Marshall University Marathon. . .WV is OSOM!

Wow!  I’m not sure I remember how to do this blooping thing. . . work/life don’t leave much time for it anymore.  But, I’m gonna try my best to recall my weekend/race that was no doubt much more amazing than I can put into words.

I haven’t had a marathon goal time in quite a while.  This year I focused on shooting for a sub 12hr 50 miler in September. . . I missed it by about 8 minutes on a hot and sandy day.  I wasn’t too bummed and still felt good about how it went.  Recovery seemed to go okay, but I just couldn’t seem to find much speed in my legs.  About 2 weeks before Marshall, I found that with the weather cooling down I seemed to be finding a nice sweet spot with 9 min/mi for my last two long runs.  That’s when I thought just maybe I might have a sub 4 in me.  A long shot for sure, but on the right day with the right conditions. . .

Fast forward to last weekend – Friday spent running around like a crazy person–packing, working (on my day off), dropping off Kylee, cooking, volunteering in my niece’s 1st grade germ factory for their Halloween Party, dinner and Shots for Every Elsa for Halloween night with a friend and then FINALLY bed. . . at about 2am.  Alarm off at 5am to shower and get on the road by 6am.  Not the way to spend two nights before a marathon for sure, but since when do I follow the “rules.”

Drive to WV was fairly uneventful.  I laughed a few times on the drive recalling my first Marshall.  It is still hard to believe to this day that I drove all the way to WV to stay with “strangers” who I now call some of my best friends in the world four short years later!  One of those “strangers” may have even convinced me that not all Buckeyes are evil.  You know who you are!  I arrived at just the right time, shortly followed by RC, Jenster, Quadracool and Aschmid to Sass’s house.  Then it was off to the Expo!  Sass puts the Wild in WV with his expert driving skills, but nonetheless we get where we are headed.

So many Loopsters at the Expo!  I wanted to say hello and hug everyone at once, but sadly I think I missed more people than I spoke to.  Very overwhelming to say the least.  After a quick run through the packet pickup, GU purchased (thanks Sass for the reminder) and some quick chatting we headed off to the Arch for the mandatory group Loop photo.  It was SO windy and I began to worry that marathon day might be doomed.  Loop photo taken and off to dinner at some Italian place.  There was a bit of a snaffu and misunderstanding over which Italian place we would eat at.  But, all was well once I had a Yuengling Oktoberfest in hand and Colonel Cannon and Mark (runnerguymark?) and family to chat with.  After dinner we parted ways and the hostess with the mostest RC took Carissa and I back to her place to watch chick flicks (seriously, 80s movies rock) and relax.  I slept like a rock.

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Race morning – In spite of laying out Flat Angie several times, I had forgotten a sports bra. . . It only took me until my 29th marathon/ultra to do this.  I’d say that isn’t too bad.  I may have freaked out a minute or two, but then realized I was with a bunch of runners.  Surely, I could borrow one.  RC saved the day!  All bundled up we got to the race start in just the right amount of time to leave the sweats in the car, hop out, potty and hop into the corral.  I was hoping to find the Colonel and Flying Tomato, but I am vertically challenged, which doesn’t bode well in large crowds.  Before I knew it the cannon sounded and off I went.

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It took several miles to find a pace that felt right.  Too fast, too slow, too clunky.  I was a bit chilly but, finally I guess my legs decided to hover around 8:50s-9s.  A couple miles dipped down a bit faster, but I wasn’t too concerned.  I felt great.  Taking in the sights and being thankful that I was running.  Several things I saw along the course would remind me of my running friends and my family, which made me smile.  I was also running along to a playlist that includes only songs that my favorite cover band, The Killer Flamingos, often play–the beat and memories of several years of fun times dancing and singing along keep my feet moving right along.  Heading into Ritter Park I heard “Hey, Zam!!!” and I look up and there was the Colonel and FT!!!  They had found ME!!!  And they were well on pace for the sub 2 they were hoping for in the half!!!  Hearing a little cheer must have made my feet speed up, though I was secretly hoping that they might catch me, so we could run a bit together.  Alas, I pressed on.  Out of Ritter Park and back toward the stadium.  At about mile 12, Dana passed me looking speedy on his way to the finish.  Shortly after as I passed by the Loop Cheer Squad (just Sass at that point) I heard cheering from behind me again.  It was CC and FT!!!  I smiled and waved!!!  So excited that they would get their sub 2!!!  Only thing better than achieving your own goal, is knowing that your friends are crushing theirs.  As I got close to the halfway point, I heard their names being said on the loud speaker.  I cheered out loud and got several odd looks from those around me.  1:56:47 at the half for me, but I could feel that I was fading a bit.

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I tried my best to hang on to 9s, but those early miles may have been a bit too fast.  About mile 14 or 15, my left butt cheek and hamstring started to protest and I decided to slow down a bit.  I bid goodbye to sub 4 and figured I’d keep going as fast as I could muster, but not over do it.  Keeping 4:10 in my sights and hoping I wouldn’t fade to sub 4:15.  Just as I was starting to dread plodding around the Loop for the second time, I saw VB and BB!!!  I stopped and got a hug!!!  Yeah, me the queen of the awkward sideways hug. . . That definitely helped.  The rest of the race was a bit of a blur.  I played leap frog with several maniacs in the final miles.  We cheered each other along.  And then the BEST part of the race. . . Mile 26 Loopster Cheering Section!!!  I could hear them the second I turned the corner!!!  I immediately spotted Dave and asked how he did – BQ!!!  I couldn’t have been happier!  But, now it was time to run the last little bit of my own race and then on to the celebration.  Downhill into the stadium, bottled the football toss a bit with my frozen fingers and tuck and run!  4:08:10!!!  Not my worst, not my best, but it was all I had on that day.  That’s what counts!

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Hugs and a warm blanket from VB and BB then cheering on the remainder of the Loopsters!  So much OSOM!!!  More hugs and congratulations then off to Grazi’s for the after party!!!  Then to Sass’s for the After After Party, where Aschmid schooled us on NASCAR and plenty of beers were consumed.

Such a whirlwind of a weekend and over much too quickly.  I’m so glad I made my way back to WV for Marshall.  I wouldn’t have wanted to miss it!  I’ll be back next year!

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