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Mpls, MN, United States

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Incidents & Accidents

Monday, October 06, 2008


Marathon Saturday was impeccable: bright blue, cloudless skies; windless; and a high of 73°.

Marathon Sunday--the actual day of the race--was another story. I woke up to rain dimpling puddles on the street, and although the forecast predicted storms before 8 a.m. and returning later in the afternoon, the heavy gray skies were not encouraging. In the car on the way to the starting line, my friend insisted that it would clear off and be sunny. "I don't know," I said. "I have pretty bad luck." "But I," she responded, "have very good luck!" Then she pointed at her boyfriend driving us, at 7:15 on a Sunday morning, as though that settled it.

As it turned out, however, it was my luck that unfortunately triumphed. At mile three, it began to rain. By mile five, it was coming down in earnest, and somewhere between miles six and seven, the heavens opened and we were completely drenched. It was quite a sight to see the spectators in their hats, coats, and umbrellas, some of them simply shaking their heads in disbelief as we splashed by. It rained hard for another several miles, handily flooding the course, before finally tapering off at around mile 14. (Around mile 21, when we'd finally mostly dried out, we did get another sprinkling that caused me to curse the skies, but it was over fairly quickly.)

Also, it was cold. It was cold enough to see our breath; ahead of us, the column of runners was wreathed in steam. My shoes and socks were soaked, but I still tried to skirt puddles because that water was so much colder than the water already trapped against my skin. When I tried to open my package of Sport Beans, I discovered that my clammy fingers were too numb to be effective, and had to tear it open with my teeth. My running partner, who had discarded her long-sleeved tee early in the race when she started to warm up (and before it started raining), actually snagged from the side of a the trail a discarded and damp sweatshirt that she threw on for warmth.

The coldness issue undoubtedly contributed to our troubles. We stopped twice at aid stations (miles 20 and 23) so that E could be warmed up, and even so she got quite nauseated and had to do a lot of walking from about mile 15 on, and especially after mile 20.

I held up remarkably, for as under-trained as I was, but I was happy to run slowly, take walking breaks, and chat with the volunteers who swaddled her in plastic bags, beach towels, and reflective blankets. It meant that I had the energy to cavort and jump into the air when I saw our friends gathered at mile 19,* to dance when we heard the "Nooma Nooma Song" at mile 20, and to cheer on lethargic spectators further down the line. And it also meant that today, although my quads, calves, abs, and obliques are definitely sore, I feel actually pretty excellent.

I made the mistake at San Diego, two years ago, of pushing Bryant too hard during the race. I had trained hard for that one, and he hadn't. I stayed with him, but I let him see how disappointed and frustrated I was not to finish at the pace I could have. It's a failure I still regret, and I didn't want to make that mistake again.

So. We got soaked; we dried out; we ran slowly; we finished happy! I'm still going to wait a few days to let the muscle soreness calm down and try a short run, but at the moment I'm optimistic about running Phoenix in January. If I do some speed training, maybe--maybe--I can even do that one in under four! We'll see.

One more story. Just before we hit the aid station at mile 23, we were walking through a barricaded-off intersection when a white pick-up came roaring up, the driver leaning on his horn. He rolled down his window and started shouting at the officer standing there that he needed to be let through. The officer and course marshals pleasantly informed him that the road was closed and that he wouldn't be able to get through. He shouted, "Do I have to come out there and move it myself?" to which they responded, "Not if you don't want to spend the night in jail!" He countered, "I'm not spending the night in jail!" They shrugged, and he shouted, "Now are you going to move it for me or do I need to move it myself?" Jumping out of the truck, he stepped to the wooden barricade and moved it aside, still shouting, and the officer leaned into his shoulder mic to call for backup. It looked like the man was going to get back into his truck or walk away, but the officer held out an arm to keep him against the truck, as another three uniformed figures came tearing across the street. I think the driver must have started to run away or resist at that point, because in the next instant, he was under a pile of bodies, apparently still struggling. We had been walking down the course as this all happened, and so getting farther from the action, but it was still quite the adventure! I haven't been able to find any news reports on it, but I assume he did get his trip to jail. I also assume that he was on drugs.

As to whether or not he was any crazier than the runners blocking his way... I couldn't say.

More pictures here:

*Seeing those four friends cheering for us at mile 19 was seriously one of the highlights of my entire life. I don't think I'd ever seen my name on a sign before at a sporting event, and it was incredible--I must have spent the next two miles talking about it, and I know I'll remember it forever. It was more than just feeling like a celebrity, although there was that; it was just a gesture of immense affection. It doesn't make much sense if you haven't been there yourself, but if you do ever have the chance to cheer for a friend at an event like this, I encourage you to make a sign and do it--the return on effort is enormous for the athlete!


I Hope So said...

oh jeez, woman. as if you weren't awesome enough running a marathon... we find out now that you ran in cold rain. you're killing me! hard core doesn't even begin to describe you.

Curly Sue said...

Congrats, Ceri. That's amazing that you had such a good time even though the weather was crappy.

Ellen said...

The Believe angel looks hot.

K L said...

23 miles. I am up to...let's see. Move the decimal...10% of that! Right on! You go girl.