Wednesday, July 22, 2009

“20 Miles of Hope, 6.2. Miles of Reality”

There is a myriad ways to begin this post about our marathon experience. Heaven knows I had ample time to think about it…4 and ½ hours, to be exact. I’ve been asked more than once what one thinks about when running for that long, and the only answer I can come up with is everything and nothing. Since I am incapable of completely turning my brain off (just ask Jon how frustrating it is having me jump from one topic to another twenty times in a single conversation), I usually just let my mind wander.
A lot of times I find myself planning for school or singing that one song stuck in my head. Sometimes I finish a run and realize I have no clue what I had been thinking about for the past hour. With that in mind, please allow me to attempt to re-create my thought process over my 26.2 mile journey… Mile One: Okay, I can do this—that didn’t take too long. In fact, I’m ahead of the pace I had planned on. It’s a good thing Jon made me move up in the pack to start the race. Mile Two: Still going strong. Only 24 more miles…er… Mile Three: “OFFICIAL RACE PHOTOGRAPHER AHEAD.” Now, how should I handle this? Do I smile at the camera? Grimace in agony? Look off into the distance intensely? That’s a smart move, having the pictures taken early in the race. That way, no one looks too worn out yet. To see these pictures, follow the link to photographer’s website: In the San Juan Marathon photos, Jon was #42, while I was #43.­­­­­ Mile Four: “FLAT SECTION OF THE COURSE BEGINS NOW.” Literally ten feet later, “FLAT SECTION OF THE COURSE ENDS NOW.” That’s some sense of humor… Mile Five: Just passed a guy who’s breathing pretty heavily. Guy: “(Gasp, choke) I’ve never run more than six (gasp) miles (gasp) before.” Me (entirely too chipper): “Until today!” Guy, aka Nostradamus: “Isn’t there supposed to be a big hill up here somewhere?” Mile Six: Hello, Hill! Bring it on. Show me what you’ve got, bi-atch. (Author’s note: this is when I thought I was tough.) Mile Seven: What goes up must come down…wait, there’s another one?!? Mile Eight: Time to separate the sheep from the goats: half-marathoners to the left, marathoners to the right. Three other lonely souls and I head to the right… Where in the heck are the beautiful ocean views? This is an island, right? The farmland is nice, but I can get that in the Midwest! Mile Nine: Ah, there’s the water…and another giant hill. Time to open that Gu. Mmmm…sugary, flavored toothpaste…yum. Mile Ten: Still eating the Gu… Mile Eleven: Hey, there’s Jon! I guess that means the turn-around is coming up soon. Um…not that soon. Mile Twelve: The kids at the water stand ahead are doing their best to cheer us on and direct us to the “last bathroom on the course.” WTF?!? This would also be the first bathroom. I must really be dehydrated, though, because I’m going to take a pass. If I stop now, who knows if I’ll be able to start again. Mile Thirteen: Now headed back the way we came, which is a little boring, to be honest. But feeling okay. Have only seen a couple of women in front of me…I could actually place, which would be absolutely ridiculous. Mile Fourteen: Ah, there’s that hill again. It didn’t seem this steep going down… But wait. That house is having construction done, so there’s a port-a-potty in the front yard. Maybe I ought to take advantage of it… Mile Fifteen: Now catching up to the half-marathon walkers. They’re having way too good of a time. But it is nice to run with people again. Mile Sixteen: Just told by one of the course volunteers that I don’t look tired enough. What’s that supposed to mean? Am I not running hard enough? I must be an incredibly good actress. Mile Seventeen: Throughout the entire race, there has been an SUV full of kids and their dog cheering on the runners, specifically their mom. They’ve just set up camp and are now doing choreographed cheers: “I say ‘RUNNER,’ you say ‘POWER.’ ‘RUNNER!’ ‘POWER!’ ‘RUNNER!’ ‘POWER!’” Mile Eighteen: We’re starting to approach where the area where we started which can only mean one thing: we have to do a loop. Arrrggghhh! Mile Nineteen: Now I’m starting to get passed by the guys who are in the process of winning the marathon, about six miles ahead of me. Awesome. Mile Twenty: That was a nice little trip through downtown. There were actually some fans…or people who just happened to be out and about while a marathon was going on. I have now officially run farther than I have in my entire life. Holy crap. Mile Twenty-one: Just struck with an ingenious idea. Instead of merely drinking water at the water station, I am now going to dump it over my head. Overdue for Gu #2. Mile Twenty-two: Ridiculously tanned and fit man running in the opposite direction. Man: “I missed the turn-off!” Yeah, he was almost finished with the race and then accidentally ran an extra two miles. He looks like he can handle it, though—I have little sympathy. Just like I tell my students, “Follow directions!” Mile Twenty-three: Narrowly missed being hit by a car on a curve. Mom would be so pissed if I got hit by a car. Mile Twenty-four: The race has now become akin to a tent revival: Oh, sweet Jesus! Where is the next mile marker?!? Lord, give me strength! Mile Twenty-five: Holy Mary, Mother of God, one more mile?!? Mile Twenty-six: This last .2 is like a kick in the junk. Uphill? Yeah, that’s about right. Several minutes later: Thank you, Heavenly Father. Bring on the M&Ms! Enthralling, isn’t it? Just imagine stretching that out over four and a half hours. At any rate, while we are satisfied with our experience (I even got first—out of only seven—in my age group), I think it’s safe to say that we are hereby officially retiring from our marathon career.

Before the race: "What were we thinking?!?"

After the race: "That was the dumbest thing we've ever volunteered and paid money for."

For official race results and information, follow the link to

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