Sunday, May 24, 2009, I added my fourth marathon medal to my growing collection. According to the clock, the 4:58 finish wasn’t a personal record, but finishing the race hand-in-hand with my husband was certainly my “best time.”
Going into the Vermont City Marathon, I was well trained, healthy and poised to run an amazing race. I was confident that a 4:09 finish was within my grasp with my husband by my side to keep me at a steady 9:30 pace to the finish. But, marathons are part training, part luck of the day.
Although the weatherman originally predicted clear skies, we awoke to a gray, rainy morning. The weather system that was supposed to clear out overnight had stalled. My body also decided to challenge me with the cramps of my monthly cycle three days early.
I did find a solution to my intestinal issues with this marathon. I decided to use the effects of the liquid gels to my advantage. When the alarm rang at 5 a.m., I downed a package of Carboom and waited 15 minutes for nature to run its course as I drank my usual 2 cups of coffee. The pre-emptive strike successfully eliminated any intestinal issues during the race.
My husband usually runs considerably faster than I do. But, he signed up for this race as my pacer to help me reach my goal. As we lined up at the start, we were excited despite the rain. I had soaked my feet in Blister Shield as a preventative measure and was ready to put my training to the test. My husband’s quiet presence kept me strong mile after mile, hill after hill. At the halfway point, we were soaked, but averaging a 9:32 pace.
Art was also running as a member of a two-person relay team. So, the plan was for him to go through the exchange point to pass off the chip while I kept running. Unfortunately, it took him 5 minutes to find his partner and for the next 5 miles I ran alone worried that I had miscommunicated with him.
It was during this stretch that I became aware that my abdominal cramps were getting worse and my right foot was starting to hurt more and more with every step. At mile 18, my husband caught up with me as I was sitting on the curb to check out my foot. Running in rain soaked socks for 3 hours caused blood blisters to develop on my toes.
I knew at that point that my new goal was just to finish and I needed a dry pair of socks to do it. There was a friendly looking family cheering outside of their home, so I stopped and asked if they would be kind enough to give me a pair of socks. They saved the day! I exchanged my wet, smelly socks for a pristine dry pair and was off running again.
We continued with a run/walk for miles 20-23 and had to settle for mostly walking for miles 23-26. I know we ran 7 steps at the end of the 26th mile when we saw a photographer and the last tenth of a mile to look good at the finish. As we crossed the finish line hand-in-hand, my heart swelled with joy knowing how blessed I am to have my husband by my side each and every day.