"We're going to run this whole way" I say to PegLeg. "Yep" she says. "That is so stupid."
We’re on the bus with slow_running on the way to the start. It feels like we've been on the bus forever. How can you go this whole way on foot? Why would you want to?
Earlier I had sat down in PegLeg's car and immediately something was wrong. My ass was cold. No-wet. Why is my ass wet? I felt under me and realize that I sat on the hose of my hydration pack and soaked myself and the seat. This is a perfect metaphor for the lead up to this race.
PegLeg and I are talking about the race and paces and I think she's calming me down. We both have a nervous energy but also a fatalistic sense of calm. Wineglass has been poop theater (trying to keep the new loop family friendly) for everyone. A third of the people cancelled. Those of us who came all had injuries and twinjuries and sickness leading up to it. Our goals were all over the place and came with many asterisks. I'm nervously checking my phone every few minutes to see if HPS has responded.
We make it to the start, make the first of many trips to the POPs and stake out seats in the tent for J-Zee and HPS. I'm worried about her. We were supposed to meet at the buses but we got there insanely early and decided to forge ahead to get seats. She hasn't read our messages and I'm scared she may still be sleeping or something.
Eventually we find HPS and J-Zee and we take turns guarding the seats and visiting the POPs. J-Zee politely listens to my nonstop nervous chatter. I can hear myself talking but it’s mostly to distract myself from the fact that for some reason I told everyone I know that I’m going to run a marathon and it’s too late to back out now.
I'm coming into mile 18 and I feel myself starting to falter. My legs hurt. I want to stop. I know that I'm in trouble. I'm telling myself to just try to hold on. It's okay that it hurts. I knew that it would.
I try to make myself little bench marks. Little things to look forward to. At 20, I'll put my headphones on. At 21 I get to eat another gel. I'll get a boost then. Am I drinking? Have I been drinking? I taste water in my mouth but I can't remember. Why did I think it was smart to run the first half sub 9? What is wrong with me?
Can I keep this going now? Yes. So I keep going. Mile 20 hits me like a newspaper hits a roach. I want to be done. I put on my music and I hate every song. I am angry at everything. I ignore the crowd. I want them to be quiet and let me concentrate. I want them to cheer louder so I can get some energy. I do my best to not project anything because I know I really appreciate them but everything hurts and I am not reasonable.
Mile 21 I take a gu and I need it. My legs hurt. My shoulder hurts. A truck goes by with a sign taped to the side cheering on someone named Laura. I know in my heart of hearts that if I were Laura, I'd hop right into that truck and call it a day. I think about quadracool and tell myself to woman up. She’s running multiples of what I am and I’m sure she’ll hurt and I’m sure she’ll want to stop so who am I to complain.
Mile 22 this is just stupid. Effing stupid. I am never doing this again. I am throwing my shoes out the second I cross the finish line. I know everyone says that but I mean it. I am never doing this again. I hate this. I want to be done. I hate that nothing will make me feel better. I am toast and I am so stupid.
Mile 23 Literally left my body. That’s all I know about this mile.
Mile 24 I can run 20 minutes. I can do anything for 20 minutes. Oh look at that bench. Maybe I can sit on it until the race is over. No one will miss me. I’ll be fine.
Mile 26 I want to walk. I took two micro breaks earlier. One for a few seconds while I drank a cup of water. And once for even less while I tried to drink water but really just poured it down my face. But not now. Not in this mile. I will not walk. IS THAT A FUCKING BRIDGE!?!?
.2 There's the finish line. Am I running backwards? Am I running? I can't feel anything and yet everything hurts.
I cross the finish line and I'm vaguely aware that the announcer mispronounced my name. It's a blur and then there's J-Zee. I give him a big sweaty hug choking back tears. I'm babbling at him again. I ask about PegLeg. I show him my watch. He says something about sub 4 and I'm glad to hear the verification. Did I really finish? Did I really run a sub-4? I realize I didn't ask about him. He tells me his time. I congratulate him. I ask about HPS and NavEng. I'm taking it all in in that super slow on the uptake post-race way. Just slow_running after me and I'm anxious for him to come in.
A few minutes later, I'm sitting on a row of camp chairs with Peg. "I keep tearing up." I say, feeling my face start to scrunch up again. "Me too." She says and for a second we're both sitting there, our eyes welling with tears, unable to articulate any further.