Now, let it be that said, that the greater achievement in running this year's half marathon is the not the modest improvement in my time, but greater accolades go to the superb athletic colonic performance exhibited by my bowels, holding themselves in for 13.1 miles! Actually, I'm pretty darned proud of this. Man...this was an uncomfortable race and maybe I shouldn't be laughing at Mike Keller for his pre-race enemas! He ran an amazing race, as he was not encumbered by the distress I felt every step of those 13.1 miles. I hope this is not too much for you, but I figure the ones that are going to read my racing blogs, already know the distress that poorly timed bodily functions can wreak during races.
I have a very delicately balanced pre-race routine. I woke up fine at 4AM and went about my normal preparations. I was standing in the kitchen eating my customary banana and cereal, noticing I had a good fifteen minutes before Kurt and Jim showed up at my door at 5:15 to do my bathroom business, when I heard a premature (15 minutes early) rapping at my door. My protective miniature dachshund heard strange male voices in the house and set off barking. My bowels went paralyzed. I was worried about the dog waking up the kids and irritating my husband out of restful slumber. He gets so irritated with my races, I thought, "Oh, this is not good to maintain marital bliss." I couldn't really think about pooping now with Kurt and Jim in my house, so I abandoned that plan; it would have to wait till we got to Cleveland. Really, I'm glad they are so aware of the time. I think I made a big deal to them about not being late! Oh, my words always come back to haunt me! We picked up Debi, Roger, and Sherry at the Ghent Road plaza. It appeared that Akron was going to have a nice sunny day, but a bank of foreboding grey clouds hung over Cleveland. We parked in a garage very near the course and had the mandatory pre-race group photo. It looked like it might sprinkle here and there, but it's turning out to be perfect running weather.
The first order of business was to find the bathroom. We went to the nice indoor ones at the Galleria food court to what I thought would be the obscenely long meandering line of female runners, but there were only a few people in line. I couldn't do anything! I get shy bowels in public restrooms, was the kind of kid that never pooped at school, but would practically lose it ten steps from my own house when I came home. This is not good! I don't recall my bowels ever so blatantly rebelling on my like this. Hmmm....a little cloud of worry is hovering over my head now.
Oh well! Nothing to do about it now. We hung around in the Galleria for awhile and then headed out to the seed ourselves with our respective pace groups. I saw Mike Keller at the last minute. He had on some pretty funky yellow green shorts and newly shaved legs! Very nice Mike! Debi's strategy is to stick with the 4:30 pace group like glue. I followed the 3:50 pace group up to mile 5, and from the splits bracelet on my wrist, it seemed the pacer was going a tad too fast. An ever widening gap started to form between me and those balloons. I let it go. I was only a minute off pace. I'd rather slow down now then lose steam later on.
I was feeling great as far as my breathing and my legs, but every few miles the intestinal cramps would start. I didn't talk to anybody...didn't even appreciably engage in any hot man spectating, cause I was having fantasies of an empty porto-potty magically appearing. When I was in between intestinal spasms, I focused on my running form, trying to keep my arms relaxed; they have a tendency the rise up on me as the miles go on. The solitary blue porto-potty, sitting alone just off the course in a diaphanous haze of glory never appeared. The fantasy was crushed, cause there was going to be no relief through the duration of this race. I ran on...through the intestinal waves...
OK....it's mile 10 and I've just downed my shot blocks at the last water station. Now I'm getting a little irritated that people are noticing I'm a little off pace...and just a little. My pace bib said 1:55, but at this point I'm off by two minutes. Big whoopie deal. I was still pleased with it, but my ears are sharp enough to overhear the asshole behind me say his girlfriend, "I think she's falling a little off." I had half a mind to turn around, like an Irish setter with rabies and bite his head off! I hate people when they say anything but encouraging things in a race. What did warm my heart was the cop directing traffic that said to us as we passed, "I think you're great. I'm so proud of you guys!" Now, that's helpful. I felt my form return and the intestinal waves receded for a bit.
The final stretch. The last 5k of the race. At this moment I saw the perfectly groomed Irish Setter sitting off course with his master, smiling at the runners almost. Gosh...I feel like the Irish Setter is my animal totem of sorts...appearing near race end to give me that final push of encouragement. I really pushed that last 5K. I was getting exhausted but I knew I was going to achieve, not the ultimate goal of running 1:55, but my general goal of running under 2 hours. My chip time was 1:58:15. I was happy! And I did it having to poop the whole race! Shortly after I had my chip taken off, I saw Maria. She had come in a few minutes before me. She wasn't happy with her time...and she had to poop too! Misery loves company. And then she was sucked up into the crowds. I saw Sherry too-she was happy with her 10k finish time. At this point I noticed that my foot is hurting again. My bone is subluxated again! That wayward bone...I'll have to go to the (hot) Dr. again...oh boo-hoo. Then I saw my Sports Doc, Dr. Shah. He came in 6th in the whole marathon! He ran 2:38! He wants me to start taping my feet using a special technique until this bone can behave. At least it had the decency to not go out on me till the end of the race. Here's a picture of him and his very proud mother.
I wandered around for a very long time in a post race coma looking for my group. I was eating a Popsicle, dropped it and picked it up so I could find a trash can, but forgot I dropped it and got a mouthful of dirt. I was miserable at this point. I decided to go back to the car, got a jacket and the camera to take pictures of the marathoners when they started coming in. Debi stuck with her 4:30 pace group like glue; she said the balloons were hitting her in the face. She finished at her goal time of 2:13:13. Big Jim ran his goal time too, which was 1:44:55; pretty amazing since he's had problems with his hamstring all week after an overzealous speed workout.
We sat around the Galleria and waited till 3:50 to start watching our group come in. It's really something to watch people come running over the finish line. The different expressions, the obvious agony, trying to hold on till they cross that matt. I saw one girl violently vomit at the finish. More alarming was the woman that crossed the finish line and passed out. I hope she's alright. I totally understand the drive to push yourself. If you can push in a race, then you can push in life too, when things get tough. Here's Roger and Mike coming in at 4:12! I think they're both pretty happy with this. The only one to wait on now was Kurt. It appears he was having an off day; he finished near 5 hours. I NEVER saw Tony since he was one of the front runners....missed him when he came running in, but I think he achieved his goals. What a great race. It wasn't perfect, by a long shot...but this is what makes racing exciting; weighing and wrestling with all those extraneous variables that you can't have complete control over.