|Mom documenting me holding many things|
Race stories rank right up there with birth stories when it comes to how interesting they are to people who didn't experience them personally. Orrr maybe that's just me? Still, I'll be brief.
The first half breezed by, thankfully, aside from a chilly hour wait at the starting corral. I think I was overcorrecting for my usual cutting-it-close sense of punctuality in calculating how early we should arrive. I say "we" because Michelle also ran the race! We walked to the starting line together and I saw a shooting star over Goodale Park (my second in 8 days!) and we marveled at the brightness of the stars at that inhuman hour.
My cute husband appeared at various points along the race by bike to be cute and wonderful and occasionally receive articles of clothing no longer useful to me. Bicycle is the best way to navigate a marathon as a spectator, by the way. Traffic will be all to hell if you try to drive to any point on the course and it's hard to beat your runner anywhere if you're walking. A few friends and my parents installed themselves around mile 24. I was so happy to see my parents. They were standing in the middle of the street with their iPhones in front of their damn faces documenting things and my dad was wearing his big floppy brimmed hat and was in need of a haircut and I was like who are these silly jaywalking old white people. Oh, they are the jaywalking old white people from whence I came and I love them dearly.
Again, your mileage may vary (har), and I had a lot of things going for me on race day. I'd done the training, stayed otherwise in shape, the weather was favorable, and I had a buddy to run most of the last half with me. But I kept waiting to fall victim to a trapdoor that never opened beneath me. My knees and hips ached the same as they did on my longest training run, but the pain stayed consistent and never flared up or became sharp or unbearable. Today my knees are like "f you forever" but I don't feel some kind of lingering "jet lag" like I'd feared.
The impressive thing about running a marathon is less the race itself, but doing the training. On an 18 mile training run, there are no oom-pah bands or cheerful people handing you Gatorade or Facebook likes. It's just you pooping in a McDonald's bathroom on the other side of town, trying not to fixate on all the things you have to get done after you get home. I tried to remember that during miles 19-22 which were way shitty: don't wish the race away, you paid good money for it and it will end in time.
If you run and someone has scared you out of training for a marathon, or it seems like too great a reach, I want you to know that you can probably do one. And if you're not a runner, you probably can too, if you want. And I cannot emphasize enough what a transgressive thrill it is to openly litter on a race course. You finish your paper cup of Gatorade and toss it over your shoulder like a sociopath. Awesome.
Or, don't do one ever. The world will never run out of self-punishing weirdos who crave that kind of attention. But if you love someone who is afflicted in that way, make a silly sign or shout their name along the course. They'll never forget it.