I have a hard time picking a favorite part about Saturday. The crowds? The weather? The course? The notes and messages from friends and family after I finished? It was, all around, a really great day. I definitely got what I wanted and then some: a good solid race where I genuinely enjoyed myself pretty much the entire time. I didn’t know that was possible. In my previous marathons there was always some point in which I hurt really badly, I was annoyed, I was discouraged. But not this time. This time there were times when I hurt, yes, but not very much. There were moments when I thought, “This is the part where it gets bad,” but it didn’t. There was some worry that I wouldn’t be able to keep up the pace, and I did slow down a little bit during the last 10k, but only a little bit.
(The above picture was taken as I approached the finish line. The one I posted on Saturday was from mile 6. I don’t look too awful, do I?)
Maybe it was the music. Maybe it was the carb-loading. Maybe it was divine intervention. Maybe it was all of those, plus my preparation, coming together for a few hours. When I came up the final hill and saw Micah and boys standing on the sidelines waving and cheering and taking pictures, and when I turned the corner and saw the finish line, and when I finally was able to stop, I was filled with happiness knowing that the race could hardly have gone any better. I wanted to tell the volunteers handing out medals and blankets and water bottles at the finish line that I loved them. I wanted to cry with all the emotions and pains that were suddenly released when I was able to stop and realize that I had done it. But I didn’t. I looked for Micah and the boys. I tried to figure out if I was hot or cold. I stepped gingerly on my sore feet. And I marveled that I had achieved my goal.
I think it is safe to say that as far as races go, this was a winner. Connecticut in mid-October is a beautiful thing. Of course, if we’d been running 12 hours earlier, when the rains were coming down pretty hard, it would have been awful, but we weren’t. Instead there were blue skies, colorful leaves, the Connecticut River, a bit of crispness, a slight breeze (and at times a strong wind) — all things that make me very happy. There were bands playing and a lot of people out along the course, ringing cowbells, holding signs, cheering people on. Because I had my name on my shirt, I got a lot of people cheering especially for me, which was awesome. I tried to acknowledge them as best I could to let them know I appreciated them. I am excited to pay it forward at the New York City Marathon in a couple of weeks.
And while I was running, Micah and the boys were staying busy with the kids’ races. Squish participated in the 50 yard dash, and Manchild ran/walked the mile. There was also a 1/4 mile and a 1/2 mile race, but Manchild insisted he was ready for the longest race. Micah tells me Squish managed to stay on task for nearly all 50 yards, although he did become a little confused near the end, and Manchild alternated between bursts of enthusiasm in which he channeled Dash from The Incredibles and forgetfulness in which he walked casually down the street in his “I’m the son of a graphic designer” get-up. Both boys (and their dad) had a great time and were rewarded for their efforts with “medals,” water bottles, hats, and t-shirts. Not a bad haul for a $10 race. They also rode the carousel, which was free for the day. Bonus!
I was also given a medal and a water bottle after my race, and I’d picked up the t-shirt before. My ticket to the food tent got me some yogurt, a banana, an apple, a bagel, a couple of small Luna bars, a small box of some kind of cereal, a bowl of soup, and a cup of apple crisp. Sadly (for me) I’m the type of runner who can hardly stand the thought of food for several hours after a long run, so Manchild and Squish fought over it like lions and I nibbled at the remains. There was also a beer garden, a massage area, and a trailer for diagnosing lower extremity injuries which I did not partake of. But I did stop by a little table where they would bandage up any cuts and scrapes you managed to accumulate. I had a couple of blisters they put band-aids on, although I wished they would have lanced them. It would have saved me a lot of pain. I thought I was going to lose a toenail, but after each member of my family stepped on it (accidentally) and after more than 24 hours of pain, I took matters into my own hands, pierced the blisters with a needle, and let the pressure drain out. It now looks like my toenail will be just fine.
And now, two days and two naps later, I’m feeling pretty good. Hardly sore, relieved to have run a good race, and ready to take a couple of days off running before I decide how to move forward.
Oh, and some other random things from the race:
My favorite sign was the one that said, “The reason your feet hurt is because you are kicking [booty]!” I took that to heart, and it made me happy.
I did not feel my iPod, which was in the back pocket in the waistband of my pants, the entire run. But as soon as I stopped, and all yesterday, it felt so sore and bruised. Weird.
As we were making our way back to the car, we crossed the road where the runners were about to get to mile 26. I can’t stop thinking about one lady who was beginning to cry/holding back tears as she approached the finish line. I just want to know: was it the pain? Was she so happy to have (nearly) finished? Was she thinking of someone for whom she was running? There are so many possibilities . . . I cheered her on and hoped I wasn’t making matters worse. It’s moments like that that simultaneously make me wonder why anybody ever runs a marathon and inspire me to continue running marathons.