Part 3 – Cleveland Marathon : The Final Installment (Is this a Michael Bay movie?)

I’ve been avoiding writing this post.
Not because I’ve been too busy at work to write (true). Or because unpacking/ painting/ unpacking/ decorating/ unpacking/ unpacking/ UNPACKING has consumed every ounce of my energy (true). Or because with B here now my window for secret blogging time is so small it’s barely letting in a light breeze (true, although by no means should that be interpretted as a complaint). It’s not even because I don’t feel like writing. I have words and stories and witty one-liners pouring out my ears, just waiting to be published for all of my (… five) readers to gobble up.
So why the delay?
Because writing this final race report means the wild roller coaster ride called My First Full Marathon is over, and now I’m buckled in for OHMYGOD I DID IT … now what?
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Sleep the night before a race is usually pretty tough.  Inside you’ve got the night-before-Christmas excitement and giddiness, the worry/panic/mental breakdown that you’re not adequately prepared and are about to take on a slow torturous death, and the anxiety of :  What if I sleep in?  Did I set the alarm?  Should I set ANOTHER alarm?  OMG GO TO SLEEP you need your rest!  What time is it?  How long have I been asleep?  IS IT TIME TO WAKE UP YET??!?
So yeah, there’s that.
And then you wake up and you’re trying to do everything the same way you have for every other twentygagillion runs you’ve been on.  Even though lacing your shoes so they don’t untie and stuffing the girls in your sports bra in a way that minimizes black-eye-threat is now second nature.  And then you’re timing your food/coffee/water intake so that bathroom “needs” happen before the race, and not 5 minutes after the gun goes off.  And you’re stretching.  Running in place to test whether thigh-chaffing will be an issue (even though you own 6 pairs of this style shorts, and have worn this exact pair on every long run).  You’re searching in the depths of your closet for a pair of ratty old sweats you can wear before the race and ditch before it starts.  You’re trying to poop for the fourth time before leaving the house bc there’s no way you can hover long enough in the porta potty to take care of that.
Cute running couple.  Gag.  Gross.  (NOT matching.)
So, yeah…  There’s that.
THEN you drive to race, and it’s still dark out, and you get excited thinking every other car on the road is a runner and you are instantly friends because you already have more in common than most of your “real”-friends.  You spend 20 minutes looking for parking, and weigh the threat of getting towed vs. having a two minute walk from the finish line.  You quadruple check that your shoes are on, your Gu’s are still in your pocket, and ipod is charged, even though it’s too late to do anything about it if they weren’t.  It’s time to grab your banana, take your balls out of your purse, and head towards the starting line.
(Cleveland at 5AM)
This is when the excitement from the expo finally resurfaces.  Thousands of people are parading around closed-off city streets in spandex and tank tops – shivering madly because it’s 20 degrees cooler than it will be during the race.  Lots of stretching, porta potty-ing, and nervous energy fills the air.  The music has been blaring since 4:30 (sympathies to those downtown apartment dwellers and hotel guests who got a rude wake up call) and finally, the announcement is made.
“Runners, please make your way to the corale”
BHib and I stood together and did what we do best – made fun of people – which worked wonders keeping my nerves at bay.  I still had no idea what my foot was going to feel like.  All I could hope was that if it crippled me, that it would be kind enough to do so in the general vicinity of the finish area – either at the beginning, where the half breaks off, or at the end of the race… or while a train was going by so I could lay my ankle on the track.
My flashbacks of the movie Saw (specifically, where he saws his own foot off with a handsaw) were interrupted by the National Anthem.
And then the countdown.
And then it started.
BHibby and I ran the first mile or so together – It was important to me to spend some of the race together since I had an integral part in her running induction.  Also, I wanted to make sure she didn’t dart off track in search of LeBron or Grady.  After a while we said our farewells, and I pressed Play and took off.
All smiles (obviously these were early miles)
The miles ticked by – we got out of downtown and headed through some of the suburbs, where the fan support along the route was incredible.  There were so many creative signs – most involving the Cavs losing and Chuck Norris – and tons of little kids cheering on “mommy” and/or “daddy”, which always gets me a little teary eyed.  Of course, it could have just been sweat.
The first 10 miles were pretty uneventful.  My foot felt fine – definitely not 100%, but I was not in the pain I had been feeling, thankyourunninggods.  I was slow on my pace, but still within my (recently abolished) goal time.  I tried not to look at my watch and just concentrate on how I was feeling, but like a smoker going cold-turkey, that didn’t last long.
[smoking similies probably aren’t the best choice for a marathon post]
Miles 11 and 12 were the dreaded stretch I remember from running the half in ’09 – all highway, no fan support, slight incline the whole way.  Long, straight, and boring.  This year I breezed through them like it was nothing – much credit is due to the Nike group runs up Spyglass on that one.  At this point we’re running back into the city, and it’s time to split from the half-ers.  I had this huge sense of accomplishment, and kept telling myself real corny things like “this is where the real runners separate from the rest”.  It was a pretty incredible feeling, regardless of the corny-ness.
Determined.  Feeling alright, but definitely putting on a happy face for the cameras
And that’s where the happy tale ends.  Miles 13-17 were along a bike trail that is flanked on each side by Lake Erie, and the highway.  And by that I mean suicide by drowning or getting run over by heavy traffic were both within jumping distance.  Luckily enough, my dear foot was still doing alright so we didn’t have to go down that road.
The rest of the race goes like this : Run through a park.  Run through some streets.  Run by some abandoned old warehouses.  Pass people.  Get passed.  Right foot, left foot, right foot, left foot.  OMG, what is wrong with my knee.  Run some more.  Stop to massage knee.  Keep running.  Stop again.  And again.  And again.  Check that knee cap is still attached.  Get a power gel from volunteers, rip it open hoping it will push me through the last three miles.  Eww OMG cinnamon apple I. Am. Going. To. Hurl.
(Luckily, I did not.)
Somewhere in there we pass Payne St.  I turned to an equally miserable looking guy and tell him that “it’s fitting, no?”  Naturally he had headphones in so he probably didn’t hear me, but I was impressed that the witty (and sadistic) part of my brain seemed to not fatigue as quickly as the rest.
When I hit mile 25 I told myself I was not going to stop – if my kneecap would like to completely detach itself then I’ll just have to come back and get it after I finish the race.  Since my legs felt fine and my breathing was normal (due to the turtle pace I’d been at the last hour) I picked it up and pushed through the last 1.2 miles.  I passed a girl that was being carted off by the medics, literally right around the corner from the final stretch.  I thanked my body and the running gods for not punishing my THAT badly, and rounded the corner.
The finish line was in sight.  Adrenaline kicked in and I felt amazing.  Nothing hurt for that last half mile.  I saw B in the crowd (hard to miss in day-glo green) and he fought to the front to give me a pat on the butt and a huge encouraging smile.  I heard the future in-laws cheering.  I think I saw my sis with her camera.  I could not get to the finish line fast enough!  The people I love most (including Chico!), who I hadn’t seen in 8 weeks were waiting for me, and I knew there was a container full of Gma H’s petit fours with my name on them.  (For wedding research, so the calories didn’t count)

I wasn’t even close to my goal time.  I stopped at least six times.  I was pretty certain I needed surgery.  Obviously all of that was disappointing, but given the circumstances I was just glad to have finished.  And my saving grace was knowing that I ran all 26.2 miles, there was no walking for this girl.
I smiled the whole way through the finish.  Mostly because I knew there were photographers.  And because I was certain my miniscus was completely torn, and I felt like a badass for running the last 7 miles of a marathon on it.  And because there were petit fours to take the foul cinnamon apple taste out of my mouth.  AND because Chico was there :
I enjoyed the company of a post-race beer and my great friends and family (canine or not), and totally forgot about the pain I’d been in for the last four hours.  It was worth it.  And in case you’re wondering, B did awesome and crushed his goal time and PR.  He’s the man.
Cute couples DO wear matching marathon medals.
Me and my mini twin (and MOH)
Real friends wake up early on Sundays to spend time with their sweaty, incoherent, crazy runner friends
(Chico!, mini twin, B, me, Sh, EBs, and L)
A few final notes:
    My miniscus is not torn, thankyou(real&running)god, and I don’t need surgery.  I won’t get all medical on you, but there was some bad stuff going on in there, which was due to me compensating for my stupid foot.  You win some, you lose some (and sometimes it rains)((fav movie, btw)).  Doc gave me strict orders to stay off it for two weeks, which I did, and I’m slowly incorporating running back into my daily life.  It’s been tough, and I was having some SERIOUS withdrawals, but I knew it was for the best.  Especially if I’m going to kick ass at the Nike Women’s Marathon and Vegas Marathon like I plan to.
  –  My favorite petit four was the lemon with buttercream filling, chocolate strawberry was a close second.  Bonus points to those of you who voted for them!  I have no prizes for you, so give yourself a pat on the back or something.
Now that this post is finally out of the way complete, we can get caught up to real life and the awesomeness that has been happening here in SoCal.  I’ll have pics of the new place, which is almost kinda sorta finished.  B’s bday present recap which I selfishly sneakily did NOT buy for myself.  And tales from When Sisters Combine, including chronicles on airport drama, cougar sightings, and an appearance on the Chelsea Lately show.

Officially a Marathoner,

Sarah Soon-To-Be

9 thoughts on “Part 3 – Cleveland Marathon : The Final Installment (Is this a Michael Bay movie?)

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