O. M. G.
I had SoOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooOOOOOOOOOOOOO much fun today.
I ran the slowest half marathon of my life and had a BLAST doing it!
(BTW--I was supposed to run the slowest half marathon of my life, so that = good)
First of all, you MIGHT not want to go to a concert where you ROCK OUT to Pearl Jam until 11:30 (they had the most unbelievable set...Porch, Yellow Ledbetter, Immortality, Daughter, Given to Fly, Alive, etc. etc. plus a bunch of new stuff---AMAZING) and then park at the most ASANINE parking garage on the top level where there was ONE PERSON working the gate at the bottom and THREE (yes, three) standing there doing nothing while the other 2 gates are IDLE and then it takes 45 MINUTES TO GET OUT OF THE STUPID GARAGE and it's 1AM when you get HOME--yeah, you MIGHT not want to do that the night before you pace a half marathon.
We passed the Galleria on the way home, and Matt said, "Hey, why are they setting up tents there?" My reply was, "Oh, that's for the MARATHON I'M GOING TO DO IN 6 HOURS."
I might has well have just slept in those tents.
Anyhoo, passed out tired at home (kinda like the picture in below's post) and woke after what seemed like about 37 seconds to my blaring alarm.
WHY, oh WHY, TriSaraTops, do you DO THIS TO YOURSELF????
I don't know. It sounded like a good idea at the time.
Yeah, and that ALWAYS gets you into trouble.
Oh, shut up and get out of bed.
I looked outside and it was cloudy, but no rain. Good. I threw my visor in my car just in case.
About 5 minutes into the ride downtown, it started POURING. Like, cats and dogs and monsoon pouring.
Got to the Galleria and met up with all my Soler pacers--saw the signs we'd be carrying, us all in our sweet little pacer jerseys, and suddently got very nervous. These people were COUNTING on me to pace them nice and evenly through 13.1 miles. They were COUNTING on me to run a nice 10:53 mile. For many, it was their first marathon, or they were going for a PR, and if I blew it, I didn't just ruin MY race.
I ruined theirs.
That's a big responsibility.
Here I am holding the 3:00 Pace Group sign....ha ha ha! In my dreams! :)
*rain fell harder and harder on the glass ceiling of the Galleria as I have shorts and a thin shirt on, no gloves or jacket*
I thought about my run on Thursday, when I tried to run as SLOW as I could and thought for SURE my mile time was over 10:53.
It was 10:12.
Okay, okay, focus. You can do this. Nice and easy...
We headed to the start. I held my 4:45 banner high. Found Curly Su, going for her first marathon! Found Canada Jenn, coming off injury, trying to finish the half. Found a bunch of random people that were COUNTING ON ME to run them a solid and even half.
Here we go.
The first two miles, my stupid watch of COURSE was acting up and I wasn't able to see my lap time. AAAGGHHH!! There would surely be mutiny! They will kill me!
But they didn't. They just trusted me as I calmly said how we'd be conservative in the first few miles--"We're about a minute behind, but we have 23 miles to make up that minute so that's 2-3 seconds a mile! We're good!" I said sweetly with a smile. (That was 60% true, and 40% me trying to cover my ass for not having a clue what our splits were)
Then, I got the watch to work and we got on track. And lo and behold, we were running OK. Mile 3 was 10:32 (a little fast, I told them) and mile 4 was 9:41.
"That was mostly downhill, guys--we're fine, no biggie, but I'm gonna slow it down a bit" (*whew, they bought that....good*)
And then it was really weird.
I just ran the most even splits I've ever run. And 5 of my miles were between 10:50-10:53 on the DOT. It was like I was outside of myself. I talked to my pacers and they were such cool people. All but one had never run a marathon before. One was a high school band director from Winston-Salem, NC. He was so cool! Another teacher, too--she talked about her son and we all talked about school. I tried to keep them relaxed but focused...reminded them to drink, to watch out for the potholes in the street, to make sure you take a gu now, that "You're doing great!"
Who is this person?
This person just ran this race, 4 years ago, with no hills, no speedwork, no run longer than 17 miles, and with 30 extra pounds on her frame. With no training buddies, no training group, no guidance but a book she bought at Borders.
Now she's wearing a "PACE TEAM LEADER" jersey and people are COUNTING on her to get them through.
It's all still a little surreal.
The miles FLEW by. We ran through the area I used to live in near some beautiful homes, through Ohio City (I pointed out a great Irish pub, the Harp, and a great place to eat afterwards, Johnny Mango's). I was joking around, I was relaxed, and I was in charge.
And before I knew it, I hit the halfway point--right on time! I passed my group onto Aimee and got a little sad as they ran away. I wanted to keep going!
I got attached!
I knew what was coming for them--the mental struggle of the last 10K. The pain. I remember all that. But when I did the Cleveland Marathon there was no pace group for me. I was alone. No one to run with, just my brain. It was such an amazing experience, but I was jealous that I didn't get to have it again. You only have your first marathon once, you know? And mine was amazing, but it was so utterly alone.
So I stretched a bit, hung with Jen, Mike, Lou, and Sue, and then headed back to the finish line.
I stayed there for 3 more hours. By myself for quite a bit of that time.
Just me. Alone. On the side of the road.
I just couldn't leave. I cheered and cheered until I didn't have a voice left.
I was so tired after 4 hours of sleep and 13.1 miles, but I loved seeing the faces of the people as they crossed the finish line. Some were crying. Some were carrying their kids on their shoulders. Each and every one had a story.
Her story? Amy Winters, 33. Yesterday she set a new world record for amputees and ran the Cleveland Marathon in 3:26:16. Before her accident, she ran 3:16:00 in Boston in 1993. Absolutely AMAZING.
I remember my story.
And I think about where I am now.
I'm in awe of the past four years. I am so lucky to have this mind and body and soul, and to be able to take part in events like these. So many people in the world, in the country, in my town don't think they can or don't know why they ever would want to do this stuff.
I can't imagine ever NOT having this in my life.
I was so glad to be able to share that with my pace group--who all finished with big smiles on their faces. Some on time, some not...but who cares? They did it. They did their first marathon.
And I was--I am--honored to be a part of that memory forever.