Monday, December 05, 2005

Tuscon Bobbi Olson Half Marathon Race report


Morning, just outside of Tuscon. I was picked up at a designated parking area by buses at 5:00 am and carried to the start line for those running in the half marathon. In the shadow of the Catalinas I am sitting on a bus, waiting at the start line for the Bobbi Olsen half marathon. I was one of the lucky ones. Early and one the first bus, the other buses have left and this one is staying to collect drop bags. So those of us on it are allowed to sit on it until about 6:30. more than a thousand other peopole are milling abouat, trying to keep warm, huddled near the open doorway of the bus. I fall asleep briefly.
I go to the portajohn and there's no toilet paper. Okay for this time, but if it happens again, the $2 gloves will have to be sacrificed. The race starts at 7:00 and it's cold outside. Some people are huddled near the rear of another bus. After we're asked to vacate the bus, I try that, but my eyes are stinging so I leave it. I don't want to try to run 13 miles having been poisoned by carbon monoxide. Note to self: next year, just in case, bring a disposable puffy jacket. Maybe something picked up at Goodwill. Walkers are lined up near the rear. Thank God for them; they make me feel so swift later on, when I'm barely shuffling along. For now, though, I am about in the middle of a pack of 2 or 3 thousand, ready to go.
And we're off! I start up my watch so that it goes off every 9 minutes. At that point I walk a minute and a half or so, and then take off running for the next alarm. The day is cold and clear, with no wind, and dry. The course is the shoulder and right lane of oracle road south toward Tuscon. It's clear and clean blacktop.
Mile 2, I'm starting to see hats strewn by the side of the road. All kinds of hats, thrown into the ditch. I wonder what happens to these. Do people try to come back and find them? Do homeless people look forward to the annual Marathon because it's a source of warm clothing? It's nice out, and the sun is coming up. My MP3 player is chugging away. Still on the
same battery. I'm feeling good. I pick up the pace a little.
Mile 4 or so, and now the clothing on the side of the road is jackets and a couple of knitted scarfs. We are directed to turn left. We run up a side street, then down another side street, turned around, and then backtrack out onto Oracle, heading south again. It's at first humbling because I'm running past all the people ahead of me, which I previously could not see. But then on the way out to Oracle, I pass people that I'm ahead, and I feel better. Easy, Misty. It's not a
contest. Just try to finish.
Mile 7 as I come out of the little jog off the side. The time on my watch, now 2 minutes walking for every 9 minutes, and it goes excrutiatingly slow. I'm dragging. I'm tired. I wonder if I will finish walking.
At mile 8, I hear a siren behind me and a motocycle police officer ride by, escorting the first runner of the full marathon, which started a half an hour later than the half marathon, PAST ME. I stop and take a gel and some water from the guys on the side. I'm feeling pretty weak. The legs are getting slower and heavier.
Mile 9. The ankle is talking to me now. "I hate you," it says. "This road is not even, and I want to sit down." It is also clear to me that my left shoe is on too tight. I've already loosened it up twice. I grab another Clif shot and suck down the last of my water bottle mixture. Somewhere around Mile 10, the gel kicks in. Or maybe it's my 2nd wind. Whatever it is, I'm in a rythem now. Slow run, walk 1 minute out of every 5. I discover that the cadence of the song, "Fly away" by Lenny Kravitz is perfect for a good running pace for me, so I keep backing up and listening to it over and over again. By the way, the course is NOT completely flat or downhill, there are some times when the road curves toward the mountains and gently uphill.
Mile 11, or maybe 12. I stop, take some water, and the guy says "just one more mile to go". LIAR. There's nearly 2 miles to go, as it turns out, and as I wind down to the last mile, I can see a large arch of balloons in the distance. Alright! I'm going to kick it and give it the rest of what I've got so that I can run in strong. I do that, and as I approach the balloons, everyone is yelling. Woohoo! Alright! Way to finish! You're almost there!!!"
ALMOST THERE? Come again? I run under the arch, and round the corner, and now the run course is surrounded on both sides by people screaming, "yeah! alright! You're almost there! I run straight down about 25 yards and round another corner, and there, 100 yards ahead of me, is the finish line. I'd had this idea that I'd do something cute and theatrical but all I'm focused on is the big FINISH and the pad I'm to run over. I run weakly over it, having blown out the last of my energy getting to the balloon arch, and then stop. An older man walks up to me. Places a hand on my shoulder. Would I like to sit down? Yes, please. Very much. I'd like to sit down. I'm feeling a little woozy. He cuts the chip off my shoe and hands me a bottle of cold water. Another volunteer comes over and hands me a finisher's medal. Hell yes I'll take it. I'll wear it until my legs stop hurting. Later on, I go back and wait for husband, who is running the full marathon. He can report that to you on his own.

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