Trip out was very uneventful. Made all the connection easily. Arrived on Friday and took the shuttle to the hotel. Went to the expo and got packet. Walked the expo looking for a pace band. Saw only “tattoos”. Bought one. Walked around found the movie theater and saw “Burlesque”. It was OK. Had sandwich at a local deli. Stopped by local drug store and got milk and some Special K cereal for breakfast. Dinner at 7:30 PM with the rest of the team. Had Pot Roast, and two beers. Chatted and talked and had a good time. Good people.
Time zone adjustment was to my favor except when waking at 2:30 AM (4:30 Austin time). Generally I was up and awake each and every morning. Had cereal. Was supposed to do 4-7, but heard 7-10. Did 7.4. Ran the ending 3.5 miles out and back. The Weather was 40s-50s, foggy, and overcast. Just right. Did it slowly, felt OK, but not great and realized that on Sunday that I should be conservative. Got back and took a shower. The warm water felt good. Overall I was positive and up and feeling that I could do it with little problem. Went to the expo again. This time to check on whether I needed to get a bus ticket, but my bib was all I needed. Ate lunch across the street and enjoyed watching the other runners going in and out of the expo and people going about their business. Got internet access to read e-mail, read blogs and get weather reports. Stayed in my room watching TV and just chillin’ until 3 PM and the course tour. It was nice traveling the route with the other team members. All pack together in a 15-person van. Like minded people. All positive; joking around. A sense of community. Steve talked us through the course and Ruth drove. Got back around 4:30 and relaxed in my room. Starting to prepare my stuff for tomorrow. Went out and got more milk. Had trouble getting the Garmin to find the satellites. Went to park across the street, but took minutes to synch. Went out and got soup for dinner and also ate 1/2 of my sandwich from lunch. At the 6 PM team meeting in the hotel. Steve went over our plan. Good ra-ra. Ruth and Steve would be at 5, 10, and 18. We can drop off stuff at 5 with him. He said that we should be conservative or slow for the first 18 and then pick it up. Sat next to Stephanie, and we agreed to meet and run together tomorrow. She wanted to break 4 hours and I was confident that I could help her there. I was supposed to go to dinner with Kim and others at 7:30 PM but I felt it was just too late and declined. Got back to the room, and finished my preparation.
Sunday got a wake up call and set two alarms. Got up without problems. Check the weather and was 54 degrees out. Cloudy. No wind. This is warmer than expected, but OK. I rarely use a drop off bag, but I used one this time. Put various clothing choices in it. Packed my cereal and milk in it too. Dressed with long sleeve shirt, singlet, shorts. Put on Garmin watch, pace band, and iPod. Went downstairs and got right on the bus. Bus left just after 5 AM. Sat next to Ron Banning who knows John Schrug from Albuquerque NM. Bus took forever. There were times when I thought we were lost, but nope we got there OK. Immediately upon arriving I trotted off to use the porta-potties. Came back to bus and had my cereal. Changed from long sleeve to short w/ singlet. Dropped off my bag and again went to the porta-potties. Met Stephanie near the 4 hour pace group. It was now about 6:45 AM. Steve told us to position ourselves on the far left (pace groups were on the far right). The gun went off. Tried to get the Garmin to synch, and it wouldn’t. Sheesh. Piece of crap. Luckily Stephanie’s Garmin was OK. I set mine on indoor and would just do splits (see below). No pace per mile for me. Old school. Cross the start line, and we’re on our way. Stephanie, who said she would not talk much, was chatting away calling off paces, etc. She’s sweet. I feel comfortable running with her. I’m not listening to my iPod. Running with someone causes me to think about them and not about me. After 0.9 miles we turned on Oak, and stayed on the left. No problem with the crowd. Up a slight rise and passed mile 1. No problem with my right calf muscle. Not tightening up like it did a week ago. Whew! I pushed my split. We’re about 10 seconds fast. We agreed that’s OK. Now the miles begin to click by and blur. We’re in the pastoral country side. We’re talking a bit, and making sure we’re both OK, and we are. Miles 2, 3, 4, 5. We’re warmed up, and we’re running a bit fast (10 secs per mile), but we’re OK. However, I’m getting worried about Stephanie. She seems to be breathing a little bit harder that I expect. I don’t say anything. I don’t want to worry her. I jokingly tell her that she said that she wasn’t going to talk. I take my Carbo Pro. It spills a bit and gets my hand sticky. At mile 5 we get water for the first time. Just after 5 we see Ruth and Steve and I drop off my Carbo Pro Belt and gloves. The course is constant rollers. Up and down. Some very small, some larger. We’re doing fine. Miles 6, 7, 8, 9. I get on my first Choco Clif shot. Stephanie is on my left about a foot behind me or next to me. I’m still worried about her. Is the pace too fast? It seems OK to me. We’re a bit fast, but by 5 to 10 seconds only. At mile 10 we see a Team Rogue singlet up ahead, and pass Rick. We encourage him as we pass him. We drop down heading toward the big hill, reach it, and climb it just after 10. It was nothing to worry about. I don’t remember seeing Steve at 10. Was he there? Stephanie says we’re at the back and he’s probably moved on up course for the faster runners. Miles 11, 12, 13, and we’re half way. We’re about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes ahead of pace. The rollers continue. Up and down. Up and down. I’m starting to breath harder. I’m surprised by this. It is too early. We really haven’t been pushing it whatsoever. Why is this happening? Yet at the same time I don’t realize it’s happening. Because we haven’t been talking. I tell Stephanie that I’m going to turn on my iPod to distract me. I’m starting to feel the intensity. This is very early. I’m now starting to push it a bit to keep the pace up. Looking back now I was starting to focus in on myself and to ignore the outside. Stephanie is still there, but I’ve now got to run my own race and she’s got to run hers. Miles 14, and 15 melt by. I get my second Choco Clif Shot. I nearly gag on it as I run. How awful. Get water at the next stop. Swallow a mouthful and realize it’s Ultimate. Ugh. Somewhere around here I started feeling my groin, but in time it went away. What was that all about? Now the race begins. I’m on my own. I know the hills begin to level out at 18, but I’m working to keep on pace. Miles 16, 17, and 18. Steve is in the middle and yells at me. I’m in my own world. I try to respond. To speed up. It’s hard. I’ve got 8 miles to go. I can’t relax or I won’t make my goal. I’m still about 1 1/2 minutes ahead of pace. I know that the flats are coming. I speed up a bit from Steve encouragement, and that’s the plan. I get some side stitches, so tell myself to breath deeper. Slowly over a few miles they dissipated. Again what was that all about? It is at this point that Stephanie and I separate. We’re each on our own. However we really started that back 5 miles ago when I started the iPod. From then on she just a body to my side. I’m sorry Stephanie. I thought I could be a better running partner. I’m so so sorry. My inner turmoil is rampant. Git ‘er done. I can do this. Keep it up. Mile 20 has a balloon arch and timing mats. I cross it. Only 6.2 to go. I think back to the last race prep. Those 6 long long miles on the track. My joy after that track workout when I realized that my pace was unexpectedly good. Mile 20 was my personal point to pick it up. Had my Mocha Clif Shot and water at the next aid stop. I normally feel the caffeine. Nothing happens today. I’m too deep in a hole for it to pull me up. But there is nothing in the tank. It is now a brutal march to the finish. I have to keep going. Keep up the pace. If I slip my pace too much I won’t make my goal. I keep pushing. Up and over the bridge. I’ve got tunnel vision. I can’t enjoy the view. I’m slogging it out. One mile at a time. We pass 55th Street. This was my end-point the day before. Now I’ve got 3.5 miles to go. The streets pass by. They decrease so so slowly. I feel like I’m in molasses. Time expands. We turn from J to L, but I can’t remember how far out it is. On I go. Keep pushing. I tell myself I can’t slack off. We pass 22nd, the numbers are now taking even longer to pass. I’m looking for 15th and the palm trees. I’ve been missing my splits. Where was mile 25, and 26. The last said 9:20. Argh! I’m now over pace. How long has that been happening? Have I missed my goal. Do I still have enough time to make it? Push. Push. Can’t let up. Turn the corner on 8th. Not much more now. Past the women’s chute. Turn on the men’s chute. Clock says 3:59:20 gun time. I’ll make it. On the mats, press my watch 3:58:13. I did it. But it’s a muted victory. Now I can finally relax. I did it. Under 4 hours. But not by much. Gosh that was awful. Awful. Just awful marathon. Get water. Drink. Drink. Get my well earned medal. Get more water. Refused the mylar blanket (big mistake). I can barely walk. My left knee is tightening up. My legs are too. I gimp along. I feel awful. The pain, the stiffness, the disappointment surpass any feeling of accomplishment. And why do I do this? What a black hole I have descended into to complete this thing. I can’t remember most of the last miles other than the constant fear of failing, the agony and having to push through it all. I can’t stay there. I can’t celebrate. I’m so so stiff. People are partying and I just don’t feel like it. I wonder about Stephanie. Did she make it? I failed her. I don’t stop to see if Stephanie finished. I assumed she is behind me. But how far? I’m so worried about her. If it was this hard for me what about her? Gotta get out of here. No food, no beer, nothing. My stomach couldn’t take it. My soul just wants me to crawl under a rock. I shuffle by the capitol and head toward the hotel. I’m getting cold. Cross the course on L street. Looking for a hole, timing my movements with my tight knees and stiff legs. Almost to the hotel. Starting to shake from the cold. Tremors. Shivers. Feel like I have Parkinson’s. Can’t stop it. Then realized I never picked up my drop bag. I’ve got to go back. Argh! Back 4 blocks. Shivering like crazy. Duck across the course again. Get drop bag and head out. Bought Coke. Need the sugar and caffeine. Trying to brighten my spirit. At hotel finally. Warm shower felt so very good.
I sit on the bed and try to ignore the ripples of tightness surfing my legs. Slowly I let the negative feelings go. I tell myself I’ve BQ’ed a second time. However the overall experience is tainted. The deep disassociation was why I had said three years ago that I was retiring from running the marathon. I came back to Boston qualify because I aged up to 60 and 4 hours. I remembered this year’s Austin marathon was spirit lifting having BQ’ed. I felt good running it. Not like this one. This one was the pits. I ask myself what other good and positive things came from this experience. I’m proud that I gutted it out. I stuck in there, “got ‘er done”, and reached my goal. The sense of community that Steve and Ruth have built is wonderful. The times the team was together this weekend have been extraordinary. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I relaxed. Although I’m so much older than the rest of you, thank you for including me. There were runners to talk with, to share with, to laugh with, to be with. This is a good tribe. I’ve enjoyed the company of many runners from Brenda, to Amy, to Mamie, to Wren, and especially to speedy Kim. I sincerely appreciate Stephanie from running with her during class, to her greeting me after San Antonio half, and to her running with me today. She is a sweet and kind and sincere and good person. I appreciate all she has done to include me, to talk to me, to be my running buddy, and to forgive me for today. What other things? Well the course tour was great and helped alleviate the fear of the unknown for me. Thank you Steve for your coaching, your honesty, and your insights. I’m sorry if I disappointed you. You know I trust you and will do what I’m told. Thank you Ruth and Steve for arranging this whole thing and, I’m sure, so many other things that I’m not even aware of. Thanks for it all…
Here are my splits.
* = split missed, time divided evenly