I woke up on marathon morning feeling refreshed and excited despite not getting a whole lot of sleep the night before. I had planned to catch the shuttle from the hotel to the starting line so Fawn could sleep in and we wouldn’t have to fight traffic. She literally didn’t move at all the entire time I was getting ready – must be nice!
They tell you not to try anything new on race day. Normally, I stick to this rule very firmly, but for this race, I didn’t have much of a choice. The forecast was calling for 40 degrees, raining, and 15 mph winds. I’m not foolish enough to run in weather like that on a normal day, so I don’t really have the right clothes for it. I bought a waterproof jacket at the expo and brought along some running tights that I bought on Cyber Monday and arrived right before the race. Obviously I wore the sweet shirt my mom made me, but unfortunately, you couldn’t see it because my jacket was covering it the whole time. I knew my inner T-Rex was with me though.
It was cold and rainy when we arrived at the start, but fortunately there was a semi-warm building were runners could go in to stay dry and use real bathrooms – what a concept! I sat on the concrete floor by myself, stretching and questioning my life choices, as I’m often prone to do before a race. I feel bad for people (usually guys and usually first time marathoners) who talk to me before the start. The conversation usually goes something like this:
Random Guy: “So, are you doing the half or the full?”
Me: “The full. I’m questioning my life choices.”
Guy: “Oh? Why’s that?”
Me: “Running marathons hurts. It always seems like a much better idea when I register, and this is my fifth one. You’d think I’d know better by now.”
Guy: “Oh. Um. This is my first one.”
The corrals were kind of hard to find since there were very few entrances. They were very crowded and not policed at all – it seemed kind of pointless to even have them. I lined up with the 4:30 pace group. While I didn’t expect to stay with them the whole race, I figured I’d give it a try. We eventually crossed the starting line about 25 minutes after the race started, which was better than the year before (apparently) but still not great since we were in the 4th corral. They need to work on that next year.
We eventually got going, but with 25,000 people not particularly organized by pace, the crowds were thick and we were constantly dodging walkers and puddles. Here’s the thing about running a marathon in the rain. It’s 26.2 miles long. YOUR FEET WILL GET WET. Trying to jump over every puddle is a waste of energy, time, and my sanity. I nearly died about five times with asshats leaping into me while trying to avoid getting their feet wet in puddles.
I stayed with the 4:30 pace group for the first 15 miles until I had to pee. I usually never have to go to the bathroom in a marathon because you tend to sweat all your fluids out, but it turns out that doesn’t really happen when it’s freezing cold and raining. To be honest, I don’t remember much about those first 15 miles. I was pretty stressed out by trying to stay with my pace group through the crowds. Mostly, there was this girl in the pace group that really, really annoyed me. She insisted on being RIGHT next to the pace group leader the entire time. Whenever she got separated from her, she would panic. I was often pretty close to the leader and the girl would run up behind me and try to squeeze past me to get to the leader. I can’t even count the number of times the toes of her shoes literally touched the bottoms of my feet. I’m not an angry person (no, seriously) but it literally got to the point where I almost freaked out on this girl. Fortunately, the problem was solved when I separated from the pace group.
Miles 12 -21 were around the White Rock lake, which I think would have been really beautiful if my face hadn’t been freezing off. Since it was, it’s hard to say. Somewhere along White Rock Lake, I started doing the marathon shuffle. It’s not a cool dance move like you may be thinking. It’s basically when you’ve run for a long time in a marathon and you can no longer really pick your feet up or do anything that even remotely resembles running. For some reason, this is when most race photographers love to take my picture.
Around mile 21, we entered the “Dolly Parton Hills,” which are supposed to be the toughest/funniest named part of the course. The water stop here is staffed by men dressed in drag with giant fake boobs and their stomachs hanging out. I could not stop laughing as I ran by. The best part was that compared to many other courses I’ve run, the hills here were barely even noticeable. I’m not even sure I could identify them if forced to. I was too distracted by super sexy beer guts.
Somewhere around this part of the course, I learned how to run a marathon. You’d think I would have maybe learned that by now, but no. I have a tendency to slow wayyyy down when I get tired or my back starts to hurt. I realized in this race that my back actually hurts a lot less when I stop shuffling and start lengthening my stride and running closer to my normal pace. I might be tired mentally, but my legs and back feel much better that way. I ran about 10-10:30 pace for most of the last 10k, which is pretty good after you’ve run 20 miles. Somewhere in this area I saw a guy holding a sign that said “You’re running better than Rick Perry!” And I died.
I passed a man in a Marathon Maniacs shirt around mile 24. Being the complete tool that I am, as I ran past, I said “This is my qualifying race! In 2 miles, I’m going to be a Marathon Maniac too!” He smiled and said congratulations and I went on my way. He caught up to me at the next water stop and we started chatting about the different races we’ve done, what motivated me to become a Maniac (general insanity and Type-A-ness) , etc. He was running a lot faster than me and we were cruising along until about mile 25.5, when he said that he had to let me go ahead because he couldn’t keep up. THAT HAS NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE. I ran the last mile in 9:36, which was my fastest mile of the entire race! Unbelievable. From that point on, I started running as fast as I could convince my legs to go. I knew that if I pushed it, I could finish the race with my second best time, and I really wanted that to happen. Gotta have something to show for those miserable conditions, right? I sprinted all the way to the finish line and felt awesome, finishing in 4:41:36. It was the best I’ve ever felt at the end of a race! I felt like I had finally really accomplished something where marathons are concerned.
As great as I felt crossing the finish line, I didn’t feel so great after. I was deathly freezing cold. The sponsors of the race, MetroPCS, had a cell phone tent where you could call your family (such a cool idea). I didn’t know Fawn’s number, but I knew my mom had it since they were now BFF’s and texting every 5 seconds, so I called my mom and told her to call Fawn and tell her to meet me at the building where the expo had been the day before. Bad idea.
We had to walk through an impossibly long building to collect our medals, get food, whatever. The only thing I care about after a race is my medal and showering. I never, ever eat the post-race food. As such, it greatly irritated me that I had to walk all the way through this building and couldn’t cut through to get to the one where I was supposed to meet fun. I got really frustrated and started tearing up because I was so cold and so tired. I finally made my way to the building, but there were so many entrances that I couldn’t find Fawn. I went to the information desk and called my mom again and told her to have Fawn meet me there. As soon as I hung up the phone, I promptly started crying, causing everyone to become really concerned. I was fine, just really, really, really cold and for some reason absolutely terrified that I was never going to find Fawn and I was going to die alone, cold, and soaking wet on the cement floor. Totally rational.
I asked her how far away she had parked, and she said “not far.” For any of you who may come watch me at a marathon and be so kind as to drive me home after, please remember that “not far” for you is the equivalent of another marathon for me. I was a complete basket case because it was raining and cold and I had to go back outside. They had given me one of those space blankets right after the race that is supposed to keep your body heat in. Turns out those only work if you have body heat. The long walk back to the car went like this:
Fawn: “It’s just a little bit farther!”
Me: ” I’m…so…cold. Call my mother. I’m going to die right here. No one will find my corpse. Tell my mother I love her and I love my shirt. I can’t feel my face! OH GOD I CAN’T FEEL MY FACE!” *cries hysterically*
Fawn: “You’re going to be fine. I’m not calling your mother.”
Me: ” I’m sorry for crying. I’M SO SCARED! LIKE JESSIE SPANO! I’M SO SCARED! How far away is the car?” *starts sobbing again*
Fawn: “Don’t cry, it’s ok! Just keep walking!”
Me: “I’m so sorry you have to see me like this, it’s just…I understand now what people on Mount Everest feel like right before they die! THIS IS IT! I’m going to the light!”
Fawn: “Let’s talk about something fun! Like, where do you want to go for our international marathon? I’m thinking Australia!”
Me: “Don’t. Say. MARATHON.”
After what seemed like a thousand years of uncontrollable crying (seriously, I don’t know wtf was wrong with me. I was absolutely terrified and 100% convinced I was on the brink of death), we finally made it to Fawn’s car, which has heated seats and other sort of fancy gadgets to keep the rain out, like windows and doors. I felt better as soon as I thawed out a little bit, at which point I profusely thanked Fawn and apologized for being so awkward.
We headed back to the hotel and did NOTHING for the rest of the day. We ordered room service, and Fawn carbo-reloaded by eating her dinner and then the other half of mine. I think she was more tired than I was! From what I hear from my awesome friends and family who join me at these events, spectating is hard work. I think I’ll stick to running. As soon as we got back to the hotel and I showered, I IMMEDIATELY emailed the Marathon Maniacs to tell them I had qualified and I wanted to register! They got back to me within about a half hour and I became Maniac #4674! I quickly went about setting up my profile on the website, ordering my singlet, etc. I don’t want to say it’s the greatest accomplishment of my life, but right now it kind of feels like top 5. I got my official Marathon Maniacs gear in the mail on Wednesday. Thanks to my mom for buying me the awesome jacket!!!
I had such a great time at this race, weather and all. The volunteers and spectators were amazing. After the half marathoners split off, I really enjoyed the race experience and the course. I feel like I learned a lot about myself and my ability to stay tough in this race. For once, I had no problems with my stomach and my back felt pretty decent. I felt strong and prepared, and now that I know I can run a 9:36 mile at the end of a marathon, I think a PR is in my very near future. Thank you so much to the AMAZING Fawn (did you know her middle name means “America” in Vietnamese? how baller is that?) for being an incredible hostess and a great cheering squad, even if you did eat all the carbs in Dallas.
Next up for this Marathon Maniac? Kiawah on Saturday! If it rains, I quit.