Tuesday, February 19, 2008

26.2 Miles is HARD

I'm sure this comes as a surprise to nobody, but 26.2 miles is a LONG run. It's also long when you have to walk (like I did). So, first of all - I'm sorry that it's Tuesday and I ran on Sunday and you are hearing nothing 'til now. Frankly, I forgot my laptop and didn't get home until today, so I couldn't give an update. But here's the blow-by-blow:

I was sick all the way up to the starting line, but when I woke up on Sunday morning - I felt pretty good. I feel like this was through sheer force of will, more than anything else. I got up at 5 am and just before I left the room, Scott leaned over and took a picture of me. (I'll post all the pics as soon as I get them from the digital camera bearers.) I went downstairs and milled around with the TNT folks. At this point, I was still thinking that I might be able to run a 5 hour marathon (which is what I had trained for and was probably my pace, right through the 20 mile run). When we left the hotel around 6:15 or so and went out to the start line, I stood with the 5 hour pace group and struck up a conversation with some fellow and ex-TNT'ers who were doing the half. It wasn't a bad morning, probably the temps were in the low 50s, which did not bode well for later. I wore a long-sleeved tee shirt while waiting for the race to start.

The canon went off at 7am and I started walking/surging forward with the crowd, but we didn't actually cross the start line for a while. Then I was running down Congress Ave with a bunch of 5 hour marathoners and feeling pretty good about the pace. Turns out, I started too strong for someone who had not been able to get out of bed the previous weekend. Live and learn.

I saw Scott at the 5.5 mile mark and he took my picture. He actually saw me take off, which I had not asked anyone to do (figured it would be too chaotic - I was right. He said he could barely spot me in the crowd). Anyway, I ran pretty well for the first 10 miles or so, but this was a pretty hilly part of the course and I think it really took a toll on me. I stopped to use a really gross port-o-pottie around mile 11.5 and lost my ability to run steady around mile 12.

Thus began the walk/run odyssey that would make up the 10 miles. This is where I knew I had gone out too strong and was forcing my not-quite-recovered self to do a task that I wasn't really up to. My back hurt and it started to get pretty warm out there. I saw the family at mile 17 (ran by) and mile 21 (stopped for a second). They were waiting for me at mile 23, but by that time I had lost my ability to run. This had, in fact, happened at about mile 22.

Kathleen, at this point, had send out a mad text message to all of her friends, telling me to send text encouragements to my cell phone. This was fantastic (though my text message memory filled up pretty fast and I probably didn't get all of them)! I called Ellen at one point who told me that Sean was sitting on my shoulder and encouraging me along - remember - easier than chemo! But seriously, I was wicked tired and this just made me very emotional (I had hit the psycho wall by this time anyway). Things were becoming a blur and I remember a large woman, shaking a maraca (sp?) and yelling "eye of the tiger, baby!" Very strange. But this was when the crowd matters most, when the 80 year old man runs by you and asks you if you're going to make it, it's sure nice hearing someone say, "all downhill after you turn the corner! You can do it!" Of course, this was a lie. But it was still nice to hear.

Anyway, at mile 23, my mom and my 5 year old niece decided to walk with me. Actually, they were sort of pacing me. My mom kept telling me that we could do a 15 minute mile and be done in 45 minutes, which of course I wasn't so up for at that point. Sage told me that I should have ridden my bicycle and perhaps things would be easier if we had roller blades (couldn't have agreed more). Anyway, Scott, Kathleen, and Todd showed up at mile 25 to pick up Sage and my mom so that everyone could go to the finish line. And I was on my own again. All I could think was that I had over an hour to finish, so I should be able to get in that last mile. Then I saw this mega-hill within the last 8 blocks or so and I seriously thought I would give up. Just then, a fellow TNT runner came along and walked with me until I got within about 5 blocks. He had already finished and was going back to encourage the rest of us. He just kept telling me that it wasn't long and I was almost done.

About 1-1/2 blocks from the final turn, he told me that I only had that little bit and then I would be in the chutes for the last 3 blocks. And he told me to smile, 'cause someone would be taking my picture then. And I started to jog. (This was Sean, really, because I seriously could not MAKE myself do this at any point in the previous 3 miles). I started to jog and then...I started to run. I heard the announcer say my name, and I ran even harder. At this point, everyone on the side was cheering me and so was the announcer (as noone else was running at this point - these were just the crampers and the stragglers finishing up). And so I ran across the finish line, all arms up like an Olympian or something. And it was fantastic. Even 6 hours and 17 minute (way slower than Katie Holmes - dang it) into the race, it was fantastic.

And that's the story of my race. I'll post again in a couple of days to tell you about the recovery. Mostly because I need to run (not literally, thank goodness). Thanks for everyone's support! You've all been great! Sorry for grammar errors, I'm not proofing this post...


gradstudent said...

Congratulations Deirdre! It sounds like quite a wild and exhilarating ride. I'm in awe. --Helen

Jimmy said...

Congratulations, Deirdre! All marathons get very tough toward the end, but what you went through was AGONY.... and a LOT OF IT! Your illness took a lot out of you. The fact that you finished was truly an example of MIND OVER BODY! There is no doubt in my mind that you would have finished somewhere close to that 5 hour time frame if you had not been sick. (and I know this because I saw your training!) So ignore the time and bask in the glory of FINISHING 26.2 MILES! .... and rest with the knowledge that you (and your financial supporters) have made a GREAT CONTRIBUTION IN THE FIGHT AGAINST LEUKEMIA AND LYMPHOMA! -jimmy

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