Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Flash Your BIBS!!!

Seems someone at the marathon does have a weird sense of humor. Here, check this out...

After getting my medal, hugging Erica, catching my breath, getting my Finishers shirt and stein (what? not a martini glass?) :o), we were standing around looking for others from our group.

I hear this woman say "Is your name REALLY June?" I turned to see who it was, and I laughed and said "Yes."

You see that morning I had Erica take a sharpie and block letter my name down both of my upper arms to help with the spectators yelling the right name and not JULY as someone had oh so casually printed on my helped some. And then it just confused others on the course who would yell "July" and then "oh its June..."

Anyway, after I said yes to the woman, and she slowly pulled back her medal that was covering her bib and lo and behold her bib said JULY too!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Oh my goodness, I was floored! I said to her "is your name supposed to be June?" and of course she replied "yes" and then I pulled my medal away and we both busted out laughing. April got a picture of us together with our JULY bibs and all, but I dont have it yet.

And yes while to some it may be funny, when it comes right down to it, now its plainly obvious that someone doing those bibs did this ON PURPOSE. I could have possibly believed (although I never did) that a mistake was made once, but twice?

I think not.

I fully intend to send that email that I told that race volunteer about that first day, because I think I should get free entry next year....or something. An apology maybe? I dont know maybe I am making too big a deal out of this, but dammit it was my first marathon and I wanted at least my name to be right on my bib! They got it right everywhere else.

Anyway, June Harris kicked my ass and shes 50. So there ya go. See ya next year June Harris!!!

Recovery Update: Tuesday of course was much better than Monday. Today (Wed) when I got out of bed there was not an ache or pain to be found. Nothing. Woohoo!!

So I went for a light and easy 3 miler on the treadmill. My legs felt like lead at first, so I just walked for about 4 minutes before I started running. From there I took it super easy as I said. Feels good!

I Believe in Angels (The Final Steps to 26.2)

mraAfter eating the piece of best orange ever, seeing the man with the balloons and being in front of the Doubletree and seeing said man turn the corner ahead of me, the emotions as I previously mentioned were starting to swell.

My senses seemed to be heightened as I began to feel hot air and then cooler air and then hot air again. What the hell? The winds in downtown were confused. The cool front and the not cool front were fighting each other.

And my heart was fighting with my legs. Go. Stop. Go. Stop. Go.

As I turned on Louisiana I remember seeing the first angel. And she was yelling my name. Loudly. It was Sarah. And next to her was her boyfriend, Jose. Yes angels have boyfriends.

I ran straight towards her and she stepped off the curb to run out to meet me. I distinctly remember how good she felt as I hugged her as tightly as I could. I dont remember letting go. I think I didnt want to so I just held onto that in my head. And then I kept running.

Up ahead of me I could see the other runners turning and it seemed so close. So very close. And it was. I turned.

And there it was. The light blue of the Finish line paraphenalia. To me it said COME ON IN JUNE. You are almost there.

I was alone. But then out of nowhere a man stepped in line with me and simply said to me "Hows it going June?" (I had my name on both arms), I dont remember now what I said, but I do remember him asking me "is this your first marathon?" and I replied "yes." I told him I wanted to walk and he said "nice and slow, easy pace. Speeding up now is pointless. Just keep going, you're doing great." I thought oh my God hes SO smart. He kept talking to me and I kept trudging along ignoring the beep that told me it was ok to walk right now.

Then there was angels 3 and 4 to my left, screaming...Pony and Pizza Man. I remember Pony jumping up and down and yelling Junebug, and I remember John's smile. Said angel #2 (the man) was still nearby. After I passed Pony and John, I told the man "I cant do it." "I cant get there."

It was so close now. I went to say something to him, and he was no longer there. I didnt have the energy to turn my head and he wasnt in front of me either. I kept going.

From there I only remember reaching up and wiping tears from my eyes, again and again. I wonder if my pics will show me doing that at all. I usually try and make sure for a good pic at the end, but I dont even remember holding my head up at all.

The clock said 5:36 (and of course I still had the wits about me to subtract 3 or 4 min from that)...A runner always is aware of time. Always.

and then it was all over.

A man was at my side asking me if I was ok. Yes. Yes. Yes. He must not have believed me cause he asked if I needed to sit down, and I said "No." And he led me to the door of the GRB.

I then heard Erica. I dont know what she said, but I was trying so hard not to cry and someone was putting a medal around my neck. I went to Erica and April. I was having a hard time breathing.

I think the first words out of my mouth were: "Did Steve BQ?".....Thats the other thing about runners, at least the ones I know.

We are always thinking of others in our most painful times.

I never saw that man again and I wonder if he was real....

I know one thing that is real: I am a marathoner.

And she ran happily ever after.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Whose Idea Was This Anyway? (Miles 20-25)

I figured it anything was going to go south, it was going to happen here (even though I was running East). Here in this zone that I had never been before.

Well I sorta was there. Once. But only to mile 21. After that I didnt know.

I knew ABOUT where mile 21.5 was but where I thought it was, it wasnt.

I was in a bit of pain. I was in a bad mental place. I kept trying to think. Think. Think. It was here that I started thinking of people. People I love. And those that I dont love too. Hey you pull inspiration where you can find it.

Sorta like throwing darts at a picture of a boyfriend who is no more. Yeah him. Oh and him too. And lets not forget the her's. There were a few of them.

I wondered "where are the Striders?" "How much farther can it be?" I dont remember alot of hoopla on this stretch before reaching Shepherd. I too remember the Clif Shot place and thought, big whoop. :o)

And then FINALLY I can see the water station, and I thought, oh thank God for the Striders. I had made it to 21.5.

Here is where I dont remember much at all. I remember passing Starbucks and seeing my car. I bet you know what I was thinking. Yeah, that. But I didnt have my keys. Good thing too.

After that I dont remember running till I got to Allen Parkway, and even now I wonder where that time went? Had I seen any people? Were there any bands? What? Where? When? How?

Had I just ran through "the wall?"

Had I been beamed up to Allen Parkway somehow? Then I realize that no, no I hadnt because if I had I wouldnt be hurting so much. I had definitely gotten there with my own two feet, and my own two very tired legs.

I was walking here. I asked a woman what time it was and she told me 11:50 I think it was, and I looked at the inside of my left forearm and next to 24 it said 5:11. That meant I had time. I had time to walk. And walk I did. Yeah I knew if I kept running I would have a shot at 5:20, but right then and there, 10 minutes just didnt seem all that damn important to me. What if I didnt walk and then something went wrong in mile 24 or 25?

As I walked down the first of the underpasses, I thought "you are gonna run up these two damn hills". I took deep breaths and then I ran up the first hill.

And I ran up the second one too. I then saw a water station somewhere in there. What I knew was to be the last water station. It was here that there was Christy. Jumping up and down and yelling my name. Oh my goodness I love you to death Christy. Seriously. She walked with me for a bit and asked me what I needed. I believe my response was M&M's. There were no M&M's. I really wanted M&M's.

The only other real thing I remember was the smell of beer. There was a lot of people trying to give you beer. I passed without flinching. And then there all by herself a woman with oranges. I took a piece of orange and I swear it was the best orange in my whole life.

It was time for me to close the door on this thing. I had 2 freaking miles to go by God and unless I was gonna drop dead there on Allen Parkway I was going to get there on time.

And I started running again....As I ran under I-45, the non-existent 5:30 pacer passed me, carrying his red, white and blue balloons. Oh THERE you are you sneaky little fart. I then realized I had stayed WELL ahead of that group even with my walking that 23rd mile.

I did good huh?

And as I entered downtown, following the man with the pretty balloons, I allowed myself to cry just a little bit...

to be continued...

Monday, January 15, 2007

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (Miles 10-19)

I had been here before.

A few times. Most of them not on this particular course, but thanks to the Striders LLR I had indeed been through this section once.

And now, twice. Its a rough section to be sure, but in that rough section there sure was a lot of good stuff too!

In the beginning there, once I passed the turnaround I remember thinking how quickly the rest had come and gone. Literally. It seemed surreal to me that I was already at that part of the course that I had just done 3 weeks before. It was familiar to me, and anyone that knows me knows that I truly love a familiar course, even if it had only been once, it helps me. I like to know landmarks. I like familiarity.

As I said this section had a lot of the good stuff, and by stuff I mean the spectators! Oh my goodness! As I was running down Main, there in the median were the church go-ers with their palm leaves and a sign that said "Communion Ahead". Then there was the priest and his holy water. As I was running to the right more or less, I made my way across to the left because I figured "Hey it cant hurt, splash me with the Holy Water." Then I opted out of Communion, because well, I had never eaten a Communion wafer during a run, and you know the rule: Dont eat anything you havent tried before for fear of messing something up. Like your pants. :o)

So after running down University and all the frat parties going on outside, we crossed over Kirby and there it was that I saw a sight to behold. For blocks and blocks and blocks through that neighborhood each front yard next to the sidewalk were flag pole holders that held a very large American flag. It was an amazing sight to see.

But in the back of mind there was the ever-looming thought that soon I would turn on Westpark and immediately see "the hill".

Somewhere during this part was also the mariachis and the dancing Spanish ladies! That I loved!

And then it happened. I could see highway 59 just in front of me, and I remember distinctly as we came to the corner to turn I said to one girl next to me "here it comes" and then I heard her say "oh my God". Obviously she had never run this course, nor had she driven it.

There was a water stop there and as I did with every water stop I took Gatorade. I closed my eyes, took a couple of deep breaths and started up the hill. At the top there was this huge balloon like pylon blowing in the breeze. Must. Get. To. Pylon. And I did. At the bottom there was another water stop. Wow those were close together.

Once I got on Post Oak and closer to Westheimer I knew it wouldnt be long till I could see a familiar face. Eric. But it was also here that the Westpark Hill caught up with me. I began to feel very hot. And very nauseous. And tired. It was mile 16.5. This was the bad. I managed to reel it in and as I turned the corner I was searching the crowd for Eric. He was not there. I kept going, thinking first how I was going to kill him, 2nd how could he have let me down and 3rd how I was going to kill him. But then, there he was. A huge smile on his face and the biggest bottle of blue Powerade one could hope for. I stopped and said ok, heres the deal: you are going to take all this shit from me, as I took my waist pack off, took the money and the gu's out and my last 3 ibuprofen ( I had taken 3 before I left the house and then 3 more sometime um, I cant remember) which I quickly downed with the Powerade. I had my gloves in my pockets, and my arm sleeves and earband tied around the belt. Those 3 things had quickly come off before I even had hit mile 2.

And then I was off again. And it was time for Tanglewood and the longest mile I had ever done in the LLR. It was here that I saw alot of ugly. At the medic station there were ALOT of people down. Covered in mylar blankets, some with their shoes off, some laying in the grass and one of the cute A&M corp dudes puking on the side of the road.

To a runner, it looked like a war zone. I wondered how much longer before I might find myself in a similiar situation. And then I quickly put that thought out of my mind.

I also remember thinking how "pretty" the mylar blankets were. All shiny and silver. I like shiny and silver. Alot. But I know I didnt want one of those, because getting one of those meant I would end up with a DNF. You keep your silver, shiny, pretty blanket. I wanted a big shiny silver medal around my neck. I wanted BLING!!!

I kept going. And surprisingly the mile was not that long the second time around. I quickly got over the war zone I had just seen as I passed through what I call the "pink zone". Lots and lots of signs in pink with photos and messages for those suffering or who had died with breast cancer. I tried to read as many of them as I could as I passed by thanking God for my health and thanking Him for allowing me to run.

As I turned onto Woodway I briefly remembered that I had just run through a mini-wall I think back there at 16.5. And I have Eric to thank for that.

Then as I approached Loop 610, there were the belly dancing women.....

to be continued...

The Big Easy (Miles 1-9)

I am going to break this bitch down in manageable sections; mainly because I dont feel like writing for hours and I am sure that alot of you would rather have it this way as well.

Let me preface this by saying that the conditions werent perfect, but it could have been worse. It was about 50deg and um....yeah, about 90% humidity as the leading edge of the arctic blast was upon us. Thankfully it never did rain the entire time but running through that soupy mess was tough, and that was apparent by seeing those around me and what it was doing to them, and then learning later on just how badly it affected some of my dearest friends.

I must also say that no matter how many times you run 18, 20 or 21 miles nothing really prepares you for a marathon and the feelings that envelope you from time to time throughout the course.

At the start I lined up in the second corral smack dab in the middle of the 5:00 and 5:30 pace groups. I figured the 5:30 folks would eventually catch up to me and I would settle in nicely with them.

So here we go with the big easy, otherwise known as miles 1 through 9. Where you think ha ha ha, this is so easy, and so much fun. Its so cool. How much fun am I having?

I was most sad that when we started over the Elysian Aquaduct bridge (the first 2 miles) that I wasnt able to see the sunrise I had read about from others in years past. However I have run that sucker a time or two and with so many people in front, behind and beside you, you really forget you are going uphill. Its hard to actually see the hill almost...Then once you hit the top and are on the way back down, you see a sea of people below you and everyone just bob, bob, bobbing along. I took a deep breath and took all of that in. I was a part of something that I had only dreamed of.

Then you see all the guys running off to the leading edge of the woods to PEE and dart back into the masses. Jealous. I wish I could do that!

As you come down the bridge on the other side you find yourself smack dab in the middle of the barrio. A place where you dont go at night, at least I sure wouldnt. It was funny to see this one run down house with about 5 guys yelling spanish and drinking Bud Light. Go figure.

One thing about being at the back of the pack so to speak is that you get the full advantage of the crowds as they wake up and make their way to the place on the race course where they are going to cheer people on. I cant remember a time where there wasnt a group of people yelling and screaming for everyone as they went by. Then there were those groups of people that I saw time and time again as I suspect whoever they were waiting for at several locations were somewhere close to me. Behind me obviously.

Once we got into the Heights area, around mile 4 I had to pee. Already? I never have to pee!! I ran past some porta potties and the lines were only like 3 deep so I made the decision to do it now. I didnt think I could wait for the next ones and it was uncomfortable. I probably lost 2 minutes there and I was already still trying to catch up on the pacers who were still calling 13 something and I was trying to get to the point where I was at 12:30...I cant remember when that actually happened but it was probably around mile 6 or so.

As we went through the mat at the 6.2 mark and went down a slight hill, the overpass had a bunch of people dressed up like chickens and held a big sign that read: If you were doing the Conoco Rodeo 10K Run You'd be done by now!


Oh and to the guys dressed up like desperate housewives in the Heights you were HILARIOUS!!

As I was into mile 7 I started thinking where is that 5:30 pacer? Then when I thought about it I figured since I was clipping along at 12:27/12:30 they were still a bit behind me. I was managing to keep Felix Lugo and his big ass American Flag he carries in my sight and that gave me something to hang onto.

We were of course still merged with the half marathoners and that made it ok cause there were still alot of people around and you didnt seem so alone.

It wasnt long before I saw the huge pylon that said Half Turnaround, and it was there, the first time that I thought to myself..."crap. I wish I was doing the Half Marathon."....

and as I passed that pylon on by, it was there also that I thought, well here we go....its all up to you now.

to be continued....

Sunday, January 14, 2007

I. AM. A. MARATHONER. (First Marathon Basic Info)

10K - 1:16:27
Half - 2:39:53
30K - 3:50:05
Finish time - 5:33:10

Average Pace - 12:42

I was on target for a sub 5:30 but I walked ALL of mile 23 as I was ahead of the game and I felt like I needed the break to finish in the time that I wanted to. So I feel good that I came THAT close and even having walked all of that mile!

More details MUCH later...

Its time to relax a bit before I hit some beer with M!!!!