So, my parents drove me to the start, and mercifully we didn't get lost for once.
It was really cold and we were early enough to watch the start of the half marathon, which meant that I had half an hour of standing around regretting my decision to wear shorts and a t-shirt with only a hat and gloves as a nod to the cold. I had a zip-up hoodie on but it was cotton and I was planning on ditching it. I was torn between moving around to warm up, or conserving energy for the marathon.
Luckily, I was so busy thinking about how cold I was that I wasn't thinking about the race.
When they started getting people in the corrals, I shucked out of my hoodie and shoved it at my parents. I'm sure they wished me luck or something. There was a guy holding up a big sign that said 4:00 and I made a beeline for it.
I talked to the people around me with about half of my brain. All of them had run marathons before so there was that. The guy running the pace group had run 53 of them and he was all, "Yeah, I basically just do this now. I ran a 3:03 last year and now I just take it easy."
I was like, "Yeah, ok. Easy."
So then they started the race and we all shuffled across the start line and finally were running.
The pace group was running straight 9:09min/miles the whole time. It felt really slow because I was cold and antsy, but I was determined to stay with them for at least the first five miles. I made it about three before I really couldn't do it anymore and stopped holding myself back. I just... ran. I tried to just stay comfortable and it worked.
I was feeling really good for the first fifteen, like there was absolutely nothing wrong and I could run forever. I did a Gu at mile 6 when I stopped to use a portajohn. The UltraMarathoner kept ninja-ing all over the course and cheering for me, and it was a nice distraction.
I had permission to kick it up a notch in the second half 'if I felt like it,' and I felt like it, so I did. Mile 15, right before The Bridge, was when I was told to start looking for McDad and The One With No Feelings. So I came around this switch-back corner and didn't see them, and then I saw them walking along the bridge looking for me.
The Bridge was not as awful as advertised at all. My parents were waiting on the other side of it and my mom did her little dance of happiness that I love so much, the one when she's so excited she can't stand it.
And then My Boys and I were off to the races. We passed what seemed like everyone running the course. At mile - I don't know, maybe 17? - The Librarian, The Triathlete and The Mathy Guy screamed at me. I didn't know they were going to be there so that was cool, except I didn't move over to get my high fives because my brain was still going, "Hey, I think maybe I know those people, and that might be my name they're screaming." So the Triathlete and The Mathy Guy actually sprinted to catch up with me, which was really cool considering that they had just run the half marathon really, really fast and were probably hurting really bad.
I did another Gu at mile 18. I was beginning to get concerned about the fact that I since I couldn't get much water at each of the stops - the water was getting more on the outside the inside - I was drinking at more of the stops, and my stomach hadn't had a chance to settle.
Up to mile 23, 24, everything was cool. And then, well... at around mile 24, I turned to The One With No Feelings and informed him, quite casually, that I had just thrown up in my mouth.
I don't think he knew what to do with that information.
Both of them just kept telling me how hard I was rocking this marathon, and to just keep going, and I'm really, really glad they were there, because mile 25 was when I started thinking, "What does it matter? What does it really matter?"
I was so nauseous the last mile that that was basically all I was thinking about. Not throwing up. If I threw up in the last mile, that would take time, and at that point I needed to just be done.
At the end of mile 26, there's a big, long downhill that goes into the chute, and the Boys basically kicked me down it before ducking off the course (they couldn't finish with me or they would be arrested or something). I stretched my legs out and just let go, and it felt... actually good. It was steep enough that I could just fly down it.
I was briefly surprised that no one else seemed to have the same response to the hill. I shot past at least a dozen people. I came around a slight curve and looked straight into my dad's eyes. He grinned really big and gave me two thumbs up, shouting, "All right!" Just super proud of himself for finding a good spot to see me.
I crossed the finish line with that smile on my face, and I thought the clock said 3:56 (it turns out my time was 3:50:57, but I didn't find that out for at least half an hour). I spent about two seconds totally celebrating while my medal was dropped over my head and I wrapped a space blanket around my shoulders, and then I remembered I felt like I might die. I kept walking until I got out of the finishers' area and then just stood there thinking, "Uh..."
That's what this expression is.
My mom ran up and hugged me and while I appreciated that, I also needed her to stop touching me. I actually needed my body just to not be there. I really felt lousy and half-dead.
It turns out The One With Manners and The Superhuman were there, and everyone else was there, and everyone was all, "How do you feel?" and I was all, "OMG please no one look at me when I throw up."
The Librarian was like, "Dude, just throw up," but there was nowhere to do it.
So we walked down the street a little bit and my dad ducked into a cafe and got me a Reed's Ginger Beer. And I sat down on the cold flagstones outside the cafe and drank my ginger ale and thought to myself about how it was a good thing I had finished a marathon, because I was going to die and it was nice to have that crossed off the list first.