Thursday, December 17, 2009

After the finish line

Once I crossed the finish line the first order of business was to step off to the side and assume the post-race puking position of head down/hands on knees. Fortunately the actual puking wasn't necessary-- but a few moments to collect myself and my breathing certainly was. A volunteer walked over and started to offer me a post-race ambulance, however by the time I stood up I smiled and declined.

I picked up my finisher medal, and then my space blanket from the very enthusiastic finish line volunteers and began wandering around in a haze. The first people to spot me were Vicky and Vicki. (Thanks for getting this picture). :) I felt bad because I still wasn't in much of a position to chat at this point-- but I really appreciated that congratulations and first hug across from a friend after the finish line. I've known the Vicky on the left as a pace leader for several months now, and I can still never figure out how she manages to finish every long distance run looking like she's ready to pose for a magazine cover. :-)
Not long after I began to re-unite with more friends. James, who crossed the finish line not long after me, and Ashley who had knocked out her first marathon with an impressive 4:28 finish. (Yes, I've suspected for some time that Ashley is Wonder Woman, and this just confirmed it).
My bestest running pals--James and Ashley
Ashley and I--
It was such an incredible day! Standing there with so many great friends I realized that this was one of those days that in I never wanted to end! While I'll always hold a special place in my heart for my Arizona marathon as my very first, I'm not sure I'll ever be able to top the experience of running in Texas and having so many close friends by my side (running, cheering and volunteering) throughout the day and throughout the season.

Time check: I said initially that I didn't have a time goal for this race, and I didn't. But, given that this is a race after all, it's always interesting to see how things come out on the clock. When I stopped my Garmin at the finish line, it read 5:05. However this was a bigger chip/gun time discrepancy with the race clock than should have been-- so while I thought there was a possibility I may have beat my fastest time (5:13), I knew I'd have to wait for the official results because something wasn't quite right. Official finishing time ended up being 5 hours, 16 minutes-- three minutes over a PR time. I realized the discrepancy in times on my Garmin was the result of the 'auto-stop' feature which kicked in anytime I paused for a bathroom break or to munch on a cupcake (for example).

My reaction to the finish time? Great!! Given the circumstances of the training season and missing so many long runs, I honestly expected to feel much worse and to have to walk MUCH more of the course than I did. Did I regret missing my PR by those few minutes I spent stopping for cupcakes and taking pictures? NOT IN THE SLIGHTEST!!! In fact, if I could do it all again, I'd add another 20 minutes on my time if I could go back and capture a few more pictures and hug a few more friends. Like I said, marathons are not about the running for me!!

Eventually I said good-bye to my friends and began to collect my things to head home. I could have easily taken the train back to Mockingbird Station (the way I'd arrived that morning), however given that I was right at the start of Katy Trail (which leads directly to my house) I decided to walk the 2 1/2 miles home. Crazy, right-- after running 26.2? Maybe-- but I would have done the same way again for 2 reasons:

1) I was STIFF!! My legs were burning in pain and I was having a LOT of difficulty walking normally. Based on past marathon recovery experience- I knew that sitting down would be the worst thing I could do- it's best to keep moving. And it worked- by the time I got home I was practically walking normally again (though climbing stairs was another matter entirely).

2) Many of my training runs preparing for today had been on Katy Trail, and it seemed the perfect place to stroll and reflect on all that had happened in the last few months, and what an incredible day it had been. It was the perfect wrap up to a perfect day!!

Thank you so much to all of my sponsors who helped this to happen for such a good cause!

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