October 2, 2011. 5:30 am. The alarm goes off in the hotel room. Sean continues to snooze while I get up and pad around the room in near-darkness. I sit on the chair and eat my powerbar (chocolate peanut butter, naturally), and drink some orange juice while reading Twitter and sending shout-outs to my Twitter friends running the TC 10Mile and Marathon back in sunny Minnesota.
I look out the window, seeing the rain splashing into the puddles in the dark parking lot, and I steel myself. It’s going to be chilly. And it’s going to be wet. I’m recovering from a sinus infection. I just want to finish this race.
I go through the now-comforting routine. Undergarments, running tights, Mpls Duathlon L/S shirt. I hook my race # (sideways, because they attached the sensors the wrong way by mistake and didn’t realize it till the last minute) on the tabs on my SPIBelt and make sure my Gu is all there. My iPod is all ready to go, charged and ready to play my 13.1 Playlist. 2 pair of gloves in the pockets of my raincoat. Minneapolis Marathon hat ready to try to keep raindrops off of my face.
Sean is up and moving and helps me draw dragonflies on my arms. My friend Manda is running the TC 10Mile today and the only way I could cheer her on from Maine is if we both have dragonflies drawn on our arms. So we did.
(That one says “Go, Kelly Go!”)
Suddenly, it’s 6:45 am and time to get moving toward the race site. As we pull onto Forest Avenue, traffic’s just sitting there, waiting to get into the parking garage. After sitting there for 30 minutes, I hop out and walk to the race start, leaving Sean free to turn around and go visit our friends for the next few hours while I run my race.
It’s pouring as we’re standing there. I’m wet long before I even cross the start line.
Beautiful singing on America, The Beautiful and the Star-Spangled Banner. Then another few minutes, a loud gun blast, and we’re off.
As we run these first few miles, the rain starts to lessen a little in intensity. Before I can really internalize it, we’re leaving the Back Cove and running up Veranda St. I find myself stopping with a gaggle of runners at Washington Ave. It’s the first race I’ve ever done where we had to stop for traffic, though it’s such a main drag, I’m not surprised. Then we’re weaving our way over to the Martin’s Point Bridge. I run across the whole thing without stopping. Generally, I was going 8 minute run/2 minute walk segments, and feeling good. We go through a really nice waterfront neighborhood in Falmouth, then back into Rt. 88/Rt 1 going up toward the shopping center. Mile 4 (with a lovely bagpiper standing right by the waterfront) turns into Mile 5 without much thought, and I clear 5 miles in 1 hour, 8 minutes. Just after I pass mile 5, I text Sean, telling him where I am. I am starting to get excited. I feel good, and if I passed mile 5 in 68 minutes, I could conceivably clear 10 miles in 136 minutes, which would leave me 43 minutes to do the last 5K and meet my 2:59 goal.
We started to hit the hills after mile 4, and once we go past the Rt 88/Rt 1 triangle, it is raining harder and harder as we traversed the hills. I drove this road a million times when I lived there — I never could have predicted running on this road 11 years later. I run an 11-minute mile from mile 5 to mile 6… Foo Fighters’ The Pretender comes on my ipod and spurs me to take off. Still feeling great, smile on my face.
Along the way, I’d seen these pink signs attached to trees or poles. They were all for one half-marathon runner, Pookie. Pookie must be an amazing person, to have such wonderful friends and family writing these amazing signs. I only got a photo of one of them, but each of them choked me up a little bit.
Then I see a sign that says half-marathon turnaround ahead. Makes sense. I had looked at the map before the race and it looked like the turnaround was past the mile 7 marker. I am fiddling with my headphones trying to re-orient them, and pass some race volunteers, but they are talking amongst themselves and I don’t see them using their flags to direct me, so, I continue on the course and pass mile 7 going strong. Then I start to worry. There is no one really coming in the other direction. I lookd at my Garmin. I have gone almost 8 miles.
There is a small country store up on the right, and the nice spectators outside the store in their ponchos confirm the thing I most didn’t want to be true: I’d missed the half-marathon turnaround.
I turn around and head back toward the turnaround. I am walking at this point, and I take out my phone and call Sean. I tell him that I’d missed the turnaround, and I am likely to be more than a half-hour behind my predicted time. I start to tear up, out of frustration and disappointment. Sean tells me all the encouraging things he can, but when I hang up, I start crying harder. A spectator asks me if I am okay… I tell her I am physically fine but that I had missed the turnaround and am having a rough day. She is sympathetic to my plight.
I wipe my tears away, and start trying to run to the turnaround. I get there, and continue on the course. I walk most of the rest of the way. I just lost all of the momentum I’d built up. I also am worried about injuring myself. I already know I’ll do more than 14 miles on this day, my longest run/walk ever, so I owe it to myself not to hurt myself. But more than anything, my mental game is gone.
I did run back across Martin’s Point bridge, the whole thing, so I can say I ran across the bridge in both directions! I don’t have much else to say about the rest of the race. I amble along, just trying to finish, still a little cranky at myself over my newbie error.
Finally, the race mile 13 sign is in view, and I start running. Then I see Sean, and he runs in with me. I did my characteristic sprint at the end, and cross the line. 14.9 miles in 3:35:19. The very nice gentleman puts the medal around my neck and congratulates me for finishing the race in such rainy weather.
Another volunteer puts a space blanket around my shoulders, and while I want to see the post-race festivities, I want a nice, hot shower more. My friends Joanna and Trevor came up to see me finish this race, so I finished it. (thanks for the great finish line photos, Joanna!) It is great to have my oldest best friends, Rose and David, there, and to be able to meet up with Kate shortly thereafter.
We head back to the hotel, where I grab a hot shower and dry clothes (thankful for them!), and we have lunch at a lovely Indian restaurant, Hi Bombay. I decide over lunch that I’m making the trek back to Maine next year to run the 2:59 or better race I planned to this year.
Rose and I have known each other for 33 years. And she still supports me, even when she thinks I’m a little loco.
Kate and I have known each other since we were in college together in the mid-90s, and she’s just one of my favorite people on the planet.
This is Joanna, who took the lovely finish line photos, and who came all the way from Rhode Island with her husband to see me finish this race. We went to high school together, but found out how much we actually have in common thanks to reconnecting on Facebook. She’s one of my staunchest supporters.
Sean and I go back to the hotel after lunch and end up taking an extended nap. We have great chowder and scallops for dinner at Gilbert’s Chowder House right down the street from the hotel.
It took a nap for me to stop being disappointed at 3:35:59 instead of 2:59 and embrace the celebration of my longest run/walk ever of 14.9 miles! In fact, that may have pushed me over the edge. Yesterday, I was successfully registered for the 36th Annual Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, MN, on June 16, 2012!
I am using Jeff Galloway’s Marathon training plan. It’s 30 weeks of training to race day plus 2 weeks after the race, so I’ll be starting my marathon training the week of Thanksgiving!
My next race is the last of the Monster Series for this year, the Monster Dash 5k with Sean on October 29! It’ll be nice to see my Monster Series medal holder all filled in. It’s been an incredible year of workouts so far!