Tuesday, November 18, 2008
To be perfectly honest, I have always felt like I have underachieved athletically. I have never won any kind of championship. My little league baseball teams were always mediocre at best. My high school football team didn’t win a playoff game my entire four-year career. Even the church league basketball teams I have been a part of could never win a tournament. That probably explains the tears when I crossed the finish line Sunday morning.
I didn’t win the race. I just finished. But there is something to be said I guess for accomplishing something that six months ago seemed impossible. 26.2 miles is a long freakin’ way. I sat in an ice bath (let’s pause for a moment so we can all get that visual!) on Sunday afternoon, weary, thinking about the fact that I had just completed a marathon. I couldn’t believe it. Now, as I write two days later, the soreness is retreating. I spent 30 minutes in the pool this morning reminding my legs what it is like to have full range of motion. Yet, even if the physical pain is leaving my body, I think I’ll hold on to the memories for quite a while.
Torrie kept saying over and over again on Saturday how cold it was going to be on race day. I finally told her to stop mentioning it. It was a mental thing, I guess. My mind really didn’t need the reminder of how cold it was. My legs would tell me everything I needed to know when we walked out to the car Sunday morning. I scraped frost off of the windshield and hopped in the car. The thermometer read 29 degrees.
It was 69 degrees by the time I finished. That should tell you something about Oklahoma Novembers. I should also tell you how long I was out there. My stocking cap made it until mile 17. I chunked my gloves at mile 19. Finally, I tossed my long sleeve shirt to the curb at mile 21. Call them sacrifices to the marathon gods.
The course was actually pretty nice. We ran from downtown Tulsa to Jenks (a neighborhood community down the river) and back. It was a fairly flat course until the last 4 of 6 miles. That is when the hills started. That is also when I lost my pace. At the halfway point, I was on pace to break 4 hours (my original goal). By the time I got to mile 20, I was on schedule for 4.30. I finished in a little under 5 hours.
For some reason, those last 6 miles were further apart than the first 20. I cruel joke if you ask me! I wasn’t winded. My legs just wouldn’t move any faster. Mentally, I was strong throughout. I never had thoughts of dropping out. I never had to coach myself into taking “one more step”. I had nothing left.
When I got about three miles out, I could begin to hear music. Granted, there were bands along the entire course but this music was different. It was layered with the sound of an announcer and the occasional roar of a crowd. The finish line was in reach. I was going to finish. The race took us a few more blocks out of the way before it finally weaved back to the finish but it was all down hill by that point. I remember crossing the mile markers… 24… 25… 26… I rounded the last corner and I could see people lining the streets. The music grew louder and finally the finish line approached.
People have asked me if I plan to do another one. I think that is like asking a new mom if she plans on having another kid while she still has a hospital gown on. It is too soon right now to say but as long as I don’t have any lasting injuries I’ll probably try it again. After all, my goal was 4 hours.