My pre-race warm-up run is wet and windy, but I overheated in my light windbreaker. I decide to leave behind the jacket and just run in shorts and a long-sleeved shirt. On my way to the starting line I realize I forgot to apply vaseline to areas that chaffe, my nipples and nuts will pay for that mistake.
The Hyannis marathon involves repeating a 13.1 mile loop two times. During my first loop, packs of half marathoners keep me company. This is the first marathon in five years that I have run with a solid block of training making me feel 100% prepared. I focus entirely on staying relaxed and keeping to my planned pace.
As I near the end of the first lap, I know that M is waiting with a big bag of stuff. I carefully plan exactly what I want to change into. I am in brutal condition and behaving like a caveman as I approach the love of my life repeatedly screaming, “BAG!”, “BAG!” while she takes pictures with her phone. “I have your bag right here!”. “PUT IT ON THE GROUND AND OPEN IT”.
“BROWN SWEATER MITTENS!”. M rifles through the bag and hands over everything I need. I trade my shirt for a wool sweater, and my new awful gore-tex gloves for my old trusty cycling wind-breaker mittens. Ahhh the sweater feels good even as it catches the rain. The pit stop takes no more than 30 seconds.
At this point I am a little better equipped but my poor skinny bare legs are suffering. The wind is blasting my face and soaking wet chest. Usually a tailwind provides a pleasant break, but not today. The ice cold wind finds it’s way up my wet back and makes me shriek with discomfort. Meanwhile areas of the road are flooding several inches, which serves as my only comfort because the ice water feels strangely warm on my numb feet and legs.
At mile 16 my ambitious plan switches over to my conservative plan. At mile 20 I am unable to keep pace with my conservative plan, and I just can’t pick up my frozen legs fast enough. My pace steadily drops mile after mile. I’m losing confidence in my co-ordination and am just trying to avoid falling on my face with my stumbling legs. Meanwhile I’m all alone, running down the middle of the road, with cars driving by at fast speeds. My priorities become: don’t fall over, don’t get run over, and keep moving forward.
I don’t catch up to anyone, and despite my steady decline, no marathoners catch up to me. I am pretty sure I’m in second place, and I never let go of the possibility that #1 is fading worse than I am, that I might catch him towards the end of the race no matter how much I slow down. However he dressed properly and ran a great steady race, completing the race 5 minutes ahead of my goal finishing time, and 15 minutes ahead of my actual finishing time. With 4 miles to go my peripheral vision is flickering but I realize that stopping will only delay my arrival at the finish line so I run along as fast as my legs will let me.