I think it’s probably impractical and somehow breaking social rules, but if I could, I would totally wear my finisher’s medal for the next several days. At least until my soreness wears off. It is quite heavy and has a bottle opener incorporated into the actual medal, so that makes it even more impractical to wear it around. I am wearing it as I type this. #yolo
The race I did is called the ODDyssey, and yes, they spell it like that on purpose. It’s got a costume contest and has optional challenges during the race and just generally doesn’t take itself too seriously. I’d totally recommend this race to anyone: it was large enough to have pretty great support on the course, but small enough that you weren’t pushing people out of the way.
So, here’s a race recap by time and miles.
Night before: read this month’s Runner’s World which is about Boston, cry like forever (I do not recommend this strategy)
5 AM: Alarm goes off. I immediately reconsider every life choice I’ve ever made in my sleepy haze. Maybe I don’t wanna run this morning, bed looks soooo good…
5:30 AM: Out the door because I was a good little girl and pinned my bib on the night before and laid out all my clothes and packed my fuel belt
5:45 AM: Dunkin for iced coffee. This has become a bit of a prerace tradition for me, even though basically everything that is smart in the world is like “caffeine is TEH WORST dun drink it before a race or u’ll diiiiie” but it empowers me so whatevs.
6:10 AM: Pull into a parking space that is a tad bit far from the finish line (spoiler alert: I hate myself for this later) but will allow me to actually leave the race location without waiting for like an hour to get out
6:15 AM: Force-feed myself an apple
6:20 AM: Get on line for porta potties
Roughly a year later: actually get to USE portapotty
6:40 to like 6:55 AM: Attempt to not panic and get a bit more water in me
6:56 AM: Make friends with girl who asked “so do you see any signs for corrals? I saw one that was for a 9 to 10 minute mile but I’m at like ‘try to finish, no time goal, my emergency contact information is on my phone screen, got my inhaler’.” My kind of girl.
6:57 AM: Taking notice of all the people in costumes (this was a costume-optional race), notice a guy wearing very, very little. Realize he is dressed in the Borat swimsuit. Attempt to figure out where he pinned his bib and then realize he has a bib number belt. Overhear a woman say “okay, he wins the costume contest. Just give it to him. Then make him change clothes.”
7:00 AM: Panic because I’m still holding on to my crappy water bottle and don’t see a place to ditch it. Decide to hold on to it for a while. “A while” turns into like 7 miles but whatevs.
7:04 AM: Lady who did the National Anthem: you killed it, way to go
7:07 AM: Race starts,shuffling towards the start begins, I actually remember to hit “start” on my watch, I am the smartest woman alive
Transition to mile estimates because I frankly have no idea what time it was for most of this
Mile 0.2: Cannot stop grinning because oh my GOODNESS I am running a HALF MARATHON I am THE COOLEST EVER
Mile 0.4: Smile fades a bit because I get passed by this guy who is pushing a lady in a wheelchair, and he is wearing a tux. Dialing back my dreams of Olympic glory.
Mile 0.5: Guy jumps in blatantly banditing the race. He is wearing a rainbow tutu and a rainbow shirt and has Pride info pinned to his back. He gives everyone high-fives and hugs if they want them. That is how you correctly bandit a race, everyone. We all ain’t even mad. Go on with your bad self.
Mile 0.7: So this happened. This dude was chatting with a group of ladies that he didn’t know (who had matching sequin headbands, you go ladies), and was basically bragging about his exploits in the running world and “when I ran New York, I…” and just generally acting like he was awesome, which was awk but whatever. He then jogs like fifteen feet ahead of them, turns back, and while running backwards, says “what’s with all the heavy chicks out today?” I KNOW. WHAT THE FUCK. The ladies basically chose not to engage, replying with “well it’s Philly! and we’re awesome! so we’re out today!” and things like that, and I really can’t blame them. They saved their energy for the race they were running. But like, dude? What went on in your brain that led you to conclude that was a good thing to say? Andrew came up with the best response when I told him this story: “what’s with all the assholes out today? Mostly in your general direction, really concentrated over there…”
Also, not that it matters, because that is a messed up thing to say regardless, but the dude was not like in Steve Prefontaine levels of shape. Had a little belly going on. Made it extra strange.
Mile 2-ish: first aid station comes up. I always feel like I’m letting them down when I don’t need water at that time. Like “um, no, I’m good, but I’m sure your water is very delicious and refreshing! I’m sorry! It’s not you, it’s me!”
Mile 2.4: see two girls running while carrying a shield and an axe and wearing Viking helmets. I love everything.
Mile 3.1: realize if this were a 5k I would have PR’ed!
Mile 3.11: realize that I should not be aiming for a 5k PR because I have ten miles left. Oops.
Mile 4.0: take my first Shot Blok like a good little runner, walk for the first time
Mile 5.2: tiny little uphill and I whine like a lot, but so does everyone around me so it’s all good! Right? As long as I’m not the loudest! Right? Also MORE SHOT BLOKS
Mile 5.9: actual salt is streaked on my arms. This has not happened often and I thought I was dying and then I realized I was not. Good story I know. I just thought I was growing scales for a minute.
Mile 6.55: Loudest dude ever was manning the halfway point. Totes fine with it because he was like “KEEP GOING, DOING GREAT” and I live off of that stuff. I had like ten minutes of leeway at this point to make a sub-3 hour half so I was both excited and nervous
Mile 7: I somehow miss this mile marker and am convinced for a while that I am actually going backwards along the course because “no no there is NO WAY I haven’t gotten to mile 7 no no no”
Mile 7.2: I realize the father and son(?) in front of me are banditing as well, or may have just been out running and got swept up in the course. I am not mad until like three miles later when he, his son, and another dude decide to run-chat and do the thing people do on sidewalks when they block the whole damn thing at this spot with trees on one side and gates on the other. No, I am not going much faster than you are but move or I’ll cut you with my bib because I have one and you don’t. Yeah, I’ll fight your 12 year old son. I can take him. Maybe. (I’m an adult, I swear.)
Mile 8: oh JESUS THANK YOU MILE MARKER
Mile 9: this is the farthest I’ve ever gone in one shot. I regret not having gone like 40 miles in one shot so this feels like nothing. It does not feel like nothing it feels like EVERYTHING
Mile 9.5: yes please with the water, aid station; my stomach is doing its thing where it is hungry so it decides to tell me it is nauseous. No, you jerk organ, I am just low on blood sugar, so shut up and take your Shot Bloks. Eat them. Digest them. Get your act together.
Mile 9.6: Can I buy stock in Clif? I love them so much right now.
Mile 10: just a 5k left! Oh God, I’m one of those people who says stuff like “it’s just a 5k left!” and actually means it. At least I said it inside my head! Oh, wait, the person in front of me said it out loud to her running partner. I’m safe.
Mile 10.2: Aid station peeps are cheerfully announcing that the aid station in two miles has Gatorade. I would share in their enthusiasm if they said the next aid station had rocket backpacks, or stretchers, or Jeremy Renner.
Mile 11: Two miles left. You can totally do this, and you’d better. This was the point at which I basically started to run for a minute and walk for a minute because I was pretty sure my knees were going to actually crack at this point. Every step hurt. But basically this was “if you ran this far and don’t finish…oh HELL no.”
Mile 11.3: Somewhat separated from basically everyone, and I realize my compression shorts are swishing. (whaddup thighs touching hey bigger runners you feel me? yeahhh) I realize they have probably been swishing for 2 hours. Has everyone heard me swishing? Am I one of the “heavy chicks” that jerk guy was talking about? Wait that’s a terrible thing to think? GAH INTERNAL TURMOIL
Mile 11.31: I am running a half marathon anyone who has anything nasty to say is basically on the level of Joffrey Baratheon, the First and Jerkiest of His Name
Mile 12: One. More. And a tenth. Don’t forget the tenth.
Mile 12.3: a hill. An effing hill, now??? Seriously? Ugh, guys, this last mile probably took me like 20 minutes to finish. I looked at my watch and realized I was not gonna make it under 3 hours, so my goal was adjusted to just “finish the thing.” And also “make a recommendation that the last mile of a half marathon not contain a 40 Degree Hill of Death as its last thing.”
Mile 12.9: This lady who looks like she finished like 90 minutes ago and is now cheerfully going for a bike ride with her finisher’s medal around her neck is all “you can do it!” and in my head I’m all “I hate you for being done but love you for cheering me on!”
Mile 13: I can run this last part to the finish without dying. This is a doable goal.
Mile 13.1: VICTORY! Also exhaustion. Dude with the medals stop texting and give it to me or I will fight you. I will fight you with all the stamina of a newborn and all the strength of overcooked linguini. Come at me, bro.
Mile 1,000: I parked my car about another half marathon away and my legs only marginally work. It takes me forever to walk there while sipping my fruit drink, and once I’m at my car I collapse and call my dad. He answers the phone, “are you alive?” Excellent question!