Monday, January 2, 2012

The Race!

 The big day finally arrived for the marathon. After three crazy weekends traveling I'm not sure that I was in the best mental or physical state for running a marathon but I did it anyway!

I drove down to San Antonio the day before the race and checked into my super cheap Days Inn. After checking in and unpacking I walked down to the expo to pick up my race packet. I got my number and my timing chip along with my shirt and a ton of advertisements. I wasn't overly impressed with the swag considering the cost to register for this race.

After picking up the packet I made my way down to the river walk and saw a little of San Antonio and ate some dinner. It was hard because I wanted to walk around and see the town but I knew I needed to take it easy and rest my legs. I went back to the hotel and got my car and headed to a local grocery store to get some supplies. I knew that I wouldn't want to go anywhere after the race so I got food for breakfast and bottled water and a bunch of post race food.

I spent the rest of the evening trying to relax and setting out all of my stuff for the morning. Thankfully my hotel was close enough to the starting line that I got to sleep until around 6:30. I got ready and headed out. I was way back in corral 28 which was so far from the start that we couldn't even see the starting line. They finally started releasing people to begin racing at 7:30 and we began to inch our way forward.

We crossed the starting line at about 8:30. That means that by the time I started the race I'd been standing in the cold not really moving for an hour, not the ideal way to start the race. Even worse, I had to go pee right as the race began. I managed to hold out until mile 3 where I saw some porta-potties with no line. They were gross and disgusting and if I could have avoided it I would have.

I chugged along just fine, my pace was a little slower than I had originally planned but I was on target to finish with about an hour to spare. I found a little old lady who was walk/jogging at about my pace. I'd pass her and then she would speed up and pass me and then she would take a walk break and I'd pass her again. We talked a little and that was a nice distraction. She was doing the half-marathon though so I said goodbye at the 12 mile mark. Once we split from the half folks it got sparse. Before the split it was pretty crowded but after the split I felt like I was on my own. I ran steady until the 13.1 mile mark at which time I began to take short walk breaks. I kept track of my time wanting to make sure that I was keeping a proper pace for finishing.

I found another gal who was going my pace and we settled into a nice walk/jog with chit chat. Turned out that she's a breast cancer survivor and this was her first marathon as well. We were doing great and were at mile 20 when we began to see a lot of buses around us. When we looked behind we could see the sweeper van getting close. We were both confused because by my watch and hers we still had 2 1/2 hours to finish the last 6 miles. We shouldn't have been seeing a sweeper van.

Then came the worst image of my running career. A road block ahead of us with race organizers pulling everyone off the course. They told us that due to extreme weather conditions they were pulling us. We could continue on but there would be no support and the finish line would not be open. The only other option was to get in the bus and ride to the finish line. I've never been so disappointed and also humiliated. It was horrible. They let us out of the bus around mile 26 and we ran the last .2 miles in and I got my medal but it felt like a hollow victory. The clock was turned off and everyone was gone. It was quite possibly the worst race finish I've ever had. What was worse was that I felt strong, I really felt like I had the energy to finish the race and I know that I would have done it within the 7 1/2 hour time limit posted on the organizers website.

Looking back on the race I'm trying to find the positives and lessons to take away from this race. One thing I've realized is that I should choose smaller races where I'm not sitting at the starting line for an hour waiting to get started. I'm taking what I learned about training and nutrition and gearing up for my next marathon, the Catalina Island marathon on March 10th!

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