Yesterday I ran the Sioux Falls Marathon. Well, part of it.
(Photos from the Argus Leader photogs here.)
It was supposed to be my 11th marathon, and the third in 11 months. I felt OK about it — but not awesome. And not horrible. I mostly felt like I was going into another long run, which is a pretty relaxed way to feel. I had some pie-in-the-sky time goals, but as I watched the weather reports — hot and humid — I began to rethink them.
My sister Pam was here for the week, also to run. She has run four other marathons, and had put in many, many miles of treadmill running in Phoenix this summer to get ready for this race.
If it weren’t for her, I probably wouldn’t have even gone to the starting line after seeing the weather.
“Jackie, it’s not hot! I’ll show you hot,” she laughed at me, pulling up the Phoenix weather on her phone.
“Right, Pam, but you forgot about the humidity!”
I know she thought I was nuts. But I remember Twin Cities Marathon in 2007, where I limped to a horrible finish on a nearly equally hot day. Marathons take a while to recover from. I’m not really willing to give up running for the next month so I can plod out a crappy race on a hot day.
And that was the very bad attitude I brought with me to Howard Wood at 6 a.m. Sunday.
I lined up between the 3:35 and 3:45 pacer with my friend Erica. Pam scooted back a bit, closer to the 4:15 mark.
And we were off.
I logged a few easy 8:30s … but they didn’t feel easy. They felt awful. I felt like I was working really hard, and it wasn’t sustainable. I know it wasn’t even that hot yet, but I just felt … like I didn’t care. Mentally, I wasn’t in this race at all. Erica pushed on, I slowed down. She turned and I gave her the thumbs up, and we were on our own. That was good for me — I was crabby and already trying to figure out a reasonable number of miles to run before I dropped out. By mile 4, I knew I had zero intention of finishing this race.
I saw my friend Chris at mile 6, where he snapped a few photos. Why not ham it up?
Maybe this is where I confess that for four years I have whined about the marathon course, even though I hadn’t run it. I just hate the half-marathon course so much, I figured I would hate it twice as much. But … I didn’t. The beginning was pretty and a little rural, the northern part of the bike path was typically windy and eerie and desolate, and then coming into downtown was fun. I dreaded the endless finish along the bike path, which was part of my dread all morning. Maybe it’s just a bad idea to run your hometown marathon — you know every inch of the terrain. And exactly how far you have to go.
Around mile 9, I saw Chris again and told him I was done. I walked off the course and chatted. He told me Philip and the kids were up ahead, so I kept going. And that was awesome — I came across a bridge and there were Jack and Viv — shouting and clanging a cow bell. How awesome is that? So I stopped and chatted with them for a long while. Letting them listen to my ipod, and just hanging out. Clearly I didn’t care at all.
After that, it was just downhill. About a half mile later, I asked a spectator to borrow their phone and tried to call Philip. I was just done. He didn’t answer (I later learned he had forgotten it — though I borrowed a phone from like 5 people and called him about 40 times.)
I made it into downtown, and at the 16-mile mark, I just stopped. I walked across to Phillips Avenue, sat down at the 17-mile marker, and waited for Pam to come by. I watched the runners, the pace groups … and after the 5-hour pacer went by, I knew I had somehow missed her. I called a friend and ran about a half mile so he could pick me up and drive me to the finish. I was paranoid about missing her — her flight was at 1, and all her bags, etc., were in my car, parked at the finish area.
I got to the finish and hung out waiting … ran into a few friends, and talked to Philip who had gone home with the kids rather than navigate the finish — thank goodness. Then I saw Pam walking up with Chris. She had dropped at about 16.5, when she saw him on the course. Pam said she felt shaky and sick and couldn’t battle the humidity anymore.
No shame in that, we’re telling ourselves. I have a few friends who DNFed yesterday. And a few who ran excellent races. Erica powered through, and looked like she had dug deep into her soul to keep going. She finished mentally tougher than she started, and I am so proud of her. My friend Patrick finished his first Ironman yesterday.
I stopped my watch just past 16 miles, at 2 hours, 38 minutes. About 9:50 pace. Including walking, talking, and borrowing phones from bystanders. That’s fine with me.
Pam plans to register for a race in Fresno in November.
I’m much more seriously considering an ultra next month, when it should be cooler. I should probably go ahead and sign up for that soon.It wasn’t the race day I had planned, but that’s OK. The week leading up to it, Philip and Chris were in the boundary waters, and Pam and I were hanging out with the kids. So it was a pretty fabulous week anyway.