Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Adventures in Running: The Conclusion

Well, it has been about a month now after the Flying Pig Marathon.  And I needed about that much time to process the whole thing.  

It started out way too early on the morning of Sunday, May 2.  First of all, I really could not sleep all that much the night before.  I made a play list for my I-pod.  And I just couldn't stop thinking about the big event in the morning.  I met up with a bunch of others to carpool to downtown.  Once we got down there, we find our parking spot and huddled together in a little office area for the parking attendants, or I should say WITH the parking attendants!  We didn't rush to get to the starting line just yet because it was poring down rain with occasional thunder and lightening! I found out that very few of my race buddies didn't get much sleep the night before either. Needless to say I was wondering what the heck I just got myself into.  I assumed that the head honchos of the race would push off the start to see if the rain would pass.  Obviously, I thought wrong.  The starting time was getting close so we hiked it down to the starting line.  As we were approaching the start, my shoes were already soaked.  And then the giant wave of people started off before we even got in the line.  But that turned out not to be a problem because everyone has a computer chip on one of their shoes and it picks up your time when you cross the start and finish line.  I thought that was pretty cool.  

Well, about the first mile or two of the race we were drenched.  So all my clothes are soaked straight through.  But after a while the rain stopped and it ended up being a fairly nice rest-of-the-day for a race.  Everything seemed to start out well.  When you are in a crowd of thousands of people it is not like you can go off on an adrenaline rush and sprint ahead of everyone.  You are packed in pretty tight with a crowd at least for the first 3 to 4 miles.  Crossing over into Kentucky was interesting as you cross a large bridge with hundreds of thousands of feet pounding on it all at the same time.  You could feel the pavement vibrate.  Then as we made our way back into Ohio we hit the dreaded Mile 5.  For the next 3 miles it would be an uphill climb.  It was tough.  Even though the last 5 miles were relatively flat, the hill sucked out a lot of my energy.  Thankfully I had those chewy energy things that I was popping like a drug addict all throughout the race.  I was hoping that the last 5 miles would be an easy coast to the finish but it ended up being harder than I thought.  Thankfully Stacey staid with me the whole way and pushed me hard when my brain wanted to give up.  Yes, my brain, not my body.  So much of this race is mental and that was the hardest thing for me to overcome.

There was another thing that was hard to overcome throughout the race.  It was the plague of the shirtless men.  Of course there are two very, very distinct types.  The first type is the guy that all the rest of us guys only wish we looked like.  Pecs, abs, biceps and triceps.  It was just enough to make you want to trip him really bad in order to see if his perfect body bleeds . . . profusely.  But then there was the other type of shirtless guy.  This is the one who has absolutely no business taking off his shirt for any reason whatsoever.  Some strange testosterone thing must be going on in his brain convincing him that he would be cool with no shirt.  Maybe because his entire torso is covered in enough hair to make a Grizzly bear jealous.  Or maybe it is because someone convinced him that love handles flapping in the wind draws in the chicks.  Well, in Kentucky they may have a case there, but that is only for a few miles in the race.  

The other thing that kept on going through my mind was, "How the HECK does a person do this many miles twice in one race?!?!  Mentally, the full marathon would have destroyed me.  13 miles seemed long enough.  That was a huge accomplishment for me.  But to train in order to achieve 13 miles x 2!  The more I ran the half marathon, the crazier I thought the "full marathon" people were, especially after the 3 mile hill!

As we came within two miles to the finish line it was getting harder to push to the end.  But when I finally made the last turn and I could see the finish line, I found a new burst of energy.  I crossed the finish line and completed my first race since high school!  And 13 miles long too, not just a measly 3.1!  Much to my surprise and delight, after you cross the finish line you continue through a maze of stations on both sides of you giving out FREE FOOD!  Now, had I known this during the race I might have run a little faster with fewer stops to walk!  I got bananas and (my personal favorite) Mandarin oranges and snacks and drinks of all sorts.  It felt like Christmas for a little while.  So many kind people giving me free food.  It was a beautiful thing.  But the adventure does not stop here!

Throughout the race I saw people from the church and I saw my family at the 11 mile marker.  It was always exciting to all of a sudden hear people yelling out your name and cheering you on.  As I was enjoying all my free food, Shelly calls me and expresses concern that she can not find her way out of Cincinnati.  This seemed like no big deal to me as I typically just drive in any direction and eventually find a highway somewhere, especially in downtown Cincinnati.  The worst that could happen is that you cross a bridge and accidentally find yourself in Kentucky somehow.  The cloud of cigarette smoke that consumes you usually tips you off that you crossed the Ohio State boarder and went over into Kentucky!  I jest!  Anyhow, Shelly senses my casual attitude to her situation and then proceeds to tell me she is WALKING the streets, not driving!  And not only that, but she has found herself in a part of town where strange men are approaching my daughters and asking them for money!  So the search for Shelly began.  We finally figured out were she and the kids were at and managed to meet up with them.  Then we had to search for the van.  They couldn't quite remember where they parked but as we drove around it finally came to them and we found the van and went home!
 It felt so good to get home and relax.  I was on a serotonin high for 2 days.  It was quite honestly the most relaxing, natural high ever.  You have to be a runner to appreciate what I am saying here.  I got the commemorative poster of the Flying Pig Marathon and a metal for finishing!  I am sure of course that this is the metal that everyone gets just for crossing the finish line.  But it was a metal none the less!  I was very proud.  

And in conclusion, I really enjoyed the opportunity to run with a team of people for a great cause.  Jake is making great progress through his chemotherapy.  It looks very positive that he will beat this cancer.  In the picture above you see me running with my partner Stacey.  This picture struck me as odd because it looks as if I am laughing and enjoying myself!  So at some point during the race I must have had moments of sanity and fun.  Will I do it again?  I think so.  Will I go the whole distance and complete a full marathon?  I would like to try so I can say I did one at least.  I heard that the Columbus marathon is relatively flat for the whole course.  That sounds doable to me.  Cincinnati is very hilly.  I would like flat for my first marathon.  But we will see.  Anyone want to run together in the Columbus marathon???  I still run but I keep to shorter distances, about 2-5 miles depending on if I am going to do any other type of workout.  So I try to run a couple times a week as a warm up or as a whole workout.  

As far as my official results go, I finished at 2:11:57. I placed 271 out of 467 in my division of 40-44 year old men!  I placed 1881 out of 3469 out of all guys.  And overall I placed 3,247 out of a total of 9,423!  There were a couple of women who beat me.  Just a few though!  Actually there were a whole lot of all types of people who beat me!  But I felt very, very good that I finished! And it was all worth it.

Well, thanks for reading my "running blogs" and maybe there will be some new ones in the near future!  But now with the Summer comes vacations, music festivals and mission trips!  So look for those reports coming soon!

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