Monday, October 5, 2015

London Marathon

The following is the race report I wrote immediately after the London Marathon. It was one of the worst weekends in my life thanks to an incident that foretold the end of my 27 year marriage. When running a marathon, you get boiled down to crude bodily functions and raw emotions, unchecked and bouncing around your brain like a rubber ball shot out of a cannon into a small room. Reading back over this a year and a half later, I realize it isn't one of my better examples of prose, but it is real, it is heartfelt, and it is me; imperfect, over-exuberant, emotional, and wearing my heart on my sleeve.

London Marathon race report

Pre-race: I’M FREEZING TO DEATH! Tea, yes, hot tea is good! Must drink hot tea

Mile 1 Really? Seriously? I forgot my Garmin for LONDON!!! Okay, no biggie, they have kilometer markers, I’ll walk one minute at each kilometer marker.

Mile 2  Crap, what did the clock say when I crossed. Was it 10 minutes, 8 minutes?

Mile 3 Hot tea was BAD, now I’m going to have to find a pit stop. All the porta-potties have really long lines. Okay, I can wait for shorter lines.

Mile 4 First 5K done, whoo-hoo, handing out bracelets is fun!

Mile 5 Okay, tossing bracelets to the crowd is a bad idea, they all ended up in the bushes :-p

Mile 6  Oooo, running low on bracelets, better slow down on handing them out.

Mile 7  Wow, some of these kids are really out to lunch. I can press it right into their open high-5 hand and they look at me like I’m from outer space and let it fall. 

Mile 8  Those kilometer markers are really tiny. How many have I missed?

Mile 9 Sports drink would be really nice. Shame they are handing out crap with artificial sweeteners. Like, who is worried about calories in a marathon? 

Mile 10  Okay, I’ve passed the 5:00 or 4:30 pacers for all the start groups. That’s good, very good. I hope I don’t see those 4:30 guys again. Doubt I’ll ever see the 4:15 guys. That would be awesome though. I’ll have to shoot for that next time.

Mile 11  I really have to pee now! Don’t want to stop in the second half, it will mess up my negative split! Yes, a place to hide and pee in tall weeds. There certainly are enough men watering the weeds. Great, now I can’t pee. Come on, you can do it,    AAAAhhhhhhhhhhhh

Mile 12 Wow, the Tower Bridge! “London Bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down,………..” OOooooooohhhhhh, there is the big bullet thing. Hmmm, how do I get pictures that include the bridge. Click, click, click, click…..

Mile 13 Okay, charged and ready to roll! Nearly out of bracelets, but the kids have lost interest in being spectators and aren’t even looking at runners anymore. I need eye contact if they are going to grasp it.

Mile 14  The tough miles. Past the half way point, but not yet to the final stretch. Focus, Wendy, focus!

Mile 15 There are some spectacularly funny costumes around here. How do they run in those get-ups?

Mile 16  Family drama is starting to creep into my mind. Must….fight….the …..drama! 

Mile 17 Cool, a bag pipe band, hey, I’m really going fast. I may PR if I can keep this up, 

Mile 18  Drama, drama, drama, drama, I can’t control the demons any more. Focus, Wendy, one step at a time. Run to the next kilometer marker. Run Run Run, push push push, right foot, left foot, right foot, left foot.

Mile 19 Dang, where are those stupid kilometer markers. Ah, there is one, but I’m on a down hill. Okay, keep running, it buys you a walk break on the next incline. Yea, right, flat my butt. 

Mile 20  Good grief, I’ve never been stepped on, tripped over, kicked, or body checked so many times in my life.

Mile 21  Wow, still on track for a PR, WHOOOOOTTTT!!!! Focus, Wendy, Focus.

Mile 22   Hmmm, big walls, really big walls. Was that the Tower or London?

Mile 23  Yes, that was definitely the Tower of London. I probably should be paying attention to a few things.
Mile 24  Something big ahead, little voice in the back of my head saying, “Notice this, it is important, brain is starving, need glycogen, can’t function, what IS that?”  

Mile 25  BIG BEN!! Knew it was something important, LOL. 

Mile 26  Wow, crazy thick crowds. They are pressing into the course, packing the runners tight. Cheering, whistles, horns, so many people!.

Mile 26.2  Crazy noise, packed runners,elbow to elbow, a din of yelling, announcers, “The good news is it will feel better soon, the bad news is it won’t be until Thursday…."laughter of the crowd.”

I did it. I’m done. My legs feel like jello, I think I PR’d but I’m not sure by how much. Waves of tears wash over me, sobbing until I can’t catch my breath. No one notices. No one cares. If they notice they just think I’m overwhelmed by having finished a marathon. They don’t know the pain, they don’t know the fear. They don’t know what is tearing my life to pieces. They don’t care. Medal, t-shirt, water, wrap in a space blanket. Stop to ask directions, enter the sea of bodies trying to get over the race. Across the foot bridge, through the crowd, up the street to my hotel. The 10 minute walk took an hour. So tired, but I did it. More than a 5 minute PR. It was supposed to be fun, it was supposed to be a sight seeing marathon. It became a drive to finish, to put it behind me, a way to make my body hurt more than my heart. To make my pounding heart work for me instead of against me. No euphoria, only exhaustion. 

I can always find another Maniac :-)
   It has been quite a while since I wrote that. Okay, months. The brain does funny things when it is totally depleted of the sugar it runs on. My swag bag had an apple, just a normal Pink Lady apple, the kind I buy in the store every week. But when I bit into it at the end of the race, it exploded in my mouth with the most amazing flavor I had ever tasted. Nothing makes simple things burst to life, take on new meaning, and show you how the tiny, insignificant moments of every day life are the truly amazing ones. Crossing the finish line at London was a once in a lifetime experience that I will never forget. But I also hope I will never forget how amazing it made an apple taste. 

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