When you’re standing under an umbrella just outside the start corral, listening to the DJ play “Raindrops keep falling on my head”, all you can do is laugh.
And when your hubby leans over and says “forget this – let’s just go drink margaritas all day”, you laugh again and reply “don’t tempt me!”
Instead…you wait til the 2 minute warning, give him a quick kiss, and join the runners dressed in trash bags and ponchos, feet already wet and itching to get going.
Then, as you near the start and hear “laughter in the rain” followed by “I love a rainy night” you throw your hands in the air, clap and whoop.
It’s time to dance.
I had a lot of fun on Sunday. Sure, it was hands down the WORST conditions I’ve ever run a marathon in – it was a nor’eastah after all – but it was a beautiful scenic course full of friendly runners and awesome volunteers.
Having no idea how the weather would affect me, I decided to toss my time goal out the window and just have fun. I never looked at my watch, just ran how I felt.
I started slow, and easy. I didn’t care what any of the other runners were doing. I wanted to cruise and relax and see if I could just feel good for most of the race. I ended up chatting with another runner for what turned out to be nearly 3 miles before she chose to slow down for a bit. She was a fellow disney runner and super nice. I never got her name, but I hope she had a great race. Maybe i’ll run into her in January.
After my new friend fell back, I surged. It felt right. Not too fast, but just, comfortable.
And when the two younger girls I passed at mile 5, who I had chatted with at mile 1 (one running her first marathon) hollered out “hey mermaid girl – what’s your time goal” I replied “4:25 to 4:45 – come catch me” 🙂
A couple minutes later, I spotted friends who were on the course to cheer me on. YAY! Thanks Cara & Susan for standing in the rain just to see me come by – you rock.
Well, it was all fun and games until we hit the ocean. And the wind and the rain were a reality check. My brain doesn’t usually question me this early in a race. It was all “your hotel is at mile 9. Its warm and dry in there. Why are we doing this again?”
Yet, after passing through downtown Kennebunkport and along my hotel where the hubby waited, I stopped just long enough to give him a kiss. “How are you he asked, wet and cold?” I replied “oh, I’m soaked, but I’m fortunately not freezing” With a “see ya in three hours” I rejoined the group.
And it continued on pretty much the same way. Any time the course dipped down along the water, scenic yet horrific, and when we headed back inland where the trees blocked some of the wind, it felt way better.
Now, some of you may be aware, but there was an issue on the course near mile 12. An unfortunate detour. Having just experienced one of these three weeks at at the Blackstone 1/2, I have to say how EXTREMELY glad I am they had it straightened out by the time I came by. And I feel awful for the fast runners, going for BQ times and PRs that were negatively affected.
As we came up that hill I could see the mile 12 marker in front of me the other side of the ‘side street’ and feel my watch vibrate the mile, so I was baffled at the runners coming from the side. Thinking “am I only at 11?” when the volunteers started yelling “go straight, go straight” and it hit me for the second race in a row there was a ‘communication breakdown’.
Right around here it started getting hillier. I had watched the course video, so I knew there was a beast at mile 15. But that once I was over that, the rest was reasonable.
I didn’t expect the short steep bugger at mile 14. Fortunately it coincided with when I needed a gel. Which I had to walk to get out of my pocket and attempt to open. (side note – trying to get a soaking wet glove on and off in a cold rain is NOT easy). So it wasn’t that I needed to walk that hill…it was just timing. LOL
And it might have been when I turned the corner by 15, saw the hill and said out loud “Holy Cow”, I was actually able to shimmy right up it. (I am not an interval girl – I simply believe in a well-placed ‘reset’ walk of a minute or so when needed.)
There were actually quite a few hills…
By mile 16 I had fallen into a ‘make it to the next gel’ pattern. Trying to not think about how far I had left, and how long it would take if I just gave in and walked to the end. Instead breaking it down into reasonable 4-mile segments.
But things were starting to get cold and my legs were getting stiff and my feet were just, oh I didn’t even want to know.
And when we headed to the out-and-back piece by mile 20 and saw ‘the lagoon’ I may have frozen for a second. I’m sure at the time they planned the route, they had no idea that it was going to be bad weather, or that the road would flood. Leaving runners one of two options “shimmy up and along a stone wall, or go through the 4-5 inch deep puddle’. There was no lawn to get around it on. It was being stuck between a rock and a wet place.
And…we had to cross it twice.
The first time through, I tried to find the ‘shallower’ parts. But on the way back, having just crossed the mile 20 marker and not even caring, I just splashed right through that sucker. It was COLD. lol
I think it was somewhere around here that I met the ‘buffet brigade’ – two hula girls, a pirate and a shark. My mermaid skirt had finally found some like-minded runners. And when the hula girls ended up a bit ahead of the pirate and shark, as I passed I told them “They’re just behind you. Your pirate stopped for rum.” (see – no matter how harsh the conditions, I still run happy)
At mile 23, I knew I could finish. I just had to pull it out from somewhere inside. Until I crested the hill and was met with…the storm.
The 24th mile was well and truly the most intense mile for me. It was icy needles of rain. It was wind blowing me both sideways and backwards. And the sea was crashing on the rocks – gloriously and violently. It was mesmerizing and deafening and through here was near impossible for running. I know it was my slowest mile as I would run a bit, walk a bit. But I just had to keep moving.
And maybe that’s why when I saw the water station with the m&ms and then the mile 25 marker, I smiled. I had this. And as I passed another runner I leaned over and whispered “Just keep swimming”
And the rain seemed to let up. And the wind seemed to stop. And there was so many lovely little downhills that I just cruised along.
When I came along the mile 26 sign I turned to the girl next to me and said “this sign is a thing of beauty”.
And around the corner I could see the finish chute. I tore off the poncho that had lived in my closet for 3 years, always carried to races just in case but never needed until this day, and dropped it by the side of the road.
Because darn it – I wanted at least ONE good photo.
I called out to the three kids right outside the fence “I need a high-five, who’s got me” and slapped hands with all three.
I went up into the finish chute and glanced at the clock. For the first time all race. And seriously had to do a double take. No. Way.
I had my medal hung around my neck by a member of the Maine National Guard (awwww!) and a foil blanket wrapped around me by a volunteer while another handed me my water bottle (reusable race-logo water bottle – such a nice touch).
I was in a daze. I’m not sure if its because at that point I was exhausted and slap-happy, or if it was because, despite tossing any hope of a sub 4:30 marathon out the window, I had come THAT close.
I ran a 4:30:56.
My second fastest finish ever. My fastest marathon in a poncho. My fastest marathon in a nor’easter. (See, we runners can find PRs almost anywhere. LOL)
I am extremely proud of myself for never giving up. For keeping a positive attitude for 26.2 miles. For actually having fun and finding the humor. And for running like a beast.
Does part of me still wish I could somehow have shaved 57 seconds off my finish time? Sure. But I know I did my absolute best out there. And that is what matters.
Thanks Maine Coast for a great race that I will definitely come back and run again. Hopefully in better conditions. 🙂
Plus I absolutely love my sparkly mermaid medal.
Ps…a quick shout out to those products that got me through.
Running Buddy – my buddy pouch is priceless and the buddy clips work like magic to keep my bib secure. Proud to be a Running Buddy Ambassador!
Sparkle Athletic – love my mermaid skirt (and everything else they make)
Huma – my new favorite gels
Bodyglide & smartwool socks – 4 1/2 hours of wet feet, no blisters. Sweet!
Brooks launch 4 – shamrock shoes. Truly lucky. Plus my friend could see me from a long ways off.