I went home from the party battered and bruised. I yanked off the band-aids (actually, I had to have Amy do it because I couldn't inflict the hair-pulling pain on myself) and applied Neosporin, but the band-aids were so painful coming off that I didn't want to put on more. As a result, my exposed wounds were incredibly tender and itchy, that trying to sleep last night was difficult.
I probably only slept four hours--if that. I was miserable upon waking up. I tried to sleep a little later just to get in a few more z's. I was dizzy and nauseous, two less-common but acceptable symptoms of sleep deprivation. Thankfully I had laid out everything the night before, so not much thought was required in getting out the door. I found a place to park with only moderate difficulty. Made it through the bathroom line with just enough time to get to the start line. Saw a few friends. My buddy Brandon and I decided to start together. He's a triathlete and running is his weakest event, and he was only shooting for 2h30m. I was aiming for 1h50m, and he was okay trying to stick with me for awhile. He's in much better shape than I am overall, and he normally runs faster than I anyway, so I figured he'd be able to do it. Heidi had come out to cheer for me and our Bible study leader Sandy, so we saw her for the first time near the end of mile 2. Brandon and I stayed together for a little over 2 miles before he veered off for the portable bathrooms along the course.
One odd thing about this race is that there were no mile marker signs. If not for my Garmin watch, I wouldn't have know how far along I was on the course. I'm not sure if it was a good or bad thing to not have signage.
We had started behind the 1:50 pacer (actually behind all the pacers because they were jammed so close to the front and we couldn't get through), but I caught up to within 30 feet of him and held there through mile 7. During mile 3, I passed girl with a full-size sandwich board sign that read "Free Gummy Bears." I had decided not to run with gu (big mistake given how lousy I was feeling) so I pointed to her for some, and she was flat out ecstatic that yet another person wanted some of her gummy bears. She may have been a teenager, but could have been in her 20's. Her exuberance reminded me of Lisa L. I exclaimed "God bless you" with relief as she dumped a handful into my cupped hand.
We ran through the Tower District and then into Roeding Park. We were running through the zoo on mile 6. It was actually pretty nice, and I considered that maybe it was time to lift my boycott of the zoo (another rant for another blog post another day). But then I realized I wasn't thinking clearly and abandoned that thought.
Mile 7 was where things started to go downhill. I was so exhausted, and my knees were in so much pain that I couldn't even tell if I was actually experiencing any running pain or if it was just from my wounds. The spectators were few and far between, probably because the participant numbers were also down, so it was hard to keep morale up. I promised best friend status to almost everyone holding a sign or ringing a cowbell. I would start crying almost every time I pass a big cheering group.
The 1:50 pacer pulled further and further ahead of me, and was out of sight by mile 10. My calves were cramping around mile 9 through the end. I would occasionally throw out a really deep groan from the pain. I wanted this race over. Heidi was there mid- both miles 10 and 11. I finished mile 11 and I had to walk. I didn't let myself walk for longer than a tenth of a mile, but I had to do that 3 times in mile 12 and twice in the final mile.
I was eyeing my watch, trying to make sure I'd still be able to PR. I wanted to break 1:58 so badly. I ran into the baseball stadium and heard Shawna (who was one of the announcers) announcing the gun time (which was about a minute ahead of my chip time) of 1:57, so I poured everything into it, sprinting for home plate. I flashed a smile for the jumbo-tron and the cameras, and screamed with relief when I crossed the finish line. I received my medal and started chugging water. I had carried a bottle of water and had a cup of water or Gatorade at almost every aid station, and I was still thirsty. These past few months I've needed to carry more water when I run, even for my short training runs, so I was glad to know that going into this race.
Then we actually had to climb the stadium stairs to get up to the finishers arena. Not fun, but I survived. And then I ATE. I drank a lot of water. I had two bowls of Coldstone ice cream, two plates of breakfast (pancakes, sausage, strawberries, bananas, bagels). I hadn't realized we'd need our ID's for our free beer, and I wasn't carrying mine, so I was resigned to forego it, but my friend Chad didn't want his, so he got one and gave it to me.
I walked around for awhile, saying hi to various friends I hadn't realized were running today. When I finally went to leave, I discovered with dismay that my car key had come loose from the knot in my running shorts drawstring. And I had only worn those shorts because I couldn't wear my normal track pants which I know had a better drawstring material for retaining knots. My mind started racing. I hadn't carried my phone because it was too heavy on these shorts. I had nothing on me except my music player.
I went back into the race arena. I tried to call Amy using a security guard's phone because she's the only number I have memorized because she's always my emergency contact on race forms. She didn't answer either because she was in church or didn't recognize the number. So I went back inside figuring I'd find a friend. If I could at least get a ride home, I could clean up and then get another ride back with a spare key. I found my friends Larry & Rebecca first, and they were about to leave themselves. They graciously dropped me off at home, and I logged onto FB from my laptop to let Heidi know what was going on, since we had plans to go to church after I got home. So instead of me picking her up, she came and picked me up. I showered while I waited for her, and when I finished cleaning up, she was waiting in my living room. I tried to stretch a little more before we left, but I got dizzy from that and had to lay down for a minute. We finally made it back to my car, abandoned the plan for church because my knees were hurting so badly, and I BBQ'd lunch for us instead.
All in all, I'm glad I ran. It was a rough test of endurance, and I'm grateful to have passed. But wow, I hope I never have a racing day this tough again.