Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Bang a Gong

Over a month ago, in the comments on one of my running posts, David asked "when's the marathon?". 

He's an intuitive one, that man. 

Months ago, I signed up for the Columbus Marathon. While I won't say I immediately regretted it, I did feel I had overreached, and not by a little. One month before I signed up, I told myself I'd never do a full marathon.........and yet, here I was. 

I chose Columbus for a number of reasons:  One - I didn't want to wait until the following May to do Cleveland.  Two - Columbus is as close as I'll have to having a second home city.   Three - Morty, my bestie and biggest running champion, is in Columbus and is a race coordinator for the marathon.  Four - for the most part, the course is fairly flat. 

For my first marathon, that last reason was kind of vital to me. I'm doing better on elevation training, but in my head, I could not get a DNF, and I needed every advantage to completing the race. And truth be told, I couldn't bear to fail in front of Morty. 

Until the two weeks prior to the run, I was fairly confident in my abilities to finish, even with calculating (over and over and over again) my probable finish time. But tapering is as much about the mental wind down as it the physical aspect - though I didn't know about that part. The latter wasn't hard for me, but the former........fuck. I spiraled. Big time. 

The morning of the race, my first words to 710 weren't, "morning dear", it was, "I don't want to go". And I kind of meant it. Yet, I dressed, left the house at 05:30 to head to the event. I was as ready as I could be - ready or not, if you will. 

I met up with some of my running group who were also doing either the half or full marathons, and headed to my corral, where I nervously waited to start. My running wife (above) so had the same feeling of not wanting to run - it oddly made me feel better.  It was a chilly 47° but there I stood in shorts and short sleeve shirt.  And gloves (which I would eventually ditch at mile 18). 

The set-up, the crowd, the energy was just amazing. It puts Cleveland's marathon to shame.

I went out strong - stronger than I should have, but ultimately, while it would hurt me near the end, overall I think it helped. 

For the first half, the crowd engagement was plentiful and up-lifting.  I shaved 18 minutes off the first half marathon I did - though I still had 13 more to go.  The second half, save for a few pockets, crowds were almost non-existent.  To be fair, all the race info told me that up front. 

At the 17 mile mark a pacer passed me. Somehow I had been going much faster than I realized. This would not last, but it gave me hope. 

I have great friends though. Morty was such a help before, during and after. Becky showed up at mile 7 which was really nice, and she and her husband truly surprised me at mile 20. It was my first true stop (not counting hydration stations) as I hugged both of them. I was starting to die a little before seeing them and that helped me enormously. 

Race bibs had your first name on them - big enough for the crowd to see. At first it was uplifting to hear someone say, "You got this, Blobby!"........and while it was probably more me than them, as time and miles went along, it seemed to be aggressive and I became internally slightly annoyed. 

I heard the theme from Rocky played from people's houses more than I care to hear (read: ever!) and "The Final Countdown" twice. There were DJs and live bands along the route (thanks to Morty!), and they kept me entertained. I had music too, but it seems my watch playing music and tracking my run via GPS full time is a battery drainer. At mile 24 it died. I could no longer see my timing or splits. Part of it was horrible, part of it was great I was no longer tied to it all. 

After mile 20 mile, my back was tender, and I found myself going slower, yet I kept moving. At 25.5, a number of people from the running group was there to cheer the rest of us on, some who had already completed the half, some who just came down to cheer. I won't lie, it meant a lot. 

The crowd picked up significantly for the last 0.2 miles. I tried searching for 710 in the crowd, but it was useless. The amount of people and the noise, I'd never hear him call me, and near impossible to pick any one person out. 

I could hear them announcing some names as they approached the finish line. Then I heard mine. But it went on......and on. Effusively.  Telling everyone where I was from, and that it was my first marathon and to give a big cheer for me. This was more than anyone else was getting - and I was grinning.  

I cocked my thumbs back and me and yelled to the crowd "he's talking about ME!!!" !!!!    No one could hear me. Bastards. 

In a nano-second, or two, I knew it was all Morty's doing and I loved him even more (if that's possible) for that. 

As I was a few yards from the finish, I saw Morty waiting for me on the other side, as he had always promised he would. It took me a few more seconds to see that 710 was there too. Non-workers and non-athletes are not to be in that area. Again - Morty and his string pulling. 

Both men got vicious hugs - Morty first and then 710. 

As everyone would comment, I was upright, I was running and looked strong at the finish. I beat my expected time by 14 minutes. I was pretty happy with my performance. 

I got my medal and the swag - which was mostly chocolate milk (which was incredible!), banana, cookies et al.  But I got a mylar sheet to wrap around me to keep me warm, though I wasn't horribly cold until a while later. 

Pictures where taken avec medal. 

And I got to bang the White Castle™ PR Gong. That's 'personal record', not "Puerto Rican". Technically it was my first marathon, but also a personal record. And for the record, my first boyfriend was Puerto Rican.  So, somehow it all fits. 

It was a great first marathon. Weather. Course. Friends. Family. Friends (again!). Even the acquaintances that are the running group. Everything was on point. My running wasn't always pretty, but I was determined. 

Whether there will be a second one is yet to be seen. When it comes to running, I stopped saying 'never'. As it is, I have two more races in the next month or so - neither marathons. But as 2023 goes, that will probably be it for the year, though I'll continue to train. 

Song by: T. Rex


Old Lurker said...

Look at you! What a jock! (And now we know your first name...)

James Dwight Williamson said...

I’d say that’s a pretty amazing accomplishment, if your dick is as big as your running creds , I want a look. Congratulations!

Travel said...

Congratulations, wishing a rapid recovery.

BosGuy said...

Congratulations. Marathons are sort of a big deal here in Boston.

Morty said...

Always been proud of you, my friend. Thanks for letting me be proud of you in front of my marathon team and entire city. Love you!

Raybeard said...

Terrifically well done, B. - 'DONE' being the operative word. Shep and Simon must have been tickled pink when you told them. But shucks, man. We expected nothing less from you. :-)

Anonymous said...

14 minutes up on your projected time. WOW!

Good job.

Will Jay

Happyman said...

Congratulations! I can’t imagine what it felt like to cross that finish line.