Sunday, November 7, 2010

Part 12: The End is Near

Kirsten said, “Can you see the white tents up ahead?”

I looked ahead where she was pointing and all I could see were the backs of the people in front of me.

“Um no. Not yet.”

Kirsten is like a full foot taller than me. Lucky duck. She could see over the people’s heads to the tents in the finishing area. I however, could not.

“Well, they are just down there. You’re almost there!”

“Awesome! I just might make it!”

“You’ll make it! I’m going to take off and let you take it in. Good job! See you at the victory party!”

“Yeah. See you at the party. Thanks Kirsten!”

And off she went. I had no idea how I was going to make it to the victory party! I felt like as soon as I got off my feet, I wouldn’t get back on them again. But I’d figure it out.

“What?! You’re going to walk the last 3/8 of a mile???”

I looked over to my left. There was this guy talking to whom I guessed was his girlfriend. He was trying to get her to run the rest of the way in. I looked at her and it was obvious she gave it her best and was now just finishing by any means necessary. The last thing she needed to hear was ANYTHING other than, “You’re doing great! I am so proud of you! You are going to be so excited when you hit the finish!”

Because right now she was beyond the “Bite Me” zone. She was what I call “Spent Out Pissed!” or SOP for short. Spent Out Pissed is when you have worked so hard that you stopped having fun a long time ago. You have spent all your energy up to this point and much more. You are dragging in on energy credit and you are not looking forward to paying off the debt when you’re done. You are spent out and pissed about it!

You are no longer excited about the amazing feat you signed up for. You are no longer joyfully anticipating crossing the finish line. You are mad as hell (mostly at yourself for signing up for this) and anything said to you can only be taken in the worse possible way when you are in that state of mind.

I believe the boyfriend meant well and maybe was concerned she would be disappointed if she didn’t come in running. But I’m sorry to say, he was a complete idiot!!! Anyone, with a molecule of awareness could see she had no run in her. She was beat-up-whooped! She looked worse than the walking dead. Even zombies would have rejected her!

He kept trying to goad her on and another lady on the far side of the girl said, “She’s going to hit you.”

“She can hit me.” He replied.

Yep. Total idiot. He has no clue what is happening with her at that moment. If he really wanted to encourage her to go faster (which again was stupid. Just let her finish) he should have been using positive reinforcement.

When someone is in that state of mind, if someone says, “You don’t want to walk the last 3/8 do you?” all the SOP person hears is, “You’re not good enough. You should be going faster. What’s wrong with you?” and it just beats you down further and drains any hope for joy.

Stupid stupid stupid.

I wanted to say something to that effect to the guy. But a couple things kept me from it. One, I didn’t think he’d understand and two, I wasn’t sure I had the energy to do so. I felt terrible. But I just passed on by and worried about my own race. (Yes, she was going so slow that I  passed her)! I know she finished. I just wonder if he’s still her boyfriend.

To this day I wonder if I should have spoke up.

I was still joyfully anticipating the finish line. I was still in pain. But I was so happy I decided to do a marathon. I love endurance events and so far this had been the most exciting for me. Then as if it was the cherry on top of the sundae I saw coach April again!

I had seen her at around mile 11 and here see was by the finish. I love coach April! She always answers your questions thoroughly, is consistently encouraging and always always has a smile for you!

She flashed me one of her signature smiles and started walking with me. It seemed that the closer I got to the finish line, the faster I was walking. I told her I was already planning my strategy for next season (which was true) and babbled. But by now my mood was improving since the finish was now in site.

All of a sudden I saw Coach Jim heading away from the finish and looking like he was searching for someone. I thought that was funny since he usually had to look for me on the team runs. He was the full runners’ coach which means he couldn’t pack it in until all his runners were in. So he often had to wait for me to come in after everyone else.

(One day in training I had gotten on the course without him seeing me. So he didn’t know I was running that day. He saw me come in and was surprised! He thought all his runners were in and then here I come waddling in! Oops!) :)

So I looked over and yelled, “Hey coach! You lookin’ for me?”

He grinned his big grin, trotted over to me and said, “We’re all looking for you Jill!”

 “Am I the last one in as usual coach?”

“No. There’s lot’s behind you still.”

“Not runners.”

“Yeah, runners too.”

I didn’t believe him. There were a lot of people behind me. But I didn’t think any of my TNT Central Coast teammates were still behind me. But it was nice of him to say so just the same.

I had seen the sweep truck when I was at mile 23 or so. That’s at a point were the course doubles back on itself. So you are running out as the people behind you are running in. There the sweep truck was at about mile 17 or so. I was happy to see it still that far behind me! 

So there I was at the last quarter mile flanked by my two favorite coaches headed to the finish. I know we chatted and chatted. But I can’t remember a word of what was said. I just remember Coach April smiling and Coach Jim grinning. The only words I remember were when Coach Jim said, “Ok. There you go Jill. You take it from here.”

“What?”

I looked up and we were at the start of the finish chute!!!!!!” The sky opened up and the angels started singing!

“Run it in!” Coach said.

I took off my jacket and held it in my head. I told the coaches, “No jacket for me. I have to make sure everyone can see my singlet. I got to represent for TNT!”

“That’s right!” Coach April called and off I ran!

I couldn’t feel any pain at all! I was in the chute! This was in-the-bag! Then I saw the pot holes. The road was soaking wet with standing puddles here and there as well as deep pot holes that were full of water. I had to be careful if I didn’t want to fall on my face in front of all these people!

There were hundreds of people standing out in the pouring rain on either side of the chute. All yelling and cheering! I heard “Run Jill Run!!!!” I looked over and there was this guy. I complete stranger. Leaning over the railing looking me square in the face, yelling again “RUN JILL RUN!!!” I did! I can’t tell you how being cheered so enthusiastically by people you don’t even know gives you energy to move!!! It was amazing!

I ran and tried to not slip or trip over the pot holed road while I scanned the crowd for Kris. I knew he was here somewhere and knowing him, he had secured a spot right on the railing somewhere. I just had to spot him.

I was more than halfway down the chute and was starting to worry Kris might not see me come in. Oh well. I knew we’d find each other. We had a meeting plan just in case this happened.

Then I spotted him! He was on the opposite side than I was. But we saw each other and I was so happy for him to see me not just on my feet but running. Especially since the last communication he had from me was that terrible text message at mile twenty five.

I was grinning ear to ear and the blue finish mats were coming right up! I prepared to obey racing commandment number 11: Thou shalt rock the finishing pose for the camera.

At the TNT training runs they make you practice a finishing pose as you come in from each run. Of course, I had to try a multitude of possibilities including the ever-popular “Saturday Night Fever” pose. But in the end I decided on the classic “Arms straight up in Victory” pose.

Unfortunately, I didn’t see where the cameras were. So I timed it a little too early and the camera caught me as my arms were coming back down. So it looks like I am coming in with my arms straight out in front of me. The rarely used “ Tank” pose. Ah well. Our finishing photos can’t all look like Joan Benoit’s! :) 

As I expected, I didn’t give any thought to which fireman I went to to get my necklace. I do remember mine was blond and the second one in. (I have his picture below. He’s the one on the left of the picture). I don’t know why I went to that fireman. I think he was just the closest when I was ready to get my necklace.

I love that NWM gives out a finisher’s necklace rather than the usual medal. I wear my necklace ever day and no one has said, “Gee Jill, don’t you think it’s a little vain to still be wearing your finisher’s medal everyday?? The marathon was like three weeks ago!"

And I do wear it......everyday! :) 

2 comments:

Tanya said...

Congratulations, marathoner! I hope you continue to wear your medal every single day. You earned it, and every time you look at it, you can remember the amazing thing you've done. Welcome to a very special club!

Kris said...

I like the "tank" pose! In fact, those photos of you crossing the finish line are my favorite. It makes me very happy to see that moment, knowing all of training, fundraising, and caring you did for this event. You are amazing! Congrats!