After recovering a long battle with IT Band Syndrome, and getting back out on the roads, I began to rebuild my base mileage, as well as piece back together my confidence. Turns out even though I didn’t run for an entire year, my cross-training prowess proved to be effective, and kept my ticker and lungs rather fit. By January of 2010, I was ready to resume marathon training. I chose a spring race this time around, as I couldn’t bear to watch another year tick by before I raced another fall marathon. Just so happens, there was a race in central Ohio, that started and finished on the campus of Kenyon College, one of my favorite places in the universe. I booked a room for the night before the race at the quaint Kenyon Inn, a mere half mile from the start. Also, once again I recruited quite the support crew. This time around not only did my mother and husband come to my race, but my brother, one of my sisters, my mother-in-law, as well as my friends Amy and Nate. I felt so blessed and loved on race morning.
Marathon #6: 2010 Earth Day Challenge Marathon: 4:10:11
Race morning I was up and at ‘em at 4:45am and took my breakfast into the lobby of the Inn. I have to eat my breakfast 3 hours before the start gun blows, or I end up with crazy tummy issues. At this hour, it was just me and one of the Inn Keepers, chatting about the weather, sports, etc. until he finally asked what I was doing up so early. I told him I was running in the race that morning. He asked me how far a marathon was and I told him 26.2 miles. The look on this guy’s face was priceless, all he could utter in terms of a response was ‘Why are you running that far?!’ I just shrugged and said ‘Because I love it’. With that he disappeared, and I thought I ruined my chances of making a new friend. Just so happens, he reemerged a few minutes later with a platter of fresh-baked goods, and a little table tent that read “Muffins are for the Marathon Runners”.
Honestly, how sweet of a gesture! I didn’t have the heart to tell my new friend that I was a complete weirdo when it came to my food preferences, and that I can only eat a banana, spoonful of peanut butter, and toast on race morning. So I grabbed one for the road and thanked him for the treat and company. I thought at the very least my mother would like some breakfast too.
Before I knew it, it was time to head to the start! The race started and finished on the collegiate track, so we had access to the saweeeeet field house, actual toilets with running water and sinks with soap! I wasn’t used to this first-class treatment! As the minutes ticked by, I bumped into some folks I knew from the area, as I grew up not far from campus. I also spent many of my formative years playing volleyball, basketball and running in the old field house that was wiped out to make way for the new multi-million dollar facility. How could today not be my day, really?
As the morning progressed, my support crew arrived one by one, and the excitement grew with each greeting. Then it was time to race. The first half of the course went well, as I was on pace for a 3:30 finish, if I could hold onto the speed. However, I needed Mother Nature to be on my side to see this goal to fruition. The sun was warming up everything around us, and the humidity was rising. Not good, I knew it was coming, but I tried to ignore it. At the exact 13.1 mile point, I had to stop and use the facilities, and as soon as I positioned myself in the port-a-john, my legs began to cramp up. Ugh! Why did I stop?! I should have just peed down my leg!!!!
As soon as I finished my business, I exploded out the door and I stole a high-five and some GU from the hubs who was strategically placed at this mile post. I tried to pick my speed back up to where it was prior to my pit stop, but my legs were not listening. Oh, it was miserable, and that my friends is when I spiraled out of control and began a mere shuffle for the last half of the race. I tried to keep my spirits high, but I was pissed off. No other word to describe it. I worked so hard to get so close once again, only to have my inability to race in warmer weather conditions derail my performance. It did comfort me to know that others around me were struggling and had no idea how hot and humid it would end up being. Misery truly does love company.
Around mile 22 or so Amy and Nate came to my rescue. They asked if I wanted to drop out or keep running and I said I was going to finish, no matter what, I wasn’t injured, it was the heat and humidity that sucked the life out of me once again. They gave me some cold Gatorade and some salt tablets and jogged a little bit with me, feeding me words of encouragement. I blurted out that I wanted to try again at the Cleveland Marathon, just three weeks away. At first they were taken aback I believe, but they totally ate it up and encouraged me. Being runners themselves, they can completely relate to how I was feeling, and they believed in me, they knew I had a faster marathon time in me somewhere. They agreed to come cheer me on and help me in my quest for a BQ in the CLE. I seriously have the best friends.
As I eventually got back to the track, and finished the race, I found my mom, and soaked us both yet again in a puddle of my own tears. Gosh, when did I become such a sap?!
After composing myself, I refueled and shared my plans for the Cleveland Marathon with my support crew. You could have heard a pin drop, I think everything chalked it up to me being dehydrated and exhausted, and just let me talk out of my head. They just didn’t know how serious I was…