I’m up early.
This part of the race report is about fuel, and how I didn’t have enough, or the right kind, or something.
My brother in law Kenny arrives at 5am to take me to Dodger Stadium. My Dad reads 1 Corinthians 9: 24-27 to me. I write my paces on my arm. I re-read the email, the beautiful email that my coach sent to me. I write:
5-11-16-21-24 on my arm, to remind me of when I take a Honey Stinger
I write: 1st 10K=11:00 min. pace, 10:40-10:50 rest.
I had big plans. I was aiming for 4:45 as my top goal, but would have been happy with 5:00.
I ate my pb on toast and half a banana.
I get to Dodger Stadium. In awe. In love. So happy and confident. Have never felt MORE confident.
I even went to the bathroom. FOR REALS! I mean, really, could this day be even more perfect?
I am in the porta-potty line again, because I know the race won’t start for 30 minutes.
I am in the porta-potty line when the wheelchairs start.
Then the elite women.
Then the elite men.
Then, holy HELL! EVERYONE! And, I come out to see the mass of people making the first turn in front of the original start and wonder how the HELL I am going to get across this. The flood of people put the fear of God into me. Finally, this man and I hopped the corrals, ran a bit with the 3:30 group, hopped, hopped, hopped to the back of the start pack with everyone else.
By this time, “I LOVE LA” by Randy Newman had played about 17 times. I love that song. But not 17 times.
I finally cross the start line.
And, we are going slightly uphill, then downhill around the stadium. It’s all good, but I can’t get a lock on the 11:00 minute pace. Too many people, and I’m with the walkers. Finally, we go out of Dodger Stadium, and I’m feeling confident for the first 3 miles. Then I feel a slight twinge in my back. Which shocked me, really. What was this?
I went up the hill at mile 4 or 5, and what overwhelmed me was the sea of people ahead of me. I counted blocks. I counted stoplights. There was no way to quicken my pace. I just had to stay in the pack. At mile 5, I took my first Honey Stinger. It made me ill. I can’t stand any of these things, but had given up Gu and others like it to use these. The facts are simply this. When my stomach goes, I go. And, I was starting to fade already.
I remember the Taiko Drummers. Fantastic. Great job on the hill. I remember nothing else.
At mile 8. I stopped. I was done. Finished. Absolutely, and without reservation. I had never have the wheels fall off so soon in a race or a training run. My stomach was aching. My feet and legs were fine. My new iFitness belt was not working for me. It was my first time using it. I put it around the front, around the back, across my breasts. I almost carried it. It was just BUGGING ME. Because it was new, not because it was a bad belt.
For 10 miles, I bartered. With God, with my coach, with my mother.
PLEASE GOD GET ME OUT OF THIS AND I WILL NEVER EVER SIGN UP FOR A MARATHON EVER AGAIN.
I took water at every station. I ran. I walked. I begged. I saw a billboard with a girl in really high heels on her back with a beach ball between her legs. I thought. I want to do that. The women on the billboards were mocking me. They were. I saw Chuck and Brian…or was it the Bob and Tom show at the Comedy Shop. (I’m not even sure, and don’t care…), but these 1 dimensional boards became the way to get down the road. Those stupid ladies in their beautiful clothes don’t know how lucky they have it.
I could not believe my race was gone. At mile 8. But, it was.
A group of people with Down’s Syndrome sat on the left. They were clapping. The adult with them said, “Clap for Linda!” And they started cheering…”Go Linda, Go Linda!” And I turned around, and walked over to them. One lady got out of her chair, ambled over to me and threw her arms around me. And I hugged her as if my life depended on it. It did. Then another. Until I finally ambled off myself. I don’t remember much.
A lot of asphalt.
A lot of signs.
These 3 women ran into me, and I was pissed, and the one girl said, “WOW”, like, “what a bitch”, and I thought…screw you!!! Seriously! If you are going to stop, don’t stop THERE! Arrrgg.
But I realized that my race was gone, and the only thing to do now was run.
The 5:15 people passed me.
The 5:30 people passed me.
I tagged onto a group of people here and there.
But, it was simply survival mode now.
I knew it was bad when the 6:00 pacers got ahead of me. My head was screaming to stop. Walk off this course! No one will know! Get OFF!
I stopped. A lot. I saw the orange balloon mile markers. I lived for those. I ran. I ran a lot. Then I stopped. The heat from the ground and the water from the cups made for a humid water stop. People handed out everything. Candy, oranges, bananas, granola bars, water, gatorade. One person simply had a gallon jug on top of a metal post. No one was there. Just a spout. I put my head under and drank hungrily.
I found the LA Road Runners pace group. I ran with them for about 1.5 miles. They would run, then shout 5-4-3-2-1 and STOP! and everyone would stop. and we would walk. and then those fingers go up again, and i had simply no freaking clue what they were doing, so I just did it with them. I followed a lady in a red bandana. Just watched her feet, her backside for a long, long time. And then…
Mile 18.5 comes. Here they go again with the counting. And I was losing my mind, thinking, is the sky gray? or is it me? What is WRONG WITH ME!!!
I go to the bushes because I got hit with a wave of nauseau like being pregnant. I hunched over to vomit. But there was nothing to vomit. No dry heaves even. Just heaves. (I found out much later how dehydrated I was). I remember sitting down. Then falling back into the bushes. I laid in the bushes, wishing for a quick death. I know, I’m drama like that. But I swear to everything holy, I was more willing to die at that moment than ever.
The cops came over.
My arm was in the road. Runners were hopping over me. The cops tried to get me to move. I crawled on all fours. They asked me my name, how old I was. The cop said, really? I thought you were 35. Nice try, buddy. They said they had to call the ambulance. My Garmin said I was down for 40 minutes. Excruciating. The paramedics came up with their annoying siren. I wasn’t even embarrassed. At that point just wished for the end. They took my blood pressure, my pulse. I asked them what it was. I was fine. THEN they took out their stretcher! (The whole time, they left on the ambulance, so I was sucking in exhaust fumes too) I said, “What is that for?” They told me I was going to the hospital.
Because my parents read this blog, I will not repeat what I said. However, it included a few salty phrases, some yelling. I told them I wasn’t going. They made me sign that I wouldn’t sue them. I was in trouble though. I could barely stand. They told me they were going to take me to the bus a few blocks back and take me to the finish line.
Again. Not happening. I fought with myself here. They told me a 21 yr old man had cardiac arrest, and that it was okay for me to stop. There would always be other marathons. Again with the arguing in my head:
Linda, Your whole family is here. You are finishing this course, even if you have to crawl the rest of the way in. Your Dad is at the finish line. You get off your ass right now and make him proud. You can do this.
This was ridiculous. I couldn’t do anything.
But, I got up. And, I put one foot in front of the other. I cried. I was mad. I had definitely not counted on 76% humidity. I hadn’t counted on being sick. I was going to have an hour PR! AN HOUR!
This was long. A battle. A walk for all of Mile 19. Mile 20, I am coming into the VA grounds. I start to do what someone did for me in NIKE. I just asked this girl if she wanted to run with me. So we did for like 3 minutes, then stopped. I could NOT move.
Mile 20. Where everyone hits a wall. I had hit mine 12 miles earlier. My sister and her daughter were there. I could see them. I yelled. I stopped. They showed me their signs. They hugged me. I just wanted to sit down. Right there. Then I saw the purple balloons. And, remembering where I was, I tried to envision all of our soldiers. Fighting through every pain, every day. And it was enough to take one more step.
I said to my running partner. LOOK! CAMERAS! Let’s fake having fun! And it was enough to get us to the NEXT set of cameras. Holy cow. Was that tough.
I found Mark, who had blisters on his feet. I said, “Do you want to run/walk this with me?” He said, “I’m done, I can’t”. I tried to explain to him that it would just mean he was going to be out here longer. For the next 3 miles, we walked a half mile, then ran a half mile. It was brutal. But the people of LA were there. Giving us so much. Clapping, yelling…
I had to stop at mile 24. In a restaurant. I said goodbye to Mark. I went in the ladies room, and my urine was very dark, and I had been drinking for 16 miles. So, I knew that something was wrong internally.
I could start to feel the breeze. I started to get some energy. Coming onto the highway, it was still 1.2 miles to go. I picked up Jose, an adult mentor for *Students Run LA*. I asked him to run with me. At mile 25.7, we started running, and we ran to the end.
And I saw my other sister and her family.
And then, I saw my father. My stately, wonderful dad. Waiting for me. Just like every other time.
And then. Bliss. The end.
Part 3 is the overall assessment, and I can’t write anymore. It still makes me too sad. What I lost at mile 8 was the will to go on…worst day of my life for sure. And, I think that’s enough for right now. My fingers are tired, and my soul is weary.
Part 3: My grandfather’s letter, the metaphor of the marathon, the KTLA coverage, the family support. The will to try again…How something this bad…can be this fun. What my coach gives me. Every day.