Monday, February 20, 2012

Marathon Number 2

Myrtle Beach Marathon
February 18, 2012

It was finally here, my second marathon.  26.2 miles on the open road with thousands of people.  No rain, snow, freezing rain, sleet…just hot sun.  

Nik and I got up at 4:00 am to head to the start line with our friends Laura and Greg Howell (who I swear is part Kenyan.)  We walk because the start is so close and parking would be such a pain and just to warm up a tad. 

National Anthem is sung, crank chairs start and we are off…what lies ahead of me turned out to be a battle of wills, digging deep and an angel that appeared somewhere between mile 18 to 20 who’s name is Laura…

To begin with my Garmin would not locate satellite, I am too dependent on it as I soon found out. Something else I learned is that when you taper and eat, you feel like a million bucks which for me equals, you got it…crash and burn. But like the phoenix I pulled myself up and finished the damn thing.

I was just going, felt great, top of the world, mile 1, mile 2...and so on to pass the 13.1 cut off, feeling good, then mile 15 at 2:05. Holy crap. It hits me, I know what I have done. Let the meltdown begin.  As I turn the corner to mile 15, I felt it, impending doom as if I had stopped dead in my tracks everything had become slow motion. I had been running my half marathon pace and guess what I was doing the full. I experienced it, the wall, the legs would no longer cooperate, the lungs were fine, the heart was good. Thank goodness I have plenty of “heart”  and could not get my hands on a cell phone. 

Guess what I did. (Now it is sort of funny but Saturday morning it was not funny at all.) I sat down on the curb of the route and started to cry.  Yep, me, Miss Strong, Determined, Bull headed, Run loving girl, me. I sobbed. I knew what I had done and not only that but I knew that I had 11.2 miles to go. 

Let me explain that 11.2 miles is a long way in a full marathon even on a perfect day.  Today was not that for me and I wanted to quit but guess what…I didn’t quit, I finished. 
When I sat on the curb I realized just how much I had done myself in by going out too hard.  My legs would not cooperate, I felt every muscle, every tendon, every joint in my body hurt. Then, hello nausea. I started to dry heave, while still crying. That was real pretty.

Then, there was music from a band or radio station or something and it started playing U2. Sorry to offend but I don’t particularly care for U2 and the lyrics “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for” starts to blare. Well no crap, I want my legs back and the pace I had maintained.  That song added fuel to the fire and irritated me to say the least but I had to get away from it.  So I dug deep and started back to jog, walk shuffle, walk, I never crawled but it did cross my mind. I even did the zig zag walk from being dizzy. Lo and behold out of nowhere a guy comes running by with music playing, Motley Crue, “Kick Start my Heart.”  I mustered up a smile, that song helped me through the next mile. 

A little further down the road, I’m moving a little faster or so I thought, cruel joke the body and mind can play on you, glanced at my garmin pace 13:45.  That was all I had in me. Then I met Jeremy and George. I ran with them for a bit, not sure how long as there are periods of the day that I cannot recollect. We passed each other along the way many  times. Jeremy was a clown, George the serious runner who was support team for his friend.  I listened to the bicker back and forth, laughed with them and kept trudging forward.  

It literally took me and hour to trek the next 3 miles. Then I finally saw mile 18.  There was a sign that said “Run like Zombies are chasing you!”  I would sure have been zombie food, if a rabid dog had been chasing me on Saturday, he would have eaten me too. 

At Mile 18, there was this turn around, and I swear I wanted to cheat and cut, I didn’t but gees it was enticing.  It was as if there was a force field to zap even more energy from us, all the runners were now walking. Maybe we were in the Arena, unaware. (“Hunger Games” in case you didn’t know!) 

Then I’m still walk/running less than a jog, when, smack on the butt, and I hear “good game” it was Laura Howell.  She asked me was I ok, I said no, explained what had happened early on. I tried to get her to leave me but she wouldn’t. Miles 18, 19, 20 I don’t remember so much except that we were anticipating the next water stop as we were reduced to walking through each one. I remember at one of those stops, I started having a stabbing pain in my abs, made me immediately nauseous again.  I am doubled over again, gagging. She still wouldn’t leave me. 

Then came the mirage. We couldn’t discern where we were, first aid station coming up or water stop. The marker flags were the same color, cruel joke, unthought-of detail, I don’t know but for us it was like a mirage in the desert.  The temperature Saturday wasn’t supposed to be much over 50 or so but by the time we finished the temperature was nearly 70 degrees. Both Laura and I were dressed for colder temperatures, she in long sleeves, me in long pants.    Water….I think.

When we got to mile 22, there were oranges. I swear those were the best oranges I have ever eaten. Funny thing is (now it’s funny) when I got my orange slice I started to flip it out, I dropped it. I must have had this look on my face like a little kid who drops her ice cream cone, I was tearing up, Laura said I will get you another one, but the volunteer darted to get me one. I had it on the side of my face, wiped my hands on my pants. Best thing I have ever eaten. 

Then we get to mile 23, I asked Laura if I could swim the 3.1 miles instead of run it.  We both laughed. Deep down I was serious and my brain was gone. 

At mile 25, in Market Commons, I heard, there she is, it was My friend Laura and her husband David. I was so happy she was there but stayed away from her because I knew I would have crumbled had I hugged her. I just wanted to be finished.  

THEN THE FINAL 1.1 Miles.  

Just the last bit and we are done. Laura and I can hear the spectators, see the finish line.  Laura screams there’s Melinda. I see her smiling and screaming. Then I see Nik, I just want to grab him. I see Greg. I see the finish line and the clock and Laura is beside me and we finish together.  

I hugged her and thanked her for Saturday, from around mile 18 on I needed her.  I just remember telling her over and over I hurt. Every part of me hurt.  She was hurting too but she never told me, she towed me in.  Saturday, she was my angel, just teamwork is what she said.  We got across the finish line together.  Cadence…

I have never been so happy to see the end of a race.  I had forgotten how bad a marathon hurts, almost like childbirth. Pain is forgotten and you do it again.  

Let me further explain, I was so terribly crushed by my performance on Saturday, I am my worst critic. No one expects anything from me but me. That is what makes me tick, my drive, my determination, my sheer will, grit.

I hurt. I cried. I beat myself up. But I learned that nobody else was disappointed in me, only I was. Everyone else was proud of me, what I had done, just the accomplishment and pushing through that day. 

My sweet Nik helped me get off my clothes back at the hotel, helped me get into a bath, took a nap. He tried stretching my ankles for me, tears started rolling down my face. He stopped, hugged me and said no more.  I said  back no more what? He said marathons and then he retracted that and smiled, and he hugged me.  I told him that I had forgotten how bad the last one hurt, he told me the last one was worse.  I don’t think so but how can I judge, he’s the one who takes care of me afterward so I am certain he knows better than I. 

Well my next one is in three weeks. We shall see how much I forget by then, probably not enough but I will get through it.  

On to the next one…March 10.