Sitting on the back porch at home. Working from home. I’m sore, achey… but I’m in better shape than last year. I can actually make it in and out of the bathtub all by myself and I can actually get in and out of the car, even if it takes a little longer than it should. I hurt, I ache, but it is muscle ache not a flare (thank god) and not anything really really bad.
I’m thinking back over the race.
I got up and dressed early. The alarm hadn’t even gone off. Up and in my purple shirts and my running pants. Went to check on my cohort in crime… who was sleeping fitfully and running a fever of 101.5. I wasn’t going to wake him to go. I was going to try going it all alone. I was worried that, after last year, I wouldn’t quite be able to drive home. Turned out I could have, but Skinny Boy woke up and being stubborn (where does that child get stubborn?) insisted on getting up, and dressed, and in the car. I tried to talk him out of going. I should have insisted that he stay home. Guilt ridden that I didn’t. Guilt ridden that I was happy I didn’t…
Dropped off my kiddo at the Volunteer Sign In. He worked originally at gear bag drop off then at the medal handout for the half marathon. He spent most of the morning worrying about me. I spend the same time worrying about him.
I went and dropped off my bag. I wandered slowly, quietly, up the street toward the starting pens. The town is interesting when it is like this. Quiet and busy. Bustling with people but people being quiet. Some people chatting quietly together, others being quiet all alone. People stretched. People contemplated. People did yoga.
Being in the way back of the pack, and the pack if 20,000 people strong. It takes at least twenty minutes to make it to the starting line when you are one of the sucky people in the way back… one of the people who don’t actually even count enough to get to hear what is being piped in over the speakers… the speakers that you can hear if you are in the front half of the pack. You can’t hear the announcements. You can’t hear the the freaking fireworks that signal the start of the race. It is kind of demoralizing.
Shuffle… stop… look around… think… shuffle… stop… you get the idea… 20 min and… we are off (the herd of people I put myself in… which is further up than I should have been… which is good because I would never have finished in time had I not been.
Thinking about the layout of the stupid race… and given that for the people who actually matter to the people who run the race (the elite runners) only really care about the chip time anyway and will guaranteed pass everyone else anyway… penalized for not being one of the FAST people… the course closes at 11… guaranteed that the elites will finish no matter what… but guaranteed that a lot of people are going to have to go a whole lot faster than they really HAVE to go just to cross before they get shut out. Why does that not seem quite fair to one of the little people??? Ah well.
Lots of water. Lots of Gatorade. Lots of time to think.
You are in the middle (or on the fringes) of 20,000 people. A lot of people who are all, basically, in the race alone. Some are in couples, staying together, supporting each other. Some are in small packs, again, supporting each other, moral support. Most are in it alone. 13.1 miles alone. Thinking about each step. Thinking about why you are in the race. Why you are putting your body through its paces. What you are proving. What in lords name you thought you were doing when you signed up for all of this.
What in all that is sensible you are putting your body and your mind through it all.
I wore my purple. I wore my epilepsy awareness t-shirt so anyone bothering to see me would see and think. I noticed people and thought.
I passed some. Others passed me. One girl I passed at about mile 10 really got to me. She was hitting her own wall. She was nearing the point where she was getting ready to give up. You could see it in her gait, you could see it in the tears starting to roll down her face. It was one of the hardest part of the ‘race’ for me, passing her, not trying to stop and cheer her on. Not trying to help her along. It stabbed my heart to watch her and know that I was in this for my race and she was in it for her race and I couldn’t help her.
I was worrying when I got close that I wasn’t going to cross the line in time to officially ‘finish’ and get my medal. I was worried that Adam wasn’t going to be okay enough to still be there when I did cross if I crossed. I felt better this race than last year. When I got to 400…200…100 meters I worried but I was stronger than I was last year. I didn’t drag myself across the finish line in pain. I didn’t just MANAGE to get across the line, I CROSSED the finish line, I finished strong and I was actually proud not just relieved. Three girls tried to hand me my medal, but in all of his (you could so tell he felt so crappy) tall gangly-ness, Adam was there waiting. He took my medal off of the rack where they hung and I asked their forgiveness but it would mean so much to me for him to give me my medal… and when he hung it around my neck and I cried… I realized just how much it really did mean to me. It meant so much more because he really didn’t feel good. Even more when the woman working with him told me that she tried and tried to get him to take a break and sit down and he refused because he didn’t want to miss me crossing the line. He was so worried that I wasn’t going to make it across the line in time. It meant as much to him as it meant to me.
Livestrong has always been “the Lance Armstrong” theme. It has always just been his… in all of his Lance-ness. But thinking during the race, this year, and I realized that Live Strong means a lot, way more to me in my head than the hype. It is what we all need to do… Live as Strong as we can.