Adventures in running

While trying to find a document on my laptop, I saw THIS:

And had to laugh, thinking of the story behind it.

I never ran track growing up, never even ran a mile without stopping until college. Ran my first 5k in '02 with President Bush and about 200 White House staff, just because it was a novel opportunity. But somewhere along the way I became addicted to races. I'm still not "a runner". I'm embarrassingly slow and to this day have only ran about 8 miles without having to take a walk break. But I've completed every distance up to a full marathon, and I did that around this time last year. And per usual, it did not happen without incident. The account of it is below.

After six months of training through the worst winter DC has ever known, getting to Nashville to run the Country Music Marathon only to have freak Severe Weather (tornado warning) and have the race cut short, a 2 week hiatus from training while I was overseas, and baaaarely making the cut for the Delaware Marathon (which I found out I got in while I was in Athens dodging tear-gas during riots), I FINALLY FINISHED!

I went from a Rock and Roll series race of 30,000 runners in famed Nashville - to the 7th Annual 649 runner marathon in little Wilmington, DE. Little bit of a change.

They offered an Early Start for the slower runners and I chose that so my teammates (2 other girls who also didn't finish Nashville) wouldn't have to wait that long for me to finish. After leaving our hotel later than planned, I literally got dropped off on the corner, scurried over to the start where maybe 30-40 runners (mostly senior citizens...) were, had just a few minutes to start making friends and - we were off!

It's actually pretty relaxing to be at the back of the pack because everyone just chats. I got asked why I was doing the early start (I guess because they thought I was young enough to be faster...) and I met a nice 62-year old man named Roscoe from Macon, GA who told me about his 4 kids and how he was doing TWO MARATHONS A MONTH this year until he finished ALL 50 STATES.

Actually, there were several runners there who had already done marathons in all 50 states - sometimes three times over. Most were over 60. Pretty inspiring.

I stayed with Roscoe for a bit while we tried to figure out the course. Chaos! There were actually three races going on simultaneously: The Marathon, a Relay, and the Half-Marathon. AND, if that wasn't enough, the marathon course is actually running Two Loops - so basically you do the 1/2 marathon course twice. And parts of it go through deslolate areas with little marking. Twice, Roscoe and I thought we'd missed a turn.

And because of the two loops and 3 races, you were constantly running by signs like "Mile 3!" (for the marathoners), then a sign that said "Relay turnaround!" then a sign that said "Mile 16!" (as in, the second lap of the marathon). It's a miracle I didn't get lost or take off in the wrong group. I actually think the fear of losing sight of the other runners helped make me faster, so it worked out :)

So I started around 6:20a.m., with my Gymboss timer (the thing that tells me when to run and when to walk - we'll call him "Gymmy" for short).

The regular start for the marathon was 7 a.m.

by 7:40: The first regular marathoner passed me

by 8:00: The first Female regular marathoner passed me (which I was excited about - she was only 20 min behind the male lead!)

A little while after that: I was passed by a man wearing a tutu. Sigh. (SEE ABOVE)

1/4 of the way through the race: Gymmy stopped working.

(Fortunately, I had also borrowed my coaches watch so I'd spend the rest of the race constantly checking my watch to make sure I stayed on my run/walk ratio, while doing math in my head to see how long I'd been running since the official clock was for the Regular Start. Since I suck at math, this all was nice and distracting.)

Mile 15: I passed Roscoe again.

And all the while, I keep getting lapped by the regular marathoners and fast relay guys and the leader of the pack had a MOTORCYCLE escort so not only am I doing math in my head, trying to stay on the right course, and singing Yellow Submarine to myself because I didn't wear an ipod, but I have to sidestep away from a motorcycle and fast runner every few miles.

A few times during the course my coach would find me and run for awhile and other Team in Training people from all over the country would yell my name (printed on my tank top) and encourage me. The race was so small that they have placards along the course with people's bios so while you are running you can enjoy reading about people like "Mary Smith! Tampa, FL! This is her first marathon!"

I definitely felt like just walking around mile 20-22, but I never stopped smiling. The few spectators were mostly nice families who were so great to cheer for us and even the traffic cops along the route were very nice. Mile 26 kind of came out of nowhere and as I ran across the finish, I started to feel like I was about to burst into tears.

Then I felt like I might throw up.

Fortunately, neither happened and hopefully they got a great shot of me pumping my fists while the crowd was cheering. Good adventure. :)