After waking up 500 times during the night thanks to my inevitable pre-race nightmares of not making it to the start on time, not wearing clothes once I make it to the start, etc., I finally rolled out of my cloud bed at about 6:45 am for the 8 am start. I tend to be a little compulsive about making sure I’m early for races, and I honestly could have woken up at 7:15 and been totally fine. As soon as I woke up, I felt sick. As I tried to ponder why this might be, I realized I had forgotten to take my stomach medicine the night before. I didn’t even have a good excuse like forgetting to pack it. Nope, it was right there in my bag, I’m just an idiot. I wasn’t feeling super confident, but I figured it was too late now. I put on one of my sweet ass temporary tattoos for luck.
I eventually left my room around 7:35 and headed over to the starting line, which was literally a 5 minute walk from the hotel. I had agonized over what to wear and ultimately decided to just go with the trexrunner shirt my mom had made for me and a pair of capris instead of my Marathon Maniacs jacket. Such a bummer, really, since I wanted to wear that jacket SO BAD. But I knew I’d get hot and regret it. Look how smart I am in my old age!
At the start line, I found my way over to some fellow Maniacs and met Jim and Yoshiko. Yoshiko typically wins her age group with about a 3:30 time, while Jim is slower than me and likes to take his time. The asked me why I wasn’t wearing my Maniacs gear and I had to bow my head in shame at my poor planning. Eventually, the race was about to start. With only about 1000 runners in the full and 2000 in the half, there were no corrals, just signs indicating approximate per-mile pace times. Soon, we were off!
Immediately, I was hot and overwhelmed. For some reason, the weather seemed unreasonably warm and I started to panic for the first couple miles, thinking that I would overheat in just my capris and tshirt. It may have just been that I was surrounded by people on all sides, which generally makes me nervous. While the weather was warm at first, it got progressively colder to the point that I was freezing at the end and wishing for my Maniacs jacket. Dammit. My goal for this race was to run at about a 4:30 finish pace and see if I could keep it up enough to PR. I did that pretty well for about 16 miles.
The course features a couple of out and backs and is a double loop, so you run the same route twice. Normally, this is the type of thing that I hate. I don’t want to be bored, and generally there’s nothing more discouraging than watching other people run back from the direction you’re heading. However, in this race I knew a decent number of people both ahead of and behind me, so it made things interesting. Also, it’s really amazing to see super fast runners flying at mile 10 when you’re on mile 5. And by amazing, I mostly mean depressing. However, my doctor was there! He used to hold the course record for the half marathon at Kiawah, so obviously he came back to win the Master’s division this year in a time of 1:06. No big deal.
Roddy had told me that one of the hardest parts of Kiawah is making the right turn to continue back onto the marathon course when all the half marathoners are turning left to head to the finish, but I really didn’t feel that way. I felt pretty good and was cruising along, hitting all my splits in the right amount of time. Somewhere around the halfway point, I began talking to a fellow Team in Training alumni named Sharon. We were running at a similar enough pace and we talked about Team in Training, Judaism, marathons, and life for quite awhile. It made the miles go by much faster.
Around mile 16, a little elf started stealing all of the mile signs and moving them farther and farther away than where they should have been, making each mile seem like it took forever. This elf also steals the socks out of your dryer, in case you were wondering. I had felt nauseous pretty much the whole race, but it was hard to tell whether this was a result of forgetting to take my stomach meds, forcing myself to ingest gels that allegedly taste like chocolate or vanilla frosting but actually taste like vomit, or looking at all the ridiculous and gigantic houses all along the course and being super jealous. It was probably a combination of all of them. The course was really incredible, in all honesty. If you’re going to do a double loop, this should be the one. Your views are basically salt marshes, mansions, and giant trees. It’s not that bad, unless you’re the jealous type or you live in Elgin.
Somewhere around mile 20 or 21, the epic meltdown occurred. My pace had been ok, although slowing, for the last few miles, but at mile 21 it was pretty much game over. My stomach caught up with me and it was a very angry panda. I felt like I was going to pass out and I truly didn’t know if I would be able to finish the race without collapsing. It was a really weird feeling, because my body felt fine. You’d think that after running two marathons in one week, my legs would be the angry part, but no. So, I pulled an Outer Banks Marathon moment and threw up in some rich people’s front yard. Or maybe multiple yards.
And this was the point where I remembered that Robin had told me the night before that she has only thrown up once in her entire life. WTF IS THAT? How is that even possible? If I get through a race without throwing up, I consider that a win. Hell, if I get through a week without it, it’s a victory. That being said, I’m an expert at the Puke-and-Rally. So I stopped feeling sorry for myself and picked up the pace for the last mile and a half or so. I kept thinking of the clip RDub had sent me that gave me one of my new mantras, “Don’t lose your dinosaur!” Please watch it. It’s life changing.
I literally said that over and over to myself, and it doesn’t even really make any damn sense. However, I’ve come to learn that not much makes sense after about mile 20.
My final time was something like 4:49, which I honestly wasn’t that upset with given that it was only 8 minutes slower than Dallas and I spent a pretty significant amount of time soiling people’s yards with my bile. Would it have been nice to PR? Of course, but it wasn’t likely to happen with only 5 days of recovery time. Amusingly, they called “my” name as I crossed the finish line. I literally grabbed my medal and my space blanket and walked as fast as I could back to the hotel so that no one would put the pieces together and go “Hey, she doesn’t look that much like a 65 year old man! OMG! BIB TRANSFERER!”
Turns out, it’s a damn good thing I got sick during the race, because Roddy/I came in 4th in his age group. If I hadn’t had to stop because I was sick, he would have placed. That would have been awkward. As relieved as I was about not cheating some nice man out of his well-earned age group award, I also found it slightly depressing that I can’t place in the men’s 65-69 age group. You win some, you lose some.
The medals for Kiawah are a source of great contention, and many people think they’re hideously ugly. Personally, I kind of like it because it really stands out from all my other medals. The marathon is trying to “go green” (next up Occupy: Kiawah), so the medals are made of recycled sea glass and are tied on with recycled ribbon, you don’t get a bag at packet pickup, etc. I appreciate environmentally friendly efforts in general, and in this case I’m ok with it. Yes, the medal might look like a Christmas ornament. Yes, it might be breakable. Yes, it may be nearly impossible to read, but you know what? No endangered species died when it was made. And since my representative animal, the T-Rex, is now extinct, I think we can all appreciate that.
Overall, it was a great race/birthday weekend in Kiawah, and my first double marathon week is now complete! No more marathons until Disney on January 8. I literally had to promise my mom I would not sign up for one on Christmas. I would never do that. The closest one is 6 hours away. I had already checked.