27 October 2009

A "W" for #TeamDanie (vi)

That space between miles ten and eleven were my favorite. I had hills behind me and Jesse & Joel next to me. It was like having my own paparazzi. Once they found me, they stayed close.

They ran ahead of me, to capture me in the moment.

They ran behind me, to see what I saw.
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They ran next to me, for the action shots.

Eventually, Joel was sidelined by a side cramp. I happened to be sidelined myself by a pain near the knee. It's the same pain I had after the last two times I ran 11 miles. Only this time I still had two miles to go. It was a very serious concern for me as I went into the last leg. I was reminded of my improper stretch nine miles before. I stopped in an attempt to make good. But the damage had been done. Yes, I am aware that my stretching violates the terms of that sign.

I left Jesse & Joel to take pictures of the ocean and make their way to the finish line. I found another woman and a coach from my training group. We ran together for a while and even though it was flat, I had a tougher time keeping up I was in pain. I started looking for aspirin at the water stops. I tried to think of ways to use one leg less than the other. You might say I was grasping at straws. But I was still smiling. I even laughed out loud at a sign reading "you've got stamina. Call me." Hilarious.

Bottom line: I had to go slower. I could not maintain my pace for more than a minute. Knowing there were just 20 minutes left made it more difficult. It seemed like I should have been able to power through the pain. But I had been trained well enough to know that "powering through" can lead to permanent pain. I had to run the rest of the race with my brain, which I fortunately had been preserving.

I was less than a mile from the finish when I knew I was going to finish. I mean I really knew I was going to finish. Again my proud self conveyed that to my tired self and again I started crying. It was incredible. It was empowering. It was almost over. I spotted Jesse & Joel along the wall to the finish line. That orange hat really was a good idea.

And then - 2:47:05 after I started - I finished the race.

I stomped (using the good leg) on the finishing mat. And then I was forced to stop. There are two things that happen at the finish. There are photographers taking pictures. And there are firefighters giving out little blue Tiffany & Co. boxes. The gaggle in front of me stopped (and clogged) the finish line to make sure the photographers saw them. It makes perfect sense now, but at the time I was quite confused. Crossing the finish line brought me back fr0m my special mental place. I was suddenly back, surrounded by strangers, and aching. My muscles did not like the running (which had slowed to a jog) followed by the sudden stop. I re-joined humanity feeling (and sounding) like Frankenstein.

While we runners worked to get our brains functioning at a social level, Nike decided to throw all kinds of things at us. I mean we were all stiff, bumping into each other, and grunting in apology. I knew about the necklace, so I took that. Then someone ran up and put a check mark on my belly. And then there were bananas - which the nutritionist told me to eat right away. After that, there was water and chocolate milk. There were Luna bars. Someone (fortunately) handed me a bag. Someone else coated me in foil. There was granola and yogurt. I got a t-shirt (and another belly check mark) and I finally remembered I had to (a) check out with Team in Training and (b) find the rest of #TeamDanie. Of course my phone was frozen and I couldn't find the right tent. I stood and I ate. Eventually I found the boys - conveniently standing next to the TNT tent. I checked out, got a sandwich, some chips, and a pear.


Look for me just before the "l" in "life," drinking water.

I'm centered, right before the different colored potties. I think that's where I got the foil.
Still lost. Wrapped. Eating.
Still eating, yet reaching for more food.
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I could not stop eating. See me over there? Everything I got, I ate. I didn't even look at the necklace.I just looked for more food. Eventually my social skills returned and it was time to go. I hobbled toward a bus stop and stopped at the red cross station for some ice.

They had me sign a piece of paper and give my bib number. They had me sit and they tried to diagnose my injury. I told them it's happened before. They asked if it was an existing injury. I told them it only comes up when I run more than 11 miles. They suggested it was my IT band. I told them I had stretched and that the band didn't hurt. They were talking really slower and I did everything I could to convey I was in a hurry. Eventually I asked them if I could go. They said I could, but that they want runners to rest. I told them I was going to go sit on a bus, then sit at home. I assured them I would rest. And then I hobbled away.

The icing intervention.

The assembly.

I used the foil to bind the ice to my leg. And then I was distracted by a pretzel stand. I love hot pretzels. I especially loved that hot pretzel.

We got on a bus and headed back to the east side of town. We ended up walking (slowly) back home from Union Square. By that time, I had started to cramp. And I was cold. And I was thirsty, but afraid of having to rush to a bathroom. Jesse wrapped me like a baked potato and I was too tired to protest. I make a cute side dish anyway.


The wrapping of the Danie.

Back at home, I iced like a good athlete. I kept eating. I updated Twitter and Facebook and forgot to text my parents. I stretched and walked as little as possible. I took a shower and stretched some more. I put on my necklace. I became a marathoner.