remainder.
The race ends inside Camden Yards (the Orioles baseball field), and there is a long brick corridor leading up to the finish line. All of the finishers exit The Celebration Village to the left side of said brick corridor. All of the finishers were cheering me on, and one lady yelled to me "YOU'RE ALMOST FINISHED! YOU'RE A MARATHONER NOW!!!"
And I cried like a girl. I'm getting all choked up just typing this.
Such a girl.
Then, the announcer said my name, and I cheered for myself.
I had no idea where anyone was, but apparently my sneaky Gazelle captured me crossing the finish line.
And then, I searched for my peeps.
Finish lines are lonely when you're a walker.
S'cuse me, Mister...do you know where my family is?
Eventually I found them (with no help from Mr. Tux), and I was able to look at the pix of my Sista's finish.
She was mad.
Not because she had a crappy time (around 4:30), but because she hated every moment of her marathon experience. She said that the whole thing was less about fun, and more about survival.
And she really didn't enjoy sidestepping all of the rat carcasses.
Maybe you thought I was joking.
I'll never do another full marathon again--one was enough. I have gained a lot of respect for people who consistently abuse their bodies with long-distance runs. My body is just not equipped for a repeat experience.
I'll be sticking with half marathon distances or less.
I'm looking forward to moving on to my next fitness project. I'm sure that I'll have challenges along the way, but I hope that this is my last race that includes dead rats.
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