The marathon. You know. The Marine Corps Marathon (MCM, for all the newbie marathoners out there)? At the end of October? In Washington, D.C.? That I signed up for with my sister-in-law, Jen, to show solidarity with her as we support my brother, Rob, who is on deployment until mid-December?
Oh, yeah. That marathon.
It seemed like a good idea at the time. After all, I walked 26 miles last year and didn't completely kill myself (Veronica and Tom, my walk-mates, don't read this, so no worries about the truth coming out on that one ... and don't ask my kids!). And, I can run 6 miles (Hah! Turns out my 6 miles is actually 6.5, so two loops becomes not 12 but 13, and three loops becomes not 18 but ... hold onto your hats, 19.5!!!!) without much trouble.
So, I signed up for the MCM. (Jen: "You have to do it quickly because it fills up really fast." Or, in English translation for us non-marathoners: "Sign up and pay quickly because if you think about it too long, you'll never do it; and once you've committed to the money and it gets sold out, you'll feel obligated to do it, won't you?") It was still a long way off when I signed up. And, I had all summer to train, didn't I?
Now, Now, Now, as summer turns to fall, and September reaches its half-way mark, and October events loom large ...... the panic is beginning to set in.
For a while, I was doing really well, after a less than spectacular summer. Turned out I could not run in the Outer Banks, no matter how hard I tried to convince myself I could. I don't care any more if Rob can run with the camels. His feats of aerobic strength, coupled with my other brother's ongoing marathon successes, are NOT providing me any degree of comfort or inspiration these days. There's a reason the Ethiopians win marathons, and Americans don't. No one would confuse me with an Ethiopian, so why should I believe I can run in African-style heat? I simply can't. So, I didn't. Couldn't.
When I returned to Massachusetts, I did very well, if I do say so myself. Even got up to 18 miles (which I later found out was actually 19.5 ....WooHoo!!) in 3 hours. Put that in your hat and smoke it, baby. That put me at finishing in just a little over 4 hours, which was MUCH better than I had originally planned.
So, of course, with a little bit of success under my belt, I started running harder. Faster. Longer. As if my life depended on it. As if I was going to break some record. You know, the one for "First Time Female Marathoner Who Just Turned 46, Trying To Prevent Thighs From Falling Down Past Knees." They have a prize for that, don't they? I swear Jen told me they did.
Well, even if they did, I wouldn't win it. Because, at this point, as I sit here typing, I have one bag of peas on my right hip/buttock, and one under my right calf. My right leg is killing me. It started hurting last week and after four days rest, lots of peas, and plenty of ibuprofen, I went running today. Only 6.5 miles. Not too fast, with plenty of walking added in. I made it, but half-way through I was worried I would have to stop at a friend's and call for a ride.
What to do, What to do. I feel like I can't give up now, and I'm not going to. But, I have to re-examine my goals for the finish. No trophies, for one. Just finishing, for two, as I have told people from the beginning.
It's just that in my heart of hearts, I had hoped to do a little better than just finish.
Of course, when I examined the course, which you can see by clicking HERE and going to the course map (which is awesome, by the way, as the course passes virtually every single monument and sight-seeing stop that Washington, D.C. has within its city limits), I noticed some fine print down in the right hand corner. It says, and I quote: "Beat The Bridge: Runners have until 1:15 p.m. to reach the 14th Street Bridge before it re-opens to vehicular traffic. Runners unable to reach this mile 20 landmark will be asked to board the stragglers bus. To meet this timeline, a 14-minute per mile pace is required."
WHAT? No one said ANYTHING about a Stragglers' Bus when I was considering doing the race. As if I needed anything Else to panic me. Now I have to worry about being a STRAGGLER? Isn't it enough that I'm going to be a 46 year-old first time marathoner trying not to kill myself? Now I run the risk of having to climb aboard a bus for STRAGGLERS?
Well, forget that. If I don't make it to that bridge before it "re-opens for vehicular traffic," then I'm going to ditch the route and take a seat at the closest bar and drink myself into a stupor. Bill and the kids will have to wheel me onto the plane later that afternoon. And then, they'll have a story to remember. WooHoo!