(Written after the St. George Marathon, October 5, 2008)
I must start out by saying that this week I have had a really bad cold (starting Tuesday). I had been praying really hard that I would be better by today (Saturday) so that I would be able to run the marathon. I was feeling a lot better yesterday, but still a little congested and not quite 100%. Then, this morning, at exactly 12:00 am, I woke with a start, sitting up in bed and coughing like my life depended on it. It actually felt like I had swallowed water or something. Once my coughing fit was over I was feeling pretty good, and was able to go right back to sleep for the night. I woke up feeling fine (other than my nerves) and I didn't even have a problem with my cold during the race, it was like I just had to cough it all out. Quite miraculous I think.
Of course, I did wake up at 3:30 am and kept checking my alarm to make sure it would go off at 4. I was planning on meeting my college roommate, Rachel (who got me into this whole thing), at 4:45 at the park across the street from Pete's parent's house, where we are staying. They had a billion school busses lined up to take the 7,000 of us up to the start of the race just past Veyo.
It started raining lightly while I was waiting for her, and this rain was relentless. I was able to stay dry with the tin foil blanket Rachel brought for me, until the race started, and I threw it off after about the first mile. I started out running with Rachel and 2 of her friends from California, and this was really fun. I didn't feel like we were running too fast, but we were making good time. They declared that we would talk about our first or most awkward kiss at mile 4, and at mile 8 we would make up a rap. I never got to help with the creation of the rap, though, because just after mile 7 we got to the big hill. My knee started hurting a little and I decided it wasn't worth trying to stay with them, though I kidded myself that I would catch up to them on the downhill. Of course, this never happened as they would have gone faster on the downhill as well.
It was still raining pretty hard, and by mile 13 I was listening to the sound of the rain hitting the brim of my hat, other people's shoes squishing and my soaking wet pant legs hitting together at every step. At mile 14, I folded my pants up into shorts. I was soaked to the bone, and my teeth started chattering periodically from here on out. Luckily I had my jacket. A lot of people were just wearing tank tops and shorts. Brrrr.
When I got to mile 17, I was triumphant in the fact that this was the farthest I'd ever run, but I was also starting to feel like it was never going to end. Then my left foot started hurting (on top of my right knee that was almost a constant ache now). I don't know if I stepped on my foot funny at some point or if it was just from all the pounding on the pavement, but it felt like it was something more than just sore. By the time I got to mile 20, it was 11:00 which was when I had told everyone to start watching for me. I saw a lady in an orange parka walking and telling someone on her cell phone that she was going to be later than she expected. I asked her if I could use her phone to call Pete when she was done, but he didn't answer. I decided to try running again, but I didn't get too much farther before I had to start walking again and she caught back up to me and I decided to just walk it with her. Her name was Kim, and we had a nice time talking and helping each other forget the pain. At about mile 23, we called our loved ones again, and this time I was able to get a hold of Pete so he knew about when to meet me. By now we had gotten in to a pretty good walking pace, and she said if it weren't for me she probably wouldn't have been walking so fast. Luckily, I'm just naturally a fast walker, and this wasn't hurting my foot too much.
The 5:30 pace girl passed us when we had about a mile left. We tried to run a little, but my foot would hurt so bad, I couldn't stand it. Finally, when we were just about to the finish line, Rachel came out to run in with us (she had finished just under 4:30!), then I saw/heard Katie and her friends cheering very loudly for me, then I saw Pete with the kids and his mom. I'm always so happy to see them! I was able to hobble-run across the finish line, holding hands exultantly with Kim as we crossed it together. What a relief! We finished in 5:39:57.
I was so cold, and they had ice cream at the finish line. I never wanted ice cream less in my life. I was so happy to be staying across the street! I limped back and got in a nice hot bath.
All in all, I'm glad I did it, and I'm glad I stuck it out and finished it, but it was pretty miserable, and I can't say I'm excited to do it again at the end of Ironman. I'll be better prepared, though. And hopefully it won't be raining the while time. :)