That was my new time entering the 3rd mile. That was great. I had lost a minute on my overall time but was ahead of my needed pace time. By this time I was able to reel in a few more runners. This is the time that will make or break your race. It is the time for us amiture racers that separates the ones who trained and the ones who were passing by and wanted to do something different with their day. I was one who had sort of prepared and it began to show. The course was back on the same path the first mile was on. We were back tracking to the finish line. This is also the time when the really good runners who have recruited friends and family to try this silly sport are coming back on the track to see if the novis partner they came with are still able to run, walk, talk..still even trying to finish. Usually what happens is the very fit, still running person, is taking a leaserly lap for a cool down. Once they have found there very tired, sweaty companion they slow to a very slow jog or even walk to give encouraging words. "Your almost their" "Keep going, you can do this," and to rub salt in the wound they may even run backwards because the pace is to slow if they run forwards. The response of the new runner is usually one they will apologize for later but none the less they say it anyway. Something to the tune of "screw you" "go away", "I hate you". I thankfully have over come these responses but it did bring back memories of my first marathon. My boyfriend, now husband four or five of his navy buddies and my bff Sonja had all come out to support me and had planned a finish line surprise. Actually I think my husband threaten his buddies with bodily harm if they did not come and cheer when I finished the race. My husband and BFF had been with me all the way, riding a bicycle. They were there for moral support, time info, power bar supply and to call 911 if I collapsed some where on the 26.2 mile course. Being my first marathoner I was a bit nieve about the power of distance. The power of distance is when you run about 19 miles of the 26 and you think, Wow I feel good, I have run the majority and I am still standing. NO Problem I am home free. After all what is 7miles compared the 19 I have already run. You mind can keep you in this fantasy for a few more miles and then it hits you. Everything and I mean everything on you body begins to hurt and shut down. You no longer sweat because you are so dehydrated. In fact your body temperature drops and you begin to get cold. It didn't matter that you drank 5 gallons of water before and during the race it was all gone. this is the time you now feel all the pain from the 5 blisters on each foot and your big toe has gone completely numb. I would later find out that was a good indicator you toe nail was going to fall off several weeks later. By this time in the race my husband had gone back to rally the troops to cheer me across the finish line. My friend Sonja was left to encourage me though the next apprx 2 miles. I was in no mood for a pep talk and had to completely focus on putting one foot down and bring the other foot up, literally I had to concentrate that hard on the mechanics of walking. Poor Sonja, I lived with her at the time and she witness the prep for this monuments event. The daily running, the daily ice on my knees she knew what was a stake. Left with me to be sure I made it to the finish line she had know idea what she was in store for. As we approached the .2 or 2 tenths of a mile mark, finish line is site I told her I couldn't do it. I had to quit. I just could not make it any further. I don't quite remember the exact words I used and I don't remember the exact terms she used, but I do believe in her sweet, gentle voice she said something about THE F__ __ k YOU AREN'T, GET UP AND FINISH THIS. So you see the support staff is crucial to the success of the racer. I did finish that day and still can't believe I did it.
I know the look in the eyes of the runners still on the course and how angry they were currently with there support teams pushing them on to the finish, but I also knew how grateful they would be when they reached the finish line, completing there goal. I was fine doing this on my own I was very happy and smiled and waved and everyone I passed along the route. With the end insight I knew I was going to definitely make it to the finish line, I also knew I would not be last.
I was still passing a few runners and figured out of the apprx 1900 who ran that day I still had a hundred or so behind me and countless who didn't finish at all. The thought crossed my mind on how far I still had to go, not on the race course but to get my body back to where it was when I ran my first Marathon. Where it was when I met my husband, and how far I still had to go to find that insane person who actually enjoyed running every day. I wanted to get back to that but right now it seems so far away. I wanted to find that part of Wendy in which had been given up freely to be wife,and mom. I only held that thought for a few steps and then became very present in the moment. I found the third mile comfortable. I kept a good walking pace most of the way. I filled my water bottle again at the water station posted at the beginning of mile three. The water was cold and refreshing. I sipped on it every few steps. I knew I was getting close to the finish.
The last leg of the course ran behind the west side of the stadium. The sun was not quite over the top of the gigantic cement bleachers so the final leg of the run was completely shaded. It was perfect. I was able to run and hopefully pick up some valuable seconds. There was no timer at the mile three post so I was not sure if I was able to maintain the comfy cushion I had at miles 1 and 2. I felt I had done my best and not let up I had to be happy with whatever the results were. I had prepared myself if I was not to meet my intended goal of 45 min. I knew I would have to train harder and try again. I told myself not to be disappointed and the soft kind words of my son came back to my mind. "Mom' run do your best and don't cry if you come in last". I knew one thing was for sure I was going to be able to tell him I was not last. That alone would be a victory.
I followed the handful of runners in front of me around a large curve, onto the sidewalk and into the tunnel. The tunnel was the entrance to the stadium used by the football team on game days. It was also the entrance, typically where music performers would park their luxury motor homes when preforming in concert. Any event I have seen in this stadium from horse jumping to monster trucks had participants entered through this cement cave. I could feel the excitement building up inside of me. Not only because the finish was near, but I was finally going to see my finishing time. It is a well know fact in the running community know matter how much you have walked in a race, know matter how tired you are when you see the finish line from that spot you run, no matter what. I can remember a few races in the beginning before I knew the warning signs my body would give me as I crossed the finish line...running I would finish and then throw-up. Not pretty but I would throw up with pride knowing I ran until i puked. Ahh yes running, why I am doing this? The question was so far away from my mind now. From the energy of the preparation, to the beauty of the day, motivating others and being motivated by others I remembered why I wanted to be there, but I was not quite sure I was prepared for the events to come.
As I set foot into the tunnel I could hear the music and festivities of the event. The announcer was announcing upcoming raffles and amenities available for the runners. I searched for where to go. There were bystanders looking for their runners and families. There were runners all basking in their own personal victories and their were still people tring to complete their race. The path was clear and I ran to the edge of the tunnel where the cement met the grass Field. As I placed one foot on the grass I looked up and saw the official time clock.