I think I have a new definition of crazy: thousands of people willingly putting themselves through mile after mile of pain and smiling while doing it, then afterwards saying aloud, “I can’t wait to do this again!” I am happy to say that I am part of this group!
Whatever mental stress about this race that I had been dealing with melted away Saturday night as I carb loaded with my running buddies (can you say Chicken Scaloppine? Heaven!) and then layed out my outfit in the hotel with my bonus sister from Dallas. I hardly slept that night; I was like a giddy kid on Christmas Eve. Sunday morning came, and I was elated to find that any doubts I had were replaced with excitement and confidence. I was going to do this.
Here’s something for you running newbies or anyone considering joining the sport – if you want proof that anyone can be a runner, come to a big race like the Williams Route 66 Marathon/Half-Marathon. It is truly a beautiful thing to see that no matter your body type, shape, weight, height even age – you can be a runner, and a freaking amazing one.
The energy of the crowd was electric. Runners jumping in place, stretching out, tucking laces, laughing, dancing . . . did I mention that it was like 37 degrees? As our corral moved to the start, I smiled. I didn’t know what this race was going to entail, but I was going to finish it and better yet, I was going to enjoy it. And I did.
So, the course: as promised it was hilly. Maybe it was the cold, maybe it was the excitement, but the hills didn’t seem that bad to me. Then again, I had been running hills in Edmond since I started training. The hills were rolling, giving runners a reward of a beautiful downhill sprint before tackling another. After mile 5 the course became relatively flat. We ran through beautiful neighborhoods with tons of majestic trees, through what I call lovingly call the hipster district and up by the river to the park.
The water/Gatorade stations were perfectly spaced out with the food/GU stations and thank you Lord there were porta potties aplenty. Think you hate porta potties? They’ve never looked so glorious after 8 miles and tummy troubles . . . at least, er . . . that’s what a friend told me.
So yeah along with the good there are inevitably snags. I was going strong into mile 7 when the gastrointestinal system started to go berserk. At 7.5 I was forced to walk. At mile 9 – okay let’s not talk about what happened at mile 9. Let’s just suffice it to say that I took care of things and hit the road again good as new. At mile 10 a second wind kicked in and I went into “it’s almost over” mode and sprinted ahead of my partner. I’m plugging along and right past mile 12 my left knee starts to hurt like crazy. I walked for a quarter-mile, grabbing my phone and tweeting desperately for prayers. A half mile from the finish I decided to not give a crap and sprinted to the finish.
You guys, I can’t lie – my foot hit that finish line and I burst into tears. Thank God for the sunglasses because I was having an ugly cry in the middle of thousands of people, and a lot of them had cameras! I got my medal, got a Gatorade and paced around waiting for my partner, all the while sobbing. It was over. I did it. I finished strong and proved to myself (and to any of you who doubt that YOU can) that I could accomplish something amazing. It was one of those beautiful moments in life that I won’t ever forget. As my bonus sister crossed the finish, she and I hobbled to the tables laden with post-run recovery goodies and we reconvened with two of our other running gals. Then we laid out on the cold concrete and laughed about our mishaps along the way.
The truth about today? I am sore in ways I never imagined. ibuprofen is my friend as are bags of frozen veggies. My knees ache, my thighs feel like I did eight thousand squats, my intestinal track is still not right. Was it worth it? You bet your butt it was. And come April 28th, I’m doing it again and going for a new PR.