**WARNING!** If you are squeamish reading about bodily functions, you are going to want to skip this post! Or, at the very least, scroll down to the very end where I cross the finish line with a smile on my face. Your choice. But don’t say you haven’t been warned.
I’m gonna gloss over my complete and absolute lack of training leading up to this race, because you’ve heard it before. Injury, then rehab, not really ready to run a marathon, blah blah blah. I had pretty much discounted running this thing at all several weeks ago, because it was obvious to me that I couldn’t complete my training for it. Fast forward to about three days ago when IronHubs asked me really, really nicely if I would pretty please run this race with him anyway. You see, the plan all along was to serve as a pacer for IronHubs’ last big training run before the AR50. And by that I mean that it was my job to slow him down and not let him run this thing too fast. Ha! Mission accomplished!
I ran the inaugural Modesto Marathon two years ago and had a very, very bad day. Barf-a-palooza from Mile 18 on. So on the one hand, I was ready to give this course a good spanking, but on the other hand, I worried, “What if it happens again?” I tried not to psych myself out and kept reminding myself that I was just going to run with IronHubs and enjoy the day. We weren’t racing, we were just running. Stay calm.
Unfortunately, I think I stayed a little too calm, if there can be such a thing. I wasn’t nervous about the race at all, which meant that I missed a few very important pre-race details. One, I didn’t hydrate the day before… um, at all. Complete fail on the water-drinking front. And two, the lack of nerves meant no “nervous stomach,” which meant… You know what? There’s no polite way to say this: I didn’t poop enough. One mediocre effort at the Portos 30 minutes before race start does not a great race make.
I tried not to worry about it, because that certainly wouldn’t make things better. We lined up, stretched a little, took some pictures and were very, very grateful that it wasn’t raining (weather reports leading up to the race included a 70% chance of rain and winds up to 15 mph – neither one of those things appeared, thank goodness!)
Mistake number three of the day appeared within seconds of the start – I hate wearing a hydration belt! Hate it! I own two and neither one of them fits me well. The problem is that my waist is a lot smaller than my hips (yes, I know, this is a tragedy. And you could totally hate me for it if I had the boobage to make it into an hourglass figure, but since I struggle to even fill out an A-cup and most closely resemble a giant pear wearing glasses, I am going to continue my rant), so they don’t stay put. I tried to run holding onto the belt so it wouldn’t bounce so much, which lasted like a nano-second before it irritated the crap out of me. Then I tried to cinch it around my waist tighter, which sort of worked, but meant that the belt was A.) squeezing the heck out of my not entirely empty guts, and B.) held together by less than an inch of Velcro. It fell completely off me somewhere around Mile 3, so I continued to run while holding onto it.
Somehow, in spite of starting at the back of the pack, paying diligent attention to our one minute walking breaks every five minutes and my hydration belt debacle, we still managed to go out a little fast. There’s just something about race starts, I guess. We were cruising along, enjoying the day and weaving around the half marathoners and all of a sudden, we were at Mile 6! Seriously, it was that quick! It was crazy to me that we had already covered so many miles.
Around Mile 7, IronHubs decided that he really needed to stop at the next portopotties. No problem, we could see two coming up and there were only two people in line, so we stopped. And waited. And waited. And waited some more. Holy smokes, everyone seemed to be having some GI distress today! We were in line SIX MINUTES before IronHubs’ turn!! I had been thinking of using the porto as well, but after standing around so long, I just wanted to get moving again.
I tried not to complain about it, but the hydration belt was killing me. And by “tried not to complain,” what I mean is that I whined constantly. I couldn’t seem to help myself. I felt bad about being such a wimp, but I was so uncomfortable. All that squeezing around my middle was making it hard for me to take in enough hydration and I knew that at some point in the very near future the Gatorade I was drinking was going to make a speedy exit from my body at one end or the other. Blech!
At Mile 8, we spotted another porto with no lines and I stopped to take my turn. Oh, man, it felt so good to take off the hydration belt! Now, I don’t know about you, but I never have to go to the bathroom in the middle of a race. Usually, I get all my business taken care of before I run and then I’m good to go. Not so yesterday. I was glad – for several reasons – that nobody was waiting in line after me, because my stop was not quick.
After lightening my load, we set off again and I felt a lot better. The day was nicely cloudy and not too cold, but around Mile 10 or 11, the wind started to pick up. Thankfully, we only had a full-on headwind for a few miles, but it was the miles right before the turnaround. You know those miles, where all you want to do is be heading for the finish line, but you’re still running away from it? Yeah, those miles took forever.
At Mile 13, IronHubs offered to put the hydration belt in his backpack, bless his heart. He was such a champion in the face of my whining. At that point, though, the damage was done. I felt like crap and my stomach was revolting. We soldiered on with our 5:1 run to walk ratio until just before Mile 19 when I couldn’t do it anymore and burst into tears. I felt so bad, like I had ruined IronHubs’ day. He’s been training so hard for his 50 mile race and could have been done with the whole marathon in the time it took me to slump my way through 2/3s of it. I felt like a loser and a bad wife and a stupid, foolhardy runner, trying to take on a marathon when I wasn’t fully trained for it. I cried and felt sorry for myself and focused on not puking, but we kept moving forward. I told IronHubs to go on ahead, but he wouldn’t hear of it. He kept telling me I was doing fine and that he was just happy to be with me. Have I ever mentioned that I married the best man in the whole wide world?
We walked for about a mile and I grabbed some pretzels at an aid station just to try and get something salty in me. My stomach started to feel a little better, so I suggested that we reset the Gymboss for a 1:1 ratio. I felt that I could run for a minute and I really wanted to get moving faster. Easier said than done, for sure! Our muscles had really started to stiffen up during the long walking break and it was SO hard to pick it back up to a run!! But run we did and bam! that minute went fast.
We kept going with one minute of running to one minute of walking and my stomach behaved itself. Once again, the miles started flying by and before I knew it, we were at Mile 22! For whatever reason, Mile 22 felt like a huge accomplishment, like we were really close to the end, and my mood shifted back to something resembling excitement.
The Modesto Marathon course is probably one of the most boring I have ever run. I know that sounds harsh, but it’s true. It’s almost completely flat and there are long, long stretches of straightaway with nothing around you but orchards. The crowd support is pretty sparse, though thankfully there were lots of high school bands at what would have otherwise been very quiet points. I was incredibly grateful for their energy! I know the race director planned the course with a thought to the expense and inconvenience of road closures, but I personally prefer a more urban race, or at least a race with more spectators.
Finally, finally we were on the home stretch and IronHubs and I decided that we could run it in with no more walking breaks after Mile 25.5. Next time, I might negotiate for one more walking break. There was no such thing as a final kick, to be sure, but I did have a HUGE smile on my face as we rounded that last corner and saw the finish line!
Marathon #6 official finish time – 5:04:31
337th place out of 476 finishers. Not my best by far, but also not a PW. Yay! Also, the medals this year were huge! A girl’s got her priorities, you know.
Here are the things I learned from this race:
- It is much better to go to the bathroom before a race than during it.
- Train for the distance. Really.
- Running with my husband is one of the most awesome things ever.
- I really need to go shopping – I wear this yellow shirt all the freakin’ time.
Next time, I promise I’m going to do this marathon thing the right way. For reals! But don’t quote me on that.