I’m about to tell you the story of the WORST run of my life. There will be recounting of some unfortunate chafing, some crying, some earworms that would have caused anyone to joyfully rip their own ears off. If this isn’t something you’d care to hear about, do yourself a favor and avert the gaze now because this tale is not for the faint of heart.
In March I ran a half marathon in 2:48 and I was thrilled. It was my first trip to the rodeo, so to speak. I did everything right, training-wise and the weather, oh dear reader—the weather was beautiful. It was a pure dream, one from which I did not want to wake and in that moment, I knew there would be many more races in my future. I thought they would all be that good or, dare I say it, even better and I thought thatI COULD BE EVEN BETTER. I decided to run another and, come hell or high water, I’d run that mother in 2:30. So I enlisted two friends and we set to complete a half iron-man relay. Sadly, my training was off due to an injury but I had done the mileage and knew I could at least complete the race.
We were requested to show up at 5:30 AM. The swimmer swam swimmingly, the biker biked beautifully and I..waited. There was HEED but little to no food. I waited in the midday sun for 7 hours until, at 11:45, I exchanged chips with my teammate and began the journey that shall be forever inscribed in my brain as my slow descent into hell.
11:45 am, Williamsburg, VA. 95% humidity and 93 degrees fahrenheit. I began my run as I always do—2 minutes run, 1 minute walk, one foot in front of the other. At mile 5 my ipod conked out. That meant no more music and no more beeps to cue me for my intervals. Luckily, my slowly overheating brain has an amazing sense of humor and though that it would be awesome to have the Backstreet Boys’ I Want it That Way circle through my brain. Prior to that I was actually doing ok. I made the 5 miles in 1.10, FANTASTIC. the next 3 miles were uneventful, I fartleked that shiz and would run to tree number 45, then walk. I saw 2 people completely crumbled on the ground, getting medical attention. I had to stop 3 times to the port a potty for an emergency evacuation. NOT GOOD. There was *AVERT GAZE HERE* liquid lava pouring out of me followed by the ring of fire that you would not believe. Rut roh, welcome to dehydration. And then came mile 8.
At mile 8 I suddenly thought that Snuffelupagus had squarely planted himself on my chest and the heat slapped me in the face. I thought, ok, walk, just change and walk more then run. As I approached a water station, the woman looked at me and said, you are shivering. Two more people said, you’re body is shutting down, but you are going to do this. You know, there is something so amazing about these people. I started crying. I said, I can’t do this. Someone gave me salt pills, threw a sponge down my shirt, dumped ice water over my head and said, you can fucking do this. And that’s when it happened. I threw up some bile twice and made the decision to finish. I would have to speed walk the rest of the way. On my way, I literally passed a turtle. I looked down at him and said out loud, “you and me, baby. Here we go.” I know it was 93 degrees because I asked someone the temp on my way and they looked at their car and told me. I was getting slower and hotter and my body was breaking down, but I was going to finish. By Satan’s taint, I was not going to be a DNF. I was so delerious that I walked through a stream because I thought I saw the arrow for the runners going across the way. I had to crawl back over the stream and just book it.
And then..there it was. A woman said to me, if you run, you can make it in 7 minutes! So I did. I ran. I ran and I was a hot tranny mess. I saw my husband and friends at the finish line. I started crying. And as they say, I ran and cried, ran and cried. 3:24. Nearly 40 minutes after my last half.
You’d think I’d give up. You’d think I’d just say, I’m not an athlete. What the hell am I doing? You’d think that I would look at these pictures of myself and say, if I were thinner, I could have done it. Hell, I was ALWAYS the last one picked on the team for as long as I can remember. What business do I have doing these races? I mean, I still see the signs that say “ATHLETES ONLY” and hesitate before I enter. You’d think that my deep disappointment in not besting my last time would break me.
You might think that. You’d be wrong.
December 1st, 2012. Annapolis, MD Half Marathon. I’ll see you there.