Well, here I am again in Arizona, standing around at dawn shivering, wondering what on earth has posessed me to do this. My husband, I know, is 26 miles away awaiting the start of the full marathon. (At his start, I find out later, they have cocoa, coffee, cinamen sticks, and warming fires. For us lazy half-marathoners, however, we have only each other. There are no Athena or Clydesdale awards for the half marathon, either.)
At 8:00, the half-marathon and 10K start. We take off together, the 10K-ers and the half marathoners. I don't know why, but I always seem to warm up s-l-o-w-l-y. The first couple miles my feet are burning. I stop a couple times to stretch, and am treated to the sight of a tall thin man running the 10K backwards. At least, I hope it's the 10K, because it's not too many more miles later that he passes me on his way back, and it would be disconcerting to know that a man running backwards that THAT much faster than I am.
I set my sights on people ahead of me who seem to be matching my pace, so that I can keep track of, well, being on track. Large sweaty man. Swinging arms race-walking woman. Later on, the three of us will take turns passing each other. The large man is inspiring. He never stops, never slows down. There are aid stations every mile, as promised, and they are full of cheery, encouraging people telling me how GREAT I'm doing! Rather than weigh myself down with water, I take along gel packs and take water whenever it is offered, drinking a few ounces per mile. Eventually we reach the first 5 K where there is what appears to be a stage prop, a fake "wall", and a significant portion of the crowd, the 10K-ers, turns back. The rest of us plod along down a hill that, I dread, on the way back, will be heck to pay, heck, I tell you.
The weather is gorgeous. Before the turn around, I have already removed my zippered jacket and overshirt, tying both around my waist. The course is hillier than I'd thought it would be. Contrary to my usual negative self-talk, though, I realize that although I'm not very fast, I AM enjoying myself. Normally I would be angry at the hills. Sometimes I get angry at the wind, when I'm cycling. Today is not that day, however. I'm truly enjoying myself. I had started out running 6 minutes and then walking one. As the miles tick by, I switch to running five, then walking two. I stay ahead of the walkers, but am at the very back of the runners.
At the turn around point, I run up and hug a very started race volunteer. I am VERY happy to see him! I trot around the turnaround and start back toward the park. On the way back, I climb the large hill to the top and run under the wall - I find out later that Husband reached out and smacked it, so that he could say he, "hit the wall - and It's down to the last 3 miles of the race. At this point I am walking five, running five, and then I start making up little rules, like, "unless there's a hill, in which case I'll walk, or there's an aid station, in which case I'll walk, or there's a photographer, in which case I'll run, because Lord knows I don't want my picture taken mosying." Large sweaty man is still ahead of me, by about a block. I find out later that he's from New York and not used to hills. He inspires me during the race to keep going, because he never slows down. The muscles that run down the front from my trunk to my quads - I don't know what they are called - are the first to start really protesting. Feet, legs, everything else is okay, but lifting the legs and moving forward it proving to be a challenge. By this time I've warmed up considerably, even with the wonderful cool breeze blowing toward me, and I'm down to my running top/bra with several items of clothing tied around my waste. I pass a volunteer who tells me, "just one more mile to go!" and I reply, "good thing, because I've run out of clothes to take off!"
Now, at this point, I've accepted that I have no chance of placing, no warming fires or cinamon cocoa at my start, and I know it should be all about the experience, and personal best, right? I should be satisfied that my goals, (beating 3 hours, not being dead last) will be met. But, one thing that keeps me going is the idea of fingering my nice cool finisher's medal. I round the corner and there is a smattering of applause and encouragement as I shuffled down toward the finish line. People take my picture. I stop after crossing the finish line, but am told to go "over to that table over there".
Where, I am informed, they have run out of medals.It seems there was a rush of last minute applications, and they have just plumb run out of everything except the full marathon medals. No medal for me. "We'll mail it to you". I start to fill out the little piece of paper, too exhausted to be angry, just immensely disappointed. I find that I can barely write because I am so tired. It is legible, but looks like it was written carefully by a fourth grader. Here's my virtual medal, until they mail me one (I lifted the picture from http://elliesjourneys.blogspot.com/)
Overall, however, I did like this run. I like the weather and the topography was just right.
I loved the weather and the goofy "purple ladies" at one aid station. I think I may make the Lost Dutchman my first full marathon; its starts out in the desert near the "Superstition Mountains" and winds its way back to town, through truly gorgeous desert scenery.
But I tell you this - they better have a medal ready for me when I'm done with my 26.2 miles, or there will be heck to pay.
Heck, I tell you.
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