Ugh. This goal. Let me tell you what.
I hate running. I told my friend Jen the other day that my hatred of running is only a little less than my hatred of terrorism. Yes, it’s that bad. If I remember correctly, I made these particular goals right after I had been on bedrest and in a hip-to-ankle knee brace for 2 months. I was desperate for any sort of movement that would make me feel “normal.”
But guess what, folks. Running large distances? Not normal. We’ve domesticated horses, developed cars, and bought Razor scooters so we don’t have to run these distances. Why I thought I would enjoy running 13.1 miles is entirely beyond me.
The race started early, so I left my house around 5:30 am. Unfortunately I hadn’t slept well the night before. My poor doggie is upset that Spencer’s gone for training, and she had weird doggy nightmares all night. She’d run in her sleep and cry, and I was up every hour trying to comfort her. Even as I’m typing this she’s sitting in front of the living room window waiting for him. It made it even more difficult to leave her at home this morning, and it would have been so easy to justify staying at home.
I drove into Pensacola via the Gulf Shores National Seashore. It was still dark, but the deep blue of the sky near the horizon hinted that the sun was about to rise. From my car I could hear the waves crashing against the shore. Upon arriving at Pensacola Beach, I walked straight out to the edge of the sand, just in time to catch a beautiful sunrise.
We filed into place, and everyone self-sorted into their pace groups. I’m really slow, so I decided that it would be best if I was near the back. It was pretty packed, and I knew that I didn’t want to get swept up into the crowd. At this point, I felt like I could run the first 5k and walk the rest. My training had…ummm…tapered off a bit early. As in I basically stopped running in February since other life things came up and I maybe forgot about the marathon. I figured that if I could finish in under 4 hours (since that was the course limit) I’d be fine.
The gun sounded, and since it was so packed it took nearly a minute of walking to reach the starting line. The first 3 miles or so zig-zagged through the houses on the waterfront. This was one of the more difficult parts of the race because you really had no sense of distance. I felt like I had finished at least 3 miles when I came up on the second mile marker. It was tough, but it got better once we reached the main road. From there, it was a nice flat run with a great view of the dunes and the Gulf of Mexico. After mile 5, I didn’t really feel anything in my legs. I ate a few Gatorade energy squares and a Clif Energy Gel before the race and I was feeling pretty well energized and hydrated.
At mile 6.5 I needed to take a bathroom break. I came across an unoccupied portapotty, did my business, and left. I had been laughing earlier and the amount of people who were stopping to use the restrooms. At some areas there were even lines to use the portapotties. Little did I realize that the amount of liquid I was consuming along the course coupled with the -ahem- loosening of the bowels that running creates would have such a sudden effect. I’m thankful for the strategically placed honey buckets. It would have been awful to try and find a spot out in the sand!
Other than that, the race was pretty uneventful up until mile 10. I was hot and sweaty, but the crowd had thinned out considerably. I had lapped a lot of the people that I initially used to pace myself. For a while near mile 8 I was the only person around minus one guy who kept trying to get me to run a marathon with him. Needless to say, I picked up the pace a short while after that. Spencer called around mile 10 (I was using my iPhone for music and tracking on the Nike Running app), we had a really short convo and he gave me lots of encouragement. I hung up, and realized that (like the first 3 miles of the race) the last 2 miles of the course were through housing developments again. The. Worst. At this point my lungs were starting to burn if I inhaled too deeply, and my calves had started to tighten up. There was a lot more walking than running, though I made sure to run if I saw one of the course photographers 😉
I pushed through the last half mile, and ran across that finish line. I saw the photographer, raised my arm triumphantly, and pulled my headphone cords that were tangled all over my arm right across my face and my pretty smile. So…I’m pretty sure that picture’s a bust. Won’t be buying that one! I received my “World’s Most Useful” finisher’s medal. My final time was 3 hours(!), 4 minutes, and 11 seconds. I didn’t finish last in my age or gender categories, and I didn’t finish last overall. That’s good enough for me!
The afterparty was okay. They had bananas, oranges, and red beans and rice…minus the rice that they ran out of. I had 2 bananas and a bowl of beans, with lots of water. When I sat down, I thought for a split second that I was peeing myself. It was then that I realized how sweaty I had gotten over the course of the race. Even still, I made sure to check my seat before I left. I was still convinced that I had wet my pants in the center of a party.
I hobbled back to my car, drove home, and spent the rest of the night finding injuries. I have two blisters, a really stiff neck, an achy left knee, and…wait for it…crack rash. I’ll just say this: crack rash is something you don’t realize you have until after you’re home and have let your guard down. You’ve hopped into the shower to rinse off, turned around in the water…and your eyes get big and before you know it you’re screaming “Ow. OWOWOWOWOWOW!” to yourself, struggling to get through the rest of your shower. I’ll spare you most of the details, but if you want to read more about crack rash, you can do so right here. Needless to say, if you’re a new runner or crossfitter in a humid climate, you won’t want to miss it. Unless you want to miss it, of course. Your call. Either way, I’m just happy I didn’t feel any of this until after I got home!
All-in-all, it was a pretty good race. I don’t think I’ll be running one any time soon, and I think goal #3 of running a marathon is no longer a goal of mine. It was a interesting experience in seeing what the human body can do, but it’s not something I want to repeat any time soon.
If anyone wants me, I’ll be at home on the couch with a heat pad around my neck, an ice pack on my knee, and a puppy dog by my side. If someone brings me pho or thai food, I’ll reward them with my political commentary while we watch The West Wing. It’ll be great, I promise. I now have my own bottle of sriracha.