Originally there were 4 of us selected - with a separate team for the half - but one of the girls had to pull out due to injury. That left me, Brenna who was doing her 3rd marathon and was around my age, and Connie a 60-year old barrel of fun.
I started with a big trash bag to collect clothing, in the hopes that a charity will get them trash free and be able to use for donation or resale. After that, we each had a grocery size plastic bag and collected errant race trash - stray cups, Gu wrappers, a CD, a Frisbee...
At the start, we were held back 15 minutes after the last starter, but at mile 16, our support team in the Jeep wanted us to catch up with the last finisher who was wearing a Veterans Marathon jacket! Then....why did you delay us at the start....? The Jeep guys even wanted to drive us to the last finisher, but that's cheating. Besides, if I got in the car, I would have had a near impossible time getting out.
We caught up, with some of our fastest miles between 16-20. Along the way we met Frank Bartocci. I'd never heard of him, but he's a pillar in the running community and we got to spend the last hour with him on a podunk little course. Small world! This guy is in his 70s, hasn't just done the 50-state challenge, he's done it 9 times, is a member of the 100-marathon club, the 300-marathon club, the 500-marathon club, co-founded the Savage Seven series in Florida of 7 marathons on 7 days. At one point I mentioned the Dean Karnazes book I read about running 50 marathons in as many days in as many states. Small world - Frank said he was consulted as to whether or not Dean qualified for the 50-state status. He ultimately said no because there are certain requirements for official races that Dean wasn't always meeting (ie so many runners need to start, there's a minimum number that needs to finish; start and finish lines can only be so many miles apart, etc). Frank was fascinating and I wish we could have spent the whole 26.2 miles with him. He was on his way to Toledo to do another marathon on Sunday. He did 100+ marathons last year, and is on pace to do it again this year.
We girls all finished, after assuring him that we'd been hired to finish last, and absolutely would so; he wouldn't have that designation. There's no shame in being the caboose anyway. Originally we were asked for a 6:30 finish, we all crossed the line in the 6:14 range. All we had to do was finish, so there was no stress, no defeat in averaging a 14:10 :) Great experience, I hope to do it again next year!!!!
|Bling bling bling. The medal glows in the dark|