And then, I have to tell you, I had a few problems. You can see that if you look closely at my time... which is not even accurate. It was worse than that! In the first few miles, my back started cramping. I thought it would work itself out as it frequently does. But it only got worse. I still was determined to enjoy myself and do the best I could.
If it had ended at 15 miles, I would have had a great race. But marathons go beyond 15 miles. They go beyond my 20 mile longest training workout. I discovered the true meaning of "hitting the wall." I never really knew what that was. I had "intestinal problems" which made me hit every porta-potty from about 12 miles to 18 miles. And my back was hurting so bad. At a couple of points there were people with "the stick" who had volunteered to roll it on your legs, or whatever. I asked if they could roll it on my back. It provided tremendous relief. (I bought one after I got home - it is awesome.)
At a point or two, I thought to myself - what the heck am I doing out here? I am old, I am not a skinny little runner. I am slow. I am not your typical marathon runner. I thought of some of those folks who wish anyone taking longer than 5 hours would just stay home.
And then I remembered a stupid movie I saw a year or so ago. About a silly man who said he was going to run a marathon and hadn't trained and had no clue. He was pitiful. I thought about myself watching that movie and wanting him to finish the marathon and how I didn't think he should just stay home. So, I figured, I had paid for my admission to this thing, I had trained seriously for six months. I was having a bad day, but I still could finish it and have my marathon.
I was in so much pain, at one point a woman came up behind me and told me, "it's your race, you have eight hours to finish it, don't sweat it." That was nice.
There were many special moments. The race was awesome. The course was pretty and flat and there was lots of support and lots of spectators. The first 8 or 9 miles were along the ocean which I loved. Winding through neighborhoods in Long Beach was really fun for someone from the arid mountains of Colorado. So different! On Sunday morning, we got to pass by churches full of people. At one point, I saw a house with a Broncos flag waving in the breeze. Very nice! A couple of times nice people walked along with me in the last 10 miles. It is so nice to have a conversation to take your mind off the pain!
One of the most memorable moments came just after I finished though. I had gotten my medal - it is a nice one. I had gotten my little space blanket. I had gotten a little bag with apples and bananas, and some water. And then a man came and put his hand on my shoulder and thanked me. I couldn't imagine why he would thank me, so I asked him.
He said "I have been behind you for miles and miles. I was in so much pain, and I could see that you were in pain, and I knew if you could keep going, I could keep going." Wow.
It was not the experiences I would have wanted to have. I wanted to be able to stay strong and finish strong. But I did not have that experience. I had a different one. It might have been an abysmal performance, but I did it, and I will have that for the rest of my life.