Friday, November 5, 2010

Part 11: Deep in the 'Bite Me' Zone & How One Piece of Licorice Saved My Life

I recognized that I had entered the bite me zone somewhere around mile 23. Actually, I’m sure I had entered the ‘bite me’ zone much earlier. But just didn’t recognize it until then.

At any rate, my legs were cramping worse than ever. I would stop all the time to stretch. But the stretching didn’t seem to help. So I tried to just ignore the cramping and just keep walking.

Other runners were in the same shape. Most of us were limping and so many were on the side of the road stretching too. I walked as long as I could without stretching. But my body started screaming at me. (I guess it got tired of me ignoring it’s grumblings. So it started full on yelling).

I needed to stop but there wasn’t any light posts or railings to lean against. So I kept walking. I knew there would be something soon. But there wasn’t. So I broke racing commandment # 10: Thou shalt not stop in the middle of the course.

If you have to stretch or stop for any reason, it is extremely bad form to stop in the middle of the course. If there is a fast runner behind you, you are asking for a collision. But I did it anyway.

And a TNT coach spotted me immediately and ran right over to me.

“How you doing? How you doing?”

“I really need to stretch but there’s no posts or anything.”

“Here, lean on me.” he said bending down so I could put my hand on his shoulder for balance.

I started stretching my quads, “I can not tell you how much I appreciate this. You are saving my life.”

“No problem,” he said.

“You want to hear something funny?”

“What’s that?”

“My knees are hurting and they never once hurt in training.”

“Well,” he replied, “You are running a marathon.”

That got a smile out of me.

I thanked him again and started back down the course. I realized I hadn’t ate or drank anything for at least an hour which I know wasn’t good. But I just couldn’t stomach the thought of eating or drinking. Even the kids at the water stations were getting on my nerves!!!! And they were just there to help.

I knew Kris was probably at the finish line now. He had sent me a text a while back to let me know the buses wouldn’t be getting him to any other point on the course. So he would have to meet me at the finish. We had planned to meet up at more places on the course but that wasn’t going to happen. I figured I should update him. I figured Cindy had already made it across by then too.

My last message was at mile 21 and Cindy wasn’t in yet. When I hit mile 24 I got a text from Kris saying Cindy still wasn’t in yet. Kris texted, “I think you can catch her. Run Jill Run!” I was amused at his enthusiasm. But at the same time I worried that Cindy was having a bad time of it too if she wasn’t in yet.

The weather kept deteriorating and by now it was dismal! Rain was falling in cold curtains. We were freezing. We did not train for cold ironically. We were so proud to have finished our 20 mile training run in 104 degree weather. Fat lot of good it was doing us now! That made me laugh!

When I finally got to mile 25 I sent another text to Kris. It was full of uncharacteristic profanities.  I’m sure he was relieved to know I was just past a mile out. But I’m sure my unusual attitude gave him pause for concern.

About this time, deep into the ‘bite me’ zone, I saw our mentor Kirsten standing along the sidelines done with her race. I love Kirsten. She is just neat neat neat. However at this moment I thought, “Oh look at Kirsten. The tall, skinny long legged blonde done with her race ages ago because running a marathon to her is like riding a bike around a block for me. I bet she got in before the rain even started! Lucky bitch. I HATE her!”

OMG! I knew it was the marathon brain talking. And the last thing I wanted was for Kirsten to see me in the ‘bite me’ zone. I really do love her. She was so encouraging during the training and always answered all my stupid e-mails and followed my blog and she is just the sweetest person you’d ever meet. And she’s fun! And she worked every bit as hard at each mile as any of us did on the marathon.  Oh and one more thing: Girl can run!!! She ran a negative split on her first marathon. Yes Kirsten...YOU ROCK!!!!

I wish I could be even half as cool as Kirsten. Not just as a runner but as a person too.
So while I was really happy to see her, I didn’t want my bad attitude to come out in front of her. So I did what I do best to cover it up; I babbled. I don’t remember everything I said. But I do remembering babbling on and on. I think I told her how much pain I was in. But assured her I was going to finish. And told her about the text I sent Kris which probably made him worry. And I was so so tired.

Then I hear “Run Jill Run!!” from the right side of the course. I turned to look and I saw a lady standing there. She had seen my singlet and was cheering me on. And she was holding in her outstretched hand a....bag....of......TWIZZLERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

In mid-rant I exclaimed, “Is that licorice???!!!!!”

The nice lady nodded.

“Can I have one?????” I pleaded (though it was obvious she was giving them out)!

“Of course!”

I grabbed one piece and held it in both hands, “OOOOOHhhhhhh THANK YOU!”

I took a bite and was just in heaven!!! The pain lifted and I knew it was going to be easy going from here. And finally Kirsten could get a word in while my mouth was busy with the piece of licorice that saved my life

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