We flew out Friday night and had some pizza at Giordinos for dinner. It was crazy busy in there, we had to wait about 90 minutes to get our pie. Worth the wait though. Saturday we went down to the Expo, this is where they give you free stuff for running the marathon and also sell you stuff as well. I stayed away from the Finisher t shirts as I had no idea how far I was going to make it. I did violate rule number 1 of marathon training, don't do anything new on the day you actually run. I bought a new pair of shorts (to match my bright yellow Team Fisher House shirt), and also some GU, which is basically straight carbs that take while running to keep your energy up. But it turned out okay, neither one caused me any issues. Saturday night we ate at Weber Grill which was fantastic. I skipped the pasta and got prime rib. I did eat a bunch of bread though. After that we cruised over to the EspnZone and watched some team wearing the Scarlet and Cream get pummeled by the Mizzou Tigers. More carb loading in the form of a few Bud Lights.
I didn't sleep very good Saturday night, I was concerned with oversleeping so I woke up like a 1000 times throughout the night. Finally got up around 5:00am, had some breakfast, and then took the subway down to the start line. I was about 90 minutes early as I heard it would be wild, but it actually wasn't too bad. I could have got there about 10 minutes early and been fine. The crowd was intense though, it was fun to be a part of and there were runners as far as the eye could see.
After the gun went off, it took 16 minutes to actually get across the start line. I've run a few Corporate Cups where it took 2 minutes to get to the start line and I thought that took a long time. This wasn't bad though, it was a much more relaxed atmosphere and no one was really in a hurry. After all, it is a marathon, not a sprint. I remember only about 5 minutes into it starting to sweat, and thinking, wow, this could be a long day. I usually don't sweat much, so it was really a surprise. I chalked it up to the fact that I was running with 36k others in the same vicinity.
I held the pace okay until about the 8 mile mark. It was hot enough out that by the third water stop, I was stopping to get both gatorade and water. By the time I restarted, the 4:30 pacers were far enough away that didn't bother trying to catch them. I saw my wife for the first time at mile 12 which was a big pick me up, and was feeling decent. My ankle was sore by this time but not terrible. I felt if it didn't get any worse I would be able to finish. The crowd was great the entire race. There were people cheering and yelling, signs galore, and live bands around every corner. It really helped keep my mind off the fact I was running for almost 5 hours.
By mile 18 I was working pretty hard to stay close to 10 minute miles. Prior mentioned ankle had caused me to cut both of my planned 20 milers short. The farthest I had been was 18 miles, so I was expecting this section to be tough. The only thing that kept me going was that my wife was around mile marker 20, so I thought if I could get that far, I could gut out the last 10k. Sure enough, I sucked it up and once I met my wife at mile 20.5 I knew I would finish.
Shortly after was when I first heard that the race was "cancelled." I thought it was a joke at first, but upon getting to the next aid station they were telling everyone to stop running. I considered it briefly, but I was only 4 miles form the finish and didn't want to walk at this point. I don't know if I will ever do another one, and didn't want to have my first marathon cut short. After training since January, I was determined to finish. Plus, compared to the 120 degree weather I ran in while in Iraq, the 88 didn't probably have as much impact on me as others.
The next few miles were a blur, I considered walking a few times but decided to stick it out. It was crazy out there though, the cops were on the bullhorns yelling at us to quit running, start walking, it is just a fun run now, on and on. I was determined that unless they were going to physically stop me from running I was going to continue on.
I finished at 4:49 and change, not quite what I had set out to do but good considering the circumstances. I didn't walk, with the exception of at the water stations to make sure I stayed hydrated. I will say that at the time I went through, all but the first station had both water and gatorade. I have never been so tired and sore in all of my life. As soon as I stopped running, my right knee seized up and I could barely walk. There was no ice, so I gimped around trying to find Erika. They told the crowd that because the race was cancelled nobody would be finishing, so she was waiting at the fountain where we were to meet and didn't see my cross the finish line. I swear it was at least a mile walk, or at least it seemed that way. Of course I was hobbling like an 80 year old so it took forever. Finally I found her and also some ice so we sat for a while and I iced my knee down.
We had taken the subway down to the start as our hotel was about a mile away. Going back was absolutely insane. It was just like the Seinfeld where Elaine is on the car and stuffed in with all kinds of people, except that half of us had just run 26.2 miles and stunk to high heaven. I was glad to be one of the stinky ones as I'm sure that it was terrible for the non runners.
I stopped and bought a Budweiser to celebrate, did some more ice down time, and then took a nap. We went out to a great restaurant that night, can't remember the name (Rock Bottom Cafe?) but it was a brewery and their beer was really tasty. No more pasta for a little while for this guy. We got desert as well which of course tasty.
All in all, the marathon was far harder then I thought it would be. And I thought it would be hard. The time you have to put in training, your diet, and then the strain of the actual event is like nothing I've ever experienced. I'm glad to have it done it, however, and am proud to have finished on a day when it was so hot they closed the course. Plus I raised over 2200 dollars for a great cause, which made it all worth it.