(At last publishing, we were off…..)I was missing something… missing something crucial… ENERGY! It was gone. I had sat for 2 hours and my body was tired. I was hopeful that it would come to me, so I kept pushing onward. It was cloudy, a little damp and in the low 60’s. Not the most ideal situation to run a marathon in but if it would have stayed that way, it would have been doable (you might already know where this is going). Well what happens in Oklahoma after a storm is that the clouds clear away, the humidity sets in and the beautiful blue sky becomes clear, filled with bright sunlight and heats up to around 80 degrees! Not great marathon weather.
The first 10 miles were slow and steady with the realization that this was probably not going to be the Boston Qualifier I trained for but I could still have a better race than last year. I could tell the other runners were having some of the same thoughts because we were all packed together. In years past, we all seemed to separate pretty quickly and run our own races. It was almost as if we knew we had a long way to go and we wanted to stick together. I was able to see Dave and my friends at about mile 7 and he told me later, that he knew there was a problem (and there was, I just wasn’t sure how bad it was about to get).
When I saw my supporters at the halfway point (13.1) the sun had begun to pound on us all and my right calf had decided to cramp, at this point DNF was not gonna happen if I could help it. I told Dave that this was going to be a long race but to bear with me because I was going to finish. So I moved ahead. Runner’s isolation began as we all crossed over the bridge to the lake where there are not many spectators because if you get there, you can’t get out until the race is over. It is two miles of all of us depending on each other and that is what happened. The runners began to take over on the crowd support. The winds were whipping off the water about 30mph and the sun was beating down on us. Some started walking, some like me tried the walk run method just to get through the miles and oh yes that calf cramp that was making itself known in my leg. We as a running community would pat people on their shoulders as we went by saying things like “You got this”, “Hang in there”, and “You can make it”. It was so nice to hear and see and great to be able to take my mind off the pain by helping others too.
We emerged to large crowds in the relay hand off area and it was great to hear the crowds, reading your bibs and saying your name, cheering us on. Mile 17 became a blur due to the pain increasing and the conditions but I knew that I would see my fans again somewhere just past 18. And there they were! Cheering me on. They made me run a little faster, added a little pep to my step and carried me to the upcoming hills that I knew would be difficult. But again DNF was not in my vocabulary! By now my calf cramps held me back to about a 12 min pace of walk, light jog and the thing that would make me transition between was spasms in both calves. At about 23.5 miles something happened that scared the crap out of me. My calves seized! Both of them. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t move my feet. I felt as if my feet were stuck in mud, I couldn’t even will them to keep going. A spectator looked up from her chair and said “Is there something I can do for you”. I just asked her to help me by holding me up for a minute, being hopeful that the cramps would pass. She ran over to me, held me up and tried to calm me down. You could see all the muscles in my legs having spasms. Scarey! We stood there for a few moments, she helped me lean over and try to stretch out. She offered to get the medical officials but I waved her off, I had come this far and I was going to finish! I asked if she would walk with me for a few steps and she said yes. We walked about 50 feet and I was feeling a little better. The crowd around all began to clap and provided great support. Then I was off, okay I was shuffling but I was moving.
I was having leg spasms about every 20 steps or so (I didn’t count it but it seemed like a lot) but I was moving. Then it happened again. At about 24 miles in my legs seized again. This time I was close to a course marshall. He asked if I was okay and I said “no”. I asked him to come over and hold me up for a minute which he did. He then informed me that the medical tent was just up ahead and he could get them to come down at which I nearly dropped to my knees and started crawling because I did not want to be pulled off the course this close to the end. I looked at him in the eyes and said, “I just want to finish, can you help me?” He responded with a “Yes, what do you want me to do”. “Walk with me, hold my arm and walk with me. It’s only about 2.2 more miles if that is okay.” He said, “Let’s go!” And then we were off, me shuffling, him in his work boots.
His name is Scott, I call him Marathon Scott. He kept my mind off of my legs seizing, was there to hold me up when it happened, there to hand me water, powerade, and bananas along the last few miles. We had other runners stop to offer to help me and talk with us as we trudged along. But the answer we always gave was “not everyone gets an escort to the finish and now Scott is going to get to finish his first marathon.” We got lots of cheers and there were tears in my eyes most of the last few miles, not just from the pain but because of the support, the fans, the runners, and the other course marshals.
When we turned the last corner towards the finish we picked up the pace and even a light jog at some points (followed by lots of leg issues). I told Scott that when we get to the end we need to raise our arms up and jog over that finish line, I could collapse after! The crowd began to yell for us louder and louder. I saw my friends cheering and crying on the sides concerned for their friend who was being escorted by someone to the finish (but I also think just really happy to see me because those last few miles had taken forever!) We crossed the line. At the time it was the biggest victory just to cross but what I didn’t know was the battle that was about to begin… cue medical tent!Scott and I got our picture taken by someone at the end, I picked up my medal and new t-shirt and sought out my family and some food, cause I could not eat another pretzel or drink anymore water or powerade. But my legs had a different idea. My family and friends found Scott and I as we headed toward the medical tent. When we made it inside they asked me to get up on the bed and put my legs up in the air. Upon sitting on the bed, my legs unleashed. They unleashed all the pain that I had just put them through. The spasms were so bad, I was screaming, arching my back, reaching for arms to grab and take the pain way and just wanting someone to make it all stop! But little did I know that this was just the beginning. My friend who is a therapist gathered my head, got in my face and walked me through breathing. It took about 1.5 hours for the cramps to stop, there was lots of ice, lots of rubbing, lots of me just trying to calm down, and lots of eating pretzels and drinking water/powerade. (Someone asked me today if it was worse than childbirth and I said yes because at least you can get drugs then!) Finally able to hobble out after 2 hours, I was unsure whether I ever wanted to run again much less run a marathon again.
Now I look back … yesterday was my first run since that crazy Sunday… and I think, yes, I want to run again, yes, I want to do that marathon again. Not because I am cray, cray. Okay maybe I am that, but because it was the Worst Best Marathon Ever!