Monday, November 8, 2010

Sarah's Big Day

I hope to update this daily until my story is caught up to now.  It is taking the place of the time I am usually slipping into my running gear and heading out the door, so it's a very good thing.  Once caught up, I'll start to blog the great advances I make in healing, OF COURSE when I'm running again and the highlights of training for my next marathon.  I think if I continue to blog daily after I'm caught up, it will be "stick a fork in my eye" boring for people to read about every single step, so I won't do that... not only that, my morning time will be spent less at the keyboard and more on the road :)

The weekend had arrived.  The weekend of the Athens, Ohio marathon.  The weekend that Sarah would finally do what she had set out to do many years ago... qualify for Boston.  I think she felt funny about asking me to come along, not really sure where I was emotionally.  I think her original plan was to have her mom and dad come along, but for reasons I don't remember, that wasn't going to work.  Her husband, Todd was unable to come.  Like John and I, Sarah and Todd have 4 children... all boys (unlike me) and 3 were in sports, some of which, Todd coaches.  I actually think I initially offered to come with her, but she said "no", that either her parents or her sister were coming.  She possibly thought it would be too difficult for me to spectate at a marathon I was supposed to be running.  That was not the case.  Looking back now, I accepted pretty quickly that Athens was not to be.  Maybe it was because this was the first setback in my Boston quest and I had a very strong "shake it off, get better and get going" attitude.  If anything, the injury solidified my resolve to qualify at my next marathon.  Kind of fueled the fire a bit.  I really wanted to go, but she wouldn't let me.  I think she finally told me she had asked her friend Becky, another fantastic runner, to come and run the final 10k with her.  I acknowledged that it was a good idea.  The furthest I'd gone in nine weeks was two miles.  I was not in the position to promise her I could pace her at a sub 8:30 pace for 6 miles.

A few days before the marathon, Sarah called.  She told me that Becky could not go.  She was kind of quiet, but seemed like she had something to say.  I knew what it was so I said it for her "Let me go with you.  I think it will work.  We've got track and soccer on Saturday morning but we have a free afternoon and no plans on Sunday."  I kept jabbering to keep her from saying no.  "Please let me come.  I really want to.  I dragged you into this, I can't run with you, Hell, I can't even run the last 10k with you, but I want to see you qualify.  I'll check with John.  I'm sure he'll be cool with it."  Momentary silence was followed by "Are you sure?"  Oh man, was I sure... free night away from the kids??  Oops, I mean, watch Sarah qualify for Boston?  I was pumped and I knew John would be ok with it.  Have I mentioned he is so super cool about all this running craziness?

Saturday came and we each fulfilled our maternal obligations of watching our kids sporting events.  Sarah was the track coach, but was able to leave the meet early, get her stuff together and go.  We headed out at around two, so we could hit the expo for packet pick-up in time.  After a three hour drive, we got to Ohio University's campus and hit the expo.  Ever been to a low-key, small town marathon expo?  Oh boy!  Not what I was used to.  If memory serves, the entire expo was held in 1 room with a couple of long tables strung together.  It was more like what you'd see for a low-key 5 or 10k event.  Sarah got her packet and asked me if I was getting mine.  I had already registered and had a number and t-shirt.  Now I may be going out on a limb saying this and I certainly don't mean to insult anyone reading this, but I do not think it is ok to wear a race shirt when you did not run the race.  That is false advertising.  Plain and simple.  I'm not saying I'm right, but I feel pretty strongly about it.  A race shirt is earned for running the race.  Amen.
I will, however, admit I do wear my 2010 Flying Pig race shirt.  Now, rethinking this, I should perhaps cut off the sleeves and bottom part to make it into like a half tank considering I only ran 1/3 of the race.  It's stupid how I agonized over the decision to wear the shirt, but I finally decided that I toed the line and ran part of the race, so I'd wear it.  Gosh, suddenly I'm not sure I should.  Hmm... I'll revisit this issue later.

With packet it hand, we found the hotel, checked in and headed down to get dinner at the hotel restaurant.  Sarah was having trouble choosing what to eat.  She was nervous (YES YOU WERE, SARAH!)  Not like "I can't do this" nervous, but more like "Holy SHIT it's tomorrow" nervous.  I, on the other hand, was sipping a nice glass of wine and feeling quite relaxed.  Sometimes it's fun to be the spectator the night before a big race.

After dinner we went back to the room.  I turned on the TV and Sarah hopped on the computer.  I was watching Food Network's "Challenge" cake decorating show, which she later told me was a shitty choice because the show is filled with nervous, anxious, cake decorators who are competing for $10,000.00.  They are interviewed throughout the show and talk about how fast their hearts are beating, how their palms are sweating and how they just aren't sure they will finish in time.  Yeah, I guess I wouldn't want to watch that the night before trying to nail a BQ either.
Lights were out early.  I slept like a baby... another advantage to being the spectator.  I looked over bright and early at Sarah's bed and she was already awake.  "I slept like shit.  I must've woken up every hour." I told her she was silly for being nervous.  She was so ready.  I am beginning to realize that I talk a really good game.

Dressed, caffeinated and out the door, we went, heading into town to find the start.  For such a small town race, they did a pretty nice job of being organized at the start (not so much at the finish)  The town mayor started off the race (I think he just yelled "GO" or something like that) and the runners were off.  The course took participants to a running path along the river out to the halfway point and back.  I leisurely sipped my coffee, went back to the hotel for breakfast and then drove to the marathon turn around at the half.

Right on pace, Sarah made it to the halfway mark.  Her goal was a 3:40, although her qualifying time was 3:45.  She came to the turn around just under 1:50.  I was so excited.  Snapping pictures and yelling for her (ok, I was only 1 of like 6 spectators so I was pretty noticeable).  She looked great, smiling and running strong.  Once she was gone, I went back to my car, called Todd to update him and headed for the finish line.

I got to the finish long before she was expected.  I just kind of hung around, enjoying the gorgeous day (perfect marathon running weather).  Finally it was time.  I started walking backward on the course to meet her.  I would meet her and run her in.  Not 6 miles, but perhaps two.  I got to the 24 mile mark and continued to walk.  She still had plenty of time, but I was getting nervous for ME!  I mean, I had not run more than 2 miles in a looonng time.  About 1/2 mile later, I spotted her.  She smiled at me and looked like she did at the half (what a bitch!).  I turned around and started running with her.  She had her music in and answered in short one word answers.  Ok, I realized she was digging.  But now, so was I.  We were running sub 8:20 pace and I was not conditioned for this yet.  I WOULD NOT tell her I was tired (for shit sakes, the girl was finishing a MARATHON), but my gosh, by mile 25, I was heaving like a smoker.  Don't think she noticed.  She was in her zone... with her music... kicking this marathon's ass.  FINALLY (geez, listen to me and my rantings about my 2.5 mile run!), we got to the stadium where she would run around the track and finish up.  Thank God I left my camera in the car because I had an excuse to go get it.  "Go finish up Sarah, I'll meet you at the finish line with my camera."  That was code for "I need to go to my car and puke because I can't run another step."  But it was a good cover up at the time.  I got to the finish in time to watch my friend achieve what she set out to do so long ago.  She crossed with a great big smile and strong stride at 3:38.  Piece of cake.  Mission accomplished!  What an awesome day!  I couldn't wait to do it.  Now I was so determined.  I was going to qualify at the 2009 Columbus Marathon... exactly 1 year after my decision to make this my goal.  I could not wait.  Let the training begin!

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