I haven't yet decided if I will post a fourth recap. One entailing the week or so following the race. Scroll down a bit to see the beginnings of the marathon and what has been going on up to this point.
Mile 23 - I am absolutely dragging. For the last few miles I've been trying to get into some sort of running rhythm but it just hasn't happened. All the walking (1/4 of every mile at this point) is just tearing me apart emotionally. My time is ticking way higher than my goal of under 4 hours. You can still get under 4:30 with a good last 5K, Bart. Continue to push yourself. This will all be over soon. Brian is still with me and it is super encouraging. One of the many things I like about Brian is that he is not super preachy or pushy. He wasn't yelling at me or in my face, yet he was still pushing me enough to keep it going. "You can do this! This is a good pain! Only three more miles!" Stuff like that was super encouraging. At this point, though, he said something that hit deeper. He didn't sound irritated, just urgent, and he said "Do you want to finish?"
Oh man. No, actually. I don't even care at this point. Just get this thing over with. But I did care. I did want to keep pushing. And so I tried. The almost complete difference between what was going on in my head and what was going on in my body was funny to me and not something I enjoyed. I really did want to keep going, but I just couldn't stop telling myself to stop and walk it out. To be honest, I think at this point, if not 8 or 9 miles before, I had lost the mental battle. I had stopped fighting.
Tony Plouck, another student I do ministry with joined us at this point as well. I love these guys. Tony grew up a runner, and was the son of a cross-country coach. Tony immediately starts the usual cheers: "You got this! Head up! Keep fighting your almost there! Head up, Bart!" I did not receive these well. I was super encouraged and actually they did boost me quite a bit, but I just wanted to throw him off the bridge we were crossing or into traffic. I just didn't want to fight anymore.
Mile 24-25 - It wasn't all doom and gloom. I'm just trying to paint an accurate picture. Actually it WAS doom and gloom but it was also clinging to hope and attempting, in whatever way I could, to persevere. It's hard even to write about these last few miles because I was just emotionally spent. And, oh yeah, pretty physically spent as well. Two more miles Bart. This is a quick jog out to the library and back from our house. Two miles is nothing! But my legs would just not work. My dehydration at that point was crazy and my leg muscles were going bananas. I had been drinking a lot in the last 10 miles but it was to little to late. You can't start drinking halfway through a marathon and expect to be ok. Those two miles felt like they took forever. But the mile 25 sign made it all worth it. Last mile!
Mile 26 - I tried to run this whole mile but just couldn't. I ran maybe 200 meters before my cramps went crazy and I walked the next 200 meters.
I ran the remainder. This was really tough but I just wanted to finish as strong as I could. My legs flared up like crazy. I didn't want to hurt
anymore and knew that the next mile was the only way through the pain. This whole mile is a blur. I remember turning a few times and thinking I thought this was over, why are we still turning? Where is downtown? Why is this lasting so long?!
Tony and Brian give me one last pep talk, and it actually worked this time because I WANTED to do what they were saying this time. They turn off before we turn the corner for the last .2. These pictures are that last little bit. Boy was I happy this is a downhill. All I really had to do was pump my arms and try and lengthen my stride, and at that point that was about all I COULD do. Then the sweet finish.
I actually remember reading to take advantage of the picture at the finish. Like, stick your arms in the air or something; let it be memorable. I actually think I tried to look good but just ultimately didn't have it in me. I was done. You did it! Yes! It's over!
Hmm, 4:32 was much better than I thought it'd be. Good job! Now where do I go? I kept walking.
I actually almost walked right past the medal people. I don't think they would've let me pass, but I nearly did. It was a little strange having someone place a medal on your neck when you can barely stand. I think I would've liked this more about fifteen minutes later, but hey, it was still pretty awesome. Lots of cheers and encouragement.
My medal picture is kind've funny. You can almost tell what was going on in my head. Really? I appreciate the gesture really I do, but I can barely hold myself up and you want me to pose and strap on a memorable smile?! I sort've succeeded, as you can tell, at bringing out a smile.
The end was awesome. It was over and that brought sweet relief to my legs and heart. Especially my heart. The inner turmoil throughout the race was almost to much to handle. I think I had always thought the toughest part of a marathon would be the actual running of 26.2 miles but, at least for me, that wasn't the case. It was the struggle. The "can I push through this cramp" that happened about 20 times. The voice in my head yelling "just give up!" and my ability/lack to listen. That was the tough part.
What an awesome day! This picture made it worthwhile. Nate finished a bit after me and we celebrated and laughed quite a lot.... then we hurt a lot. Welcome to marathon recovery...