I live and I’m tired. I’m tired and swamped and work.
So here’s a bit of a recap via an update email that I sent to a friend…
Never in my life have I been as tired as I was in the final leg… Half mile in and I’m thinking, “hm. this is going to be interesting.” I was hoping to run at least an 8:30 pace but I am pretty sure that is not going to happen anymore. I am watching the time on my polar and it’s dragging so I switch to heartrate and make sure that I stay at 165. I don’t care how fast I’m running as long as I know my HR is at 165. I can run at 165 for a long, long time. It’s a death march. I get my first kill at less than a mile in. The road is long and straight – an old logging road, shady during some points, completely exposed to the afternoon sun during others. I can see for miles ahead of me. Little bodies struggling up the very slight, very sneaky grade that we are climbing. Some are walking, some are crawling at a slow jog. I look down and see that I’m still at 165 bpm. I must be doing 12 minute miles but I know I can’t think about that. The key is to keep moving, to keep my HR stable, to stay hydrated, to stay focused. I channel Ant on the last section of his half marathon in Forest Park. I wish that, like him, I would stop feeling my legs. I’m dragging bricks and the 800 mg of ibuprofen I took 30 minutes before my run isn’t doing a goddam thing.
I’ve never before considered the fact that I might not finish. I’m thinking, “what if I don’t finish? What if I stop? No one will find me here on this isolated logging road.”
I get another kill and keep moving. At 25 minutes I give in and look at the time. Less than halfway. That’s dis-heartening so I change it: Almost Halfway. That helps.
I’ve started this run with Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” so there are two important lyrics that I keep running through my head:
“Success is my only mother-fucking option, failure’s not”
“Tear the mother-fucking roof off like two dogs, caged”
Around 45 minutes my left toe starts to hurt. I’ve been running on gravel almost the whole way and my foot isn’t used to having to do so much balance triangulation. I know that I can run through it and then rest it for a few days. I keep moving. I want to walk like I have never wanted to walk before in my life but I know that I’ll lose time like a fatal wound if I do. I imagine I’m running an embarassing mile time anyway so I keep putting along, legs moving only enough to complete the next step, face wrinkled in pain.
Another kill, and then another. As I pass people we are too tired even to be happy and nice to each other. I smile but it’s all I have. Some smile back. Some keep looking straight ahead. We’re all just trying to survive. My HR is still 165. 165 is my safe number. I can do anything at 165 I tell myself. My heart likes 165. 165 means nothing to my leg muscles but to my heart 165 is everything.
At 57 minutes I approach the end of the logging road and see a few people cheering. I pull out my headphones and ask desperately: “How much further?”
“A little less than a mile”.
Holy shit. Holy shit. Not only am I almost done, I’ve actually been keeping a decent pace. 9 minute miles or maybe even less depending on how much distance is left. My legs hear “less than a mile” and they start moving faster. I can move past 165 bpm. I’m going to make it. And I’m going to come in under my projected time.
I fucking kick ass.
When I cross the line people are clapping. I find my next runner, slap the baton onto her wrist and duck underneath the tape that separates the exchange shoot from the spectators. I stumble to a boulder, remove my left shoe, and throw it to the side.
I won’t lie. I wanted to die. My toe was in agony. My legs were screaming. My body was in full on rebelion.
The team found me and we left to head to the finish line.
It was crazy. Insane, actually. Next year I think that I will train. 🙂 So much fun. So much good suffering. So many moments of doubt followed by pride.
I blew my second leg out of the water and ran 4.1 miles in 30 min and 50 secs – and it was a flat course, not one of those pansy-ass downhill legs that Team 1 got to pad their numbers with. 🙂 Those are goddam 7:30min miles and I am proud of them. They may well have contributed to my death-march Leg 3 but, you know what? I’ll take it.
I’m still here. I’m alive.