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slow and steady wins one

13 December 2008

Here we are, a full week after Big Race #2. My countdown widget still tells me the big day has arrived, with tiny little fireworks flashing on the screen when my dashboard’s up. I still don’t have the heart to click “okay” and make them go away.
I’m grateful that this year again I wrote things down day-of. Even after a week, my memory blurs. I know for sure I finished my race, had a great time with my friends, and this week wasn’t nearly as painful as post-race-week 07. So I count it a huge success. Read on for more details from the Big Day.

13.1 miles

iMix (didn’t start until mile five. 30 songs):

  • BON IVER Flume
  • BILLY JOEL Only The Good Die Young
  • KANYE everything i’m not made me everything i am
  • JOURNEY Don’t Stop Believin
  • BILLY PRESTON Nothin from Nothin
  • SCISSOR SISTERS I don’t feel like dancin
  • MISSY ELLIOT Sock it to me
  • STEVIE WONDER Higher Ground
  • ALL AMERICAN REJECTS Move Along (was needing second wind!)
  • ADELE Chasing Pavements
  • MATTHEW WEST end of the world
  • MARK RONSON Toxic remix
  • AMOS LEE Better Days
  • KILLERS All these things that i’ve done
  • ROD STEWART Young Turks
  • SAM COOKE Good Times
  • DEATHCAB I will follow you into the dark
  • BEN FOLDS Annie Waits
  • QUEEN Fat Bottomed Girls
  • ARCADE FIRE No Cars Go
  • JOURNEY Lights
  • ARCADE FIRE Rebellion: Lies
  • GUY LOMBARDO Enjoy Yourself
  • STEVIE WONDER Signed Sealed Delivered (my favorite running song)
  • RENT Seasons of love (running into the stadium. yeah, i know. perfect.)
  • SPOON The Underdog
  • BON IVER Skinny Love
  • MGMT electric feel
  • BELL BIV DEVOE Poison (waiting for free food :) )

The day began when I woke up 4:30, with that hazy uncertainty of being in a new bed for the first time, restless like Christmas morning.
Jennie’s parents picked us up and we were out the door by 6:30, to make it to the 5K by 7:15.
We’d tested the cold air at the back door, and I was like OH YEAH. no problem! It’s colder than this in Missouri ALL the time.
But it was a lie.
It was cold.
After I watched the 5K take off, I said my goodbyes to my cheering section, and ducked into the FedEx Forum to warm up, pin on my number, and get my head straight. My fingers were numb.

In that 45 minutes by myself I walked around and tried to shake off nerves. Watching other people stretching in new and exciting ways, I tried to remind myself they don’t know i’m not as experienced as they are.
I tried to relax, take deep breaths, remind myself WHY I run.
because I can
because I LOVE it
because … there’s just this feeling I can’t put into words, of having done something far outside my realm of usual comfort or ability.
I started to feel hopeful. hopeful that maybe I CAN write a book. maybe i CAN overcome the difficulties of this fall.

A metal gate blocked off part of the Forum lobby, and I stood there by myself for a while, and noticed a blue scrolling marquee displaying quotes about TIME. Some sort of FedEx display for sports games I’m sure, but it took my breath away a little bit.

The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once. ~Einstein
It takes a long time to become young. ~Picasso

Reading that, all by myself, I felt better. Thanks, corporate display moment of Zen!

Waited until the last possible moment to tackle the cold and find my way to Corral #9 in the Half-Marathon start line.
The race took off from the same place as last year.
Same announcer guy as last year. Wise-cracky and downhome like a country radio station dj. “2 rules,” he tells us, “be safe and have fun.”
I am, again, weepy/giddy/happy right before, and bouncing up and down to stay warm.
Speakers blast songs like “burnin’ love” and “great balls of fire”. Clever, and a little mean.

And then I was off! With 8000 other people. Cheering and clapping before we all got focused. Starting our pace, knowing we wouldn’t stop for a couple of hours. Some people carry on conversations in the early miles. I want to stab those people.
I just tried to stay focused, and keep a clear head. Telling myself I’d wait until mile 5 for my iPod.

Sadly, there was less entertainment/general cheer along the way this year.
some delightful highlights:

  • “You’re all Kenyans to me”
  • “remember WHY you are running”
  • “if you’re tired, remember the smile of a child” one guy rubs it as he passes
  • “you can do all things through christ who gives you strength”
  • lots of “good luck mommy!” “run mommy run!” *cute*

also some fun oddities:

  • dude in a banana suit
  • ran right into Happy Mexican (where i knew we’d have lunch) around mile 2
  • around mile 3 a ton of people had shed their gloves, jackets, trashbags. some hanging in trees, all over the grass. i hope those get donated later.
  • Elvis impersonator right before Beale Street
  • high school drumline under the convention center overpass. super-awesome.
  • belly dancers at mcdonalds, mile 12

The mental game was a LITTLE less challenging this year, thanks to my iPod, knowing what to expect, and my mantras:

Stay Tall. Relax. Slow & Steady Wins One.
I am not fatigue. I am not my pain.

I felt GOOD for most of the race.
like really good. like really happy.
Stopped for gatorade at every mile after 3, except maybe one.
It got challenging, a little, around 8-9 again. in the park behind the zoo. kept on trucking past a lot of walkers. breathing deep, staying tall.

Was really really fatigued miles 10-13. that’s not a shock, since I hadn’t run over an HOUR in a long time…and that point was nearing 2 hours.
The last two drink breaks I walked with my paper cups, my muscles doing that tingly-wobbly-energized thing, and it was tough to finish the last two miles. Not really in pain, definitely not out of breath, but just fatigued. drained. zapped.
but then, oh then, Stevie Wonder came on my iPod. and I could see the stadium up ahead, and more and more people were lined up cheering, and I sped up. and kept going. and THEN…
those piano keys
525,600 minutes… I mean, the whole imix was pretty well orchestrated throughout, (drawn from 5 hours of my favorites) but this was a little much even for me :)
How do you measure a year?
ran into the stadium on “things that she learned, or the times that he cried, bridges he burned, or the way that she died”
and I SPRINTED. past people, as fast as i could, to the balloon arch.
and even those moments when i felt like quitting, i was thinking you know what? i’m still proud of myself. This is still huge, and i will still finish, and i still worked really hard. I isn’t necessarily failure to admit there are some things you CAN’T do. I can’t sprint a 13th mile after 12.
but…i can run for almost 2 1/2 hours.
That’s longer than last year, in fact :)

My cheering section was waiting right at the edge of the stands! I got my cape, cut my timer off my shoe, got my medal. We snapped some good pictures. and then I walked up the stadium stairs to the food area. A lady next to me commented about the cruel-and-unusualness of walking up the stairs after the race, the same thought i’d had last year.


And…i don’t think i’ll quit running just yet after all.
I read an article last week about carb-loading that said many runners say they do it because they love food.
and boy do i :)
today, I’ve been hungrier than i’ve been in a while.
Post-race food tent was the best moment of my life.
mcalister’s soup. krispy kreme. banana. powerade
told everyone “i can’t believe i missed this last year!”


Something about such intense physical activity.
I felt ALIVE. I felt HAPPY. I feel HUNGRY. I feel tired, but I feel AWAKE.
and I don’t feel like crying. or at least if I do, it’s just out of sentimentality :)


I ran 13.1 miles today.
we’re going to Rendezvous for beer and ribs.
Life Is good.

That feeling is worth all the hours of effort, the awkward runs caught out in the rain, the blisters and the self-doubt and the numbing cold.

Was looking through my goodie bag after race, and saw a flyer for the Chicago Marathon…my brain got a little tingly starting to think about 26 miles for 26 years…it’s a good idea for a writing project, after all…

One Comment leave one →
  1. 14 December 2008 12:32 pm

    Do it.
    26 miles is nothing. After all, to repeat your mother, you have technically run a marathon already.

    Well. Technically it is something, but I’m really just trying to promote girl power. I love your little zen mantras. I play those little mind games with myself, too, when doing something that everything within me wants to perceive as difficult.

    I should start running marathons just for the free food.

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