To make your morning as suspense-free as possible, I not only did NOT hit my goal time of 2:30, I also did NOT hit my (revised at mile three) goal time of 2:40. I did, however, finish the dang Old Port Half Marathon, which was NOT a given around mile 8 or so.
And, yeah, I’m pretty bummed.
The night before the race went as perfectly as it could have. I hooked up with BAMR Lisa, we picked up our bibs, and had pasta for dinner. I visualized a strong race and turned off my reading light at a reasonable hour.
We were up at 5:15 a.m. While Lisa TCB in the bathroom, I noticed that the sun was already up. Oh, dear, I thought. That isn’t ideal. I doubled-down on my visualizations and pulled on all of my gear. I slurped down coffee and a dry bagel on the way to the car.
Oh, dear, I thought, as I realized sweat was already running down my back just from our short stroll from parking lot to starting corral. This is really not ideal. And then I might have quietly panicked a little bit, because the sun is the Voldemort to my Hermione Grainger, who is my favorite hero if only because we have the same hair.
The race started.
I stuck with pacer (and BAMR) Erica for the first two miles and felt pretty good. This will all be OK, I thought, no matter what Voldesun decides to do. I slowed down just a smidgen when we went up the first hill. Herr Garmin said I was clocking an 11:08 mile and that felt waaaaay too fast. They’ll slow down and I’ll speed up once I catch my breath, I thought. No worries.
Only it was then that my brain realized how hot I was and how thirsty. I sucked down a GU and some water, which immediately then felt like it was going to come right back up. I slowed down to see if I was going to barf, and in slowing down, knocked the wheels right off of my race.
Around mile 6, I decided I hated running and races and all of the folks on their lawns offering encouragement. By mile 8, which is when the course makes a four-mile loop around the back cove, where there is almost no cover or breeze, I’d started just taking cups of water at stops so that I could dump them over my head and down my shirt. Every half mile or so, I’d break out in a cold sweat, feel like I was going to barf again, and wonder if this is what heat stroke feels like.
This was the closest I’ve ever come to just lying down and whimpering “nope” while all the other runners stepped over me. I don’t know that I’ve ever been so dispirited or felt so empty.
And, yet, I didn’t. Some of this is because Lisa wouldn’t have let me, unless I really was on the brink of death, which I suspect she could figure out because she is a nurse in her non-running life. Some of it was because the RaceJoy app allowed my husband to send “cheers,” which were little sound files that went straight to my earbuds and made me smile. Some of it was knowing how much support all the BAMRs have given me, including a BAMR that we’d met in the parking lot who was about to run her second half. It’s humbling to be a part of this community.
But, really, what got me through was a runner behind me who seemed to be having as lousy a time as I was. We kept passing each other during the last five miles. At one point, just under her breath, she muttered, “I’m just so angry that this race isn’t over yet.”
Me, too, sister. I thought. I, too, am filled with rage because I’m still out here, still running, still nowhere near the end, still imperfect. Anger, it turns out, can be one hell of a motivator.
So I finished the damn race — even though the temptation to join a yoga class that had convened on the beach just past mile 12 was greater than I can describe. Not because I wanted to do a down dog but because corpse pose right then would have been amazing.
Around the last turn I saw my husband, kids, dog, pacer Erica, and Quinn, one of my college friends who now lives near Bath. Lisa, Erica, Quinn, and my daughter Maddy ran the last bit with me. They claim it couldn’t have been more than 400 yards, I swear it was about 40 miles. I collected my medal and a bottle of water. Maddy had woven a clover flower chain while waiting for me to lurch into sight and placed it over my head, which was worth more than the medal, if less durable.
It’s a bummer. I feel like I let the team down, even though I know this team supports me no matter what. I feel like I let myself down, too — but I also know that Wineglass is in a) October in b) Upstate New York and c) is largely downhill. There is always another opportunity. Coach Christine is devising a plan and, on the whole, my failure-to-success ratio, with “success” defined as “finishing,” remains high.
I never did get that pie, because the barfiness took a good long time to pass. But next time, there shall be pie.
My daughter’s flower chain was worth more to me than the medal. What is your personal running-related prize?