My next marathon*

13 01 2011

I have, at this point, never run a marathon.

I have run the official distance on at least 4 occasions, and beyond on two. However, if one were to attempt to validate that with anything other than word of mouth, or the gps on my phone it couldn’t be done. My 2010 Memphis marathon experience was no exception.

I have had at least four people in my life utter the sentence “I am going to train for a marathon.” I, for whatever reason, always respond with “If you do I’ll run it with you.” When Echo said it shortly after “the incident” at country music I knew I might have to make good on that one.

Echo is one of the busier people I know, she has been plagued with knee trouble, and is coming off of a serious defeat at a recent half marathon. I know this marathon is gonna be tough, and to top it off the forecast says it’ll be in the 20’s. I also know if anyone can do it she can. I refuse to let her see any negativity from me. I try to only relay excitement and discuss her concerns way in advance. I warn her of a few things to expect and start gearing up for our adventure. After all, December is rapidly approaching.
We two couples decided to make a whole weekend out of the trip. We stayed at a lovely hotel with all the amenities, ambient interstate noise, flickering fluorescent mood lighting, and carpets that were vacuumed bi-annually. It had everything you could ask for an old-fashioned murder, or a down home organ harvesting.

Now being a typical last minute shopper I missed the cutoff and this race sold out, but I committed to run the race with my friend so I conclude to just show up and run the race without a number, I mean what’s the worst that could happen (I confess the idea of a video surfacing on youtube of security chasing me on a race course only made the idea seem more awesome). The morning of, we peruse the race guide and see several mentions with very strong language, “no unauthorized runner on the course.” We begin to rethink our plan. This could be her only marathon ever and just for the sake of being overly cautious I decide to drop her in the last mile and run up ahead to meet Chassi and Chaz where we can cheer her across the finish line.

After a good nights sleep our spousal support team dropped us off as close as possible to the start line. Thankfully meteorologists change their minds more often than my daughter changes outfits so by race morning the temperature hovered around 50 and only slightly overcast. The weather was quite literally perfect. We walked up and got ready to start this silly adventure we were about to begin.

We start strong and steady. We literally talked the entire race. Talked about kids, running, family, overweight people, underweight people, money, life, and past and future adventures. I for the first time have no goal times, no one to beat, I am only there to support and have fun. I am running slower than my comfortable pace which allows me options I wouldn’t otherwise entertain, Like the beer stop at mile 12, high-fiving the children near the hospital, and the beer stop at mile 18 (come to think of it maybe they weren’t all great options). We continue to run a pretty steady pace and actually finished quite a bit stronger than we started. As discussed, at mile 25 I take her bag of pretzels, the last of the nuun, hug her goodbye and proceed to run as fast as my tired legs will move. I am concerned there won’t be much time so I am pushing pretty hard. I probably pass over 100 people in the last mile. They all look pretty beat, and rightly so. I make a point to cheer on every person I pass with at least a few words between heavy breaths. I cross the finish line and keep right on running though the maze of people who hand me water, I wave off the lady trying to put a medal around my neck(I mean I didn’t pay, it wouldn’t be right). She looks at me like maybe I need medical attention. I duck a few others and dart up to the bleachers to look for Chassi and Chaz. I get distracted in the looking and hear her name announced and quickly lose her in the crowd, oh well. Eventually we all connect and there was much rejoicing. Echo is beaming from her accomplishment, and rightly so. She quickly encourages us to get to the car while she can still move. We comply.

We hit the town later that night, where I offer Echo a “from personal experience” suggestion, “after a marathon one celebratory drink will pack more of a punch than normal. ” At least I can say I warned her. We ate fried burgers at Dyers, wandered around the Peabody, saw an awesome band at BB Kings. Memphis was an amazing getaway weekend and thanks a million to Chassi and Chaz, the best support team anywhere. I swear they popped up every couple of miles and cheered like no one else.

The conversation on the road there was mostly “I just wanna say I’ve done this.” The conversation on the way back was closer to “I can’t wait to see what’s next…”
And I for one, can’t.

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One response

18 01 2011
Chaz

Just saw your post and had to comment – the hotel was awful, I mean there was a path down the middle of the hallways from how worn the carpet was – the window which had no screen or protective bars didn’t even close – on the plus side it was cheap and conveniently located in a truck stop parking lot.

It was a good trip and I look forward to being your athletic supporter again soon!

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