Thank goodness that’s over. 
(Yes, that statement can usually go either way, but right now I’m referring to the marathon).

Even when I am maximally exhausted, I detest bad grammar and punctuation.  Therefore, realizing I do not possess the wherewithal right now to avoid either, this post will be in the form of a list.  And completely random at that.

It’s been a year and a half since I’ve run a marathon.  26.2 miles never gets any shorter.  These are the various nuggets which came crashing back to me today.  (Emphasis on crashing…)

1.  Cleveland is cool.  Super cool.  There was a Tribe game going on both yesterday and today at Progressive field.  The districts are fun.  There are new bars.  Jazz bars.  Outdoor bars.  Sports bars.  Steakhouses.  Cozy Italian restaurants.  A huge library.  Museums.  Art.  Chic hotels.  And a new Casino.  I’m going back either soon or permanently.  Or, maybe both.

2.  A race with 20,000 participants should have separate starting times for the Half and Full Marathoners.  Further, newbies should get the hell to the back or at the very least, start where they are supposed to start.  If I wanted to trip over stupid people, I’d go to the Roller Dome.

3.  Pace Groups.  Verdict is still out on this one.  It’s the first time I’ve tried it, and I’m not sure I would do it again.  If I had my druthers, I would run the marathon with 3 other very reliable people (as in, great friends) the whole way.  I love the camradrie, the banter, the feed you get off of each other.  What I do not love, is this forced feeling with strangers – ones that have no regard for proximity or a straight line.  One annoying-for-at least-4 miles guy literally looked over at me at a water stop as he was both cutting me off and seconds away from a right hook only to mutter, “Hey, I’m in the same group.” 

4.  And speaking of water stops…what a cluster.  Today was brutally H-O-T (more on this in a minute – or, however long my minutes really are), so I knew to stop at every single station.  Problem was, so did everyone else.  All 20,000 of them.  The volunteers did a great job given the circumstances, but it was a nightmare getting over without getting trampled or pushed or groped.  Even more troublesome was that the pacers somehow managed to magically stay hydrated without entering the choas or losing time.  It was like running a Fartlek in the middle of a marathon trying to catch back up with them.  Clearly not recommended.

5.  It was 63 degrees and overcast at the start of the race.  Had it stayed 63 degrees and cloudy the entire time – man, would finishing times have been drastically different.  It was easily 86 degrees when I hobbled over the final mat (92 on my drive home).  Not only that, but the sun was beating down the entire time we were out there.  I wore a hat and stayed on the sidewalks whenever possible to catch a tree every now and then.  When I got back home a couple hours ago, I stopped out front of my neighbor’s house and yelled up to her on the porch, “The @&!*’ing marathon!”  She laughed and came down to the car to get the recap.  Before I could even begin she said, “Gheese…you got some sun!” 

6.  I was on pace through 14.  Even made friends with Jordan, the pacer from Kalamazoo.  He is 27 years old, does these things every other weekend, and was within 3 seconds of the required 8:23 every single mile.  Oh, after mile 5, that is.  Mile 4 was 7:53.  Jerk.

7.  Mistakingly, the entire first half I thought, “I got this.”  Even more alarming, dare I admit that I even thought, “This seems slow and pretty stinkin’ easy.”  And then, 100 yards later – all hell broke loose.  I came out of a water stop, behind as usual, tried to catch up as usual only…yikes.  What is happening?  Oh.  Nothing is happening!  It was like I was running in place.  Stupid race.  But then, I heard 3 airhorns go off and saw my Mom and Dad standing next to Liv.  I busted a move like Young MC and tried to get back to my happy place.  Good.  Yes.  Got it.  Um, don’t got it….stupid race.

8.  The stretch to mile 20 was horrid.  It was there that I decided this was positively my last marathon.  Turns out I’m more of a Half-Marathoner.  Swimming?  Cycling?  Definitely getting a bike.  Or, some knitting needles.  No!  This race is mental over physical.  Do NOT think like this, idiot.  So…I picked it up.  Problem was, “picking it up” meant going from like, 8:55 to 8:40.  Waaayyyy over pace.  Just as we did not understand what “respect the distance” meant when we ran our first marathon, likewise I did not understand what “you can’t race-race in this kind of heat” meant.  Now I know.  When I wiped my face at mile 17, it wasn’t wet.  It was gritty.  Salt oozing out is never a good sign.

9.  I remembered to use Body Glide like it was my job before I left the hotel.   In all the right places except under my iPod arm band.  I have the world’s worst chaffing ring underneath my left armpit.  Very attractive and even more painful.  Water, air, and clothing cause me to gaspingly suck in a quick breath and hold back tears.  On a postive note, it is taking the focus off the pain in my lower back, left heel, calves, and quads, so maybe a skanky left arm is not all bad.

10.   I am Italian, but let it be known that I am officially sick of carbs. Paleo sounds perfect right now. In fact, some sauteed cabbage and mushrooms would be heavenly.

11.  When I got back to the room after the race, I had 16 texts and several more emails and Facebook messages.   It’s difficult to convey how special those messages were to me in that moment.  As I was spent, drenched, sore, a little disappointed yet simulaneously feeling tough-ish since I didn’t stop running as many others did, I sat there smiling.  It’s good to have friends that genuinely want you to succeed, and commisserate in complimentary ways when you don’t.  I am exceptionally blessed to have such fantastic people in my life.  To have other athletes – way better than you could ever hope to be – say they are proud of you and mean it…wow.  Unbelievable human beings.  Love.

12.  I have the best parents in the world.  Totally supportive no matter what, come out to see me run for a few minutes (of the 3:56) after having just gotten back from vacation, spend time with Liv… just super great.  Yes, I get a little post-marathon weepy, but the older I get the more I am realizing the things in life to treasure above all else.  God.  Family.  Genuine friends.  Real relationships.  Laughter.  Support.  Unconditional love.

13.  No matter that I didn’t hit my goal time today.  I finished.  Upright.  I didn’t quit, nor will I.  Boston will see me someday and in the meantime, I vow to continue to enjoy every minute of it. 

.1.  Liv walked right up to me after the race, gave me the longest, tightest hug I’ve had in years and said, “Good job, Mom.”  She even allowed me to kiss her on the cheek in response and tearily whisper, “Thanks, sweets.” 

And for that…I would have turned right around and run that sucker again.  Off the clock.

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