I am heading out to Palm Springs (otherwise known as my hometown) for my little and only brother's high school graduation. Mine seems so far away now (class of 2000!), whoa, I am getting Old. I will come back prepared to blog all about my visit to the dry heat and golf! Yey for the long weekend. ------
This is a continuation of my last blog post, a detailed experience of my first marathon... see Part V
(My Goal was to finish this multi-part blogs post by the LA Marathon, so the end is finally here, as the race is in two days and I am excited!)
I pulled over a second time to see if I could do something about this pain in my right foot. After a few moments of stretching on the sidelines, I saw the 4:30 pacer saunter by. That was it, I was going to suck this up and finish this thing. I grabbed my friend Amber and headed back on the trail with a renewed sense of urgency. I was still in pain, but it went in and out. Maybe it was a survival-instinct-thing that made the pain go away part of the time, nevertheless, I was happy to have what little relief I could get, no matter how sporadic it was.
The last 4 miles were pretty difficult. I can't recall much of it as all I remember was pain. But I still don't dare to say the most difficult, because as I recall it all, none of it was easy. Why people love to do this, why I am one of those people, I may never understand.
As I neared the last mile and the last stretch before entering the finish on the Marine base I felt a surge of energy pulse through me. My focus shifted. I started picking off people, one by one. It was a great new focus to have for the last mile.
Then at half a mile to the end, I saw the gate to enter the base. At the front of the gate, a wall of marines stood. It was a pretty awesome site.
All of a sudden, I saw one of them step out of line and in one fell swoop Amber was gone. I turned around in what felt like one of those slow motion scenes in a movie, only to see her being dragged off the course by a marine asking her for her ID. It wasn't until that point that I didn't even think that she would have to be cleared to enter the base with me since she wasn't wearing a race bib.
She yelled at me to go ahead, she would call Cameron or my mom and meet me at the end. I was sad to have had her run this far with me only to not be able to cross the finish with me. But I tried to not let it slow me down.
As I entered the military base I felt my legs kicking. I think I must have forgotten that I had a half mile left in the excitement of it all. I saw a tunnel and assumed that was the end (let me remind you after 25 miles you have no logical reasoning left in your brain, it is pure animal instinct as this point). I made a go at a strong finish and as I neared closer I realized it was just that, a tunnel and not the finish.
I still had about a quarter mile to go.
Could I make it two more minutes at this pace? I had to slow it down a bit, in hopes that I would have the strength to kick again at the actual finish. And when I was finally there, I was so dizzy and disoriented that I barely caught a glimpse of my mom and Cameron at the finish line as I crossed. (lesson to learn here, know where the actual finish line is and what lies before it so you can pick up the pace at the appropriate place)
At 4:34:24 I crossed the line. I felt a rush of emotions wash over me and tears began to fall.
Then I found myself full-on balling as I was being ever-so-slightly nudged along the way out of the way of the rest of the finishers. I had never been to a big race like this and I am not sure if this is how it always is, but I was trapped in a winding maze of booths. First up was a water and food station, next was an icing station, then more food and water, then more icing then those funky tin foil looking capes you always see runners wrapped in after a race to stay warm (which I always found weird, cause you would think that after running that long that you would be hot, but I guess after running that long, your body doesn't know what to do and starts functioning overtime to cool you down and you start to feel like you are freezing, especially with all the sweat, that the foil blanket s(called heatsheets) really does help). The next station was the medals, that seemed to weigh a ton when it was put on me. Then there was the photo station (who wants a photo of themselves as a drowned and tired rat?).
Finally I saw the exit. And after what seemed like an eternity since I had crossed the finish line, I saw my mom and Howard (stepdad) walking towards me and I lost it again. Tears steamed down my face. It was such an emotional experience. I can't even explain it, even as I write this I still get choked up thinking about it.
We walked towards the grass and found a curb to sit on, stretch, change into something dry and rest a minute. As I came to the curb I noticed something. Something strange.
Howard asked me "don't you want to sit down?"
"Yes!" I said. Very much so, I did. But I couldn't. I couldn't sit down. I couldn't bend my legs. Then, Howard picked me up and gently set me down on the grass. That was something I never expected. And amuses me still to this day.
But wait! Amber, what happened to Amber?!? My mom told me that Cameron left as soon as she saw me cross the finish to go get her. Whew! I felt so bad for her. I felt like I used her and then left her out to dry.
Getting out of the base was difficult as well. It took over an hour to get to our car and out of the parking lot. And let me tell you, when you are tired, injured, wet and overall just uncomfortable the last thing you want is to wait in line to get on a shuttle to get to your car.
After the nightmare of getting out of there, and the equal nightmare of Cameron trying to reach Amber (with all the road closures I think took nearly 2 hours to get to the after she was pulled from my side, which also tells you how good of friends I have!) we ended up at the Old Town Mexican Cafe Restaurant (an all time favorite of mine). My uncle joined us and I toasted a long overdue accomplishment with my first beer in 3 months! And as we had to drive back to LA an hour later my trooper friend Amber drove us home, so we could make it into work the next day.
My finally caveat: There were a lot of "firsts" this race. I guess that's to be expected. At least all the training I had done helped me get through most of it. This time I expect more from myself, the goal again is to get my under 4 hour mark! I feel confident and ready to kick some LA road. Wish me luck on Sunday!
I think it's official I have the marathon bug. I am not sure what the next one is, but I am working on a triathlon, maybe the Malibu International in September (for my birthday)? See you there.
...not to be continued... The End.
Finally :) the finale!
Next up: Seattle Rock N Roll, June 25th! It will be my 3rd marathon. And hopefully the best yet.