If you’re reading this, it means I did not die. I successfully completed a marathon!
26.2 miles of straight up running, or at least, something close to it. Between 18-24 miles, it was questionable.
This is how I can best describe what running your first marathon is like:
The Start Line:
Being a runner is like being a part of a cult. Some of them live religiously by ideas that make zero sense. Like wearing flat “running” shoes with the slits cut out for each individual toe, and then running 26 miles in them thinking they make you faster when in fact it kills your feet because it has no support system. It’s like running barefoot.
And whoever left those McDonald’s Apple Pie wrappers near the start line, I hope you puked it all up throughout the race.
There are so many people cheering, clapping, and hollering, you don’t know what to do! You just keep running, and probably at a pace you shouldn’t be running. Oh, and there are lots of men in the first mile who decide to take a wee-wee because they are nervous. Just a line of men facing a concrete wall – it’s actually pretty disturbing. Yet, at the same time, I was jealous.
I only ate a banana before going on this trek, so I started to get a little famished but I had to ignore it. Naturally there were signs reminding me of everything I was missing.
“Run Now. Wine Later.”
“There’s Beer At The End Of This.”
“While You’re Running, I’m Eating Pizza.”
“I Didn’t Get Up This Early Just To See You Run.”
Some other favorites:
“You Run Better Than The Government.”
“You’ve Got Great Stamina! Call Me (Inserts Phone Number).”
“Hey Sexy Legs!”
“This Is Your Motivational Poster.”
Once you get to the Half Marathon mark, you think, “Okay. Not bad. Only one more half marathon and I’m done!”
I’m internally crying but I look excited for the sake of the crowd.
I thiiiinkkk I’m doing okay. Not quite sure yet.
This was a weird moment because my body has already endured running 16 miles and the thought of going any further seemed impossible. But I had to keep moving. I’ve also been stopping at every single water and gatorade station and at times, it felt like I was going to puke.
And then I got to one gatorade station where a bunch of 18 year old frat kids were handing out cups. I grabbed one, chugged it, half dazed and noticed a frat kid giving me a dazzling, thousand watt smile, caught himself, and as I kept moving, his eyes followed. And he continued to grin. There’s usually a difference between a hey-youre-doing-great smile, and a hey-come-check-out-my-dirty-frat-house-later-and-we-can-netflix-and-chill smile. Amiright? Maybe it was just a hallucinating marathon brain moment. I’ll never know. I was in no condition to set the record straight.
There were too many times when I looked at the sidewalk and thought, “That looks like a great place to take a nap.” I was so over this marathon thing. I was straight up walking at this point. I didn’t feel too bad about that because so was everybody else. You would think that Chicago in October would mean nice fall weather. 65 degrees, maybe a little cloudy and windy. NOPE. When I arrived to mile 24, I saw a Walgreens sign that read 82 degrees. No wonder why I wanted to just die, right there, on the street.
As I got closer to the finish line, there were more people cheering and handing out supplies such as orange slices, cold wet cloths, bags of ice, and spraying the hose out into the street to run through. But some people began handing out strange things such as jellybeans, Starburst, and Smarties. They yelled, “JELLYBEANS! YOU WANT A JELLYBEAN!?” I politely declined but in my head I screamed, “I’M AT MILE 22 AND I WANT TO CURL UP IN A BALL AND DIE. SO, NO. I DON’T WANT AN EFFING JELLYBEAN! ARE YOU SERIOUS???”
I’m almost done! Approximately 15 more minutes and I will be done! Good Lawd!
This is where the devil marathon screws with you. You see, you reach the 25 mile marker, and think, “One more mile! One more mile!” Until a quarter of a mile later, you reach a sign that says, “1 Mile”. And then you just get angry at the sign, and then at yourself for forgetting that last quarter of a mile. And then you reach a spring in your step. Only one more mile, and you’ll be finished. So you want to finish that last mile as fast as humanly possible. I felt like Superwoman just speeding by, wondering where all of that energy was during the last 6 miles. You see the finish line and you go faster and faster until you cross. I was too tired to throw my hands up in excitement, and the only thing that came out of my mouth was, “Thank fucking God.”
After The Finish Line:
Volunteers hand you a goody bag filled with granola bars, chips, and a banana. They hand you a wet towel. They hand you your medal and a little plastic cape, and then a beer, and then a protein shake. At this point, I have no clue what’s even happening or where to go from there. There were 45,000 marathon runners, and trying to find family and friends seemed lightyears away. Sam said to meet under the letter F in the Post-Race Party. When I saw the sign for the Post-Race Party, it felt like a mile away. I could barely stand, carrying all of my stuff, and had this plastic cape wrapped around me that was supposed to cool me down but it only made me warmer. I was so overwhelmed, and every inch of my body was in pain. I swear, it took me 20-30 minutes to get over to where my family and friends were. As soon as I saw them, I started blubbering and crying. I wasn’t crying because I finished. I was crying because of how long and how far I had to walk just to find them. The first thing I said in a fit of tears was, “Why was this so far away!?”
But, at least I finished it! My first thought when finishing was, “I’m never doing this again.” However, marathons are like tattoos. You can never just have one. There are already talks among my friends about the Berlin Marathon in 2017. We’ll see. We’ll see.