Last we left off, I was hating my life at Mile 9 of the Go! St. Louis Marathon as my blister popped (or at least, I think that’s what happened) and I debated whether to split off with the infinitely-smarter-than-me half marathoners or stick it out for the full. You guys have been on the edges of your seats waiting to find out, I’m sure.
Ok, no you weren’t. Because you know me. You know there was basically no way in hell, minus a possible nuclear attack from North Korea and/or a suddenly broken leg, that I would drive all the way to Missouri just to run a half marathon.
We continued on, heading towards Forest Park, which is apparently a gigantic park in the middle of St. Louis. People tell me it’s bigger than Central Park, but I don’t know that to be true and don’t care enough to quickly Google it and find out. We stayed with Terri and her group still, which was quite amusing since many people ran by and congratulated her on her 100th marathon. The rest of the people were confused by the various signs on everyone’s backs and kept asking whose 100th marathon it was, but they meant well. Around mile 12, we caught up to Abbi, who had adopted a walk/run strategy because of the heat. The temperature at the start of the race was in the mid-60s and humid, which is pretty warm for a race this time of year. It quickly rose higher and we were often running in full sun, making for a really warm and pretty uncomfortable day. Add that to a bunch of hills and a few people who had run a marathon the day before, and you were looking at a lazy bunch. JC’s ankle was bothering him, Amanda and I were feeling lazy, and Abbi was hot, so we all started running and walking together, picking up a first time marathoner named Jessica along the way. She was really amused by our antics and horrified by the number of marathons we have run. But I mean, how could you not be amused by us?
OK, so we’ve still got a ways to go on coordinating the jumping thing. Terri and her group went a little faster as the four of us continued to hang back, but we caught up to them around mile 14. For some reason, at this point in the race, we were just really unmotivated. Like, exceptionally unmotivated, even for us – and y’all know that’s saying something. The good news was we had lots of photo opportunities to distract us! Terri had really planned ahead.
The course next took us through some of the nicest neighborhoods in St. Louis and through the Washington University campus, which is where one of my best friends went to school. I was looking for his fraternity’s house along the route, but couldn’t find it. Come to find out that they got kicked off campus a few years ago…awkward.
This portion of the course was pretty hilly, but at least it was slightly shaded. It was just me, Amanda, and JC now, and JC was wearing a sign on his back that said “It’s her 100th marathon!” with an arrow pointing to a picture of Terri. The problem was that Terri was now ahead of us, and with sunglasses and a Maniacs singlet on in the photo, everyone just assumed it was either me or Amanda’s 100th. The whole experience made me pretty excited to run my 100th (or hey, 50th would be good too) and make a sign, because people were real excited about it. As we approached mile 18, we were feeling ok, just tired. All of a sudden, an oasis appeared in front of us. It was so beautiful that it almost seemed to be a mirage.
This would have been much more exciting if I could have sugar, but since I can’t, I was mostly sad while Amanda and JC were beside themselves with anticipation. Apparently Belgian waffles take like 6 hours to cook, though, because we were there for about 20 minutes. I was allowed to get a tiny free sample of frozen yogurt, though, which made me happy. It became quite the party at the mile 18 waffle brunch, and fortunately we were far enough in the back of the pack that people weren’t really judging us for stopping.
Everyone’s spirits were up after that waffle stop, although I feel like mile 18 is a tough mile, for some reason. It’s like, you’ve run really far, but you’ve still got 8 miles to go, which isn’t really a short run. After mile 20, I feel like things aren’t so bad anymore, but mile 18 hurts the soul. Anyway, we were mostly trying to run more at this point. We had some renewed vigor and will to live, and even though we were pretty far back in the pack – ok, really far back in the pack – there were still great volunteers out and random spectators. The city really supports the race, and it shows. The volunteers were fantastic, and although I heard a lot about problems with the aid stations not being prepared in previous years, that was definitely not the case this year, thankfully. It was really hot and I was getting violently sunburned, but what else is new? At least we had each other and I had my Juicy Juice.
We genuinely were trying to run more at this point, although we often walked up some of the steeper hills. Ok, almost all the hills. We mostly just wanted to be done running. It’s kind of strange – you can really enjoy race but still really want it to be over, and that’s pretty much the boat that we were in. Is that obnoxious? Whatever, I guess that’s what we get for running a double. Fortunately, there was a beer stop ahead. Baby likes beer stops.
It wasn’t very long before we unexpectedly caught up with Abbi and Ruth! They had been just a couple of minutes ahead of us but had slowed down quite a bit. Meanwhile, we were speeding up and trying to get this show on the road. The longer we were out there, the hotter it got, and everyone was in some kind of pain or another. I guess that’s a silly thing to say about mile 23-ish of a marathon, but whatever. We made one last stop for a photo op at an aid station thoughtfully set up by fellow Maniac Nancy, and then decided it was time to get our asses in gear and get to mile 25 for the T-Rex.
As we approached mile 25, I looked at my watch and saw that we could get in under 6 hours, but that it would be close. All of a sudden, that became THE MOST IMPORTANT GOAL IN THE WORLD. I know that’s completely stupid, because I mean, at the point that it’s taking us 6 hours to do a marathon, we haven’t been making much of an effort for the entire race. To decide in the last 1.2 miles that we had to break 6 hours or the world would end doesn’t really make sense, but little about our racing “strategy” ever does. So we kicked it into high gear for the 1.2 mile T-Rex, and when I say high gear, I mean high gear. As in we did that last 1.2 miles at 8 minute pace. And that blister? It came roaring back to life with about 0.3 miles to go – as we were running uphill, of course!
And finish under 6 hours we did. In fact, a whole 2 minutes under 6 hours, thank you very much! The best part? That last mile-plus was the fastest mile we ran the entire weekend. That’s right – after 51.2 miles, Amanda and I ran our fastest on the last 1.2. Try and look me in the eye and tell me that’s not badass. Don’t worry, I’ll wait. I guess we still had some kick left in those legs after all! We finished the race about to vomit and pass out, but happy. The double was complete!
Overall, I have to say it was a pretty amazing weekend. I can’t really think of a better way to come back from my surgery than a double, even if it was a double that definitely had a few more rough moments than I would have preferred. It was great to spend the weekend with so many people that I love – both family and friends – and I feel incredibly fortunate to have run two really great races. Could they have possibly been more different? No, not really. And that was part of what made them both so much fun. Southern Indiana was an unexpectedly excellent tiny race, while Go! St. Louis provided the big city atmosphere with some great touches. Getting to run with Terri for a good portion of her 100th marathon was pretty awesome too! In fact, they ended up finishing just 15 minutes ahead of us. They must have stopped for waffles too.
At the end of the weekend, the count was:
- 1 weekend
- 2 marathons
- 45 days since surgery
- 52.4 miles run
- ZERO REFLUX.
I can’t really argue with that. Thank you all for the amazingly encouraging and supportive messages throughout the weekend! You’re all awesome and a huge source of inspiration for me. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t quite motivating to know that I’d have to come back here and tell you all what a quitter I was if I didn’t finish the double, so thanks for virtually kicking my ass, as always.