Sunday, May 26, 2013

"For he to-day that sheds his blood with me/ Shall be my brother"

The above quote is from Henry the Fifth by Shakespeare, and after my experiences at the race this morning, I'm feeling like there is a camaraderie that comes from the sweat and the slogging and the striving that one finds in long distance races like the one I was in today.  Before I go much further, let me give you a clip of Henry's speech before the battle... (I love this version, by the way!)
So, I was there all by myself, and there was no place to check in my camera and my car keys, like there has been at my half-marathon.  One of the ladies that was selling tickets held them for me until the race was over.  She even wrote her cell phone number on my bib so that I could get my stuff back if I couldn't find her.  The people working the water stations were friendly and cheering us on as well: one volunteer kept telling me I was almost there every time I went by...not exactly true on loop 2 of 10, but she thought it was funny, anyway! Then, there are the runners.  The course that we ran has several places where there were runners going in opposite directions on the same road.  Because of this, there was a lot of mutual encouragement going on, especially between those of us doing the 25k solo (it was also a relay, with teams of 5 doing a 5k each.).

The course for the race--two times around this was a 5k. (except that a couple of runners wearing Garmins mentioned that 10x around the course was actually more than that--my nano says I ran 17.74 miles, but I also veered off course to use the bathroom several times.). 

Then, the non-running members of the 5k teams started cheering all of us on as we ran through the stadium....Until the last person on their team finished, there was this one team that was helping me to count my laps--something that I'm incredibly thankful for.  The girl that finished fourth from the end lost track, and they made her do one more lap just to make sure (which is why she was fourth from the end...she would have been done much earlier otherwise)!    There were also a lot of mini-conversations going on, especially near the end of the race...the "how much further do you have to go?" conversations, as well as the "where are you from?" and "Why did you decide to run this race?"  type of conversations.  By the end of the race, I didn't feel like I had come to race on my own, as so many of the people there were willing to share their cheering with anyone that ran, not just for their friends or fellow relay team-members.  In fact, as I was getting into my car, one of the ladies that I talked to during the race made a point to tell me that she hoped that I had a good time for my remaining stay in San Antonio before she got into her own car to drive away. 

Me before the race.  It started pouring about 10 minutes later, and continued to do so for most of my first lap.  Then, it quit raining for the majority of the race, only to start again as I began my last lap.  I think God knew that my fellow passengers really didn't want to be smelling me all the way to El Paso!

The race itself was difficult, as I was not really prepared for it.  First of all, running in 60% humidity as opposed to our normal humidity of less than 10% is BRUTAL!!!  It really helped that the rain kept it relatively cool, as I doubt I would have finished if it had been both hot and humid.  Then, about half-way through my second lap, I realized that I was getting hungry--I hadn't eaten enough breakfast!  The plan this morning had been to eat some yogurt and a couple of bananas, but in the process of packing and checking out, the bananas got forgotten.  One cup of yogurt is just not sufficient, and I should have known better.  I had those Cliff's electrolyte Bloks, and that helped.  They also had bananas at the finish line, so I snagged a couple as I was going through. 

My running gear and the banana I was supposed to eat for breakfast this is in a plastic bag because all of it is sopping wet, including my shoes.  I'm going to have to put it in the dryer as soon as I get home tonight, although the shoes will just get paper stuffed into them.

It is truly God's grace that I didn't bonk (for those of you who are non-runners, to bonk means that you basically burn all of your available energy and your body begins to shut down because of it--nausea, fuzzy-headedness, and possible passing out ensues).  And, all week long, I have been eating things that my body isn't used to, so this morning, about lap three, the runners trots hit.  At least my bowels were empty by the time I hit lap five, so I was able to avoid the bathrooms for the rest of the race.  Because I didn't train like I should have, I ended up hurting myself--my right IT band seems to be injured, so my thigh and knee on that side hurts when I make them bear weight (I might have pulled my groin muscle as well to compensate for the IT band issues).  I'm currently hobbling around like a little old lady here at the airport, and plan to go to the doctor some time tomorrow to get it checked out.  The longer I am sedentary, the more it hurts, so I'm thinking that this will be especially important!  My clock time was about 3:57:39, and considering that I had so many issues, I'm just glad that the time wasn't worse.  I finished third from the end, but I finished.  I will likely have to sit out from running for at least a week, and I'm sad about that, but I'm glad that I stayed for the race.  A marathon is only 10.7 miles further, so as long as I can train well and stay healthy, I should be able to do so with flying colors come October. 

Me after the race.  I'm soaking and tired and hurting, but very happy that I finished!

I have to say that, the more I learn about and experience the running community, the more I'm glad that I'm a runner!

And this is a close-up of my medal.  I think I like this medal better than the one from my half-marathon...Now that I have made that threshold, I think any further half-marathons I do will be chosen based on the coolness of their medals.  Why run for an ugly one???