The Last 6.2 – The Second Time Around: Part Three
Mile Twenty had the most spectators of the day (it’s near the finish area so it’s easy for folks to cheer at Mile 20 and then head over to the finish line to wait for the runners to come in. Cruel set-up in some ways, to run by the finish as you head out to the hardest part of the course – but actually works out well for a boost to the spirit).
The thought of seeing my family and friends, and picking up my ‘Last 6 Miler’ had kept me going since Mile 16 when things started to slow down. And I wanted to look strong for them. I was already five minutes behind my ‘dream’ goal and decided that a PR was the perfect way to end the day.
I got total ‘tunnel vision’ when I saw them and could only focus on my mom handing me the next bottle (small bottle of water) and Ryan jumping in with me. In a blur I saw my stepfather and someone holding a camera (turns out, it was Michelle). I didn’t even see my husband, my mother-in-law or my nephew and they were all right there. I was too focused. (Same thing happened to me last year.) I crossed the 20-mile timing mat with a 8:59 split for a total time of 2:56:19 (about six minutes better than last year!)
As Ryan smiled at me and stepped onto the street, I grabbed his arm and said ‘Hey Dude!’ and suddenly felt all choked up with emotion. I was so happy to have someone run with me – it was so spirit-lifting to see a friendly face and be able to run beside someone with ‘fresh’ legs and positive vibes. He asked if we were shooting for the BQ and he didn’t even flinch when I said ‘No, just the PR.’
As we approached the first stupid hill, I pointed it out and said ‘Here comes the tough one’ to which he responded ‘It’s just a speed bump.’ And then we laughed. (I also noted that AA would be cussing me out when she got to this part of the course. OK. She doesn’t cuss. But she would *want to* cuss at me.)
From the Mile Twenty marker to the Mile Twenty-One marker, it’s mostly uphill but I still felt ‘strong’ even though my knees were aching and tired (which meant my form had completely fallen apart). The hill dragged my split to a 9:38.
Mile Twenty-Two and I am craving oranges (low potassium I’m guessing). Sadly, there were none to be found. We are offered candy and Vaseline but no fruit. I eat my last gel (fourth one of the day) which does not give my feet wings but ‘perks’ me up and keeps my brain from going to that ‘dark place.’ I walked through the water stop, bring this split to 9:42.
I rip off the pace band for the 3:45 finish and leave it in a pile of cups.
Mile Twenty-Three and I’m amazed at how ‘good’ I feel compared to last time. No bitter thoughts about how stupid marathons are and ‘why did I do this?’ and how many blisters will I have…instead, I was listening to Ryan, drinking water and thinking ‘Almost done. Almost there.’
There was a bit of walking in here too. Which makes sense since the split was 10:03.
Mile Twenty-Four – Ryan had kindly been carrying my water bottle for me and he kept checking in with me: Do I need some? Will I be stopping at the water stop? I didn’t think it was possible to be ‘doted’ on while running and he and Jason both proved me wrong. I felt so spoiled!
A spectator yelled out ‘Go Dianna!’ and Ryan says ‘Wow…you have a lot of fans out here!’ And then I point out that name is written on my shirt, right above my boobs and that maybe that might have something to do with it. So he says ‘So actually they’re just a fan of your boobs.’ And I laugh, again.
This is the slowest mile of the day at 10:10.
Mile Twenty-Five – I’m finally getting excited since I know the finish line is coming soon. And coming in under 4 hours is a real possibility. I still have my wits about me, I can still talk and smile. Last year the final 10K of the race was tough for me, both mentally and physically. This time through, my pace was about the same over those last six miles, but I felt better – stronger somehow. That’s an encouraging sign.
There was one of those heart stopping moments in a race when you see a runner down on the course, surrounded by medical personnel. He was hooked up to an IV and the palest shade of white I have ever seen. Poor guy – down at mile 25. I’m spurred on to finish looking strong, and pick the pace back up to a whopping 9:56.
Mile Twenty-Six and Point Two – The last mile is the best one. We get a great downhill to coast on. There’s music. The spectators are there, the rain has let up just a bit…and then there’s our co-worker Olivia, sitting on the curb, snapping our picture! I can feel the adrenaline start to surge and hit that mile split at 9:18. Ryan peels off just before the finishing area and I head under The Arch, picking up the pace. I’m grinning like an idiot and I can see the clock says 3:57:xx. (I think the .2 was around 1:57 or so)
Then I see my friend Joan – who volunteered to work the finish line and has been standing in the rain for hours – and she is jumping up and down, waving her arms in her blue hooded rain poncho. She made it easy to figure out where she was!
She literally catches me in a huge bear hug as I cross the finish, and I’m hyperventilating and trying desperately to not start sobbing. To tell the truth, this finish felt just as amazing as my first one. I didn’t think it would be as satisfying, but it really was!
Joan wraps me up in a mylar blanket and helps me get my medal on…which I then take back off because I had to get out of my stinky shirt as soon as possible (this particular shirt holds on to stink like nothing I’ve ever smelled before). Put the medal back on and Joan steers me to the chip-removal area and some water.
I’m still hyperventilating and volunteers keep asking me if I’m OK. My mom, the nurse, bustles into the finish area and hugs me, then wraps an arm around my waist. Another volunteer asks me if I need medical attention (do I look that bad?!) and I say no, and mom looks at me and says ‘You’ve got your own medical attention right here.’
There are hugs and smiles all around, as I catch my breath and continue to blink back the tears. And seriously, not once did a feel even a glimmer of disappointment for the missed BQ. My body tells me that I did what I could do, and I am happy for it.
I broke four hours. My official chip time: 3:56:59.
We gather at the end of the finishing area to celebrate momentarily, and then we all start to look for AA, anxiously awaiting her big finish (which is her story to tell).
Once all the RBF runners are in, we drifted off to different places – AA and her family head over to the race tents for food and a massage. I opted to drag Michelle and my clan over to the party van where we set up the canopy to keep the rain off the potato chips and enjoyed some refreshing beverages while reliving our favorite moments from the day.
I looked around at my friends and family, and smiled, knowing that they all helped get me over the finish line.
Rain? What rain?