A few weeks ago I wrote a post about a race I was training for and my daughters wondering “if it’s so hard, why do I do it?”. This past Sunday, I ran the marathon and I was left with the same question.
“If it’s so hard, why do it?”
The training for this marathon had not gone particularly well, but I held the attitude, 'I’ve paid for the race, I’ve done the training, might as well run'. I packed my bag with everything I could possible need and headed to my sister’s house in Denver for the night. Because of the location of the race, we would have to get up at a god awful 2:30 in the morning to get there in time so we decided to have an early dinner and go to bed.
For those not dumb enough to endeavor into marathon running, it is common practice to “carb load” the night before a race, which for me is generally a pasta dish, no red sauce, murders the ol tum-tum. I came up with the brilliant plan to have ramen, and my sister found a place that was ramen/ ping pong themed. Did that combo send any red flags up? Nope, let’s eat. Fast forward to midnight. The scene is my wife and sister both sound asleep while I create a laundry list of mistakes on my porcelain throne. I finally got back to sleep, but I was starting to panic about my readiness for my run.
The next morning, I paid my throne another visit, gulped a strong cup of coffee, a half a bagel, a banana and a larger than prescribed dose of Pepto. Breakfast of champions. We loaded into the car and made our way to the starting line.
Getting to the start required a shuttle and for me to leave my wife as she wasn’t running and my sister as she was running a half-marathon and therefore started a little later. I took a seat at the back of the bus and tried to relax, a feat made impossible by my bus mates. For me, when running a race, it is relaxing to find people that are approximately in the same condition as me, slightly pear shaped, a little older and uncomfortable with what we are about to do. This bus was nothing like that. My co-passengers, we’ll call them Lance, Zeke and Turbo, all had a one upmanship that was inspired. One talked about “bonking” and only running a 6:30 minute mile, the next talked about a Pike’s Peak challenge where you run a marathon route to the top of the peak twice in two days and the third, Turbo’s story, is that he is running this marathon as a warm up for a 120 miler he’d be doing the next week. The thing about these guys, is that they weren’t bragging. I think they were that good, which made me feel that bad. I got off the bus perfectly ready to go home.
I was lucky enough to meet up with a couple of friends of mine at the start. They are very funny people and spending a few minutes with them took my mind off the bus ride and the ramen playing ping pong in my intestines. The bus ride would not return, the ramen would.
As the race started it became apparent the jostling of the run was going to make what was on my insides want to make its way outside. I made pit stops in at least four of the rest stops in the first half of the marathon, each stop being more horrific than the last. I suppose one of the beautiful things about being a quick runner would be beating twelve hundred people to the outhouses, a luxury I will most likely never understand. By the time I reached the thirteen mile marker, my body had exercised the ping pong demons and most of the liquids I would have enjoyed in the race.
The second half of the race was more or less uneventful but suffice it to say, I was more dehydrated than I would have normally been on a race like this. The temperature rose to 85 degrees. Another perk of being fast would have finishing before the sun got through the clouds, but no such luck. I’ve heard it said that a marathon starts at mile twenty. A truer statement has never been uttered. I struggled big time, negotiated with myself, and finally pushed through. My wife met me around mile twenty-five and encouraged me through the finish. As I crossed the finish, I was more relieved to make it than I was happy to finish. I got my medal and tried to cool off. Getting back to our car is a separate story, too long for this already too long post. It was over, six months of training, hundreds of miles, weekend hours that could have been spent with my kids, all spent to run these 26.2 miles.