So about that running thing.
Yesterday I was joined by four wonderful women to run the relay race in the Vermont City Marathon.
(Our shirts got us a lot of attention and friendly inquiries and photo ops! If you would like to get a shirt like ours, go ahead and go here and order one. They will put your name on the back if you ask. You can search around if you want one with sleeves like Lisa has, on the right in the photo. Or different colors. Whatever you want.)
I'm completely new at this marathon huge race thing, and thankfully at a dinner party the other night, a friend who has run this race gave me a tip about making sure I lined up in the right place for my expected pace. I've been running 10-minute miles in most of my races. I was hoping to run 9 this time, but I decided to undershoot rather than overshoot, and lined up with the 10s.
One of my teammates, Kat, shot this photo at the start line. I'd be some little speck over there by that 10:00 flag by the white house. I was standing right next to that flag. It was a mob scene, but a very sedate and happy and polite mob.
It was SUCH a beautiful day for a race right next to the Burlington waterfront and running through the city and neighborhoods of Burlington. The whole community embraces this race, with the most wonderful and supportive and entertaining crowds. I am very thankful there is a relay option -- otherwise I would never be able to participate in something like this. We learned a lot about things that worked well, and things we would do differently next year.
Yes, we are already talking about next year. Heh.
We got up at the crack of dawn -- 4:10 a.m. in my case -- we ate crockpot oatmeal, and Vermont bacon and fruit, and drank a little coffee. (Next time I would remember to drink more water, even though it is 4-freakin-something-a.m.)
Wheels up at 6 a.m. to head to Burlington.
We arrived at about 6:35 a.m., early enough that we snagged a prime parking spot in a nice shaded garage, verrrrry close to the race site. We walked the block to the waterfront, and turned around to see an ocean of people walking down the hill. Five minutes later, and we would have been fighting for parking. It was astonishing, really. So the extra-early departure was a good idea. It made for a very long day, and it messed up, maybe -- ahem -- some of our natural rhythms, if you know what I mean. But no matter.
In the first leg of the race, I saw a hot pink sign held by a spectator that seemed made just for me: "F*&king AWESOME!" In the first mile, I had terrible dry-mouth -- it felt like my tongue was a big wad of dry cotton. I was extremely worried about that. "Ohmygod, are you kidding me? I didn't drink enough water and I'm THIS dehydrated? I'm going to let my team down ON THE FIRST THREE MILES?!" But that fuckin' awesome sign made me smile against my dry teeth, and press on and hard (the first mile was up a hill, as well). My body quite quickly cooperated and released the probably-retained water from the salty bacon I had eaten that morning. My mouth became moistened and I felt fine, albeit a bit hot. SCORE ONE FOR BACON. And the human body.
Another sign that made me laugh: "Worst Parade EVER!"
At about Mile 2, I came upon a senior gentleman runner whose shirt said, "Larry. 1,300 Marathoner." People were congratulating him on the marathon he ran the week before, "Great job last week, Larry!" and asked him, "Is this 1,301?" He said, in a southern drawl, "Somethin' like that."
I Googled him just now. A lawyer from San Antonio! Fantastic!
I passed two people (and saw several more later in the day) whose shirts said, "50-State Marathon Club" (or something like that). The woman seemed to be being interviewed as she was running. I heard her say, "This is my 48th state." She was YOUNG. She seems to have a long running life ahead of her. Will she go through the 50 states TWICE? Or will she move on to something else, like swimming all the channels in the sea?
On Church Street, at about the 3-mile mark for me, a super-fabulous Patriotic Transvestite, dressed in ridiculously wonderful red-white-and-blue garb and sparkly outrageous blue glasses, was urging us on, to not slow down, to keep on moving. Made me smile so hard, made me bear down and speed up, and makes me smile again just remembering it. Even though at that moment I was hot and cranky and thinking, "SO glad I'm only doing 3.3 and not 26.2... or even 6."
During Kat's leg (I think it might have been the most difficult leg of the race), she was cheered on by bagpipes, bands, neighborhood parties, and maybe best of all, these Taiko drummers at the base of Burlington's version of heartbreak hill:
These guys helped to give her the will to get up that hill.
Kat made it up that hill and handed off the bracelet to Lisa. Lisa took off like a shot. On her leg of the race, she ran through lovely neighborhoods where property owners had their garden hoses on, spraying overheated runners if they wished to be sprayed for a cool-down.
More fun memories for me: A text message from Carol at 11:53: "Still no Lisa."
Next text message was 12:04 from Lisa: "On bus."
Made me laugh. Because in other words, Carol must have just barely pressed "send" on that text, and then, "OOOOOOPS, there's Lisa! RUNNN!"
(Lisa and Carol are pretty zippy!)
We all had the most fun time. At least two of us (Adrienne and I) had personal bests, as well. Smiles all around.
I managed to break away from the 10-minute milers about halfway of my little 3.3-mile portion of the race (the first leg), and kept pace with my hoped-for 9-minute milers. My average pace was 9:30/mile, according to my trusty Map My Run app:
We sweated, we focused hard, we had packs of fun, and we got 'er done. We had laughs and wonderful camaraderie. It doesn't get any better than that. It was a beautiful, beautiful day. I feel sore but happy today, and I'm so appreciative for my teammates for joining me in this adventure.
A year ago, I didn't believe I would ever run a race of any kind. I had no interest in doing so -- it didn't even enter my consciousness as an idea of something I would do. Not even a 5K. It was just a non-thing. The idea that less than a year later I would take part in something like this... I don't even know what else to say about it. It is just plain awesome.
But I have no aspirations to run a marathon. No no no no.
QUOTE OF THE DAY YESTERDAY, from teammate Lisa:
"A half marathon is only four 5Ks and a little bit, Norma."
After the race:
Kat Kennedy, Lisa McGuire, Adrienne Martini, me, Carol Bradford-Roe
Thanks again, ladies!
I'll make another plea for donations for my upcoming runs for charity. Maybe do it for the Fitter Knitters, because we rock.
See this post, and thank you.