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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Number Nine

On June 25, 2007 I sat down and wrote a list of 25 things I wanted to accomplish before I died. One of them was to complete a marathon. On January 18, 2009 I achieved this goal in front of family and friends in my hometown of Houston, Texas.

Gabby asked me to blog about this phenomenal experience a couple of weeks ago, but I'm just now getting around to it, probably because I have been sleeping every chance I get. My excuse: I'm still recovering. In fact, it takes a month to completely heal from a marathon. But let me backtrack to a time my 22 year old self did not feel trapped in the body of a 70 year old.

The morning of January 18th I woke up at 4:45am; the latest possible time I could wake up to get out of the house by 5am. I had been anxious about the race the entire week before and hadn't gotten a good night's rest. But with excitement pumping through my veins, it really didn't matter as I hopped out of bed like it was noon, my usual time of waking up during the break.

I performed my morning ritual and headed down to make my breakfast of champions. I prefer to eat 90 minutes before races, so it had to be a portable breakfast of champions. I mashed a banana with Jif Extra Crunchy Peanut Butter, my fave, and grabbed my G2 and Vanilla Crisp PowerBar.

When Kristine, a fellow Team Joe runner who I had coerced into running the Houston Marathon with me out of promises of steak and line dance - neither of which happened as she had to head back to NYC after the race because of a meeting - and I arrived at GRB, we joined a mob of runners. I always like to watch runners' pre-race rituals as I generally find them to be quite absurd. Then you see people just sitting there with stunned looks on their faces probably thinking, "What the hell did I just get myself into?"

My runners-watching in addition to the long line to the restroom combined for mistake number two: not stretching prior to running a marathon. I did not want to stretch too early and at the start there really wasn't space to accommodate my stretching. Additionally, I was wasting precious energy searching the area for the 3:30 pace leader.

What was mistake number one you ask. It was drinking too much G2. Essentially I looked like one of those malnourished Biafran children as my stomach stretched to it's fullest capacity, appearing to burst any minute.

However, with this being my first marathon, I feel it is good to analyze my mistakes so as to make improvements and cut my time for future marathons.

So Kristine and I finally found our pace leaders, Peter, and some other dude who's name I cannot remember for life of me. Ten minutes to the start and the anxiety builds, but slightly dissipates as I overhear the conversation between two ladies in their '30s behind us.

One lady turns to the other and says, "All I want to do is make it to the beer truck at mile 22 before they are out of beer! Every year I try so hard, but never make it! This is going to be the year I make it to the beer truck." Okay, first of all I would imagine anyone who is somewhat serious about this race is not consuming beer prior to the end of the race so the beer truck must be there a long time before running out. Second, there is a post race celebration with a plethora of beer. Third, why would anyone be so fixated on imbibing crappy American beer?? To each his own.

At 7am the canon fires and the 37th annual Houston Marathon is underway. Yes, you read correctly, a canon. Mind you this is Texas; everything is more extravagant than it needs to be which I love!

So the first couple of miles were spent weaving around slow people who have a false sense of their capabilities or no consideration for others. Then there was the added task of trying to keep an eye on the pace leaders.

The first few miles were ran at a consistent 8 min mile pace. At mile 7, I thought the pace was too slow and sped up with Kristine, leaving our pace group. This is mistake number three. At one point our splits were down to 7:20.

The energy from the crowd was wonderful! There were people dressed as Elvis, clog dancers, bands, etc. Then there were the spectators cheering everyone on. But the best part was seeing my friends and family.

My mom doesn't understand my love of running, but will support me to no end. In fact, she thinks that I am crazy for running the miles I do. There's no denying that you need to be somewhat crazy in order to run a marathon as well as a bit masochistic. Anyways, she had these signs the said, "Run, Kryssie, Run" in neon orange against a navy background in which my family and friends held at every four miles. I tend to get into my own zone when I run, so she wanted something that would allow me to notice them. I couldn't even stare at the sign for too long as my eyes started to hurt because the color was so bright! Having your own group of supporters is also good way to get gel shots as my sports bra could only hold so many.

The Houston Marathon prides itself on being "flat, fast, and friendly." I was greatly looking forward to this being a flat course, and it was for the most part. However, they somehow managed to put every imaginable "hill" in the city in the race! My favorite was mile 14 and getting to run over this overpass of sorts.

Everything was fine and dandy until I hit the wall at mile 22 and never recovered. It felt as though someone took a knife, stabbed me in my upper thighs, and dragged the blade down through layers of flesh and muscle until one reached the knees. It was also at this point that the ibuprofen must have worn off, and I enjoyed the added pain from a ankle sprain I incurred a couple of weeks ago that didn't fully heal in time. (Note the masochism :-) )

I persevered and ran the remaining 4.2 miles at a much slower pace. People kept telling me I was almost there, but my legs were telling me otherwise. At 3:32:10, I crossed the finish line and completed #9 on my list of 25 things to do before I died and lived to tell about it :-)


Gabby said...

You did amazingly well with or without your injury and the dreaded wall! I'm almost afraid to ask what else is on your to-do list!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations for your first marathon Krissie I am impressed 3.32 waouh!!. I ran my first one last November in Philadelpia at 26F outside really cold and I thought I was prepare enough but as you hit the wall and finished at 3.59. So I can say you made an amainzing job there.
Keep running