I got very little sleep the night before, which isn’t totally unusual. I think it’s typical for runners to sleep fitfully the night before a race. But I mean I hardly slept at all, and I was up at 4:00 a.m. Also on race mornings, I can hardly choke down any food or drink. Not good.
The previous night (Thursday) we’d eaten the pasta dinner and heard two great speakers. Kathrine Switzer was the first woman to run the Boston Marathon, at age 20. She was literally tackled on the course by the co-race director, who was irate that a woman had entered his race. Unfortunately for him, but lucky for the rest of us, the press caught the whole thing and pictures of the event went around the world. Kathrine finished the race. And changed the course of history for women in sports. Jean Driscoll has won the Boston Marathon (race-chair) 8 times and still holds the record for that event. She’s also a para-Olympian. She was born with Spina Bifida and has been wheelchair bound since age 15. How lucky I am to have met these two amazing women the day before at the race expo. I bought Switzer’s book and she signed it “Krista! Running gives us everything. Go for it! K. Switzer, Illinois, 2010.”
The race start was festive, exciting, as they usually are. 14,000+ people in this one. Carl and I started out together (after a late start – apparently the 5kers didn’t go as fast as they’d planned for and we were waiting for them to get off the course).
We ran together for about the first mile and a half, then Carl went on. He was doing the full marathon (for the first time). I felt pretty good then and continued on, stopping at all the available water stations.
The course was great, I thought, and the race pretty well organized. I would have liked to have seen more water stations. The organizers even mentioned in the race material that they were paying attention to porta potty issues this year, yet at the stops on the course, there were maybe 4 to a stop. That’s just not enough to alleviate the lines. Those are my only two complaints. Otherwise, great course. Flat, obviously. It was Illinois, after all.
At about mile 2, I saw an old friend (Amy George) and stopped briefly (maybe 15 seconds) to give her a hug and allow her husband to snap a picture. Pictures are important!
At about mile 4, I started to feel really bad. Let’s just say that from there until about mile 9, I visited ALL of the porta potties. Since there weren’t enough at each stop, I had to wait in line at all of them, thereby losing precious time. But, believe me, when you are in a position to have to wait in line at a porta potty, and then USE them, your concern for time is minimal. You just resign yourself to a bad time. Fuck it. I’m screwed. Just HURRY UP IN THERE!! 🙂
Anyway enough of that. You get the idea.
I walked most of the course. It was pretty, and the cheering Champaign/Urbana residents throughout the whole course made it fun. Great support!
I was able to run into the stadium, through the team entrance and onto the field at Memorial Stadium, home to the University of Illinois football team. The atmosphere at the finish line is always great, people cheering, the announcer blasting over the sound system, music. Fun stuff. I ran past the finish line with a disgusting time of 3:24:07. Worst. Time. Ever.
Once I got that medal, I headed upstairs (yes, after the race runners had to CLIMB up the stadium steps to the first level where they had the food stations.) I got some food and went back down to the field, where I took off my shoes and sat in the sun while eating my pizza, pasta and peanut butter cookies. Once done, I checked the time and began to wonder about my friend and running parter, Carl, who was doing his first full marathon. He was to text me when he got to mile 20 to give me an idea of when he might cross the finish line.
While waiting, I went to the end zone and lay down in the I in ILLINOIS. This felt weird, and I kind of enjoyed it. 🙂
I got the text from Carl when he had reached mile 20 and it said “20. Heart rate and leg issues. Sorry slow” I was just so happy to get the text that I didn’t care when he made it across the finish line, just as long as he made it. Our original plan included him finishing in time to get me back to Columbia to sing in a choral concert that night. That didn’t work out, and he felt guilty for coming in later than planned, but I assured him that his health and his finishing were, and will always be, the most important things to me.
As he crossed the finish line at 5:51:16, I was screaming and jumping up and down on the sidelines! He looked over and stuck his tongue out at me and grinned. What a great sight!!! His medal is twice the size of mine, as it should be.
My next half will probably be in Joplin, MO in October. Yes, I’ll do another one. There’s just something about crossing that finish line that gets in your blood. Porta potty stops or not.