One More Last Time: Carmel Marathon Race Report

The Carmel Marathon was my 15th marathon, and I told myself it would be my last for a while.  I thought I had fallen out of love with road marathons, but this past weekend, I realized I was wrong.

There is still something special about pinning on a bib among 3,000 like-minded individuals.  

There is still something special about listening reverently to the national anthem right before a race starts.  

There is still something special about not knowing what the day will bring.  

There is still something special about pushing your body to and beyond THE WALL, and the strength you try to find through the struggle.  

There is still something special about the relief you feel when you get to mile 24, knowing the struggle is almost over.  

There is still something special about crossing that finish line and having a medal placed around your neck.  

There is still something special about the running community and spending time and miles with new friends and old.

In a nutshell: 
It was HOT.  It was long.  It was my third slowest road marathon-- not as slow as my first Country Music Marathon, nor as slow as my implosion at the Southern Tennessee Power Classic last October, but slower than the Flying Monkey when I sprained my ankle at mile 10.  I suffered.  I struggled.  But somehow I found the joy in it.  I didn't expect to enjoy it as much as I did.  

The road trip:
The road trip with Harriet and Cheryl and Cheryl's daughter began on Friday morning.  We had a smooth trip overall until we hit Indianapolis traffic that afternoon.

We made it to the expo, and as soon as I walked in, I heard, "Is that Donna?"  It was my ultramarathoner friend Diane Taylor.  We have run several of the same races over the past couple of years.  I hadn't talked to since last summer's Jackal Trail Marathon.  She's a veteran of four Bostons and over 200 marathons and ultras, including multiple 500K races!

The expo was very well organized and had lots of great vendors and samples.  I love expos! We got our race packets, shopped a little, and headed to dinner (with Diane) at McAlister's Deli.  After eating and talking running for a long time, we knew we'd better head to the hotel to get settled in.  I had a 5:00 a.m. alarm planned, which would feel like 4:00 a.m. with the time change.

Just as I was laying down, I had two chills in succession.  That didn't bode well. I was immediately freezing but couldn't remember where the thermostat was to turn it up.  (#fail) I spent the entire night alternating chills and sweating. (Thank you, MENOPAUSE.  You suck!)  I slept approximately 12 minutes.

Harriet and I got up and got ready.  I had to take my tradional pre-race mirror selfie.

We met up in the lobby to caravan to the race.

Parking was quick and easy, and port-o-potties were plentiful--this is one well-done race!

Harriet and I decided to start off with the 4:40 pacer, so we lined up with her and chatted a bit.  She was a PE teacher from Pennsylvania.  We thought starting with her would help us to not start faster than a 10:40 pace, BUT she took off like a flash at the start at about a 10:15.  I guess she was banking time.  We let her go almost immediately, and a few steps into the race, someone grabbed both my shoulders from behind.  It was my friend Bill!!!

I was SO EXCITED to see him and gave him a big hug.  I met Bill during a marathon in February of 2014. We chatted some, and then I saw him two weeks later at another race.  Then two weeks after that, I ran into him at yet another race.  He is quite possibly the NICEST RUNNER EVER. We became fast friends. Then last December, while running on a treadmill at the gym, his heart stopped. Not a heart attack, heart failure.  Thankfully, he survived (God decided he had more work for Bill to do!), and he has begun fighting his way back onto the race circuit.  I was hoping to run into him. It made my day!

The race:
The race course was fabulous.  Carmel must be a great place for active people to live!  There are bike paths and parks and greenways and nice sidewalks everywhere.  We ran on them all, as well as through some very nice residential neighborhoods  For once, I didn't mind pounding the pavement.  On foot is a GREAT way to see a  new city!  It was flat, flat, flat, too!  We were blessed with lots of shade during the first 13 miles, but the last 13 were full sun.

Harriet and I ran together for much of the race.  We hammed it up pretty crazily for the photographers.  Those pictures aren't available yet, but they should be interesting.  We decided to do double gun hands for a change of pace.  :- )   I'll post when I get them.  Oh yeah, pictures at the Carmel Marathon are FREE to runners!

After what seemed like a very long half-marathon, we crossed the 13.1 mat.  Fatigue was creeping in for us, and we were slowing down. We were far behind the 4:40 pacer, and we were running just behind the 4:55 pacer for a while.  In a funny twist, the 4:55 pacer turned out to live in our hometown.  She just moved here and has been wanting to meet some running folks. She met two that day.  :-)    We were struggling to hang with her though.  It just wasn't our day.  At this point or maybe even earlier, we decided we really didn't care about time.  We just wanted to finish the race fairly pleasantly.

My running buddy Harriet and I parted ways for about miles 16-23, but got back together at mile 24.  Those last miles were painful for us both due to blisters.  My Ininji toe sock had been bunched up around my pinky toe the entire race, and the toe was totally encased in a blister.  Then the blister had folded over onto itself on the bottom of the toe.  With each step, fluid was pushed from the bottom of the blister to the area just under the cuticle.  I was sure my toenail was being ripped off with every step, especially in miles 25-26.2.  Stab, stab, stab with every step.    It was also HOT.  It was 76 degrees when I checked my phone at mile 19 and 79 degrees when we finished.  We were not accustomed to that! We both hung in there, though, and we crossed the mat with identical times of 5:10:14.  

We did something I'd never done before in the finish line chute.  We both ripped our shoes OFF and walked around in our socks for the next hour and a half.  Our feet were NOT going back in those shoes.  We got a couple of bags of chips and found a soft place on the grass to watch the end of the race.

We got to see Cheryl cross the finish line of her first marathon. As it turned out, after Diane finished, she went back out for Cheryl and escorted her in.  Runners are good people.  We chatted up several folks from the Nolensville Running Club near Nashville as we were hanging around post-race. They'd brought 70 runners to the race!  I so appreciate and enjoy the community of runners.  

We spent that night with Harriet's family, and I was home in time to catch the 2nd half of my church's Sunday morning service!

I'm very thankful to have gone on this journey.

Now I'm considering planning "one more last time" marathon.