Tuesday, January 23, 2007

the marathon: 13.1 - 26.2 miles

after the high of seeing everyone wore off, my body began to grimace again. the best part was that one of my thighs started to chafe. awesome. i hadn’t really had a problem with the chafage for any of my long runs, but the saturday before, when i was in tennessee, i ran in the rain (chafing is more likely in the rain) and got a patch then. ouuuch. stinging is not a good accessory for marathon running. luckily, the fantastic medics were well prepared and were standing near the 14 mile mark with popsicle sticks coated with with vaseline. aside from sticky hands, i felt better.

charlotte was still feeling great, and for the couple miles or so, i simply tried to put one foot in front of the other and wait for the tightness to wear off. it’s funny though, because even feeling less than great, i couldn’t help but continue to grin and wave back at the crowds. it’s amazing how they keep you going and smiling. around mile 15 we saw another medic station. char suggested we just grab some pain killers (that would be tylenol 8 hour, the official drug of choice of the medic stands). they want to make sure you don’t take too many or you’re getting them just in case, so they ask what’s up and then mark your number to show you already got some good stuff. i was a little out of it at this point, and so when they said “where’s your pain?” i first said “what?” and then they asked again, and i stammered, “uh, my leg!”

well, it was true.

after that it got a little better. my new strategy was to cheer for someone else when i was feeling crappy. i picked out people in lls purple and yelled at them by city, or name or identifying feature. char wanted to use the bathroom, so while i waited, i stretched my calves and cheered at the top of my lungs for everyone going by. and i’ve got some lungs, believe me, it was fun, almost made me feel like i wasn’t 10.2 miles away from finishing a marathon.

that’s the point where it kind of sucks. you’ve run 16 miles, and you still have *more than ten* to go. that’s still, for a slow poke like me, somewhere around 2 hours more to go. but after the pain of starting to run again wore off, i was actually feeling pretty good. when we hit 17ish...we realized we were 2/3rds done, and that felt a little better than 10 miles. and then, came the magic mile, mile 18.

i don’t know if it was that i got a 2nd (or 3rd or 4th) wind, or if it was the chocolate goo, which is more like a packet of chocolate frosting, or the middle of a slightly cooked brownie, but somewhere during mile 18, i woke up, got un-sore, and even, dare i say, peppy. we had our headphones on, and i wish i could remember what song was playing but it was a bit of a blur but i felt like i could run like the wind. yes, my feet still hurt. yes, my legs still hurt. but it was all relative and dulled by the rush of endorphins flooding my brain.

our next spot for friendly faces was just after mile 20. the crowds were fantastic, and there were lots of tnt coaches from other chapters along the route encouraging us. charlotte started to fade a bit - “talk to me and tell me anything”. i started blathering on like an idiot that “less than 6 miles to go...and then we’re going to get medals and eat in-and-out burgers and drink beer and take a nap and get a massage and go in the hot tub and we already ran almost 20 and we’re doing great!” this took some time and even incited a giggle. my work was done. we crossed the 20 mile mark and waved at the camera men snapping away on the scaffolding.

there was the massive tnt cheering crew at mile 20+ yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!!!! i was all grins. “how are you guys feeling!” poor charlotte said “she’s great.” tossing her head in my general direction. i nodded emphatically with my lunatic-like grin. she started telling us that our coach christine would be up ahead, but that it was time to not think about our legs, only our arms. i tuned out because up ahead i could see my mom. i can’t remember if we stopped, i don’t think so, it was more of a slow-down, drive by, but my mom and aunt and sister were all cheering. someone said i looked like i just started, oh sweet lies, but it was fun anyway. i didn’t know where my dad was, but we had to keep moving.

char and i broke up at the 21 mile water stop. i was still feeling good, and charlotte, who had clif-blocks, not goo decided that she was going to stop and walk. it was very cinematic, like a scene in a film where someone’s wounded and the other person has to go find help. cue dramatic music...

charlotte: i’m going to walk while i have some water...but you go on, i’ll catch up
me: are you sure?
charlotte: yes, you go ahead. i’ll catch up, if you don’t speed up...
me: i won’t, i’ll be going this same pace...this pace
charlotte: yes, i just need to walk a little, i’ll see you in a bit...
me: okay...i’ll see you soon...

and scene.

i continued to feel great - i was passing people left and right, which was an odd feeling. soon i could see my coach christine up ahead. i waved and waved and she yelped and started running with me!! “roxie! all smiles!! exactly what i would have expected! you look great...i could see you passing everyone, you’re definitely one of strongest runners out here right now” (my grin got bigger) “wait, where’s charlotte!” i told her she was just taking a little break and was just a little bit behind me. it was nice having and expert with you for a little bit. she told me it was all about the arms...don’t think about your lower body, keep your arms loose and try not to be tense. if your arms are moving, your legs will move. she ran with me for about a mile, and that was great. she turned back and there i was, around mile 22. four more miles.

i stayed close to the right, near the crowds, still smiling, waving, letting the crowds keep me going. somewhere between mile 22 and 23 was when it got really hard physically. it was time to have my last goo, but i felt really really nauseous. in fact i was quite certain if could quite easily stop running, lean over, and puke right there on the side of the road. with this came a little bit of a lightheadedness. if you don’t know, loosing too much salt from your body is worse than being too dehydrated. symptoms are similar, but when it’s a salt issue it affects your mental state. scary. my last goo also was 4x sodium, and after that and some more pink accellerade i felt a little better.

mile 23...done. it was sunny but i still wasn’t too hot. crowds were thinning but the tnt coaches were out en-mass, probably running back and forth like christine had been doing. ahead was the one hill of the whole race, but it wasn’t a terrible one. i was a little more tired when i got to the top, but i was okay. i could see 24 in the distance. oh we were getting there. mile 24...the time on the clock was 4:52. we had stared seven minues after the clock...so i officially knew that i was not going to break 5 hours because i’d have to run 7.5 minute miles. it made me laugh that i was even still thinking about time at a time like that. i wasn’t broken yet.

and now, with just two miles, only 24 minutes left to go, this is the part i had saved all my inspiration for. the second wind, the happy running time, it was done. now it was just me and my aching tired body...and the reason i had come to do this damn run in the first place. throughout the run, i hadn’t wanted to think of the reasons why i was running until i really needed it.

first i thought about someone i had never met before. my friend fran’s friend alan. he had been fighting lymphoma and thought he had beat it, but it had returned. fran, being a fantastic person, gave me a 2nd donation. i told him to tell alan i would be running for him. and so i thought about alan and his fight, and run for him i did.

then i ran for anthony, a former-coworker’s husband. he was diagnosed with leukemia right around the time i decided to do the marathon. he’s just 43, and he runs marathons. when he was diagnosed, they said they though he had the leukemia for over a year, and he ran the last nyc marathon while he was sick, but didn’t know it. over the last 5 months, he got a bone marrow transplant and he’s back at home and doing well. he had sent me a lovely good-luck note, and i thought of it and him. and got a few more yards down the road.

and then, of course, it was time to think of bouv. i didn’t think words. i thought of his smile, the smirky-shit-eating-grin-smile. i pictured him happy and relaxed and drinking a killians, shaking his head at the lengths i had gone to show him that i cared. i thought about him grinning and saying, in his think accent “come on giroux, you’re almost done, giroux, you got it? then we’ll go drink some beahs”. i answered back “bring me home buddy” and managed another little burst of speed.

mile 25, oh thank christ...1.2 miles! if i could have jumped up and down, i would have. crowds were thickening and still cheering. there was one more water stop but there was no way i was stopping then. that mile, was probably the mile that took the longest. “if your arms are moving, your legs are moving, your arms move your legs move” droned in my head. still grinning though, tnt peeps were cheering me on, saying i looked strong, almost there, all those encouraging types of things people are supposed to say to people at the end of a marathon. i grinned at them all and put one foot in front of another.

a tnt coach that was not from my chapter came up and started jogging up next to me. so nice. i never really knew what having a team meant, and this race really illustrated it better than anything else i think i could have done. he said i was doing great, but to loosen my shoulders a little bit, they were a little tense. okay. he said as when i turned the corner i would see a big sign at 6th street (i think) and that was the 26 mile mark...and then there was only .2 miles! yeaaaaaaah!

i thanked him for the good news and kept going. 6th street. 26 milescrowds and crowds, their clothing and cheers blending together...and there was ramon and his cowbell.
it is a tradition that ramon, our head coach, runs each and every new york chapter runner up to the finish line, ringing a very very loud and obnoxious cow bell. i hollered at him and there we were, finish line ahead, bell triumphantly cheering.

“so how you feel? do you feel good? you look good!”
“yes, i feel good!“
“and now you can auction you butt for even more because it is marathon butt!” at this i just started cracking up.
“but seriously, it’s all you now. there is is, the finish line. look good for you picture. i am so freaking proud of you!” if my face hadn't already been reddish, i'm sure i would have blushed.

and he stopped running, and then it was just me and the finish line a yard or two ahead. i raised my arms wildly and i thought i was going to hurt myself smiling so big and cheering at the same time, waving at the crowds and the camera’s taking pictures. i had thought all along i was going to cry, but there was no room for tears in the sheer joy that was crossing that finish line.

i was a marathoner. and a smiling one.

today's mileage: 26.2
mileage to date: 371.2


Carissa said...

Tears in my eyes...I am so proud of you and inspired by your blog. My marathon is in T-91 days, and I cannot tell you how excited I am!!! What a fulfilling end to an already very fulfilling journey. Thank you for your inspiration!

RunnerGirl said...

Way to go! I ran the RNR AZ half that day - it was COLD!!!!

Congrats on your first marathon, and going back for seconds!

I too used to run with TNT, that is how I got started.

roxie said...

thanks ladies! it's been so fun.

carissa, you're going to do fantastic!