Saturday, October 9, 2010

Hartford Half Marathon 2010. My First Hardware

My first  hardware.
I must have done great because I got a silver medal after I finished.   That honor occurred after they rolled me in a sheet of tin foil like a skanky, sweaty, giant burrito (yum) but before a man with bananas looked at me a said “ooou you better take two.”   I am noticing a theme to these distance races, there’s usually someone concerned for my welfare at the end or sometimes even at the half way point, I’ve heard comments  such as: “Oh you’re never gonna finish, you don’t look good”   I can only guess what the world sees as I run by.  In my imagination I am running like an elite, all tucked in, arms high and tight, perfect stride but the reality must be something MUCH different.    Another example happened on the grassy knoll; historically those are always trouble.  I stared at the ground under my feet and wondered how I was going to get down there.   It was not the most eloquent maneuver in my life.  Once planted a fellow Halfer says “You look how I feel.”   That pretty much established he wasn’t hitting on me, we exchanged other pleasantries and as  I sat there trying to figure out how to get my tinfoil under my butt with the least amount of movement a man in a motorized wheelchair rolls up and asks if I am in need of medical assistance.  ??!!  What the hell must I look like!!  My Halfer friend says I’ll stay with her until she can stand up again.  WOW.  I really want to see any race photos of me if they are out there yikers!   BUT I am way ahead of myself here, I’m already at the finish line and I haven’t even picked up my bib number yet.    This story is lengthy and if you’re not a runner I recommend you stop here.  I will not be offended.
Saturday:  One week before the race
I have been having big time trouble getting anything more than 6 miles out of my legs.  I was determined to run 10 miles and run them I did but ended up with a muscle injury in my right calve or is it calf?  I’m still in post race delirium.   Anyway at the time I thought it was only sore and would go away.  No big deal.
Wednesday: T minus 3 days
 I tried to get 3 miles on the treadmill and crapped out by mile 1.5 what’s worse: I’m limping.   I suspect since it hasn’t healed maybe it is a different form of shin splints than the ones I have grown oh so well accustomed to.  I’m screwed.   

Thursday:  EXPO opened.   (my very first EXPO at that)
As I was driving to Hartford to get my race pack signs flashed on the highway about the road closures for the Hartford Marathon.  I started to cry.  I am not crying because I am afraid of my injury.  I cry because I am a sap and so happy I am running that day AND they are closing the streets for me!   Filled with emotion and loving everything, I have come to the decision that even if I have to walk the race route I’m going to do it.  If I’m last, I’m last but I am going to enjoy it no matter what happens.  
I haven’t been to Hartford in a while apparently the Hartford Civic Center is so long gone that pedestrians have never even heard of it at all.  I feel like I’ve time warped into the future.  The XL Center is the new Civic Center, er well not exactly, they moved the entrance to confuse the public.   I opt for street parking, they have a new system where you pay and get a ticket that says how long you are allowed to stay there and put it in your car window.  I figure 45 mins would be plenty of time.   The sign says save $2.00 off garage rates, who doesn’t love a bargain.   The whole peeling and propping the ticket confounded me, I’m old school ‘quarter in the meter’ type gal, but I finally got it.  Once inside, the EXPO was great.  I stopped at all the booths, spent a fortune on everything from running sleeves to a beer glass.   I always wanted running sleeves, they look cool, all my favorite women running heroes wear them, well except one racers who rip them off at the sprint to the end.   I don’t care for her too much, she cried when she came in 3rd and ever since then I thought she was spoiled.  Seriously, 3rd and you cry?  Give me a break, you give females a bad name and I cry at road signs.   Back at the EXPO  I got a free cowbell, orange sunglasses, a box of rice, band aids, deodorant, tasty samples of rice, humus, and chocolate, (not in one bowl).   But the best thing was finding the sports medicine booth.   Me and my gimpy leg hopped up on a table and rolled up my pants.  I thanked my lucky stars I had just shaved my legs.   My new best friend, the sports therapist, assessed my injury and immediately ruled out shin splints.  Oh happy day.   I was told I had an injured muscle and luckily avoided tendentious by not forcing out any more miles on it.  She gave me a chart of stretches, told me to ice 3 times a day, plus once on race day and I’d be fine.  I would have kissed her if she were a dude.   Well I better get going because it’s got to be 45 mins.  Just as I was leaving there was someone selling some sort of ionizer gizmo for 30 bucks.  It looked stupid but they made me take a balance test.  I have horrible balance, simple walking and I can get wobbly, oh sure that’s after a few cocktails but still.  In a weaken state, I bought it hoping it came in handy at the post race whiskey celebration party.   Ok now I know it is right around the 45 min mark I make a dash to the door and there is not a meter maid in sight.  Cool.   I get to my car and there is a freak’in ticket for 25 big ones.   Well saving $2.00 off the garage parking really wasn’t such a great deal now was it.  I look at the times on my ticket and what the recorded time I parked.  I had been gone for 2 hours?!   I must have been in a wormhole because it seemed like 47 mins tops.  There is some sort of time vortex in Hartford, I am convinced.   Totally bummed, this blew my whole happy running EXPO vibe.  If I knew parking would cost me $25.75 I would have never bought a $30.00 drunkenizer.   On the drive back home the sign announcing road closures stimulates no emotions from me.  I am disgusted with myself for blowing the meter so bad. 

Friday T minus 1 day
Pasta for dinner, no alcohol,(me no alcohol of a Friday??  Get out.)  I get to sleep really early, set the alarm for 5am.  Do my stretches and icing.  I experience wild vivid dreams of the race and trying to find parking.  I keep waking up and checking the time.  My alarm clock has a light on top you hit to see the display in the dark. 

Saturday Race Day
I wake up on my own and the clock says 5am. Why didn’t the alarm go off?  I get up, make the bed, brush my teeth look at the clock again and it says 3:45am.   Oh that dreaded wormhole time warp is following me.  When I hit the light to see the time I also hit the view alarm button.  I lay back down but I’m too wound up and my mouth is minty.   I finally  give in after almost an hour.   The Rocky Theme is playing in my head sans raw eggs for breakfast.    Driving to Hartford I hope I have given myself enough time to find parking.  In my dream I had to scale something like the Hoover Dam in order to find a spot.  I’m not sure how I was supposed to park on the Hoover Dam that’s why it was a dream.  I can be a nervous traveler if I’m not exactly sure where I’m going and it’s manifesting in my subconscious.  Off the exit I pull into a paved lot right across from the park, there’s a guy that is charging $10.00 but I have to leave my keys.  I pass.  Later on I found out that they closed all the streets around the lot, anyone parked there must wait until the streets are reopened at 2pm.  Thank you parking gods who guided me to the parking garage I used when I went to Elton John concerts numerous times, (in wormhole numbers that would be thousands).  Event parking 5 bucks sweeeee-eet.    It is attached to the Civic Center er XL Center so I can use a proper bathroom before I head to the park.   Once at the park I pass a row of porta potties and start dry heaving from the smell.   Oh great the race hasn’t even started and I’m already almost spewing fluids.   I’m nervous.   I sit on a bench and try to do a crossword puzzle but I can’t focus.  I give up and check my bag with UPS.   40 mins to gun time I wander around a little bit but decide to just get to the start.  There’s me and about 30 people milling around.  They have pace markers.  I lined up at the 10 min mile marker.  I can run a 10 min mile, I didn’t plan on doing that now though.   I wanted a 2:30 time and to do that I had to run a constant 11:30.   I was not making that same mistake I made in New Haven when I ran the first two miles at 10:30.  I’m at the starting line where  I always cry, I got choked up but  I didn’t cry. That was odd but I think it was because I seriously thought I would have to walk a good portion on the race because of my injury.  It didn’t feel like a race, I wasn’t in top form, I had eeked out a couple 10 mile runs just prior to race day. I had no expectations of grandeur.   Skip to the whole rigmarole with the mayor and the anthem and the wheelchairs start and we’re off.    Leg seems okay, I had not even tested it out with a jog today out of fear.  I am happy my body is functioning properly and I am holding back my pace for sure. 

Mile One
Mile one happened so fast I barely noticed it at all.  It was nothing.  My heart monitor said 150’s and I’m a 165 on average, my Garmin watch also records pace.   If I were to guess, since I was purposely holding back and not even trying I’d say I ran a 11:15.   I ran 10:35.  Wormhole.

Mile Two
Another nothing mile.   Mile two was over and we hardly got to know each other.   I was really holding back because I wanted to have gas in the tank at the end.   My heart rate finally got up to the mid 160’s alls normal.  I thought I ran 11:30.  I ran 10:29.  Wormhole.

Mile Three.
 I feel this mile a little.   My short runs are four miles so three I notice.   My head: 11:30 for sure.  In real life: 11:13.  The Wormhole is closing.

Mile Four.
Felt this one.  It wasn’t really hard but not invisible like one and two.  I must be 11:30.  In real life: 11:11 Wormhole paused.  

Mile Five.
Lot’s of cowbells on this road, it’s nice, the people support us.  Incline.  Water AND Gatorade.  Not a big fan of five.  Note to self get more 5 mile runs in so this is easier next time.  In my head:  11:35  In real life: 12:17  The wormhole is in retrograde.

Mile Six.
Wow it’s amazing how many people have cowbells.   They are everywhere.  Six sucks.  I hate six.  In my head:  11:50   In real life:  11:46.  One of the few times what’s in my head matches what in reality.

Mile Seven:
There was a booth and people were handing out cowbells and sunglasses.  Where would I put a cowbell?   I already had sunglasses on.  I pass on the swag.  I don’t care what my time is I just want this over with.   11:23

Mile Eight:
The person in back of me picked up a cowbell and it sounds like I am being chased by a pack animal.  I expect if I turn around to see Donkey ala Shrek or a random cow hot on my heels.  This continues the whole mile.  I am ready to rip it out of his hands and throw it in the bushes.  I hate cowbell.  I never have before but I really hate it now.  I must be rid of this annoyance it’s ruining all the pain I am feeling.  I take a walk break.  I don’t care if I ever finish just let Elise MOO’ve on.  Time 12:53

Mile Nine. 
I’m not sure where I am.   It’s at this distance my mind goes blank and it’s all autopilot.  I can’t think.   I’m sure this is very hard but I’m zoned out.  If there were a murder to happen in front of me I could not tell you what happened.   I call this my running coma.   We’re heading into the park.  I love parks.  I love flowers.  It’s beautiful, oh wait I almost forgot how hard this is.  There is a man handing out GU’s from his backpack.  It’s surreal, like hooking up with a drug dealer in a park, not that ‘d ever done such things, but instead of crank you mainline gel packs.    12:38

Mile Ten:
Cowbell - “Just three more to go” “You’re almost there” Cowbell.  There is a man standing with his own cowbell, not an ING orange one but a super duper extra loud one.  I run faster to get away from him.

Mile Eleven
It feels like the home stretch, I think it’s almost over but I’m in a coma what do I know.   Somewhere in my brain my hips are signaling they desperately want to stop.  I’m not speaking to my hips or anyone right now.   12:09

Mile Twelve
I have no memory of mile twelve I have entered the wormhole myself.

Mile Thirteen.
Okay now I am awake and I’m going to start running for the big kick at the end.   With one half a mile to go my front abdominal muscles “all” decide to cramp.   Now I was never known for my leg strength, I can not arm wrestle, or do more than two pathetic pushups and that’s after training my upper body for a year but my abs?  Please, in grammar school I’d challenge guys to punch me in the stomach until I realized you don’t get asked to dances that way.  I could do sit ups forever.  I still easily can do 300 crunches.  Why in the name of heaven are my abs cramping???  It’s horrible pain like a side stitch but all in the front.  My hips, those of whom I have ignored,  are joining in with my abs and I am in total misery.   I cannot sprint.  My legs and lungs, the problem children of the bunch are saying go.  This blows.  12:27

The last 10th
 I make the turn into the park and it’s like I’m a freakin rock star…oh wait  I am a rock star, hundreds of people are cheering me on,   I feel no pain I finish strong with a 10:15 pace .  I am wrapped in tin foil.   


  1. Another great and interesting piece of writing-it makes you feel that you yourself had run.Thanks for the piece Carol---Jeff Orton

  2. Great piece! Hope you are walking about and stretching. Looking forward to reading about your next big race! BTW, are you hitting the lap button for your miles? I can't figure out how to get splits otherwise on my Garmin. Teri