There it was – the day of the Marathon. The day that I had been anticipating since February!!
I’d prepped everything before hand the previous night, including taping my name to the front and taping ‘26.2 Virgin’ on the back.
Lorraine and I were staying 2 blocks from each other and we decided to meet at the bus stop for a cab/bus, whatever came first. We got onto a bus at about 6:30 and were at the designated meeting spot on the steps of the art institute at 6:40am. Dick and Felecia joined us soon and after the one bright smiley picture, headed over to the start. We had just enough time for one portapotty stop before joining the corrals.
The First Few Miles
We crossed the line at 22:xx min after the elites took off. Felecia was off like a bullet with Dick charging behind her. Lorraine fell back in step with me and we started on our journey. We were talking, admiring Chicago, taking pictures, laughing over missed run/walk intervals, Lorraine was tweeting, people were calling out my name/virgin status and things were going well at a nice controlled pace around 13:20-13:30.
The first 4 miles or so was all downtown in the shade of tall buildings. When we hit Lincoln Park Zoo, I was sweating quite a bit. Now, the weather was in the back of my mind all week, but I had refused to let it affect me. But actually feeling the sweat was a little … off-setting. The portions where there was no shade, I could feel the sun on my skin. It was also about the same time when I realized the enormity of what I was doing – I was running a @#$%^%#& marathon!!!!
Here’s a where a weird thing happened – at around mile 8-10. I started almost hyper-ventilating, I could feel my chest tightening, my heart was going pitter-patter faster than it should, I felt myself going out of my grove, I was focusing too much on the heat, I wasn’t able to focus, I was just … off. Now, that has NEVER happened to me in my training runs. I’m usually off the first 2-3 warmup miles and then get into it and can go on. This was the opposite. Lorraine kept telling me (correctly) that I was psyching myself out but something was getting to me, and I couldn’t snap myself out of it. I was ready to be done already!!
I was the around the 12mile/half way mark, and with that newfound calmness, I decided to slow down (not that I was going fast or anything, but until then I was on steady pace for a 5:45 finish). I poured glasses of water on myself, stuck a couple of wet sponges inside, got some ice in my bra and went on.
|Guru’s friend who was trying to catch me all through the course!|
Something started hurting at mile 16 that had me a bit worried, I couldn’t even figure out what it was. I didn’t want to hit that wall again, so I started playing little games.
I recollected the toughness displayed by Steve Waugh, the Australian cricketer whom I’ve admired since I was 11.
I closed my eyes for a split second and visualized things that made me happy, things that made me smile.
I imagined myself running while singing ‘I could’ve danced all night’ like Audrey Hepburn (why that song, I don’t know .. it just popped into my head).
I used the words I had practiced ‘Relax’ ‘Glide’ ‘Form’ ‘Power’ to keep going.
(I may have gone over dialogues from Pride and Prejudice and imagined Colin Firth’s Mr. Darcy cheering me on, but …. I’m not admitting to that 🙂 ).
Never stopped smiling all the way through.
It is really strange that at this stage, inspite of the temperatures outside the downtown reaching almost 80-82F and me moving at slower than snail’s pace, I never once doubted my ability to finish. I was slow and couldn’t/didn’t want to go faster than that, but I was steady in that new slower pace and feeling mighty cheerful in my heart. Plenty of nagging doubts and anxiety at 8-12 miles; but none at the point where it is said that people really hit the wall!
But then I’m a strange creature that has got to do things differently, so ….
The Home Stretch
So I went about running with my cheerful self. Abandoned my run/walk intervals and just kept running even though it was still slooooow. Got instep with a guy who had come from Australia for his first marathon, talked a bit about cricket and Melbourne, and got a snarky comment from 2 girls on how I could manage to talk and grin so much at that point. (Ha!! They don’t know me!)
Guru and the kids were waiting for me just 0.2 miles from the finish. As soon as I turned onto Roosevelt rd, I sprinted up that hill/bridge to hug my girls, and sprinted down to the finish. I remembered to take my visor off, smiled even more brilliantly than before and raised my arms for a triumphant finish (In my mind, I had no doubt that I was Liliya Shubokhova).
There were people crying all around me, but I was jumping and pumping my fists and yelling YES !! I hugged the random guy who gave me the medal, and hugged two more people who were standing nearby (Thank God for total strangers who I’m not likely to ever see again!). I danced all the way down the chute to collect the miserly food they had, was bitterly disappointed on not receiving a heat blanket (Wonder how I can get one now!) and proceed to talk another random stranger’s ear off.
Whew! What a rollercoaster!
Despite the initial hiccup, I LOVED doing the MARATHON (yes, I’m shouting it aloud!).
As everyone knows, Chicago is a great first marathon. Crowd support was awesome, especially in the first sections of the race. Some of my favorite signs were –
“Run Mom. There is a shoe sale on!”
“You are so pretty”
“Rock on, Complete Stranger”
and of course, the one that never gets old – “Chuck Norris Never Ran a Marathon”.
Towards the end, the entertainment had thinned and the people who were around were cheering for their runners, but I really did not care for it at that point. I was gathering my energy from the other runners around me.
I’ve learnt that a LOT is mental; where the mind goes, the body will follow.
So, what really happened?
I don’t know what exactly happened to me in between though; miles 8-12 were the worst in the entire race. It *felt like the wall, but really, it couldn’t have been that so early, could it? I was going at the pace that I’d planned to (that I had done in our 21miles), had fueled and hydrated as I had planned to, paying extra attention to hydration and electrolytes.
Maybe the superlong wait between breakfast at 5:30am and starttime of 8am?
Maybe I choked from nervousness?
Maybe my body(or mind) really rebelled against the heat (which didn’t seem to affect other people)?
Maybe that 21 miler pace in perfect weather was deceptive of my actual speed and I’m just really slow?
I ran slower than every training run (run in a pace around 13:20 – 13:45 in worse heat and humidity) and all the yasso800s (5:10-5:18) and every prediction calculator (5:38-5:54) to finish in a dismal time of 6hrs 16min!!
At this moment, while I’m still feeling ecstatic, I hate to think that I wasn’t mentally tough enough to “gut” it out at a slow 13:20 pace that I was capable of, or atleast to pick it back up once I felt better, so I’m just focusing on the fact that I ran smart in the heat, and finished joyfully. My plan C (where things don’t go as planned) was for me to finish smiling and want to do another marathon. I did that.
I ran the first 10 miles with my legs, the next 10 miles with my mind and the last 6 and odd with my heart.
I cannot put into words how much Get Fit’s support and love yesterday meant to me and how amazing it was to visualize you all running with me (or mostly in front of me). I’m so proud to train and laugh with an amazing group of people. And today – I’m incredibly proud of myself.
Thank you, Karen and Michael for your guidance and confidence in me. I love all my yellow running buddies, who were the best cheerleaders! Thanks to David who always made time for a less-than-average “athlete” like me and put up with a zillion questions from me. Barbara, Olga, Marietta and Beth – I have loved listening to your tales in Starbucks and have been so encouraged by your enthusiasm. Thank you, Universe, for introducing me to Andrea without whom I’d never have dared to dream. Thanks to Cherie for the constant encouragement (and her cat), to Leslie and Phidippedes, to Orlando for helping me with food choices, to Yvette, to Dr. Pam for taking such wonderful care of me and advising me. Thanks to each and everyone of Get Fit Atlanta peeps who have encouraged me so much and embraced me into the fold.
Thank you Becca, Ashley, Michaela and other campers who’ve inspired and cheered me on.
I’ll Be Back!
I can’t stop at this one; to be left wondering what more I can do.
So …. What’s the next race I can sign up for? 🙂
What can I do to prepare myself against that weird bonk that happened?
What can I do to strengthen myself?
What can I do to be a Kenyan improve my speed just a teeny bit?
Watch out, folks. The FauxRunner is not done just yet.
Photos from the Marathon
|Cheesy Excited Grin!|
|Would have been nice if they hadn’t cut my arm off!|
|I see the Finish Line!|
|Yaaaahoooooo !!!!! Oh – This is NOT the actual finish line. I had taken my visor off for the real line!|
|Muah! All my Love!|
|Very nice photo, but I find the background too busy.|