The best part about failing to complete a recent half marathon was being at the finish when Megan crossed the line. While slapping a cold washcloth on already soaked hair, I heard the MC boom her name. I turned to see her gliding forward, calm and strong, with a look of hard earned disappointment. She had missed her goal of under two hours by less than two minutes. But adjusting for the heat, sun, and 113.1% humidity, I call that mission accomplished.
I think I saw a flicker of surprise as we staggered into a sweaty hug. At mile four, I had eased my pace and urged her ahead. Her times are always better than mine. How could I have stealthily overtaken her?
My speech was still a little slurred when I explained: after (barely*) missing my mini goal of running the first half (10K) under an hour, I hit the wall so hard I thought I would need a medic to haul me the six miles back to the finish.
This has happened before: woozy, dizzy, stumbling, incoherent, eyes rolling back like an upside-down slot machine. The medic kept asking if I was diabetic as he clamped a small device on my fingertip to find my pulse or maybe it was my blood pressure. Apparently my no-chip nail polish prevented a reading.
After lying down a bit and eating some more carbo-chews, the lakefront came back into focus and lucidity returned. In my confusion, I had bungled the course math. When I learned the finish was only 2 ½ miles away, I decided to jog back instead of waiting for a cart, and promised to leave the course before the end so as not to cheat. Another runner resting in the shady grass nearby urged me to stay on. I don’t remember her reasoning, but I trotted off feeling reluctantly ok about it.
The last miles felt great, and I was inspired by racers on pace to finish below two hours with all 13.1 miles under their belt. As I reached the finish, the hearty “Go Gin!!!” cheers of a former coworker/Serious Runner caught me off guard. Then I saw a parent from my son’s school beaming me on. I wanted to yell “This is fake! I am not worthy!”
As I concluded my tale, Megan and I reached the race medal gauntlet. I was going to pass, but Megan urged me to take one, reminding me of our many shared miles and long runs. (Hmmm, maybe I have an issue with peer pressure.)
This means two things:
1) I must complete a half in under two hours. Gotta pay back those cheers and pay off that bling. In retrospect, I should have gone with my instincts. Better to err on the side of honesty, especially since my fake time is listed in a public document–not that anyone’s looking.
2) I need to figure out why I bonk so hard sometimes.
*I got confused about where the halfway point was and accidentally dropped my pace a bit before my watch registered 6.2 and 1:00:03. But up until that point I gave my all, and I feel good about that.
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