On Saturday I accomplished one of my three goals for the six month period following the birth of my baby. I ran a mini marathon. Well, actually I ran 9 miles then I walked the last 4 miles. Nonetheless, I did much better than I had expected to. My training had fallen to the wayside and I hadn't run more than 3 miles at any given time post baby, so a week ago I decided that I would just walk the mini with my Dad. Then on Friday night, as I was leaving work and heading over to the convention center to pick up my bib number and timing chip, the weather was so nice that I decided I would just start out running and see how far I made it. I really only expected to make it a couple of miles, then I would wait for my Dad and finish the mini with him. In the end, I ran much farther than the 3 miles that I expected to run. But it really wasn't pretty. So now I present you with the mile by mile narration of what it is like to run a mini marathon. Keep in mind however that this is my experience and only my experience. I know plenty of runners who can not only run the whole thing, but do it with style, pizazz, and the speed of an elite Kenyan.
Starting line: Well, actually I'm not at the starting line. There are 35,000 runners in the mini, so they group us in corrals by our anticipated pace. When I signed up, I said I would run a 12 min/mile pace. I know that's slow, but I just had a baby. I was cutting myself some slack. Anyway, I was in corral "S", about a half mile back from the starting line. I absolutely love the mass of emotion that you can feel at the starting line of an event like this. 35,000 people exited, pumped up, and nervous. We've all been training for at least five months for the race, and now it's finally here. I cried during the national anthem. When the gun went off, everyone in corral S cheered, but we didn't actually go anywhere. It took 15 minutes for us to cross the starting line. But when we did, I felt great. The air was crisp and cool. It was about 55 degrees out and was sunny. Perfect.
Mile 1: The first mile of the mini took me on a route that I have run many many times downtown. So there was a sense of familiarity and I was very comfortable. Normally, if I'm going to have a bad run, I know it immediately. I didn't think I was going to have a bad run. Excellent. We ran past the zoo and there was an African elephant standing at the fence waving at us with it's trunk. How cute! Hi Mr. Elephant! I'm pumped! I ran past a group of firefighters who were walking the mini in full gear. Ugh, I bet they are glad it's not too hot today. This particular mini can be brutally hot. People have died running it. But not today. Today, it is 55 degrees and sunny. Perfect. Hmm...I really need to pee. Damn my nervous bladder.
Mile 2: Mile two and I am still in familiar territory. This is actually the second time I've done this particular mini, so the whole thing will be somewhat familiar, but we are still in my regular downtown route. We are running by the river and it's very pretty. Oh! Porta potties! Excuse me please.
Mile 3: OK, the bladder is better. Back to running. Right now I'm ahead of my 12:00 minute pace. I feel good. I'm starting to get sweaty, but that's okay. The pack is thinning out a bit and I'm starting to amuse myself reading T-shirts. There is a woman ahead of me with a veil on her hat and a tee-shirt that says runaway bride. She says that she is getting married at the end of the month. One of the nice things about the mini is the camaraderie. It doesn't matter if you know anyone when you start the race. You will make friends after you run 13 miles with the people around you.
Mile 4: I'm starting to get tired. Maybe I should break out my ipod. Naa, the bands on the side of the road are still holding my attention pretty well. I'll save my ipod for the track. That's the hard part. Man. I'm getting tired. I have now run further than I have run since the baby was born. I'm doing OK. I can beat this. Man I'm tired. OK, I'll stop and walk a bit when I get to mile marker five. Mile marker five. It's got to be coming up pretty soon. Mile marker five. Man. I'm tired. Where the hell is mile marker five!
Mile 5: Mile marker five! Thank God! OK, I'm walking. But I'm going to time myself. I get to walk for 30 seconds. Then back to running. Breath slowly. Get it together. OK. Times up. Back to running.
Mile 6: Hey! It's mile marker six! That mile just flew by! I'm doing great! I can feel the tingle that is the second wind. We are sort of in the ghetto now. Definitely not my normal running route. But we are almost to the track.
Mile 7: OK, we're on the Indy 500 race track. The track is the brutal part of the mini. It's 2.5 miles of dark hot asphalt. Everything looks the same. There aren't any bands. There is however a big jumbo tron showing the finish line. Lots of people have already finished. The bastards. I need to walk a bit more.
Mile 8: Oh nelly. I'm hitting the end of my rope here. I'm doing a mix of running and walking now. I want to walk, but I keep telling myself that the more I run, the faster I will get done. I started to feel a blister on my foot back in mile four. It was annoying. Now it's huge and I can feel it squishing around with each step. My feet hurt. The worst part of this is that my muscles are giving out on me. Running has always been an aerobic challenge for me, but never a strength issue. However, the combination of bed rest and the extra weight I'm carrying have zapped my muscle strength. I'm not sure how much further I can make it.
Mile 9: Must. Walk. Now.
Mile 10: Why in the hell did I decide to do this! Am I crazy? Normal people don't run mini marathons four months after giving birth. By c-section! After bed rest! For crying out loud! I must be clinically insane. I'm walking as fast as I can possibly walk but everyone is passing me. Ok mammadoc. Pull it together. Walk faster. Speed walk. You can do this. No, no. You WILL do this. Ugh. I want a cookie.
Mile 11: See those nice people cheering for you on the side of the road there? They have cookies. They are taunting you with the cookies. Take the cookies..............Snap out of it Mammadoc! Move your butt across the finish line. Go! Go! Go! I hurt. I can't move. I can't walk. I can't do it. I'm going to fail. I'm going to fail at everything. I'm going to end up living in a box. I could just walk off of the course right this minute and call someone to pick me up. Except that I'm in the ghetto again. I at least have to go another mile.
Mile 12: The people at the last water stop told me I had less than a mile to go. Clearly THEY LIED!!!!! Because I just passed the 12 mile marker and while my math skills may not be very good, I know that that means I have 1.3 miles left to go. This was a bad idea.
OK, we're crossing the bridge. We're back on campus. Familiar territory. You can do this. Maybe I should run again? It took me 25 minutes to walk that last mile. I should finish strong. I should show my body who is boss. Nope, I'm going to walk until I can see the finish line.
3/4 to go: Hey! They are counting down the last three 1/4 miles! I can run 3/4 of a mile! I've done that hundreds of times. Let's run!
1/2 mile: Hahaha. You are a stark raving crazy lady. Run the last 3/4 of a mile? Are you kidding? I can barely walk! There is a smart ass spectator trying to be supportive. She keeps yelling that the faster we go, the faster we'll be done. Yep, that's a novel idea. I'm sure that I haven't been berating myself with that one for the past four miles.
1/4 mile: I'm walking. Whatcha gonna do about it! Huh! Huh! That's what I thought.
13 miles: Hey there Mr. Announcer man. You're yelling out names as people cross the finish line. That's a nice idea. I bet it's very inspiring for those people. Hey!!! You yelled out MY name! How did you know MY name? Oh, it's on my bib. I see. That's ok, because I'm running again. I see the finish line. I'm going to cross! YEAAAAAAA
Finish: I win! I rock! Unhuh! I rock! Unhuh! Oh, yes, take my timing chip, give me a metal. Oh, yes I would like a water bottle. OH MY GOD! You gave me a cookie!!!!! I love you. I am soooo going to run the mini again next year.