Monday, March 05, 2012

Good Weather is Hard to Find and the Turtles Bear it Away: The 2012 Snickers Marathon Recap

 From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent bear it away. 
--- Matthew 11:12

“She would have been a good woman,” The Misfit said, “if there had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life.”
--From A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O'Connor

"Whatever Logic is good enough to tell me is worth writing down," said the Tortoise. "So enter it in your book, please. We will call it: If A and B and C and D are true, Z must be true. Until I've granted that, of course I needn't grant Z. So it's quite a necessary step, you see?"

"I see," said Achilles; and there was a touch of sadness in his tone. 
--From What the Tortoise Said to Achilles, by Lewis Carroll

If the story was the weather then clearly the turtle was the main character. Only I didn't know that. I thought it was, of course, The Natalie Show and I was the starring character.

Friday, when we left our home north of Atlanta under looming skies and drove four hours south to hot and sunny Albany I should have known the turtle was going to play a bigger role than I realized.  Especially when Ryan asked, after only a few minutes of navigating the streets of Albany, "What's up with all the turtles?"

Later, as the day and turtle sightings progressed the question from him to me became more pressing and annoyed; "Seriously, what the fuck are all these turtles about?"  And me, always more Hare than Tortoise should have known then how my 16th marathon was going to go down. As a one time literature student and avid student of Flannery O'Connor and the Southern Gothic I should have known that symbolism isn't just a fancy storytelling technique. But apparently I was skimming and just wasn't really paying attention and quite truthfully , I didn't really even notice all the turtles Ryan kept seeing and asking me about. I was looking but apparently; I was not really seeing.

I had a rough week the days preceding the marathon. I was losing my shit and not at all keeping it together from not running, trying to organize my house and kids. The looming weather report that each day got a little bit worse with a little rise in temperature, humidity, and then adding threatening wind, severe thunderstorms and tornadoes into the forecast only made my usual pre marathon anxiety worse. It was all making me more than a little bitchy. These things played on my mind even though I repeated over and over each day: Control the things you can and suck it up and deal with the things you can't.  I guess you can lie to your face in the mirror but when you close your eyes and go to sleep at night your mind will tell you the truth whether you want it to or not.

I had two, what I call, "crazy taper dreams". I always have  at least one pre race dream. And usually these dreams involve some sort of wardrobe malfunction, being late for the race or running the wrong way. In the dream I had Monday I was running in and out of industrial like buildings, parking garages, up concrete steps and opening metal doors. It was dark and gloomy with poor lightening. Wednesday I had another dream and hands down is the most bizarre taper dream I have ever had.

I dreamed I was in a car accident and was badly injured and both of my legs from the knee down had to be amputated.  The cause of the accident had something to do with the other driver not swimming across the lake because his wife wanted him to. This part didn't even make sense to my dream self because I thought why would he swim across the lake in the dark and in the rain? I was only hospitalized overnight which was a relief because it meant I could still run the marathon on Saturday. My hospital issued prosthetic legs were a lovely pair of Frye Campus boots. They looked exactly like the ones my friend Leah was wearing the other day when I saw her. (Guess I liked those boots more than I actually realized.)

 I was able to run in my new prosthetic Frye boot legs but I was slow and wobbly and it was pretty uncomfortable. I  had a catalog of prosthetic legs and picked out a pair for cycling but they cost $6,000 dollars. I also wanted the ones specifically for running but they cost just as much and I knew even if I could afford them I wouldn't get them in time for the marathon. I figured I would just deal with running Albany in the Frye boots but hopefully soon I could afford the running ones. But, then I reasoned I should probably get the cycling ones first since I didn't think I could ride my bike at all in the Frye boots--no toe clips. I reasoned since I could run in the Frye boots I should get the cycling ones so I could at least do a few triathlons over the summer. Maybe in a few months I figured I could afford the running prosthetic legs and would have a shot at a fall marathon pr.

Saturday, during the marathon, around mile 13 I would wonder if that dream was a prophetic warning of what was to come or whether it became a self fulfilled destiny. Two days before the race though I tried to entertain hopeful optimism and just laughed at my crazy subconscious.

And on that optimism.... It is funny but the week before I was at Carmella's double header Lacrosse game. Her team had won the first game 15 to 4 but the second game was a bit closer. They were almost certain to win the second game too --up by 2 points as the clock wound down to the last few minutes. In the last minute the other team scored and with less than 30 seconds on the clock a time out was called. One of the Dads confidently exclaimed that our girls were "undefeated." I cautioned that the game wasn't over yet, anything could still happen. He looked at me and asked the cliche, "is the glass half empty or is it half full?" And I told him, " the way I see it there is some water in the glass."

I don't understand why the question is always pessimist or optimist? The world is not black or white. There is not only shades of grey there's a whole freaking color scale!  A Kodachrome, right? And I understand that all the colors might make it all a little confusing to "see the writing on the wall" and the inclination is to simplify it but I guess I just think no amount of positive or negative thinking is going to change that there is some water in the glass. It is what it is.

But to answer the question. I am a realist who desperately  wants to believe the glass is half full. I want to see the sunny day. I want the rainbows and unicorns. And I guess that is why I didn't really notice the turtles:  I was too busy looking for  rainbows and unicorns to see what was really there.

While we were at the expo to pick up my number, Ryan was busy trying to figure out "what was up with all the turtles" and  I was busy talking to runners at the pacer table. I was looking for that darn 3:25 pace band. It doesn't exist. I couldn't find it at Savannah and I couldn't find it in Albany either. The reason it wasn't in Albany was that the Fed ex guys hadn't brought the pace bands yet. While waiting to find out about the pace bands and conferring with the pace leaders the suggestion was made to line up with the 3:35 pace group and adjust from there. I realized this was a valid suggestion.I asked what that pace was--8:12.

And I thought, ick. What's the point of having trained to run sub 3:25 and go out running 3:35? To me the math that would get me to sub 3:25 wasn't going to work if I went out at a 3:35 pace.  I just saw that idea as a waste of my training. I felt very confident I was in sub 3:25 shape. My training these past 3 months has been my strongest ever and I ran a 5k (20:30) pr and 10k (43:14) pr in February--both indicating sub 3:25 was a reasonable goal. Heck, I was only a 90 seconds shy of sub 3:25 in Savannah and that was most definitely not my best day ever.

I think in that moment I decided that if can't run 3:25 tomorrow I would rather save myself and try in 2 weeks at the Publix marathon for which I am signed up.Oh, but to be certain, I know the idea of me  actually running a 3:25 marathon on the Publix marathon course makes seeing a unicorn riding a rainbow a more likely scenario.

I walked away from the pacer table mulling the choices.  If I ran 3:3x I felt fairly certain that would be too fast to turn it around and run 3:25 at Publix in 15 days (for which I am registered). So the choices I reasoned were this:   go for sub  3:25 as planned, target 4 hours (long run pace) or not run. My thinking was also if it is going to be raining and hideous weather I would rather not be in it any longer than I had to be. And seeing as how I had  made the trip to Albany I might as well run the darn race. 3:25 it was.  . . and I was not excited, confident or thrilled about it at all. And I was irritated about that. I wanted to be excited and confident. I was mad that things were not going my way. Really. I waste way too much time being angry at the weather and things I have absolutely no control over.

The forecast for the morning called for 70 degrees, 88-100% humidity, 10-20mph wind, rain, lightening, thunderstorms and maybe a tornado. The race director promised to let us know by 6 am if the race would be canceled.

Meanwhile the severe storms that were predicted for Albany Saturday were about to hit Atlanta and the northern suburbs. So Ryan and I watched the weather.  I tried to go to bed at 8 pm knowing, at the very least, a good nights rest was going to be critical in getting through the race in the morning.

A tornado around 9 pm, according to the reports, touched down about 5 miles from our house.  My parents (who my kids were staying with), my nephew, brother in law, sister in law, and my in laws all live within a 10 mile radius of us. Gratefully, everyone and their homes were okay. My in laws lost power and we didn't know how our house was. Even still Ryan and my phone both rang or beeped with texts well past midnight with friends and family calling to see if we were okay and to check in to let us know they were okay. I would have turned them off but the forecast predicted another line of storms after midnight.

Needless to say, a good nights sleep didn't happen. Might have been worst night sleep's ever. How stressed out can one person be lying in a comfortable bed? The answer is pretty damn stressed out.

The Race

I stayed in bed until my alarm went off at a quarter til 5. I got up and had the usual cup of coffee, water, bagel with some peanut butter. I made a playlist and down loaded some new songs to my ipod and got dressed. At 6am  I saw the race was a go. At 6:15 Ryan and I left to go to the start.

It isn't raining yet but it is a muggy 71 degrees. There is a breeze so it doesn't feel oppressive and I think, well this isn't so bad. Maybe there will be race day magic. There usually is. I tell Ryan my legs feel really tight and I try stretching a little. Ryan holds my place in the ridiculously long porto potty line and I go and warm up a bit, stretch.  I am tired but I am always tired at the start. I've managed just fine in the past. I decide not to worry about the flashes of lightening I see in the distance.

With a few minutes to 7 I kiss Ryan good bye and make my way up near the 3:25 pace group. Even though I know it is coming and even watch as the guy pulls the cord for the cannon the boom still startles me and I say " Oh shit!" And it must of scared the piss out of the sky too because it starts pouring as I run over the start mat.

I try to be smart and stay back from the pace group but by the end of the first mile I am right in step with them.

First mile clicks off at 7:38. Too fast, obviously but still 3 seconds slower than I ran that first mile at Savannah.

I think the rain made it deceptively cool. I didn't feel hot. I felt totally fine. Easy even. I would even say I felt better than I did at Savannah. My legs though did feel tired and achy. But my legs always feel like crap for the first few miles of every single run. I just don't pay attention to it.

Mile 2  also uneventful. I definitely feel like I am holding back and keep just behind the pack of the group. I guess though I am part of the group because even though I have my ear buds in I can still hear mostly what is being said.

 8:01. And I think that is exactly what I did in Savannah. I feel like I am being smart.

 I am rain soaked though. I pointlessly try to avoid the large puddles. I decide the Green Silence  was the right choice. They don't feel as heavy as the Adrenaline's would have,  I tell myself.

Mile 3 Just as the rain lets up  I start hearing what I guess might be tornado sirens. I hadn't spoken to anyone. Not sure yet if I wanted to commit to the pace group so I wasn't looking to make friends. But I asked, to no one in particular, " Are those tornado sirens!" It was confirmed that they were in fact tornado sirens. Then I hear the pacer inform us that he would get us to the finish in 3:25 but his first objective is safety or some non sense like that.

It occurs to me that it flies in the face of good sense to be out running when there is a looming threat of tornadoes. I have the first of many moments that day where I do not  feel very smart or that I am being at all logical.

I pass a guy vomiting and I hear the pacer says something about breakfast. I tried not to look but I did. Mile 3 I think and people are already vomiting? You are not him. You are not him, I tell myself.

7:44 The pace felt fine but between the sirens and the dude vomiting I am unnerved. Looking back this is where I should have pulled back. But I remember contemplating it and looking at my arm on which I had written, "HTFU" and "You can!" and I stayed the course.

Mile 4 I want them to turn the sirens off. I see people stopping, jumping off the course to walk, piss or vomit. I start worry about my house. I hope it is okay. I wonder if Beau's lacrosse game is canceled. My legs still feel tired. Hopefully they come around soon.The pacer is trying to be light and engaging. I am grateful for it. If nothing else it is distracting. 7:48

Mile 5 7:44 I think there are still sirens but I think the rain has stopped. I am trying to listen to others talk while I internally debate my plan. I had originally, when I didn't know the weather was going to be so awful, planned to go out with the 3:25 pace group and drop the pace a little after 6 or so miles. After I knew how bad the weather was going to be I decided that plan was totally unreasonable. So my debate was stay with 3:25 or slow down to long run pace. I had my first GU.

Mile 6: 7:53 Aid station. More people still stopping, not looking good. I start to think maybe it is warm. Am I warm? Oh what to do! I don't want to slow down. I really want to run 3:25. I want another pr! I am wearing my green silence. They are my pr shoes. I try not to think about that my legs feel pretty crappy or that without the rain it really is starting to feel pretty darn hot.

Mile 7 7:44 Chaos happens. A young, quite fit I should add, guy about 5- 10 feet in front of me holds up his arm and steps off the course. I pass him and assume, like the others who have been stepping off he is going to piss or vomit.  But then I hear someone shout "Stop!! Everyone stop! Help!" I don't stop but I glance behind me and see that guy in the fetal position in the grass. He looks like he might be shaking. The guy next to me yells "he is having a fit!" I don't know what to do. I don't have my phone. Up ahead there is  a police car blocking the traffic for the race course. Our pacer bolts off to get help. I stay with the group, keep running and fight back the tears and the panic feeling that is rising in my chest. I feel myself sliding into the "valley of darkness" and again, I feel like I am not being very smart.

Mile 8 7:46 The pacer comes back. Someone again repeats that he was having a "fit". I think about what this means. Is he having a fit because he has epilepsy or is he having a seizure from heat stroke? I don't know and I don't think to ask but this is where my resolve at the race and my pursuit of 3:25 begins to really crumble. I am trying to give myself the pep talk but the little voice in the back of my head keeps reminding me that I am a parent. I have obligations in this world more important that running a 3:25 marathon. I start to really worry about the safety issue of this race. Maybe it is warmer than I think it is. Nevertheless I am still sticking with the group. I don't feel good about it though. I want to give it a little more time and see if it passes.

Mile 9: 7:52 I am still with the group but I note that this mile is slower and that it felt pretty tough. This I realize is not a good sign. We are out on an open highway/road. It is kind of windy. Hitting us sideways though. I pass one of many churches that I will run pass on the course. In South Georgia there is a church every quarter of mile. You can't turn a corner down here without finding one. This one has one of those marquees with an uplifting message. I read it and say it to myself twice. It is a positive message and I think I should adopt it for the rest of race. It will help me dig deep I decide. My mind wanders away from the positive message and starts thinking about the guy who fell and I worry about my house and that my feet and ankles and calves feel pretty awful. I start to say my newly adopted mantra from the church marquee to bring my mind back to the positive thinking but I have already forgotten it and all I can say to myself, having totally mixed it all up is : God creates disasters.  Not helpful or positive but now that  is what is stuck in my head! Crap.

Mile 10 7:56 Hmm, how did that happen? I try to figure out what is going on with the pace. That felt really hard and now I am behind the pace group. I have another GU and when I come to an aid station I decide to walk it. Maybe my heart rate is too high.  I don't know what is going on but I feel like something is off and I need to pull back.

Mile 11 8:20 I slow down and I think about how I am feeling. Not so good. I decide by this point I should be feeling better. My legs feel wrong. Nothing I can pin point but my feet, ankles and calves are achy and tight. Is it the shoes? I only did one long run in the Green Silence. 16 two weeks ago and it felt fine. My legs did not feel like this. Maybe it is from the rain. I can feel the pavement through my shoes, like I am running barefoot.

I can still see the pace group but they are pretty far ahead. I debate if I should try to chase them down or hold this pace. The sun is poking its head out.

Mile 12 8:05 I try to pick it up but it feels worse. I definitely know I am not bonked but I just don't feel right.  Not sick at the stomach but my feet and ankles and calves just hurt. This is not how my legs usually feel. I can't find a rhythm. Did I go out too fast? I look at my watch. Well this is definitely slower than I ran at Savannah and my legs never felt like this at all during the race--even in the last few miles. Sure my calves felt twitchy in the last 10k but this is different. I decide on a walk break and a slower mile.

Mile 13 8:42 I realize that 3:25 and a pr is gone based on how my legs feel. The "wheels" have come off. Do I want to put them back on? What is the right choice? What is the logical smart thing to do?

I am not enjoying running at all. It feels hot and muggy to me. There is no rain and the sun is making it feel gross. I still see every so often someone throwing up or kneeling down or stopping for some reason.I hear the occasinal ambulance or police siren.  This stinks. Really, no one looks like they are enjoying themselves. It seems really early for on for people to look this miserable.  We have yet to reach the half way point.

Speaking of which, I hit the half in 1:44xx. This is a good 3 minutes slower than I ran at a Savannah. I reason if I can hold it I can probably run close to 3:30. I feel a bit cooked though so it certainly won't be easy, fun or most questionably in my mind--worth my effort. I think about:  If I try to gut it out for the best time possible it will still be an undesirable time for me, I will still be disappointed and then, I figure,  I will have no shot whatsoever at a good race in two weeks. I just don't think I can recover that quickly. I mean I've done marathons 4 weeks apart but never 2 weeks. I don't even know if it is reasonable to think I will be able to pull it off no matter how slow I go.

 What to do. What to do. People are passing me. Legs feel icky. I am lonely and not seeing the fun in it. I can't entertain myself with taking pictures since I left my phone with Ryan.

--At some point during miles 11-14 I caught up and chatted with the guy from Texas who was with the 3:25 group. I ask him if he stopped when the guy fell. He confirms that he did and that by the time the medics got there he seemed to be coming around. There is no mention of a seizure so I don't know what happened but I feel better knowing he got help. I hope he was okay. He weighed heavily on my mind. No race is worth hurting yourself over. --

Mile 14 9:10 Still  deciding what to do. My legs feel worse. Feels like someone took a bat to my calves and ankles and the bottom of my feet ache badly.  I can feel my IT band tightening on both sides and that makes me panic. I do not want to have to battle ITBS again. I know for certain that this race is absolutely not worth putting myself back in the injury clink.

At this point, since I am taking a walk break every now and then when my resolve weakens I am noticing more stuff. Mostly what I see is the little turtle markers on the sewers. I laugh, Ryan was right, the turtles are every where! Turtles! Seriously! It all starts to dawn on me the mistake I have made. I went out as the rabbit and I most definitely should have been the freaking turtle. Turtles.

I feel really stupid.

Mile 15 8:40 IT band is very tight. I am hot. I am miserable. I am lonely. I decide to call it a day. I reason if I call Ryan at the next aid station and he can pick me up around 16 or 17  and that I can probably safely recover to be 100% in two weeks for the Publix marathon. Not my idea of fun or ideal but I know I am better than today.  What I want from myself just isn't going to happen for me today. I've already been dumb and, I decide, punished sufficiently for my mistake.

Live to fight another day, I tell myself.

With this resolve at the next aid station I asked a volunteer if I can use a phone. I am done! I tell them. I do feel a bit guilty. I mean, I paid to be out on the course. These awesome, kind and exuberant volunteers are out here for free.

 I suck. My self loathing is thicker than the humidity.

A nice man gives me his phone. I call Ryan.
I am done. Come get me, I tell him.
Are you fucking kidding? He asks.
No, I am cooked, I say certainly. But my voice shakes as I admit it. Saying it out loud and these nice strangers hearing me say  it makes it sad, scary and very real. Quitting is always hard and it never ever feels good.  My eyes well up and fight back tears. I will NOT cry in front of these nice poncho wearing people handing out water and bananas on their perfect manicured front lawn. I feel like the biggest ass ever.
Ryan asks,where I am.
I think the address was 1528 Coventry. Who knows. I say, I will start walking towards 16 and 17. Find me along the course.
Okay, he says.

I hand the phone back to the nice man and say thank you. He offers me a place to sit and wait but I tell him I will meet my husband at the next aid station. Such nice people. I am pathetic.

 I walk for a bit. And then bored by the walking I start jogging. I try to be encouraging to those I see struggling. I feel guilty but I also feel like a huge burden has been lifted. Sure there is a tug of guilt knowing I am not going to be a Natalie fan tomorrow. But for now I just want today to be over. I just want to go home.

 For the first time all morning I feel hopeful. I laugh a little, thinking --  you know, if this was a true Southern Gothic tale-- that after 2 hours of running down those rain flooded and tempestuous streets of Albany I have been baptized. Baptism by storm! I giggle at my next thought and conclude that Ryan, with his gnarly beard and his hair he hasn't cut in a year could totally pass for Jesus and he is going to save my wretched ass. Hallelujah! Ryan saves!

Or so I thought.

Mile 16 comes.   In it I come across Beth, a local ultra runner acquaintance.  She is super focused and doesn't even acknowledge me despite my screaming Beth! Beth! for several minutes. I jog along side her and start to think either I am invisible or she hates me. But with persistence she seeing me flailing beside her. I, of course tell her ALL of my woes and that I am quitting. I guess I should have known better than to tell someone who runs a marathon every weekend in her training for yet another 100 mile race of my woes and expect some sympathy. But I think I've already shown that logical thinking, good sense and being smart I was not. Pride, clearly not a factor anymore.
We say hi and she smiles.
Then I say, I am quitting.
Her face gets serious and she looks at me, sizing me up and says." I think that is a mistake. You'll regret it."
I give my arguments of "but I could just run Publix in 2 weeks! I don't want to injure myself again.Blah. Blah Blah. Feel sorry for me pleaseeee!!!"
"Just run walk it," she tells me. "You'll be fine. Besides you are running too fast right now anyway."
I am?
Yeah, 8:20's.

Huh.No quitting? I don't know if I like this idea. I KNOW I sure as heck don't like walking. Walking sucks.

We chat and I try to hang with her. Keeping an eye out for my husband who is sure to show up at any minute and I am certainly going to climb inside that car.

Mile 17 Still no saviour. Still hanging and annoying Beth.

I start to realize that maybe he isn't going to come get me. That what happened is that I called and said "babe, come get me. I am dying. " And he said "yes" but really what he said, after I hung up was:  "Fuck that. I'm going to the River Aquarium and find out what is up with the turtles!"

Mile 18 I am forsaken. I am certain of it now. I start to wonder about our marriage vows. Hello, good times and bad, please come pick up my sorry ass Ryan! You promised!

I am still ready to quit. Ready to tell anyone, everyone and I do.  I am sure Beth is annoyed and ready to shake me off but I am lonely, needy and don't care how annoying I am. By the end of the mile she tells me how ridiculous quitting would be. I only have 7 miles left and I can "totally do this" she points out.

Right. Right she is. But I realize that today, I just don't want to.  But apparently, March 3rd is the day where Natalie does not get what she wants.

Does she though, get what she needs?

Mile 19 Apparently yes. Because obviously what I needed, I realize now, is a good ass kicking and a serving of humble pie. Hmm, I guess I was due.

It doesn't matter that Beth is right. Right that I can"totally do this."  I have to do this because apparently, Ryan, who I am certain  is off researching turtles, is not going to come and get me and I am going to have to "do this" whether I want to or not.

Damn it all to hell!

As I come to this realization another runner pipes up and asks if I am NatNat. It is Chris from the Runner's World forums. We introduce ourselves and swap our stories of misery.  He asks if he can hang with me. I warn him, that any second I might be quitting but absolutely he can hang with me if he can stand it. He tells me that he has read my blog and "knows what he is getting himself into." Yay! Another wretched soul to run with!

Miles 20+   The sky is darkening; rain and pace groups come and go. At some point we lose Beth but not before she introduces us to her friend Vanessa. I come across again the lady in the dress and also the pretty blond lady who I had told my tale about quitting a few miles back. They had both wanted to quit too but like me are hanging in there. I think eventually they all pass me. But Chris, thankfully, is willing to stick with me. He is struggling with GI issues. I am struggling with bad attitude and sore achy legs, lost resolve and soon will be able to add the nasty snake of a calf cramp to the list of my woe is me's. I still hold on to the bleakest of hope that at any moment Ryan will show up and save me from my misery.

It is fun run walking with Chris. I probably would have laid out on the side of the road and held out the $4 dollars I had to my name and offered it to anyone to take me away if he hadn't been there.

All through these miles I see runners sitting on the side of the road--vomiting, taking a break, looking desperate for it to be over. I hear ambulances and sirens. And all the while we pass the most cheerful, optimistic and kind volunteers encouraging, thanking and wishing us well.

Mile 24  The sky darkens ominously to my right side. The rain is back.The sky looks like it means serious business this time and that the mother of all storms is ready to hit us.

I do start to worry that maybe something as happened to Ryan. I mean, really how could he have forsaken me like this? 13 years of marriage and 2 kids? I know I am ridiculous most days but come on, I am a good wife. Don't toss me out into the storm!

Mile 25 The four hour pacer finds us. She is all alone. She looks pretty done too. I offer to carry her sign for her but she says she is okay. I tell Chris this is it! We need just to suck it up and get it done. No more walking. The rain is heavier, the wind has kicked up and there isn't a culvert in sight for us to dive in.

Mile 26 The rain is really heavy now and it is getting dark. And I am not shitting you but we have to step up on the sidewalk and then we RUN INTO A BUILDING! We run through it and out on to the river walk. The temperature drops easily 10 degrees and the sky completely breaks open and dumps more rain than I think  is in the Flint River. I warn Chris ahead of time that I am going to have to do a cartwheel since it isn't a pr.

I hear his wife cheer for him.

And we are done. We cross the finish line in 3:58 and change. I cartwheel, give Chris a hug of thanks, get my medal--which is a . . .  FREAKING TURTLE!  

I look for Ryan. He isn't there. I can't believe it.

I had thought he would be there. Part of me thought he had been following me on the course, giggling when he saw me but never letting me see him. When I don't see him at the finish I panic. I assume something horrible has happened. Oh the images my mind can play.  I find a phone and call him. Apparently he has been driving the course looking for me but kept missing me because I kept running. Oh well. It is done.

What a disappointing day. After 14 years of running and 16 marathons I should know better. I KNOW that I just don't run well in warm humid weather. I never have. And for that matter I have never  run a pr at my spring marathon. Trying to force an aggressive goal was a huge mistake. One I just should not have made. IF I had been using my brain at all instead of holding onto my heart wish and being a silly optimist I would have had a much better day. I have no doubt about it. I only have myself to blame for the day I had. It just was not a day to try and run a pr and everything prior was telling me that but I, as usual, wasn't really paying attention. No worries though. It is for sure noted in my "book" for future reference.

A note about the photos. I took those in college. I still laugh thinking about my 22 year old self arranging Aunt Boo's lawn animals for my staged Tortoise and Hare race. I don't know if you see it but there is a cat, ducks, pig, and bull dog spectating the race. I am the most ridiculous woman ever. There really does need to be somebody to "shoot me every minute of my life." Oh, wait there is. His name is Ryan.

And my calves and ankles STILL feel like someone took a bat to them and, yes, as a matter of fact I do walk like I have a pair of Frye Campus boot prosthetics.

Self fulfilled prophecy indeed.


  1. Wow Nat, great post as always, but OUCH! Sorry so many things went wrong. I'm hoping Publix will be better and you have recovered for it. I'm shooting for 3:25 at Marine Corp this fall, so if you are interested, registration opens tomorrow! October in DC should be a lot cooler (crossing fingers).

  2. Nat,
    Looks like you and I had parallel races. I got a big 3:51 - not my finest moment, but this was the hardest race I have ever run. I agree totally with you about the wet shoes feeling like you are running on the ground. Felt like mine weighed a pound heavier each from the water we took on in freakin mile 1. And I was sloshing all the way the whole race. Learned a lesson not to min my bibb on my shirt anymore, cause that shirt weighed a whole lot more wet and was abrading me something fierce. Spilled Gatorade down my front at mile 20 or so and my nips felt like they were on fire from it cause I also forgot to tape - TMI I know, sorry. Oh, and the 3:25 pacer was telling his buddy that at mile 15 people would fall out, and then again at mile 20 people would fall out, blah blah blah. Well, karma is a bitch cause I heard that the pacer cramped up and DNF. My friend said she did not see him cross the line at 3:25 when she was down there looking for us to cross. I am not going to use a pacer again. Both times I have tried they have not maintained well. Well, it was nice to meet you and I hope we see each other at a race soon. Tell Ryan that my wife Kristin would have had the same reaction if I had called her to come get me - eff that I am going to the aquarium LOL.


  3. Dan, Thanks. I don't know how recovered I will be for Publix but goal will just to be to have a better a race. No MCM for me next year. I tink I might torture myself on the hills of the Atlanta marathon and probably target either Rocket City or Charleston for a goal race. Surely in Dec or Jan I won't get a 70 degree day.

    Warren, it was nice meeting you. I regret we didn't speak on the course since we were both with the ill fated 3:25 group. It was a big group and I wonder if anyone preservered from it. I know I wasn't the first to drop out from it but I was one of the early ones. For me the worst part was having to continue running in such miserable weather. It is one think to not beable to meet your goal but man it sucks when you have to hang in there in crappy weather. Don't feel bad about your 3:51--you got to be done a whole 7 minutes faster than me!
    Happy running and hopefully we can meet up under mucher better circumstances.

  4. I have a friend who had a very similar time expectation in mind as you did, and who probably came in within seconds of you as well! As for me, it was my first. I was shooting for 3:45 and came in at 4:00:16. I could really relate to your summaries of each and every mile! I started out too fast, and totally lost it in most of the miles between 15 and 23. The only thing I did not notice at all was the turtles along the road. I guess I was so busy thinking about how much worse I felt than expected, that I did not look around much. Anyway, good write-up! If you want to see mine, it's at