Never have I felt so bad and so good at the same time.
This morning I ran the Tom King Half Marathon. As I was waiting for the start, I realized I’m still smarting emotionally from being swept off the course during my marathon attempt last September. Most half marathons have a four-hour time limit that isn’t adhered to very strictly. The Tom King has a 3:30 cut off time. That’s about how long it takes me to complete a half. Last year the race allowed slower runners and walkers to have a 30 minute head start. Not so this year. I considered the cut off time too close for comfort, but I needed to try to do this.
I made the biggest mistake one can make during an endurance event. I started out too fast. I ran the first eight miles faster than is advisable for someone of my current fitness level. And then…
The wheels fell off. During the final 5.1 miles I contended with heavy-legs, a calf cramp, a side stitch and…just for kicks…nausea. My jog was reduced to a pitiful shuffle.
It was clear I wasn’t going to finish before the cut-off time, but there were quite a few people around me so I figured we’d be allowed to finish. I just wasn’t sure I wanted to. When a road on the course dead-ends in front of Titans Stadium, runners take a left, running around the stadium and into a tunnel that takes us to the finish line on the football field. A right turn would have taken me directly to my car, allowing me to bypass the embarrassment of facing the race crew. What to do?
I decided to take the left turn. I needed a symbolic gesture to help me move beyond the bruising I took in September. Completing a half marathon with a tight cut off time would do the trick. So with head held high I shuffled forward.
Once I was in the tunnel the folks who work events at Titans Stadium cheered for me as if I were about to win the Olympic Marathon. I cried, and just thinking about it as I type this makes me cry again. Blessings to those kind people.
I finished in about 3:39. When someone on the race crew put the finisher’s medal around my neck I told her I wasn’t sure there would be any hardware left. “Hey, you deserve this,” was her kind reply.
As I limped my way out of the stadium and toward the parking lot, my friend, Lynn walked toward me. She ran 10 miles of the course as a training exercise and finished WAY before I did. She waited more than an hour in order to check on me. That’s friendship.
I’m going to spend the afternoon relaxing while I wait for the Aleve to kick in. I have an massage appointment late this evening. I made the appointment yesterday in anticipation of having something to celebrate. While my time wasn’t anything to write home about, I do have something to cheer about.
The marathon-attempt monkey is now off my back.