DAY ONE HUNDRED FORTY – LONG – 26.2 MILES AT 5.25 MPH – Ten of 10 Long Runs

I only woke up 13 hours ago, but I hope to get this report done before I head right back to bed.

The Marathon went really well. I finished in 4 hours, 50 minutes and 36 seconds, which was under my 4:59 goal. I was very happy about that. I did not suffer any calamities, injuries, or insults, and other than being really tired right now and a little sore, I feel fine.

I had gone over to my mom’s house the night before and had her decorate me with Sharpie markers. I put “THANKS” on my right inner arm so I could raise my hand to my head and show my gratitude for all the police officers, cheerleaders, water stations, musical bands, other volunteers, and enthusiastic fans. That was a big hit. People really liked being thanked and they yelled louder and longer, which really helped me.
In tribute to my dad, we put “I (heart) U DAD” on the outside of my right arm and hopefully that will show up in the race photos. I also, inadvertently discovered that Sharpies do block some UV rays and I now have “DAD” sunburnt onto my arm. It’s good to know that even death won’t keep him from hassling me. She also put “I LOVE YOU” down my left calf and “DAD” down my right, so whoever had the misfortune of being behind me for half a day got to see that for 26 miles.

On my left inner arm was my ‘cheat sheet’ for who was going to be out on the course to cheer me on and where I could expect to see them. It wasn’t that the list was so long that I couldn’t memorize it, but when I do these long runs, I find it almost impossible to remember even the simplest of things.

Also in tribute to “R” (short for “Arlen,” my dad), I wore a hatband that said, “Will run for chocolate.” (It was that one or “Running is cheaper than therapy” and I decided against that one because I’m not even sure that’s true after the entry fees, shoes, pants, shorts, shirts, hats, MP3 player….)

My supporters were spaced out perfectly. My mom stepped repeatedly out of her comfort zone and not only got up EARLY on her DAY OFF, but she DROVE into DOWNTOWN and waited in the COLD for a REALLY LONG TIME at a SPORTING EVENT to make sure she saw me at about the 2-mile mark. Thanks, Mom!!!

Next up was Kim Obitz, a fellow psychologist who volunteered to come out to a stage near her home, at about the 7-mile mark. I was worried that there was a lot of distance between my Mom and Kim, but those early miles actually came quite easily and I was just enjoying the course, the cheerleaders, the bands, and watching people watching people (Yes, spellcheck, I meant to say that twice). Kim had a neon sign with my name on it and that really gave me a huge boost. I was so happy to see her! Thanks, Kim!!!

Wisconsin friends, (and newlyweds) Anne & John Spahr wanted to do long-distance support and figured out where I would be when they were in church, just before the service started, so they could send me some especially good vibes. There was a spring in my step around Mile 10, thanks to their prayers. Thanks, Guys!!! (Oh yeah, and Thanks, God, too!!!)

My neighbors, Angie & Efren, planned their spectating around their daughter’s nap time and they chose a great band with a Latin Beat around the Half-Marathon mark. I was actually doing so well at that time that I came through earlier than predicted and surprised them. I’m so glad they were there early! Thanks, Neighbors!!!

Although it was a full 7 miles until my next supporters, fellow therapist Grayce Gusmano and her husband Ron Pennington, by that time, I couldn’t do simple math any longer and I somehow had it in my head that Mile 20 was only 4 miles away from Mile 13. (It is just incredible how the brain’s higher functioning will just give way when it is diverting all of it’s energy to simply staying alive.) Anyhow, I spotted Grayce and Ron and gave them both a hug, I was so happy to see them. Thanks, Guys!!!

During that 7-mile / 4-mile stretch, I was a little loopy and was just starting to zone out a little, when all of a sudden, there was a horse. A spectator had ridden her horse to the event, I guess, and there he was, standing on the sidewalk, watching the race. I am such an animal freak, all I could think of was, “I’m petting that horse.” I started to think maybe that lady didn’t want random strangers just coming up to her horse and petting it, and then I thought, “then she shouldn’t bring him out to an event with 30,000 participants,” as I made a bee-line towards the horse. Before I even had a chance to ask her if I could, she was telling me I could pet him and giving me all of his vital information, including his name, “Charlie Horse,” which I thought was incredibly funny, at a marathon where charlie horses (leg cramps) brought a number of talented athletes to the ground over the next 6 miles.

Luckily, my next supporter, art therapist, Camille Smith, was only about another mile and a half away. I really wanted to walk at that point, but I didn’t want her to ‘catch’ me walking, so I kept shuffling along. It really was incredibly helpful to know there would be people out there watching me. I can’t believe how much that helped. I really appreciated it. Thanks, Camille!!!

From this point on, it gets a bit dicey. I missed seeing my next supporters. I don’t know if they were there or not, but I didn’t see them. I’m afraid I came through too early and that they were not there yet. If that’s the case, sorry I missed you, but not too sorry, because it meant I was doing well. It was helpful knowing you would be there, so thanks for thinking of me!!!

Next, I didn’t have confirmation from my next supporter, so I didn’t actually know if he’d be there. However, I just pretended like he would and I tried to keep going. However, I was really pretty shot by that time, so I did a fair amount of walking. I rationalized a little bit because I was really doing well on my time and I had plenty of time to spare and still hit my goal. However, I did milk it a little too much and I was also having a heck of a time getting going again after a short period of walking, so I decided I better quit that, if I could.

I couldn’t. I walked a number of times over the next mile or two and when it came time to see my friend, I dutifully started running again. I don’t yet know if he was there, but I didn’t see him, if he was. That was somewhat of a relief and I used it as an excuse to just start walking again, until I remembered I was trying to quit that. So, I tried, as best I could, to keep moving through the last few miles, knowing I had potentially one more supporter to see, very near the end.

I saw a stage coming up and the mileage didn’t seem right, but I ran anyhow in case my friend was there, but she wasn’t. Turns out I had the wrong stage. So, here comes the right stage and I need to keep running in case she was there. She wasn’t, but just knowing that she could be there was motivation enough to have kept me running through two stages, so I even appreciate knowing someone was supposed to be there. When I got home, I saw that I got a text message from her, saying she was at a dead stop in traffic. I totally believe that. Trying to leave the Marathon grounds after the race, I probably could have gotten home faster on foot than I did in the shuttle buses, then having my husband come pick me up from the Buttes, a nearby hotel. So, thanks for trying anyhow, your support was still felt!!!

Each year, there are a few participants who take the “Rock and Roll” theme very seriously and 4 friends did a great job of dressing as Cher, Janice Joplin, Cyndi Lauper, and Brittany Spears. The gal who dressed as Cher was actually wearing velour bell-bottoms, a tiny velour top, and a feathered headdress. How she ran in that, I’ll never know. I only saw her at the finish line. The Brittany Spears was freaking hilarious. The woman, wore a bald cap, obnoxious glamor sunglasses, handcuffs, and then had two baby dolls, tied to a long string, tied to her wrist, and she dragged these baby dolls on the ground as she walked. Again, I don’t know if she ran dragging those dolls, but if she did, that was just hilarious.

As part of this goofy essay contest where I was designated as a “Marathon All-Star,” I got three of the major perks this weekend. First, I was invited to the Elite Athlete / VIP dinner on Friday night at the Biltmore. That was a hoot. It was 2 dozen Ethiopians and Kenyans, another 2 dozen international athletes, about thirty young women with legs up to their necks, a dozen or so buff guys, some press people, executives from the corporate sponsors, Mayors of the 3 cities through which the course would run, and me and two other dorks that wrote essays. We were seated with Olympic Gold Medalist, Frank Shorter. Poor Frank! I’m not sure who he pissed off to get that punishment, but he managed it about as well as he could.

My pseudo-buddy, Fox 10’s Ron Hoon, served as MC for a short program that included some hijinks by the Tempe Mayor, Hugh Hallman, in which he invited Bert Vivian (President of P.F. Chang’s) up to the stage with him, and it looked like maybe he was gonna give Bert an award, but he basically just had Bert hold his clothes while he stripped down from sensible dinner attire to running gear. About midway through, Bert’s line, “Um, I’m getting kinda uncomfortable with this” had the crowd in stitches.

My other two priceless luxuries were to be admitted to the VIP hospitality areas at the start and the finish. Man, I will have a hard time going back into the general population next year. Before the race, they had us INSIDE the AZ Mining Museum with REAL FOOD and REAL BATHROOMS and it was WARM. We just walked out the front door of the museum and got into our starting corrals when it was time. No standing outside in the cold, wondering how long you can wait to take off your warm gear, get it to the gear trucks, and still get back in time to start the race, but not so early that you have to stand there a long time in just your running clothes.

I was really starting to feel like a VIP until I came around a corner and saw a fantastic young woman with about 3% body fat, with what appeared to be a team of handlers. Several were organizing her gear and one was rubbing her down with anti-chafing body lubricant. Um, yeah, I forgot to bring my team of handlers, what am I doing in the VIP area again?!?!

After the race, the VIP area had TABLES and CHAIRS and MORE REAL FOOD and FREE BEER and CHAMPAGNE and COOKIES and BROWNIES and the tables even had FLORAL ARRANGEMENTS. Had the day been colder, they were even prepared with outdoor heaters, but the weather was so great they didn’t have to use them. I ran into Hugh Hallman in the VIP area and tried to take our photo with my $10 mini-digital and I’m afraid this was all I got.

Tempe Mayor HallmanI also want to thank everyone who send good wishes, words of encouragement, and wanted to be out there today, but couldn’t. I had a great time and am glad to have had this experience. Unofficial race results are already posted, and race photos (bib 50190) will follow in about 2 weeks.