You should know the background by now:
Derby Marathon was Saturday, and I did the full 26.2 – it was a trudging and hard-fought run, full of stomach upset and poops, down-pouring rain, and lack of entertainment…that is, entertainment that wasn’t supplied by my friend Jim and me as we made dramatic readings of “She’s a Brick… HOUSE” and “Gilligan’s Island”… Please, feel free to read the Derby Marathon Recap, here.
The Flying Pig Marathon, traditionally set to fall on the “first Sunday in May” each year, just happened to be the Sunday after the Derby Marathon.
I signed up for both full marathons.
On accident. Promise. I have a nasty habit of signing up for races without ever looking at when they are supposed to happen. Its true. And this time, it bit me:
52.4 full miles of running, over two days.
Luckily, I didn’t have to do it all alone. My running group friends were on board all the way to challenge themselves to this distance as well.
I didn’t know what to expect really. I honestly didn’t even think I could pull it off. I figured I’d get through most of the distance and then never be able to walk again…like, my left foot and right kneecap would just fall off on the course and that would be the end of it and I would just be this misshapen person who would NEVER. RUN. AGAIN!
Because that’s the kind of shit that non-runners tell all runners will absolutely, no doubt, happen to them all the time, for attempting to run even just a little bit, let alone a whole bunch of miles that non-runners’ cars are even incapable of driving! (“I don’t even drive my car that far!” – sheesh, Loser. Quit trying to prove to me that being unhealthy and lazy is better than running all the time…we get it. Also. Travel some, dumbass. Because you clearly need to have experiences in life if the best you can pull off is wandering around your house.)
I’m starting this post out in a grumpy tone to symbolically represent the case of Mega-grumps I suffered the morning of marathon #2, the Flying Pig*.
*My husband says this is an accurate representation of my “grumps”.
At least, that’s my excuse. And I’m the author, so you can’t argue it.
Pig morning started earlier than the Derby morning. But it at least had better coffee (yay, non hotel room coffee!) and less conversation. It also had added headaches. We may or may not have forgotten that the dog required care before we could hustle out the door to leave…. Also. I only have one pair of shorts that are really good for running in the rain…I wore them for the Derby, and never even thought about using them for the Pig. Outside, the rain poured and I made the last-minute decision to uh…soak the still dripping wet (from rain, people, seriously) shorts in febreeze and toss in a dryer full of dryer sheets.
This meant that we had about 15 more minutes to walk and feed the dog, get our shit together (after all, my husband needed something to do for 4+ hours, or until I called for the plan B “bailout”…whichever happened first. Spoiler alert: it was the bailout, but he stubbornly told me to suck it up and ignored my pleas for an hour).
As things usually do when I’m grumpy as hell and he’s not moving fast enough for me, the conversations devolved to grunts and glares and we hustled out the door in a rush and well behind the time we needed to have left.
Pro-tip for Flying Pig half and full runners in the future: They keep the roads open until about 0600AM. Then, at 0603AM sharp, they whip into place and all your ramps and roadways to convenient and close-to-start parking are closed…even if you were already turned onto them. My husband grumbled for me to direct him and tell him where to go. I grumbled back that I had to get my shit together and I didn’t have any answers for this.
Not so jokingly, I mentioned that we could use this opportunity to bail out and go home and sleep for 12 hours and then have a big breakfast and laugh and laugh about not running in the rain two days in a row. Clearly, my husband did not want to spend the day with me because we managed to navigate a back way down to a freshly closed road near the start. This was where he wished me luck, told me he loved me, and to “get out before I kill you in front of God and this cop”. Okay. Okay. He didn’t actually say that. He usually keeps his threats implied. (Kidding!) I shoved all of my cliff shots (running nutrition) into my waist pouch and began the frantic search through my running bag as a sinking feeling hit my stomach.
“Shit. ShitshitshitshitSHIT.” My voice went from an annoyed whisper to a strained anguish.
“I totally fucking forgot my water bottle! What the fuck am I going to do!? SHIT!”
We searched the car frantically, but it was a loss. I totally left that damn thing on the counter at home. By now the rain had stopped completely. I grumbled something about, “I’ll just walk all the water stops I guess.” My husband gave me a final good-luck wish and kiss and sent me off. I entered the race area from the back, near the relay runner’s bus area. No lines for these porta-potties. And that’s when I realized that I forgot to take an anti-poop medicine (Something deemed necessary, given how badly things went the day before with my stomach) and I never did put the anti-chafe stuff on. This shortcoming will literally bite me in the ass after the race…
I was not off to a good start. My mood got darker and I was even more certain that I was going to do just about the first 4-6 miles and walk off the course. “Showed up, gave it a shot…fuck it, I’m done“. That was what I was titling my plan. I texted frantically with my friends, but could not find them in the starting throng.
I say “throng”. This start seemed far more organized than the Derby start, and it was more regulated. The countdown started for the start gun, and I panicked. A volunteer let me climb under the plastic fencing into the corral (“Pig pen”) that my bib said I belonged in, and just as I situated, the race started. I dragged my feet as much as I dared, figuring that my friends were behind me. By the time I hit the start line, I gave up. I hit start on the GPS on my phone and begrudingly started running at what felt comfortable.
I grumped up the first little incline after the start, and down the first hill toward the bridge. I grumped across the bridge, fully updated by Jim that he and everyone were together behind me. I grumped through walking my first water stop, and I grumped across bridge 2 and around bridge 3, I stopped feeling so grumpy and started looking around more. The sunrise was looking very pretty, and it looked like the clouds were clearing out.
And that presented a new issue.
I was prepped for rainy weather (Well. I wasn’t, but I planned to be) so I didn’t have sunscreen on at all. I am Irish. Do you know about the Irish? It’s an off-shoot of vampirism where the sun doesn’t quite turn us into dust, but it does turn us into lobsters. Quickly.
I made peace with the impending sunburn. Just like I determined that the walking water stops would give me a chance to regroup each mile or so. Just like I realized that I could stay ahead of my friends and when things fell apart or when I had stomach issues like the day before, then they would be there for me to run with, and no one would have to wait for me.
So on I ran.
I ran easily up into downtown, where I high fivved and got my photo with batman.
At mile 5, I sent my husband a message, “Officially 50k into this”.
“You’re amazing.” He responded.
I guess my grumps were forgiven.
I ran very easily through mile 6, the start of “the climb”. “It’s the hill! Oh God! It’s soooooo terrible! Arrrg!”
Just train for hills.
They’re not that bad, once you learn how to do them. And, they make all the rest of the running so much easier.
I was just passing Elvis on the hill and realizing how close to being half way through this marathon I was when it struck me: I’m having a damn good run!
I paused to snap a photo of the Eden Park overlook… I mean, these are things I never get to do during the marathon normally. I’m usually so focused on a time goal, or on keeping up with someone, or it’s too rainy. I don’t stop for water. I don’t stop to take photos.
I do cheer on the crowd though.
During the Derby, my friend Jim started cheering back at the few people who were out to cheer on the racers. Someone would yell, “You’re looking good!” and Jim would yell back, “NO! YOU’RE LOOKING GOOD!” And everyone would laugh, and for a short while, we’d be distracted. So during the Pig, I started doing that. Someone would yell, “You’re awesome!” and I’d call back, “No! You’re awesome!” And this went on through miles 9 to 24. It got the crowds more amped up and the runners around me would tap me on the shoulder and say, “You’re a rockstar! Thank you for getting the crowd to cheer!”
I easily whipped through the neighborhood leading up to mile 13. Half way. I felt good. I felt so strong. I accidentally ran two miles at 8:40 min/mile. Too fast. My husband was texting me about how amazing I was. I felt good. Along the course, just past the mile 13 water station, I saw a couple of leather couches set up on the sidewalk under tents. I asked if they were for me, joking around.
“YES!” came the reply. Keeping with my joking nature, I strutted over and plopped into one couch. The people there cheered and I was handed a small paper cup of beer.
“Everyone!” I shouted holding the beer up in a toast. “I am halfway done..”
They went mad cheering and encouraging me
“No, no, no, wait for it! I am half. Way. Done. With my second marathon in TWO DAYS!”
They cheered louder! I downed the beer, tossed the cup, and took off. Runners who heard the toast cheered at me as they ran beside me.
I’m not going to lie. I love running the Pig marathon. The route is diverse, there’s tons to distract yourself with, the volunteers are everywhere, the aid stations are amazing, and there’s people all over the place to cheer you on! Even the normally bland parts of the course had people cheering and holding signs. I chatted a little with the runners around me, but for the most part, I was happy to call back to the crowd and watch the blue skies and send and read messages with my husband. I know there’s a lot of poo-pooing about using your phone while in a race, and about texting specifically, but I was alone. I forgot my headphones too, and I didn’t really want to bother people. I just wanted someone who knew where I was in my own adventure and who was willing to put up with me when things fell apart. I was still so certain, as I whipped into mile 15 averaging 9:20 pace, that things were going to degrade quickly.
I did the loop through Merimont, which is like a whole new experience in the race. The crowds are deep on both sides of the road, people are handing out everything from gummy treats to bacon to beer to mimosas, and … just everything! A running group friend was at his home cheering runners on by name, and after I passed he jogged up behind me and kept me company for a short while. As I made it past the mile 17 marker, I started to feel my first pang of hurt from this race. It lingered for about a mile and a half, but faded as I caught up with another running friend who was doing the double marathons. He was walking and struggling just a little, but he wasn’t doing badly. He dropped me as I started having stomach problems again (Seriously. What is the deal?). I would catch him a couple more times before the humidity and heat would force me to back down a little more. I also caught Dianne and another running group friend for a short while later in the race.
Luckily, around mile 18, I found an aid station that was offering to spray runners with sunscreen.
“PLEASE! SCREEN ME!” I cried stopping. This kid did a cursory spray and I gave him a pittying look. His Mom gave me a once over. “You poor thing. You burn so easily don’t you?” She asked. All I could do was nod. She “tsked” and doused me in so much sunscreen that I was nearly white when she was done.
The course winds on for a while before hitting a ramp that takes it down toward Eastern Avenue and Riverside Dr – the roads along the river, and the flattest part of the course. Also, notable, for it’s lack of shade. So far, I was doing a good job of sticking to the shaded portion of the roadway as much as possible. Both to avoid the heat and to avoid the sun. Along from mile 18 on, it was becoming common to see runners being loaded into ambulances and taken off the course. As the race went on, the sight of an ambulance, or two, became common. I started to worry that I wasn’t taking in enough water. My stomach had upped it’s game and was now feeling unsettled and I was starting to get a headache. I took longer breaks at the water stops and walked more. I figured I had “done well enough” to this point and could just walk the last 6 miles.
“You do what you feel you need to,” My husband texted back to my comment about just wanting to walk the rest of the way, “but that’s an awful long way to walk. Do you want me to find a way to get some medicine to you?”
“No. I am where you cannot follow.”
“Run. You’ll be fine.”
I commenced drinking so much water that for the next four miles I had to stop and pee at every stop. Which is a good problem to have, I guess, considering all the other problems other runners were having.
By mile 23, everything felt straightened out. No more stomach upset. No more having to pee so much. I still had a headache, but it didn’t feel as bad as it was. I started settling back into a real run again. I was passing people again. Some friends from the running group were along the route here toward the end, and seeing them really cheered me up. Coming up on the final mile, I tucked in with the mental attitude that I wasn’t going to walk any more.
I don’t know about other runners, but once I hit the last three miles, I know I’ve got it. It could take me 28 minutes, or it could take me an hour, but it doesn’t matter, once there I’m as good as finished with the race. The Pig has a small hill climb during the last mile, just to treat you to a lovely overview of the upcoming crowd and finish line ahead. I ran as well as I could from the top of that incline to the finish, repeating, “It’s done. It’s done. It’s done. It’s done” with every foot-fall. I heard my name from the sidelines and my sister was screaming at me and holding up a big sign…and that was so cool! I was still focused on my mantra and on the finish, but I hoped she’d stick around so I could say thanks.
To be honest, I was so wiped out after this finish that I’m still not sure if I actually thanked her or not.
I crossed the line, and one of my friends greeted me.
52.4 miles of running.
I just completed something that I fully expected, without a doubt, that I would not be able to do. I defeated my own inner shit-voice. I proved that I could do something so difficult, so beyond normal marathoning that other people actually told me that I was impressive. I didn’t feel impressive. I just felt tired, but complete! I felt strong and happy. And, oddly, I didn’t hurt!
I took in some Gaterade, something that I couldn’t do during the run because this stuff really messes up my stomach. I needed the electrolytes badly. Salt, man, I needed so much salt. My water bottle, forsaken back at home, was filled an electrolyte supplement that I seriously needed, since the rain moved on and left us with a 70F and 80-90% humidity day. The bag of Sunchips was fucking brilliant.
I managed to wander around for a pretty good amount of time after the race before the aches did settle in. And man, did they come! I spent about two days struggling with stairs, but I was still feeling good and complete. It didn’t take long after crossing the finish line for me to start feeling a little bummed about my second marathon time. It was slower than the first by about 20 minutes, and I realized that if I hadn’t hit that stomach/ick time during the 20-23 area, I would’ve done so much better. “I was running really well, until I wasn’t”, was my comment to my friends. My husband almost smacked me for being bummed about that finish time. That’s running, I guess. You always feel like you could do better, even when you’ve challenged yourself and pushed beyond what you ever knew you could do.
My total time, for the 52.4 miles, was 9hrs10minutes and change. And I’m very happy for that.
Thanks for checking in!
I’ve got some time to recover and plan now, before I run 26.2 in June to continue my 12 in 2016. It’s still up in the air what I’ll be able to do. Currently, I won’t have a weekend / race day off to get an official race in, and I’d much rather save my money if it’s going to be like that. So I may do another 26.2 on my own with some friends in the evening. Things may change though, and if they do, I know there’s a 12 hour race that has been really talked up for me. We’ll see what happens.