Over 555 miles
Two pair of shoes
Over 55,500 calories burned
all leading up to...
That's right, Internet: I did it! And all weekend long, I was reminded of reasons why I run.
- Before the race yesterday morning, a perky blonde lead us through a warm-up. I participated, because what else was I going to do, wander around nervously some more? About 20 seconds into her warm-up, I was reminded that I hate aerobics. The stretches she did made no sense to me and seemed to involve cute poses. And her marching and double-knees and whatnot made me feel like a moron. I cannot get my arms and legs to coordinate to save my life. If I didn't run, I'd have to either do stupid crap like that or not eat cookies.
And by the way, after the warm-up was done, I plunked down and stretched again, exactly the same way I have been since I was 14. I know what works.
- Runners are some of the nicest people you will ever meet. It was really cool to be able to say hi to Amy and Tom, who set up a really cool Runner's Lounge meeting place. It was great to see their smiling faces both before and after the race. And
NonRunner Nancy actually found me during the first mile and came up to say hi. How cool is that? Nancy, I wish we'd been able to hang out more! Next time, okay?
But even runners who I hadn't "met" before were friendly and easy to talk to. Like the man staying at our hotel who spotted my marathon sweatshirt, the people who struck up conversations with me during the race, and the really funny man wearing a hat that said, "Old and In the Way." By the way, from the looks of that guy, he might have been old, but he sure wasn't in my way. I have a feeling he was way faster than I am.
- What better way is there to see a new city on a beautiful fall day? We lucked into some gorgeous weather. It was probably in the 60s all day long, overcast, and with just the right amount of breeze. The leaves were changing colors, and the course routed us through some really cool places - from downtown Des Moines to an incredibly wealthy neighborhood (I'm not just talking big houses, I'm talking big houses with sculpture collections in front of them), through the neighborhoods of Drake University, along a wooded trail, through a lovely park, around a lake, and back downtown again.
- All of the things I said about how nice runners are goes at least double for volunteers and spectators. Every single volunteer had a smile or word of encouragment for me, and they seemed genuinely happy to help. The people who passed out gummy bears were, I'm fairly certain, angels. There was a volunteer standing somewhere in that wooded trail, the only non-runner I'd seen in miles clanging a cowbell to encourage us along, and let me tell you, I was so happy to see someone, anyone, that I about hugged her. And there were families sitting in front of their houses cheering just as enthusiastically for us mid-packers as they were for the leaders, kids offering up high fives - it was just cool.
- Male marathon runners are sexsay. Hot guy in orange that I followed for much of the race, I salute you. Imagine my shock when I passed him at around the half and he didn't catch me... when, an hour later, he blew past me and was nowhere to be seen, I felt the natural balance of the universe had been restored.
- You can demand that people cheer for you, and they'll actually do it. The last 1.2 miles of the race seemed to go on for-freaking-ever. There was hardly anyone to be seen until about a quarter of a mile away from the finish. I was determined not to stop and walk (and as a bonus, got to pick off some people), but it was not easy. When I finally saw a crowd of people, I yelled, "Give me some love," and they did just that. It's not often that you do something difficult and can actually request applause, but runners can do it.
- On that same note, if you do something really difficult, usually you don't get anything just for getting through it. But after a marathon? You literally do get a medal. I wore mine to work today and am considering wearing it every single day from now on. Okay, maybe not... but I was pretty amused by Jack's reaction to it. He asked me what it was, and after I explained it, he said, "Oh, like Princess Leia gave Luke and Han." So, I guess I should ammend that two difficult things you can do and get a medal are run a marathon or blow up the Death Star.
- My two biggest inspirations in life - my reasons that I can and do run - were right there, cheering me on. I cannot stress how much it means to me that Steve and Jack were there to watch me. For one thing, it helped me think of the race not in terms of, "Only 22 miles to go," but more like, "Only four more miles until I see my boys again." Steve and Jack were there cheering for me at the perfect spots - the 12 mile mark, the 20, and at the finish line. Jack was very serious about holding up his sign and yelling, "Go, Mommy, Go!" and Steve kept yelling that he was proud of me and to stay strong.
I am really proud of how I did. I trained well and fueled well, so at no point did I hit "the wall," and at no point did I think I wouldn't be able to finish it. I'm sure I'll do better next time, and I'm sure there will be a next time... for 26.2 and for lots of other distances.