Friday and Saturday Before
We left Madison at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, April 8th for a 6 hour drive up to St. Louis. The day started with me jolting awake and realizing that I'd forgotten to set my alarm clock for my 4:45 a.m. run with my friends. I settled for 30 minutes on the elliptical machine instead and considered it good tapering.
We made it to the arch by mid-afternoon. I don't think there's a better way to be welcomed into St. Louis then by riding up to the top of the arch and looking out at the city below. But our 3 year old had had enough of sitting still. She made her point to us by loudly squeaking throughout the tour. "Squeaks" was getting quite a few stares and annoyed glances. Here are pictures of the view from the arch and of "Squeaks" as she takes in the view (while squeaking loudly in protest and clinging to the wall for dear life):
|View from the arch|
|Our little tree frog "Squeaks" holds on for dear life.|
|Heading to our car from the Expo.|
|The Magic House fun|
That night I carbo-loaded on pizza from Imo's Pizza that we ate in a nearby park. Maybe not the best choice, but it worked. We got more snacks at a Target. The children marveled at the escalator that even had an adjoining escalator for your cart! We took a quick dip in the pool (the highlight of the hotel or "hoe-tail" as my daughter calls it).
As usual before a marathon, I tossed and turned quite a bit on Saturday night. I got up at 5:20 a.m. to take a shower and get ready to go. Rick had decided to drive me to the start line, a wonderfully chivalrous thing for him to do--and much appreciated! Of course, the children had to get up and come too. They were surprisingly chipper for such an early morning! The traffic was pretty heavy going onto the exit ramps near the start line, but since we weren't parking he drove me right to the start area to drop me off. I left my drop bag with him before he pulled away. Not needing a drop bag was another unusual luxury for me! I had about 45 minutes to wait in line for the port-a-potties, stretch, and find my corral (B) before the 7 a.m. start. I positioned myself near the 3:20 pacer but tuned him out after noticing his tacky skirt (yes, skirt) and his talk about walking through the water stations. Not for me. The temperature was in the high 60s, and it was nice to start without being cold. This would not feel so nice later on, though.
UPDATE: I have since learned that "Cliff Blocks" is actually spelled "Clif Bloks." I like my way better, so I'm leaving it!)
My first mile was a fast 7:21, and things were going well until I noticed something in my pants! My Cliff Blocks were crammed into a tiny jewelry baggie and safety-pinned to my shorts and tucked inside. Well, at the last minute, I added 3 more Blocks to my original 6 (I just couldn't finish them before the race and didn't want to waste them). I guess the baggie couldn't hold them all, so it busted from the bottom. Two Blocks were dancing all over my shorts, and the rest were not far behind. I fished them out (feeling sorry for those who saw me!) and debated about what to do. So here I am, my sweaty hand holding 9 melting, sticky Blocks designed for mile 20, and I'm at mile 2 of the race. A photographer happened to be right there, and I held them out for a picture to preserve the fiasco! I decided to eat them slowly, thinking that taking them too early was better than not taking them at all. I struggled to use my sticky fist to grab waters, hit "lap" on my watch, and hold the Gu given to me at mile 8 (which I had absolutely no use for at that point).
I still managed to fall into a nice rhythm for the first 9 miles. Though I did have one foolishly fast 6:56 mile, the rest were a little closer to the 7:30's I was shooting for. I was majorly buoyed by seeing Rick and the children at miles 11 and 13. I felt the need to try to tell him the Cliff Blocks story upon seeing him the second time (see below).
|The children playing in the nearby park while waiting to see me running.|
|Telling my story at Mile 13 (and I'm sure making no sense!)|
|Oh my gosh, am I still talking?|
I continued on with a sub-9 minute mile pace until mile 22. Seeing the spot where I'd dropped out was such an emotional experience. And Rick was there! He was holding two cups of Gatorade for me (the person in front of me in the picture below--I guess--thought Rick was an aid station and tried to take one!). I was so tired by then, so I croutched on the spot to drink the Gatorade. I was thinking about how 365 days had passed over this very fateful spot. "You spilled," mumbled my daughter, and I thought, "Baby, that's the last thing on my mind right now." I must've said something like, "I don't think I can finish today either," and Rick used the opportunity to say, "Oh yes you will!" and swatted me on the bottom as I slowly began walking. I was now wearing his hat, which he lent me for a bit of relief from the heat. That mile was a 10:12.
|I am pointing to the spot where I dropped out last year.|
|Rick calls this picture, "Take that, St. Louis, and your heat!"|
|"Necessary" post-race ice cream|
|Do you think the race shirts could get any greener? Am I a highlighter or what?|