Sunday, June 5, 2011

Here's my gory little story.

Before I start bemoaning my laborious and somewhat painful day I will start off by saying I finished my half marathon.  As much as I am not satisfied with only doing the half, I am proud of myself for not feeling sorry for myself and just dropping out altogether.  And based on the fact that I missed 6 weeks of training and had 2 sore knees going into this event I am glad I had sense enough to do the half and not try to gut it out for 26 miles because I never would have made it.

And despite the discomfort I feel I am very glad I was able to suffer through this experience rather than completely miss out again.

Without going into unnecessary or trivial details I will go over the highlights..

- The day started off way too early with a serving of oatmeal and brown rice, grabbing my gear and heading to the shuttle bus early enough to avoid the majority of the crowd.  Start time was 6:15, but since it was a wave start we (my brother, 2 of my nephews, my nephew's wife and my niece) didn't actually get to start for almost an hour.

The waiting in the coral was fun with flying beach balls and a bunch of joking around.  I was the only one doing the half marathon, but we all started together.

- There were tens of thousands of people.  I don't know that I've ever seen so many people crammed into such a small area ... or for that matter, I've never seen that many people walking or running along the same path before.  And by the time you added in the bands, the cheering sections, the race officials, and countless others it was an impressive sight.

-  I took my camera because it fit into my plan of very little running early while my legs were fresh and keeping a good walking pace throughout the remainder of the event to finish in under 4 hours and earn my medal.

- I knew I was in trouble on the first long hill.  My knees started hurting, and because my knees were hurting I changed my stride (walking and running) until my ankles and feet started hurting ... not fun.  By the time I reached the 7 mile marker and was still ahead of my pace I decided I couldn't quit ... I was more than half way, why would I?

I used my photography as a tool to keep going.  There were many good pictures to take along the way.  Most I snapped while walking, but a few I stopped to make sure I got a good shot.  I'll give more details on this pic later.

Despite the distractions and a bout of negative thinking during yet another short uphill I kept up a pretty good pace ... although it slowed slightly from the first 4 or 5 miles.  I saw many that couldn't make it ... I also saw many who were pushing despite being blind, being triple amputees or other conditions that I could not imagine dealing with.  I couldn't quit.  I had to continue.

- My feet and knees were now really hurting, but I had crossed mile 11 and wasn't going to give up.  I actually started passing people ... other walkers, but still.  Mile 12.4 saw the last little incline ... It was almost too much, I was barely moving ... 12.5 ... 12.6 ... 12.7 and we were on level ground again.  I could see the end, I could hear the end, but I had slowed so much that I didn't think I was going to make under 4 hours.  I walked faster, then I could hear the crowd cheering and I saw others running across the finish line.

I started to run ... actually, I started to flail and stumble like some spastic baby horse trying to get its footing for the first time.  Someone in the crowd saw my nickname on my bib and yelled, "Come on Da-Bus!"  Suddenly I felt like all eyes were on me.  It was a little embarrassing because I knew it wasn't the effort I could have made absent the issues with the knees.  But I can't wait to see the finisher photo :-)

Now because the marathon and half marathon routes split in a few places it caused for a couple of interesting events.  In the area where the truck crashed it turns out that the entire group was all within a minute or so of each other.  One nephew stopped in that general area because his shoes / feet were bothering him.  My niece and my nephew's wife switched from the full marathon to the half marathon (and did a couple extra miles for their efforts) but because of their faster earlier pace were mere minutes behind me.  My brother and nephew were probably less than 30 seconds behind me on the opposite of the street, but before they could catch me the courses split again.  My niece and my nephew's wife finished about a minute behind me and we just happened to bump into each other in the finish area.  We must have passed each other in opposite directions near mile 11 because there was a u-turn and participants were walking in opposite directions on opposite sides of the road.

So I finished.  My official chip time was 4:00:33.  My Garmin said I finished in 3:58:51 ... I'm not arguing ... I'm not complaining.  I got my medal.  I achieved my goal.

Now I am sitting in my hotel with ice on my knees ... they are more sore than I expected.  I was lucky and wound up with only one small blister that already burst, but I did wind up with seven swollen, purple toes for my efforts, but luckily not on the same foot.  Very sore, quite swollen, dark purple toes to be more specific.  I really believe the different pitches of the roadways was the cause for some of my issues.  We were running on the freeways and on-ramps which are banked for higher speed travel and my body just isn't used to running at those angles ... don't know, but it makes sense to me.

I will post other pictures here and there during my recuperating period.  I will also fill you in on any details or plans I have for future events.  I will finish a marathon someday, I just have to be smarter about my training.

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