I am currently overwhelmed grading papers, and I am stressed out from giving up sweets for Lent. Damn you, Devil. So I am sharing a race report that I wrote 10 years ago from my first and only marathon. It’s like an anniversary for me. The Ocean Drive Marathon starts in Cape May and finishes in Sea Isle City. It’s an early spring race and it’s on the Atlantic Ocean, so a strong, biting wind howls out of the north relentlessly. Did I mention we run north for 26.2 miles?
Ocean Drive Marathon, March Twenty-something, 2005 (I think)
Well, I finally did it. I completed a marathon. Would you like to know how it went? Of course you would.
To share this experience, I invite you into recollections from my race day inner monologue. Admission is free, but only because we’re such good friends. Don’t worry, I cleaned it up.
6:05 a.m.: It’s cold. I am lying in bed, and my hair is cold. How is that possible? I see out the window that the sky is cloudless, but that flag at the tennis courts is standing straight up at attention, and a trash can just went flying down the street. Not a good sign. Time to get up.
6:20 a.m.: I am no longer vacillating on what to wear. Shorts stay in the bag, tights are the choice today. Plus hat, gloves (super-insulated thumb shafts), jacket.
8:30 a.m.: I guess I need to get out of the car and walk to the start line. At this point, I could just drive away. I could make Lea, Sam, and Candace get out of the car, and I could drive to that diner we passed. I could eat eggs and pancakes and drink a pot of coffee, plus read the entire Sunday paper, and still beat everyone to the finish line. Crap. They are making me get out of the car.
8:40 a.m.: I honestly did not recognize Keith Straw. He looks like a person, not a bedazzled pink ballerina. Ethel Cook tells me that she ran 14 miles yesterday. Either she’s nuts or I am a total wimp. Probably both. They both wish me good luck.
9:00 a.m.: On on.
9:25 a.m.: Why won’t this guy let me pass him? I am running behind a very tall dude in a gray shirt (gray shirt dude, or GSD) to block the non-stop headwind. He slows down. I try to pass him. Then he speeds up. Then I run behind him to block the wind. Then he slows down. Then I try to pass him. Then he speeds up. This happens about 5 times. I run next to him to get a good look at his face. Did I date him, dump him, break his heart years ago? Did I fail him in my Statistics class? Did I rear-end him on the Schuylkill? Nope. He’s just a class A tool. He’s a jack hammer. A Makita table saw with interchangeable blades. A Black and Decker drill with titanium drill bits. I am mentally cruising down the power tool aisle in Home Depot looking for just the right tool assignment, when he finally pulls away.
10:35 a.m.: The ten-mile mark feels pretty good. Not too windy on the Wildwood boardwalk. Mmmmm, fudge. I should stop for some. Oooh, boardwalk fries. Funnel cake!! Oops, I almost run over the GSD heading toward the funnel cake. I apologize. He says something to me, but I can’t hear him over the Foo Fighters, which is a very good thing. No need to get into a fight mid-marathon.
11:15 a.m.: No complaining. Just passed the 14-mile mark, 12 remaining. Next weekend, when Ethel gets to the 14-mile mark in some insane 100 mile race, she’ll have 86 to go. No complaining.
12:00 p.m.: Do they have iliotibial band transplant surgery? I need to put my name on the list for a donor. Last 4 miles on a wickedly cambered road really did me in. I want roller skates.
12:30 p.m.: Here come my kids. All 6 (2 daughters, 2 nieces, 2 vagabonds roaming the streets of Avalon) run with me for a block. A nice emotional lift.
1:00 p.m.: GSD is back. He sprints past me, then stops to walk. I pass him. He sprints past me, then stops to walk. This continues for most of mile 24. I lose him after that.
1:23 p.m.: Finished. Four hours and 23 minutes after I started. Tears, lots of blubbering, family, friends, Keith, Ethel, Candace, Sam, and Lea all at the finish. YIPPEE! I DID IT!
1:24 p.m.: I will never do that again.
4:30 p.m.: Memphis beats Texas. There’s goes my NCAA bracket.
That’s it. Well, not exactly all of it. Ten-plus hours is a lot of inner monologue, and I’ve blocked out a good portion to preserve my sanity. Besides, for the whole show, I really should charge you admission.