I had been checking the weather updates every 30 minutes for the 24-hour period leading up to the race. It was not looking good. The map of Orlando showed a solid green mass coming into the area on race day. Now, I don’t want to sound wimpy, but running in a torrential downpour with the temperature around 55 degrees just didn’t sound all that appealing to me.
So, I prayed and it sounded something like this. “Pleeeeeease don’t let it be pouring at the starting line. It’s okay if it starts raining an hour into it, but pretty, pretty please, don’t have it pouring when we’re standing at the starting line, okay?”
And you know what? My prayers were answered, although it started raining 30 minutes into the race instead of 60, but beggars can’t be choosers, especially when it comes to answered prayers. Actually, other than the slippery roads, the rain wasn’t too much of hindrance during the race.
My aching hip, on the other hand, was. We were running in downtown Orlando and they were keeping the runners on the right side of the street (to let traffic pass on the left). Well, after 30 minutes of running on severely sloping roads, my left hip (which was taking the brunt of the pressure) wasn’t too happy with me. So, I scooted over as close to the middle of the road as I could and was constantly aware that a text-messaging driver could take me out at any time. Talk about killing my runner’s buzz.
I was actually ahead of pace for the first 7 miles (which took me about an hour and 10 minutes). Just as I was thinking that I should probably pull back to save my legs, I got a sharp cramp right under my diaphragm, which was making breathing quite painful. Things were definitely not looking good at this point. One of the necessities of running long distances is that you retain some ability to drift off into daydreaming, otherwise, running for more than 2 hours feels exactly like you’d think it would. Painful.
But, on this particular day, I would apparently get no respite because that lovely, sharp cramp decided to accompany me for my last 6 miles, which ended up taking me longer than the first 7 miles did. I reverted back to my marathon training and starting taking one mile at a time. It was a battle the entire last hour, but naturally, quitting wasn’t an option. That’s not to say that it didn’t enter my mind, with a whole other host of vile and nasty thoughts about the weather, my traitorous hip, my blasted muscle cramp and the city of Orlando in general. But, you push those thoughts out of your mind and you simply tell yourself this, “It won’t kill you, so just get it done.”
Besides, my speedy brother was waiting for me at the finish line. In the rain. Hungry and cold, so I had to stick it out and get to him (and a hot shower) as soon as I could manage. So, as I limped and hobbled my way through the city streets, one mile melted into the next and finally, the finish line was near. So, I stood up straighter, tried to pull together some semblance of proper running form and finished as strong as I could. Truth be told, it wasn’t a half bad effort considering that I gave myself all of 5 weeks to train for it.
So, I crossed the finish line looking much better than I actually felt. Then, I said a string of profanities and got to a hot shower and a huge meal as quickly as I could. There’s something decidedly unpleasant about being sopping wet and starving. Brother Dean was in total agreement and we fled the scene immediately.
With all that said, I’m glad I did it. I have the medal and 3 blistered and black toes to prove it and I can’t wait to ramp up my training for the Disney Princess Half in March.
PS – That night, I went to 2 Christmas parties with my brother and I stood in 3-inch, pointy-toed heels for 5 hours. THAT is a feat deserving of a medal!