California International Marathon: requiem

This weekend began with a quote from Michael J. Fox’s memoir:

And he’s exactly right. There’s only one first, so make it special. He wanted to see “Back to the Future” for the first time in the theater, with regular people, to experience their authentic reactions. When I read that quote on the plane, I took it to heart and became determined to take in everything about this marathon weekend. The travel, the friends, the laughter, and the race itself.

And I had that epiphany before I knew J and K had spent almost three months plotting a secret trip to Sacramento.

I think we nailed it.

We toured the state capitol building, even blending in with a school field trip to visit one of the legislative chambers. We bought things at the expo, we took pictures at every photo op. We ate very well. And this group of people is hysterical. They were unfazed by my race anxiety and kept repeating their confidence in me.

And then came Saturday morning. As long as I live, I will never forget looking out the hotel room peephole and seeing J and K standing in the hall. Warped by the little fish-eye lens, but unmistakable.

There was the 5K–spectating is fun–and the Rogue pep talk. Then a team photo, and team bracelets. From there, a mini road trip for lunch with even more friends. I was so overwhelmed by my ever-growing support crew, I could (almost) ignore that my football team lost the Big 12 conference championship game, and oh yeah I was about to run a marathon.

The race itself was hard. The bus ride, the anxious wait to start, then the physical and mental effort it took to travel 26.2 miles on foot. It took me six hours and two minutes, and a lot of stubbornness. Although the weather was perfect and my crew kept popping up along the course, I struggled the second half. I tried to pick up my pace the last couple of miles, but I still missed my goal time. Seeing a huge group of friends cheering just before the final turn, though, and having J and K right there at the finish line…. the hugs, tears, and flood of messages and texts more than balanced out the slight disappointment I felt when I looked at my watch.

If I had a dollar for every heart and heart-eyes emoji I used this weekend, I’d be a very wealthy person. My vocabulary is pretty decent, but I’m still having trouble articulating everything that comprised this event. So the emojis will have to do until I can process it all.

Forty-eight hours after finishing the marathon I felt pretty good overall. Oddly, my left shoulder is sore, I guess from carrying my water bottle, and it’s going to be a shock to return to eating like a normal person again. My quads are shot though–Monday night I needed a shove to get out of the rented van–but the soreness every time I stand, sit, or take a step reminds me that it really did happen. I really did this thing. And it was nearly perfect.