I don’t regret much in life, but one thing I wish I had done, was document the race recaps for all of the marathons I have run to date, as I have had quite the interesting marathon journey. I am hoping to do some reflection on how far I have come in my marathon quest, in multiple installments, in the days leading up to the biggest race of my life.
Marathon #1: 2004 Columbus Marathon: 4:25:27
This was my very first stab at the 26.2 distance. The summer prior to the race I was a counselor at a magical little respite for children called Camp Nuhop. During that summer I became friends with one of my roommates, Liz. Miss Liz was training for her first marathon attempt and we went on many a distance run that summer. I owe it to my beloved sport, for helping me form a lifelong friendship with such a phenomenal human being. This gem of a new friend was the final push I needed to quit my collegiate cross-country team, and focus my efforts on another goal. Many other factors went into this big decision, but the largest contributing factor was that my father’s cancer came back, and his health took a turn for the worse just weeks before I was to report to team camp. I decided that I couldn’t commit myself to a team, when my family needed me, and I needed them. My parents didn’t want me to come home every weekend, they wanted me to focus on my studies, and try to have as normal of a college experience despite our worst fears coming true. During this incredibly challenging and confusing time in my life, I didn’t dare turn my back on running. I wanted to do something bigger, accomplish something else, and maybe even make my parents, especially my dad, extra proud of me. I wanted to turn my anger and sadness into something positive and I wanted to dream big again.
After deciding to register for the Columbus Marathon, Liz and I made grand plans to pace each other, and get to the finish line before the 3:40 mark so that we could run the 2008 Boston Marathon together.
Training went well. I ran 7 days a week, I never practiced with GU. I never carried hydration with me. Sometimes I would run 10 miles, come back to my house, eat a nutri-grain bar, swig some water, and then run 10 more miles. Lord I was clueless, but I thought I was being a total rock star.
As the months went by and the seasons changed, race day was sneaking up on us. The week prior to the race, it was confirmed that my dad was too ill and weak to travel the distance to the race, so my parents would not be in attendance. I was sad, but I understood. Then lucky me came down with a respiratory infection and an ear infection. Awesome. Despite these less than stellar circumstances, I didn’t let it get me down.
My sister Autumn and her husband graciously hosted me for the weekend, and were my support crew. I remember only packing shorts and a tank top, and the weather ended up be rather cold that morning. At the last-minute I borrowed a track jacket from my sister, and a hat and gloves from my BIL. I wore cotton socks, the shoes that I had trained in for 3 months, and definitely didn’t use any body glide, I had never even heard of the stuff. Ouch.
The plan was that my BIL was going to run the race too, a marathon veteran in his own right, and my sister was going to ride her bicycle around to various points to cheer for me and take photos for my parents. When we arrived at the race, my sister realized she had a flat tire! I still stayed positive.
I finally found Liz with a few minutes before the starting gun fired, and we were off! The adrenaline rush that ensued, I will never forget. Sure, I’ve been pumped up about running and racing virtually my entire life. But this was a whole other level! I fear I will never be able to adequately describe all the feelings and emotions that are sparked by marathon, especially the start.
Liz and I went out conservatively, and by mile 3 I had to pee. Like REALLY couldn’t hold it, there were not porta johns in sight! I assured Liz to keep running and I would catch back up with her in a few miles or so. I veered off to the right and popped a squat behind some bushes. I seriously think it lasted a solid minute, then I was back on the course, in search of my friend in her bright orange shirt. I made a mega mistake. Feeling about 10 pounds lighter, and still flying high off of the race start adrenaline, I ended up catching back up with Liz in seriously like 2 minutes. We hung together for some time, but by the half-way point I started cramping up badly, and told Liz to just go on without me. She resisted at first, but I insisted. One of us had to BQ, and it wasn’t going to be me.
My memory fades in and out from this point on, I was seriously in survival mode. I do know that around mile 18, I totally hit the wall and that’s where my memory fades completely until the very end. I recall crossing the finish line, feeling like death, and chaffed and bleeding in spots I’d rather not discuss. I eventually found my support crew, and we walked what felt like 10 miles back to the car! I don’t recollect the car ride back to said support crew’s home, but I will never forget the pain the water stream from the shower head caused on my wounded physique. I may have even shed a tear or 100.
After my shower, I ate, and took a nap on the couch. After my sweet slumber, I awoke to a television special about John Denver on TV and watched it for a bit before pulling myself up by my bootstraps so I could drive back to school. Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy.
When I arrived back campus, my 6 housemates were super pumped. They hung my space blanket on the wall with duct tape of course , and insisted we have a party very soon. Like we needed an excuse to blare O.A.R., Dave Matthews Band and Bob Marley tunes, make jello shots, mix-up a trash can full of harry buffalo and stock up on as much keystone light as we could afford.
Roomie love on homecoming weekend with our classy space blanket art
The following week I was horribly sore, but satisfied with my accomplishment. My time wasn’t as fast as I hoped, but that was okay. I seriously thought it was one of the craziest and maybe even most unintelligent things I ever did, and figured I probably would never run another marathon. I mean who in their right mind would purposefully do that to themselves again?
Oh how wrong was I…
PS. Liz did indeed score her BQ on her first try, and has run Boston every year since. Baller status.