As convenient as it was to be able to stay at mom and dad's house, not being downtown in a hotel meant that we had to catch a shuttle to the race. This was a bit of a problem. We arrived at Savannah Mall, the shuttle location, at just past 6am. The race was scheduled to start at 7:30am. You'd have thought that surely that was enough time. Unfortunately it was not. We stood in lines at the mall, freezing our poor tail ends off waiting for buses for an inordinate amount of time. K., C., and I considered tackling some guys near us who were smart enough to be dressed for the weather in sweat pants. We figured that they could probably take us though, especially given that our hands had frozen into clenched up claws. At least the buses were heated but the shuttle location meant we had a lengthy drive into the city to the race. At 7:30, when the gun was ostensibly sounding at Bull and Bay Streets, we were still on the highway making our way into the city. For those of us with late starting corrals (ie the really slow pokes like me), this was not a big deal at all but it led to us being passed by much faster runners who had missed their scheduled start for more miles than we would have expected.
I really lucked out in that K. also fell down on the job as far as training was concerned so we were equally unprepared and could run together the entire way. Since I had gone 3 miles and she had gone 6, my big goal was to get past those two mile markers still running. I'm probably a colossal pain in the butt to run with because it's like I'm people watching at the mall. Poor K. had to endure me pointing out every oddity, every entertaining shirt, and every fun poster that passed us or that we passed. We had a good old time pointing out people who clearly tried to wear clothing that was 3 or more sizes too small for them. K. found one woman who had shorts so far up her bum it looked almost as if she was running in a thong. I pointed out the woman whose running skirt was so short that it was really more a scarf around her waist. I thought about taking some pictures of people from the rear (and not just these two) to show the incredible variety of shapes of people who run marathons and half marathons but then realized that I'd be highly annoyed if some stranger snapped a picture of my jiggly butt on a run without my permission. I'd probably think they were a bit of a pervert. So I refrained. (You should all breathe a sigh of relief since I had intended to post those pictures here too.)
Some of the most entertaining sights during the race were the backs of people's t-shirts. Now, the mass produced ones can be quite entertaining and pithy but my personal favorites are the homemade shirts. An older man ran past us at one point and he had a laminated card pinned to the back of his shirt. It said, "Estimated finish time: Tuesday around noon." The fact that I was seeing this from behind and watching it get smaller and smaller in the distance tells you a little bit about how fast untrained runners run a half marathon. Another one that made me chuckle was ironed on to the back of a woman (also going faster than us) which said "If a marathon was easy, it'd be called Yo Mama." There was the "I could be wearing that" kind of shirt that said "Muffin Tops 13.1." And then there was the truly inspirational: "Proof that all things are possible, -160 lbs." It does not need to be said that all of these people were running faster than we poky little puppies were since I was reading their backs.
The other place you find entertainment during a long and painful run you haven't trained for (are you sensing how important this training thing is yet?) is looking at the signs along the route. People make lots of encouraging signs for their loved ones. My family doesn't but hey, I only hold that slightly against them. Since I never get signs specifically encouraging me (and co-opting any encouragement intended for other Kristens doesn't count, especially when so many of them spell our name incorrectly--it's an EN, not an IN at the end), I love the funny ones. There was a guy under an overpass holding a sign that said "GO COMPLETE STRANGER GO." I think I fell a little bit in love with him when I saw it. The best was that some anonymous voice behind me shouted to him "Thanks complete stranger!" Another one I poked K. to check out said "Do it longer. Do it faster. Do it harder. (That's what she said.)" Yes, sexual humor is never out of place during an endurance run.
Pointing shirts and posters and people out to K. as we ran helped keep my mind off the fact that we were actually stupid enough to try to run that 13.1 miles. Because, in case you are under the impression that it's not far, you're wrong. Map out some of the routes you normally drive and you'll be shocked at how far 13 miles will actually get you. In any case, marathons always seem to bring out some interesting characters. There are, of course, the folks in costume. We had wonder woman on our bus to the race. And I saw 4 Where's Waldos posing for a picture after the race. But it's the characters you stumble across during the run who divert your attention best.
There was a guy just ahead of us who had a doggie squeak toy in his pocket. Any time there were people cheering on the course, he squeaked that toy for all he was worth. There was a barefoot runner. (Given the bloody stumps and blisters I generally have at the end of the race, barefoot running appeals to me not at all.) There was the young guy wearing a pink race shirt, pink knee high socks, and a black running skirt. I asked K. if she thought he'd lost a bet. She said she thought it was a choice and I suspect she was correct. In any case, he had the good sense to get a skirt that was the proper size, unlike the woman I'd seen earlier. There was a woman who must be a religious fundamentalist of some stripe as she was wearing a long black skirt to mid shin, stripey rainbow socks pulled up to cover what the skirt didn't, a long sleeved blouse type shirt, and had her hair in a braid that stretched below her bottom. There was a Marine running with a full pack, the Marine flag, and an American flag. Oo-rah to him! Personally I carry my extra 50 pounds around daily, evenly distributed over my entire body so I don't know what the big deal was but everyone else seemed impressed. ;-) One guy zipped past us singing at the top of his lungs to his music. A woman running beside us shouted to him, "That's right! You go! You'll never see us again." It's kind of hard to giggle and run at the same time. One guy was running with his girlfriend/wife and he was obviously trying to encourage her. She was just as obviously pretty much out of gas. If she hadn't been and I'd been her, I think I might have run faster for a minute just so I could catch him and kick him. He would run ahead of her a ways and then turn around and run backwards trying to convince her to catch him. I told K. that I thought that was incredibly annoying and I'd want to strangle him. Apparently I was a bit louder than I realized as a woman running next to them turned around and yelled back to me "I would too." Good to know I can be a judgmental big mouth even in the midst of a run. The worst person we saw though was a woman who had pooped her pants. She was running just slightly faster than we were so we had the benefit of the hideous smell (and unpleasant sight) for longer than we would have liked. I should add that each and every one of these people I mentioned was running faster than we were. Although we did pass the annoying boyfriend/husband and his clearly wiped out significant other walking towards the end of the race and she hadn't given him a black eye yet so she really must have loved him.
Although I hope I won't do another race so unprepared, I was really pleased that K. and I managed to run the entire 13.1 miles. We crossed the finish with a chip time of 2:39:29. Definitely slow but upright and running the whole way! Once we were finished, I needed a porta-potty rather desperately. A big greasy hamburger the night before the race was yet another of my poorer decisions and my body was about to extract revenge. You know it's a sad day when you look with pleasure on a porta-john. It's even sadder when your thigh muscles are incapable of allowing you to hover over the grungy seat but you don't care and only let out a moan of pleasure at finally sitting down. The moment of truth comes, of course, when you are finished and should really leave the john but find that standing up is last on your list of friendly options. Knees protesting madly, I made my way back to K. where we heard the overall awards being given out. When they started off by saying that third place in the women's half marathon went to someone from Charlotte, NC, I just knew they meant me. Um...no. I'm just a bit older and slower than Alana Hadley. But only a bit. (And my son, hearing about her amazing performance, said "Our track team is dead!")
Since I wasn't going to be getting any awards, we headed back to the shuttle line to catch a bus back to the mall. I swear we walked another mile to get the shuttle ("How best should we mess with these runners who've just run a gajillion miles? Let's make the shuttle stops be forever away from the finish and see how long it takes them to hobble over to them. Yeah, that sounds like fun!") And once back to the mall, we had to make the equally long trek to my car. Being smarter than the average bear, we cut through the mall in all our stinky glory instead of going around the outside. K. needed a bathroom break on our way so I loitered outside near several other people who obviously had also just finished the run. As one girl came out of the bathroom, her waiting friend told her that she'd found out what the word they didn't know meant. Word geek that I am, I leaned in to hear her ask which word it was. Apparently the word "inaugural," as in "The Inaugural Savannah Rock and Roll Marathon" had stumped all three girls. I swear I weep for the youth of today.
All in all, a fun time. New things I learned from this run: I learned that stashing your phone up your sleeve during a long run is a bad plan. It now makes a sound like I am getting a text every minute or so even though I'm not. I thinking having it bang against my elbow for so long short-circuited something in it. It makes me sound really popular though! I also learned that stiffness sets in in different ways depending on your lack of training. For instance, having gone to the bathroom while out for dinner that night, I found that there was no way on God's green Earth than I was going to be able to raise my leg high enough to flush the toilet. Just another little indignity I never knew about before. And I learned that there are very good reasons to flash your father a rude gesture in church. I went with mom and dad to the Saturday night service after the race while K. and C. napped or rested back at their house. I'm pretty sure I moaned audibly when we had to stand to sing and again when we sat back down. I know I had to grab the chair in front of me for balance since I felt like someone had knee-capped me. It was at this point that dad pointed out an older gentleman in the row across from us who had also run the half that morning. This man was rising and sitting without any apparent discomfort. Show-off! And yes, I made a rather rude gesture in dad's general direction. The people behind us were probably horrified but I figure they were already distracted by my moaning and groaning so they weren't surprised when I turned out to be an impertinent and rude piece of baggage too.
Now we need to see if I have learned the most important lesson of all: TRAIN FOR THE BLASTED RACES! (But not until after the state tennis tournament is over as I wouldn't want to over train for that. ::grin::)