Contributing Author: BRB, AKA Patty (Pats) Girard
May 29, 2016 was the date I trained eighteen weeks for. It was the day, after 350-plus training miles that I was going to become a marathoner, it was the VERMONT CITY MARATHON. I visualized myself crossing the finish line, tears in my eyes, surrounded by my family, friends, and of course by BRB (best running buddy) waiting for me at the finish. The week leading up to the race I primed my body, went to bed early, laid out my race outfit, re-worked my race outfit, packed my bags and focused on finishing.
I knew the day would be unseasonably hot. I hydrated, stayed cool, rested my legs and was as ready as I could be on race morning when I entered the corral. As I crossed the starting line, with the sun in my eyes, the temperature was already over seventy and the humidity was fierce. By mile 3 I was drenched in sweat and very aware that in order to finish in the heat I would have to slow down, try to cool down my body whenever possible, and be ready to face ugly conditions…and by ugly I mean trying to eat a neon green popsicle at mile 15 to replenish my sugar, sucking on a dry pretzel at mile 17 while trying not to gag and stuffing dirty ice into my skort whenever the opportunity presented itself.
Miles 15-18 were especially difficult as the almost continuous stream of ambulances and medical staff drove by, sirens wailing, to assist collapsed or sick runners. At mile 18 I ran by two runners packed in ice laying on the side of the road, and I heard volunteers at water stations warning runners to walk or cool down if they started to feel sick. Well… I usually feel awful by mile 18 so it was tough to differentiate between normal fatigue and heat induced illness…so I kept going.
Between miles 19-20 we received word that the conditions on the course had reached the “black zone”, which meant the race was being shut down. To be honest, the first thought that entered my mind was, “Thank God! I really want to walk, sit down and cool off!” but after a few seconds, I realized what the news actually meant…it meant that my eighteen weeks of training were pointless! It meant that despite everything I had put my body through I still would not be a marathoner! Maybe it was the heat stroke, maybe it was the fatigue, or possibly just my normal temper…but my friend says for a solid 30 seconds, I was walking, jogging, running, swearing, yelling, crying, releasing my anger at the fact that my marathon was being stolen right out from under me.
The next few minutes of the race were chaotic. We were not sure if we would be allowed to finish, we were told we would have to be shuttled back to the starting line, but then we were told we would be allowed to cross the finish, and complete the last three miles, but we had to detour a section of the course. So we accepted the detour and continued on, completing 92% of the damn course! We crossed the finish smiling, and received a medal…but I feel very incomplete.
If I had previously completed a marathon, I think I would feel differently. I would take the medal, consider it a unique experience and move on. But since it was my first time I feel incomplete, like I need to redeem myself in some way. I feel like my 26.2 medal and 26.2 sticker are laughing at me, mocking me for not actually finishing the 26.2 miles. I have come to terms with the fact that we cannot control the weather, and that the organizers of the race were cognizant of the safety of the runners…but still…ugh!
So until I can determine where my running shoes will lead me, I’m left with the wise lessons my BRB has so accurately articulated:
Lessons Learned from the 2016 Vermont City Marathon
- Never complain about it being too cold because one day soon it will be way to fucking hot!
- You can trust in your new skort.
- Giving up alcohol the week before your marathon is pointless.
- Teal visors are NOT good luck.
- You don’t always need to run 26.2 miles to earn a medal that says you did.
- Do NOT mess with the wet bulb globe temperatures.
- Yes, they will call off the race after you’ve run for 4 hours and trained for 4 months.
- If your friend looks greenish blue, sit her down and give her an 8.1% VT IPA, she’ll bounce right back.
- PMS is NOT the worst thing that can happen.
- 100% effort might only add up to 92%.
- Sometimes it’s perfectly appropriate to take Vaseline from a stranger and rub in on your thighs.
- Eating dirty ice might be the best thing for you.
- Emily makes one hell of a race Sherpa!
- You cannot be kicked off a public bike path on a Sunday.
- Next time, you should do the EFFING RELAY!
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