Here's my recap of the 2012 Rockford Marathon (to be known from here on out as the death march from hell)
I got to Rockford Saturday evening after driving to St. Louis on Friday night for a friends graduation exhibit. (To be discussed another day). My mom had picked up my packet for me, but it was pretty sparse. The Tshirt was unisex, so even the small is huge on me, and i probably wont really wear it (but i am picky about most shirts) The swag included a 5-hour energy knock off and coupons for cigarettes and skoal. Seriously.
It's Rockford, what can i say. It was hot on Saturday, which did nothing to ease my nerves. We went out to eat, but i had to force food in my mouth. I was so nervous, i hadn't had an appetite all day (which is SO unusual for me - i am ALWAYS hungry.) I laid out all my stuff and went to bed early - As of the night before, it was supposed to be a high of 85 degrees, but very windy in the afternoon. Not good at all. I truly felt that on a cool cloudy day i could have run a 4:20 marathon. I knew that would be impossible if it were to reach 80 degrees.
I woke up saturday, and got ready to go. I demanded that we go early because i am so sick of running to the starting line. We got down there at 6:30, and it was already 75 degrees. Insert sadface.
There was also a shortage of porta potties, so the lines were insane, and - you guessed it- had to run to the starting line. (although it was only half a block, and dozens of people were still line for the porta potty!)
I started running with the 10:07 group. It as a comfortable pace for me. I talked to another girl for a while name Emily who came from Milwaukee. The first 5 miles were uneventful. After mile 5, we ran past my old high school, and then got onto a highway. That was when the heat first hit me. There was not a cloud in sight, and all that asphault made it feel like i was running across a frying pan. we looped around, and at mile 7, i told Emily i was going to slow my pace because the heat was getting to me. She cut back also, and said she was struggling as well. At mile 9 i passed my moms house. She gave me a salt pill and gel, and a freezy pop! The only problem was they were melting already. (damn you, freezy pops!) That gave me a boost, even though i couldn't believe how bad i felt, and it was only mile 9. I felt every bit as awful as when i was at flying pig. Right after mile 9 Emily said she was done, and i was alone. I talked to random people between 9 - 13, but it turned out every one was doing the half, and i wanted to stab everyone who said "only 2 more miles."
*apparently, a lot of full marathoners opted out at the half. I don't blame them. by 9:30, it had reached 90 degrees, NINETY DEGREES. They said the high was 84! And there was not a cloud in sight. Full blazing sun. After the split, it got real lonely. There weren't many marathoners to begin with, and i think we lost a lot more at the half. I felt awful at this point. I don't like to sit in 90 degree weather, let alone run in it. I threw up a little at mile 14. I felt so hot and sick. Luckily no one was around. There were two people very far ahead on me, and one guy back behind me. I was half running, half walking at this point, and just trying to make it to 16, where my family would be waiting. A random woman was bringing out ice cold bottles of water from her house to give to the runners, and i wanted to hug her. The weirdest part was that going as slow as i was, no one was really passing me. Everyone was barely moving.
|My attempt at "the Kelly pose"|
And so we jogged a little. And walked a lot. Then 30mph headwind started. Only it wasn't refreshing at all, it was a hot wind. I started to have trouble breathing. I was so confused and struggling to walk at this point. All the water stations only had hot water from sitting in the sun. It was like drinking tea. The 5 hour marathon pace leader was also walking. It wasn't safe to run anymore.
At mile 22 i collapsed. I had been staggering for a while, and hearing those weird mechanical sounds that you hear before you faint. It was just so hot, and i was not sweating at all anymore. I remember staggering and leaning on Matt, and then laying under a tree. I just layed there and told matt to get the medics. At least thats what i was trying to say. Another woman who was walking her daughter through this death march had a bag of ice and gave me a handful. i sucked on some, and rubbed it on my neck. I eventually felt like i could walk again, and was determined to finish this nightmare.
*i would like to point out that when i collapsed, no one paused my Garmin. Assholes.
I staggered on behind the woman and her daughter. There was another guy who walked next to us for a while. He was a seasoned marathoner. I said it was my first, and he responded with "I'm so sorry, i promise you it isn't like this. I swear, this is the worst it has ever been" That helped. A little. The last four miles just sucked. We ran through some woods, and it was lonely and scary. If i would have been alone, and collapsed in the woods, i might not have been found right away.
The last two miles were in the ghetto. There was no water. Even Matt was struggling at this point. Then i saw Ammanda again. She had gone home, and been so worried she came back with two giant bottles of ice cold water. We staggered on. I ended up finishing with two other people. The girl whose mom was with her, and another guy whose family was walking with him. We were all first-timers. I think thats the only reason any of us finished, because we had nothing to compare this to, we didn't realize how bad this was. It was 91 degrees at the finish, but the heat index had to be around 95. And to be honest, there were some stretches on the road that literally felt like we were in an oven, and things in the distance distorted from the heat coming off the road.
I don't even know what my time was. After i crossed the finish line, a woman helped me to the med tent. She did not pause my garmin either. I was sat down, and brought ice and powerade. There was no cheering. No hugs at the end. No photos. No people giving me food and telling me great job. Just being rushed to a medic tent. I think my time was around a 5:40-5:45.
In my opinion, this race should have been cancelled. The few of us stupid enough and stubborn enough to see this through were actually in grave danger, i believe. I knew this in the second half when people stopped cheering, and started telling us to be careful. There was not enough water, not enought volunteers, and they were not prepared for this heat. This wasn't a fun race, it was a sad race. For the runners, for the spectators. It was just heartbreaking.
This race is a complete failure for me, but i really don't know what i could have done differently. Maybe i should have just stopped at the half and found a different race. Maybe i should just not try marathoning anymore. Maybe i am cursed. Maybe all the global warming stuff is real.
All i know is that this race left me with a bitter taste in my mouth. I still love running. I actually feel like could do a couple miles after work today (although i wont) and if some day, someone asks me go run 26 miles with them, and the temperature is reasonable, i would enthusiastically be all over it! But i really don't know if i ever want to run a marathon again at this point. That was a horrible and brutal experience.
I'm really sorry i don't have a better story for you. I really wanted to talk about how i ran across the finish line in tears to receive my medal and then drink beers and celebrate, but i was robbed of that experience. Maybe i am just bitter because wounds are fresh, but this marathon broke my spirit. I will never ever run a race of any distance in heat like this again. It's not worth it, under any circumstances, and i am lucky to come out of it ok.
Marathons are sad.