I did the half marathon last Sunday. On Saturday I picked up my packet and looked at the route of the race then thought “What have I gotten myself into?” After I had mu packet and t-shirt I walked around the Health Expo and looked at the different booths. I was tempted by some of the things I saw but bought only one thing, this sticker.
That night I slept off and on, I was afraid I’d oversleep and afraid I was in over my head, that I might not be able to do this. I woke up, got dressed and made my way downtown and hit what looked like rush hour traffic in the middle of the night. The crowd was smaller than last year’s, on;y 23,000. I don’t know how many were in the half marathon but there were enough. The wheelchair racers, marathon runners and relay runners went ahead then it was finally time.
The race was easy at first and I started off walking then got a little cocky and jogged for the length of two songs on my mp3 player. I slowed down when I got to the Holy Sh*t Hill, AKA the Walnut Street Bridge and walked most of the race after that. I jogged, walked and walked some more, all was pretty easy going till I got to mile 10 then it got hard, Darned hard, I had to get a second wind three times to finish and the main reason I kept going was because of cramps, either avoiding one or walking one off. When I finished I didn’t stop at the tents, just went to my car and bought a bagel at Pantera. The promise of a blueberry bagel and honey walnut cream cheese motivated me those last three miles and I got my bagel, brought it home and then dread walking up the stairs to my apartment. I did, then after eating and taking a shower I limped around and spent the rest of the day in bed, my legs aching and feet hurting. The next day was back to normal, I went downstairs and put that sticker on my car. The day before I wouldn’t dare try because I wasn’t sure I’d make it back up the stairs.
The race itself was an amazing thing full of surprises and some really wonderful moments. Before the race began there was 168 seconds of silence, for the victims of the Murrah bombing . Because of the bombing at the Boston marathon people who ran but did not finish the were allowed to compete without having to pay the entry fee. This was pretty generous since the fee for the half was $80 and that was before the rate went up. They play U2’s “Beautiful Day” before the race starts and this year they also played “Sweet Caroline” for the benefit of the Boston runners. There were a lot of people in “Run for Boston” and “Support Boston” shirts as well as Red Sox shirts and caps and red socks. I wore my red hoodie, it wasn’t a conscious act, I was just cold. If I had thought about it I would have made a “Go Bruins” sign and pinned it to my back but the idea didn’t come to me until I was already in the race.
There were people all along the route. Some are security, cops in uniform and squad cars closed off the streets in some neighborhoods but there were people in lawn chairs, some standing all along the way.There was one group with a large inflatable bottle of Absolut vodka on their lawn who were offering booze, I politely declined and kept going though I wonder how many people took them up on it. I tried to high-five all the kids who held out their hands and probably missed a few. There was a marine in fatigues and combat boots carrying a large flag running and shouting encouragement along the way. There were firefighters in full gear walking, there were people in green tutus and there was a 77 yr old woman who passed me by. I liked her right away, there was a woman holding a sign reading “Barf and Rally” and she yelled “Do you have a barf bag?'” and the woman was shocked and mumbled no, you’d have to use the street. I caught up with her and asked how long she’d been running. Her answer was 37 years, she was a walker and did the race because her kids talked her into it, her birthday was the next day and she would be 78. There were volunteers all along the way and I was grateful for the water stops, especially the ones at the end and the pretzels were good. I took 3 protein bars just in case and ate one and those pretzels, which were the best pretzels I ever had.
My sister called me after the race, she had done the relay and finished her leg. She was tired but said the soreness would go away, she did the same thing last year and knew this from experience. This was the first time I did the half marathon and I got to talk about it to my book club, most of whom were impressed. We are not a particularly athletic bunch and until 2 years ago I wouldn’t have imagined doing even the 5k let alone the half marathon. Since my bypass I’m able to do more things than every before and I feel like I’ve got a big advantage now.