The 2014 Indianapolis Marathon had problems from the start. My legs, sore from the Half Marathon, hadn't healed. I caught a cold the weekend prior and hadn't trained seriously in two weeks. Due to traffic and poor planning, I was not able to get a decent meal the night before the race. I'd made many stupid mistakes in the past week—cutting pieces off new shoes and then wanting to return them but unable to because I'd damaged them, missing the prepaid pre-race dinner, running sockless in new shoes and damaging my feet, and now a new one--partially opening my Gu (a syrupy, energy food used in runs) to make it easier to open during the marathon. That stuff is extremely sticky--I got some on my gloves during the Mt. Evans Hill Climb in 2012 and they were so sticky it compromised my bicycle. Now it was all over my lower back. I tossed the guilty packet, saved the other but ate it before the race. I only had a blueberry muffin and 28 ounces of Heed sports drink, and a bottle of protein drink that morning. I ate more than that before the Half Marathon. So--Gu gone, but to remove the annoying stickiness, I put my red jersey on top of my sticky black one. It looked goofy, but it put a layer of fabric between sticky and my lower back. |
I started slow, but this just made me feel more uncomfortable. My friend Angela, running a half marathon on the same course, passed me 1 1/2 miles into the race, but last year she passed me at mile four. I was more tired at nine miles than at the finish of the Evansville Half Marathon two weeks prior. I was sinking fast. My half-marathon split tied my worst ever. Mile 18 and 19, took 20:24! I wanted to walk, but I'd lose too much momentum. I didn't know if I could finish. People passed and I watched, upset, noticing things about them. A tall, handsome guy got a hand-off of mystery pills from his wife and disappeared (jealous), another wore German festive clothing, a woman behind me told her friends she was doing an 8:09 mile (my target pace), then passed me, making me feel worse. A chubby girl passed me and there was no way that girl could outrun me in a marathon! Then two guys with "Staff" on their shirts, a guy who looked like Charlie Brown, a shirtless oriental guy who must've been freezing. A large cast of characters, including the 3:40 pace group passed me.
The temps were in the high 40's with no sun, winds up to 20 miles an hour, and an occasional mist that cut through clothing and created a depressing gloom. I added an extra layer of clothing because the forecast was for wind, or I would've been a lot colder. Every marathon I've ever done, I've reached a point where I thought,"What have I gotten myself into?" I tried to smile but felt so bad, everything bothered me. I mumbled,"I'm retiring from running--this is my last run."
I was probably low on sugar because the legs grew tight. I passed a water station, and as they yelled,"Water! Gatorade!" a tiny voice said,"Gu." Gu? Gu was energy! I need GU! YOU NEED GU! WE ALL NEED GU! I did a U for Gu, almost knocked down another runner (sorry dude) and yelled,"GU!" The lady ran to me and I grabbed that nasty crap and shoved it down. At 19 miles, while a lady was passing me, I quickly jumped into her draft to get around another slower runner. I didn't think I had it in me but when I did, it was like I found another gear. She found herself quickly passed back, and I was gone, so dramatically, I didn't know what was happening.
It reminded me of the Wrath of Khan, when the Enterprise was damaged, trying to escape the Genesis Device, and suddenly warp drive returned, and Kirk shouted,"Go!" I thought,"I feel fast--go!" The stiffness disappeared and I began hunting down runners. I only had 10K left. Mile 20, dropped to 8:05 from the previous 10 minute mile. I was holding low 8's all the way to the finish, a drastic improvement from almost quitting. I passed that water station I'd passed earlier and yelled,"GU! I WANT GU!" The lady remembered me and replied,"GU! GUUUU!!!" Apparently I'd tapped into her mating call. She crossed in front of another runner and handed me Gu. That stuff is dangerous.|
I was too far off my target pace to make it up, but caught every one of those "cast of characters" except the 3:40 pace group—Charlie Brown, Miss 8:09, chubby, tall/handsome, Mr. Laufenfest, Topless, and more! Although I sucked up to mile 20, I liked this finish, the fastest last five miles of any marathon—ever, including 1991. I was 2:17 faster than last year on that last section and passed 20 runners, taking back as much as 22 minutes on some. In the last 1/2 mile, way in the distance was a lone runner. I knew if I gave everything, I could nip him on the line. So that's what I did, but there was an elderly couple who decided to run the last part race side-by-side, holding hands (they were finishing the half marathon which had the same finish as the full marathon), so I had to take the long way around the last turn to avoid the cuteness. I just dug even deeper, and passed my target five feet from the finish. I haven't had a finish like that in 16 years, but for a marathon, it was epic.
My time was 3:42:01, about mid pack for me, but I pulled a respectable time and a spectacular finish out of a disastrous weekend. All in all, I had four top-5 finishes, nine top-20 finishes. I capped the year off by winning a turkey which I donated to my family for Thanksgiving.
In light of the deaths and impending deaths of 2014, God did give me a reason to anticipate new life. I was baptized at a new church, having destroyed all the photos from my 2006 baptism at Westwood. Baby steps...throw out everything that reminds me of my painful past in an unhealthy way and replace with foundations for my future. Some, many bad memories are good because they let me know who to avoid in my future. I'd just stabbed myself the day before, so there was a lot of,"DON'T GRAB THAT HAND!" going back and forth as they kept asking me if I'd accepted Jesus Christ as my personal savior. I didn't want the water to go red and scare the kiddies there were sharks in the tank. Not yet. The time had not yet come.
I'd like to thank those who made this year more interesting and for the Lord having shown me that I had in fact thrown my pearls before swine, and giving me more pearls to toss away when the time is right. My challenge now is to find a vision for the future, a future that will likely be without Gizmo and Mom, because neither is likely to last more than a few years. When I graduate college with my degree, I pray that I can see life the way I saw life 30 years ago, when I sat at that bus station in Evansville and knew I was grabbing the wheel on my life.