I have a special place in my heart for the Veterans Marathon in Columbia City, Indiana because it's where I set my all-time, lifetime, best ever PR. I was hoping and anticipating that lightning would strike twice after a PR eluded me all year.
Bill and I arrived late afternoon on Friday and picked up my jacket and number. He had gone to Chicago with me, and I told him this race was a completely different world, and sometimes that's really nice. It was so easy and convenient to park anywhere and walk right in to pick up my stuff. Rather than another shirt, participants got a jacket. I ordered a jacket that was tons too big, but AJ immediately exchanged it for a smaller size. Even better, Joann brought her printing stuff and would customize jackets for $5. I added 26.2 to mine, and a line from Eminem's "Lose Yourself," my go-to running song.
We had dinner right across from the pickup tent, then went to the hotel to relax and let me get to bed early!
The weather on Saturday was in the mid-40s and mostly sunny. The start was really isolated - evidently everyone else had found warm places to wait. The high school marching band played, the cannon shot a blank and we were off.
I always thought hills were a problem and difficult to conquer. Oh my goodness I would rather run hills all day long for the rest of my days than deal with the WIND we had! It was a near constant 20+ mph gusting wind that felt like running in a wind tunnel. There were many times that it was so strong I could barely stand up. Every time I saw a car, I wanted to ask it to drive next to me, to block the wind. The mile markers were spray painted on the ground and posted next to the road, much like political signs. I wanted to pick up one of those and use it to block the wind. Most of the race was next to fields that had already been harvested and cut down to the ground, so there was nothing to block the wind. It was brutal!!!!!
This year the race was two loops of the half. Bill was waiting for me at mile 13 with Gu and Chomps to restock my pockets and most importantly - tissues! I gulped Red Bull while we walked a few steps then I was off for my second loop.
I really struggled with the second half. Doing so many races this year and this fall was a bad idea, but I've never DNFed and Saturday wasn't going to be the day. After I exhausted my cardio playmix, I hit shuffle on my iPod and one of the first songs to play was Bob Seger's "Against the Wind." Not helping here!!!
Around mile 17 a man tapped me on the shoulder and said he was running 2 minutes, walking 1, and I should stay with him. I could manage two minutes, so I stayed with Steve until mile 21. The hills were easier and the wind was bearable knowing we only had to do two minutes, but it seemed he was getting faster with every time he ran. I finally had to tell him to go on without me. The temporary distraction was GREAT!!!! Thanks for the company!!!
Every mile after Steve left, I wanted to call Bill and beg him to come meet me and finish with me, even if we walked the entire rest of the way. I kept going, kept getting passed. I wasn't even looking for cars the few times I had to cross the street. Either they'd wait for me, or they'd hit me and put me out of my misery.
Around mile 25 I hadn't seen another runner in quite a while and I was pretty sure I was in absolute last place. Then a man came up on me and asked if I had the time. Did he want race time or real time? He wanted race time because he was concerned about missing the maximum time cut-off. Huh? There's a maximum time???
At mile 25.9 I could see Bill and hear him and the police officers cheering for me. I mustered a tiny bit of energy and slooooooow jogged to mile 26, where he met me and despite wearing jeans and loafers, and his arms full of my food and blanket, he ran with me almost to the finish.
It was definitely not the result I was looking for, but I finished and I got an orange medal, which is great because it's my only orange. After we were home I looked at the finish times. I expected that I was last place for my division, but there were four after me, and four DNFs. I'll focus on that, rather than on finishing in 20th place.
I carried my camera in my waist pack for the first half, but I didn't take any pictures because that took too much energy and my cold hands were fumbling, especially with small zippers, so I gave Bill the pack at the half. I wanted to take a few pictures of the course, but oh well. We stopped on the way home so I could photograph a beautiful sunset.
I generally prefer the really big races because I thrive on the crowd support and energy, but there's a lot to like about the smaller races and Columbia City is my favorite small town race. See you next year!!!!