Every once in a while, a race report sneaks up on you. Sort of like Fernando Valenzuela, famed Dodger pitcher, I breathed this race report out of my eyelids. I didn’t want to write it. I wanted to put it away. And it’s been eating away at me all week. I have not connected with anyone, for fear I would have to face the Marine Corps Marathon square in the face. I wasn’t going to write this report at all, except it is bleeding out of me all over the place.
I have to work backward. This race report starts at the gym. Today.
I walk in because I haven’t even put on a shoe this week. Literally, I’ve avoided anything running. I walk in to the gym and go to the weights section. I stand there. I turn on the music. The music I was going to run to for MCM. I started to lift. To do shoulders, triceps, biceps. My body was staring me down.
And, I remembered the first time I walked into the gym post childbirth. I was a very overweight 40 year old with a baby and a toddler. I was going to do Body For Life. I was going to win a million dollars. And, I stared at my body today, lifting the exact same weights I’ve been lifting for 10 years, except for this past year, I’ve only been running, and nothing else.
I picked up the weights. Bohemian Rhapsody came on. Never Going Back Again came on. Closer to Fine. All songs that have deep meaning to me, both personally and otherwise. I started to cry. I kept lifting. And, I looked deep into my eyes, and saw the girl that was 40. Trying to figure out if she could get her body back. If you are a long time blog reader, you know my story. But, fast forward 10 years, and I have conquered my third marathon. But, now…I looked deep into her soul and found the marathon story resting patiently…
Because you see, it’s not like you are either Young or Old. The girl at 40 is so much different than the girl at 51. And, as I started lifting the weights, the tears came, just like they are doing now…for what I thought would be a life changing marathon for me, simply was not.
Back through my week I went. Looking at my students, not telling them about my race…not talking about it with colleagues. I threw away my race calendar that was above my desk. Stayed at my desk. No interaction. Like, if I just ignored it, it would stop nagging at me. I drove back and forth to work 30 miles each way in a fog like I’ve never experienced. Friends and family called “How was your race?” Fine. Just fine. It was fine.
Looking back to Monday when I flew in from Washington DC. To riding the BART, to the flights. To watching infomercials as the plane raced across the sky. Immersing myself in new blenders, thighmasters. To the morning I left. To the Monday night alone in the hotel room.
And there it was. My hotel room on Sunday night. After my coach left. Completely empty of any feeling. Not sad, mad, hurt…nothing. Just simply empty.
See? I thought I would be more inspired. Like, I’m going to fly all across the country to run with Marines, for Marines, around Marines. And I figured out that they are doing their job. Every day. Just like I am. I will teach your child to read, you keep my children safe from danger. Period. We have our jobs, and I have never met any one of our military men who signed up for the adulation that we give them. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
Here’s where my race report gets dodgy. I have forgotten some of the race. I have. Whether it’s by design or accident, my brain isn’t fully processing when and where things happened.
I weave back to the weekend. The tweetups. The people I talk to day in and day out who have become a part of what I do and who I am. Friday night with Kirsten, Saturday at the Expo. Being on FOX news. Being with my coach. Eating. Going to the Diabetes Action Team dinner.
I got to Washington DC on the Thursday morning Redeye. My friend Debbie picked me up and took me to her apartment, where I would spend the next two nights. It was nice, because it saved me a boat load of money, but I had to be near the two cats, and I have bad allergies, so sleep wasn’t my friend. I ran 4 or 5 miles in McLean on Thursday on a bowl of oatmeal and 2 hours of sleep. Not pretty.
On Friday, my coach came into town. By that time, I had successfully navigated the WashingtonDC Metro and got myself to the Tweetup that @ultrarunnergirl Kirsten had organized at her home. It was simply lovely. Beautiful sweet friends who I talk with regularly on Twitter. I was walking up, tweeting, looking at the map, when the most lovely girl walked in front of me…turned and said, “Are you going to the tweetup?” And, I immediately recognized her as TK, the @pigtailsflying pal I have recently leaned on through thick and thin. There are tons of pictures that I will upload, eventually.
@tinyjenna @evatesq @bklynrunner
Saturday,we slept until 10am, and never even got going until 1pm or so. Ran a bit with my coach. The Metro was filled with an odd assortment of people dressed for Halloween, people going to the Sanity Rally, and runners. I maniacally chatted up every single person I saw. What do you do? Where do you live? Do you Twitter? Do you run? Where do you work? Geez.
This is probably my favorite picture of the whole weekend. My coach. With a ghoul. Reading a newspaper. This is the perfect picture to explain the weekend. I can’t keep thanking him. I have had no words all week. But every time I look at this picture, I giggle. He has infinite patience with me. He does. And I am so grateful.
I am interviewed by FOX News. I look fabulous.
Sunday morning the alarm goes off with the feeling I recognize. The words inside of my head: Race Day.
We get to the start, and sit.
When the cannon rang, it was anticlimatic, as was the flyover, the Marines yelling OOrah, the Star Spangled Banner.
Because really, I get more emotional as an American, every day during 3rd period when I stand alone during my Prep Period and salute the flag. That moment means more to me every day than the pomp and circumstance surrounding a special race. It’s the regular honoring of the country and her flag that I adore. Yes. Thank you to all our military. I just really want you to know. I don’t just salute you on Veterans Day or holidays. I salute you every day. In a very personal way.
I start walking and get to the mat. The mat that will start recording, measuring, telling the world of my progress. I’m not really sure of the exact mile markers because I didn’t wear a watch. All I know is that by Mile 2 we were going up a little hill. As was one on Mile 4 and Mile 6. Two girls got in a fight I remember. They were arguing about who cut who off.
My coach and I said very little. It was the exact opposite of the mania I inundated him with the two days prior.
I remember very little of Miles 6-10. I know we were through Georgetown at that point. I ran with the American Flag for awhile. We ran up a bitch of a hill. But I had not stopped running.
Around Mile 11, my coach says: You look good. You look strong.
That’s really a great memory. Because I felt amazing.
The Potomac River. So many things I cannot repeat in mixed company, but every bodily function that you try to hold in, was coming out. I tried shot blocks. Immediately I was nauseous and got them out. The puky feeling lasted for the rest of the bite me miles from 13-19. At the half, I was at 2:30, 6 minutes off my half PR. I got dizzy. Not the acute vertigo that landed me on the ground in September, but the constant buzz buzz buzzing that was so chronic that all I wanted to do was sleep.
I remember thinking my coach’s arms looked like furry pillows.
And I started rubbing his arm.
And begged to sleep.
And he would steer me back on the course.
And here we go again. I am walking another marathon.
My favorite sign from @deefsu: Good Luck TWITTER PEEPS. Man, that was the only one I saw.
The Washington Monument. Staring at me. Was this the Capitol? The Lincoln Memorial? Where the hell are we? And at one point someone gave me a bagel. And I lost him on the course. And I wanted to just walk off the course. There went the 5:00 pace group. Then balloons that I only assumed was the 5:15 pace group.
I really can’t remember where we were going. But I saw this sign:
Today, Make this Bridge your Bitch.
I had to get across the GW Bridge, or be pulled off the course.
Lotta walking. Embarrassed. Just wanted to go away. Be alone. Many miles back I had stopped feeling bad for my coach, because he of all people would never want that. This was my race.
Got over the Bridge into some weird place called Crystal City. Like, it looked like a walker’s parade. I could run for 30 seconds. Then walk. Then run. Then walk.
Finally I said to Josh. What time is it.
5:26. We still had 2 miles to go. I said 5:26???
This is what I remember. I told him to leave me alone. That I had to run by myself. And, I started a slow shuffle to the next mile.
By Mile 25, he found me and I remember him saying: “Honey. It’s time to move” And we started to run. Powered only by sips of water and Powerade that I kept down, he told me to run and not stop.
And, that’s just what I did.
It was a marathon, but don’t congratulate me. I did 26.2 miles, but don’t tell me Good Job. Because all I wanted to do was stop and never run again. I could have manned up. I could have run harder. More.
I have stared down the marathon infancy.
And as I looked at my body in the mirror today at the gym, I decided that I am no longer a rookie, or a child. If I am to do a marathon again…and I say that in all seriousness…I need to face the fact that my body will need to be re-tooled for the sport. Not just my legs. But everything.
Clear Eyes. Full Heart. Can’t Lose.
LINDA VERMEULEN #32429RIPON, CA
Age: 51 Gender: F
|Overall Place||20055 / 21986|
|Gender Place||7704 / 8724|
|Division Place||438 / 530|