(picking right up where we left off)
Once I started running it was like my brain overheated from the race morning drama and just shut down. The only thing registering in my head were the numbers on Garmin every time I hit a mile marker.
Beep beep. Beep beep. Beep beep.
No excitement, no nervousness, no anger towards weaving runners cutting me off and almost tripping me… just, ‘on-pace, keep it up’ or ‘too fast, slow down’
I remember getting to mile 9 and still feeling numb and void of any thoughts. You know like an out-of-body experience except less spiritual and more sweaty.
Brightroom Realization : the face of “sweaty out-of-body experience” is NOT cute :
What am I doing on the right??? Yawning? Hocking a loogie?
Anyways we split from the half around 11.5 and I waited for my “AH-HA!” moment where I would finally come-to and get into the game. This has been a big boost for me in past marathons – you know, feeling all badass that they’re heading in to finish and you’re ALMOST halfway done.
Or crazy. Badass or crazy. You decide.
Instead I rounded the bend and was welcomed by a man smoking a cigarette. RIGHT NEXT TO THE COURSE! A CIGARETTE!!
me, still running : ‘kind of ironic, isn’t it? you smoking on a MARATHON COURSE?!’
Rude random lung cancer dude : (takes a big drag) ‘…huh??’
me, under my breath : ‘you’vegottobefuckingkiddingmeisthatguyseriousCOUGHCOUGHwhatanassholewhywouldyouseriouslybethatinconsi…’
Spent the next few miles reconfiguring my plan to mass-eliminate all the overly stupid humans in the world. It’s a work in progress.
At this point I was just focused on getting to Brian at mile 15. I still felt good and was holding my pace, but the sun was now out in full-force and shade on the course was getting
impossible hard to come by.
I was still in front of the 4:00 pace group when I got to him. He smiled and asked if I had it in me, and I told him I wasn’t sure. I was fading fast and couldn’t dig out my mental game.
I saw a flash of concern as he told me I looked good and to keep it up, and got very déjà vu’y to the half/full split at Nike Women’s last year.
There was a pretty steep downhill right after 15, and I spent the next hour thinking about NOTHING but how badly it was going to suck climbing back up it at mile 21.
A lot of runners raved about the next part of the course through CSU Long Beach. There were a ton of students and groups out cheering, but I just didn’t feed off the energy.
The 4:00 pace group passed me somewhere after mile 18, and that’s when I lost it. I could feel the very little fight I had left slipping away as the red and white balloons got further and further away.
‘keep them in shooting distance. you can fight through this! just maintain this pace. stay on pace.
SARAH! this isn’t on-pace. they’re getting further away! speed it up!
you DO have enough! keep pushing! 7 more miles isn’t THAT far, c’mon. maintain for 4 and race the last 3.1. COME ON.
…ok fine. we can walk.’
While I slowed to my first walk of the race I thought back to that wonderful 21 miler – how it was so easy, I was so happy to be running, so proud of what I was doing.
What had changed? Was it the pressure of having a goal time? Did I start out too fast? Was I being a pussy about the sun or was it really draining me like it felt??
I started running again and made a (feeble) effort at kicking myself in the mental ass…
‘this is it, Sarah. remember when you registered for this race? – before the training, the honeymoon, the wedding, the move? – it’s finally here. you don’t get to try again tomorrow. it’s now or some other race in the future that you’re going to have to go through all that hard work for again. you don’t want to start over. do it now.’
This went on for a few miles. Get moving again a little faster than goal pace, fight with myself, walk. Pep talk. Run, die, walk. Repeat.
Reader Colleen found me in the middle of one of these pity-party walk breaks. She got me running again and the distraction was welcome. I didn’t want to hold her back so I sent her on her merry way while I slowed to yet another walk, totally beat up and 100% mentally checked out of the race.
(thanks for that respectable mile 19 split, Colleen!)
Brian was waiting for me at the top of that fucking mile 21 hill with ibuprofen and an unmistakable face of concern. The 4:00 pace group must have passed him ages ago – I’m sure he was just seconds from checking the local bus lines (in case I took a play from this guy) ((thanks for the link, Mary))
Distracted myself with Harvard-worthy math problems the next few miles :
You’ve still got 40 seconds banked. Walk a bit further, then run in at goal pace.
Bank time is gone. You’ll get a little back in the last mile but you gotta go now.
Ok if you sub-9 the next 4 you have a chance if you really kick at the end
Finally I realized it was over. My hopes at a Sub4 were gone, and it was like you killed all my kittens, told me Santa Claus was a child molester, and that I suddenly became allergic to beer.
Except I killed the kittens, was Santa’s accomplice, and self-inflicted the beer allergy. Nobody to blame but myself and my stupid head.
ALL MY FAULT.
Not 30 seconds later a woman sees my bib and yells,
soul-suckercheer lady : “Sub 4! You gonna get it, girl?!”
And then, just when I was talking myself off the Marathon Fail Ledge, a middle-aged man in a neon yellow shirt comes up behind me, pats my arm, and says,
jerk man not knowing he’s contributing to suicidal thoughts : “you were making it look so easy earlier!”
me, glowering, looking for sharp things : “YEAH AND LOOK AT ME NOW. SHUT UP.”
I know he didn’t mean to totally call out my bonk, but that was the only way I could see it. I was SO down, SO pissed, and SO COMPLETELY DISAPPOINTED in myself. When had I become so damn weak?
Emily was waiting for me at mile 24, and I busied myself until then dreaming up a magical story of how she came from behind (literally), rallied from our disastrous start, and PR’d the shit out of her race.
Turns outttt… not. The similarities in our anticlimactic let-down race stories are eerily similar. (read hers here)
Ok, if you know Emily at all (internet or IRL) you know that’s not at all how it went. There was a lot of cursing. Lots of anger. Lots of WHERE THE F IS THE FINISH LINE and talk about how we would self-medicate after…
There was more walking. I couldn’t even bring myself to push my stupid body for the final 2 miles of a damn race. At that point I was so beyond caring I would have sat down right on the 26 mile marker and never crossed the finish if somehow I could still get all my alcohol delivered to me there.
There was nothing funny or happy, so I’m assuming that face is the aftermath of what the Brightroom cameraman failed to capture. Luckily Sweaty Emily is a pro race photographer :
Miles 24-26 were easily the longest of my life – no really, I don’t think I’ve ever traveled two miles that slowly – rush hour on the 405 moves faster than 11:30/mi.
The finish line finally came into sight and Emily peeled off to let me save some face with a strong finish through the chute. Glaring the whole way! Angry sprint! Marathons are so fun!
Yeah. That mental part about running? Kind of important.
Long Beach Marathon, 10.9.11 – 4:10.08