Thursday, June 08, 2006

My Green Bay Marathon Race Report

My Green Bay Marathon Race Report
On Sunday, May 21st I ran the Green Bay Marathon with my running partner and best friend, Jo. It was a very long the report was bound to be long, right?

**Chapter One, Making The Pilgrimage.
Jo picked me up at 5:45 am on race day. It was about 40 degrees with a brisk wind. It’s a 30-is minute drive to downtown Green Bay and we were concerned about parking. We both had our coffees in hand but I really couldn’t drink much of mine and stuck with the Gatorade. The drive was fairly uneventful, unlike the drive to the expo the day before when we were inches from being side-swiped on the freeway by a dumber in a Jeep. Arrived near the starting line, found parking, and wandered to the bag and tag area. This was fairly traumatizing, as we had to give up our jackets (did I mention that it was 40 degrees) and the wind had picked up substantially.

**Chapter Two, The Great 6,000 Person Poop
The crowd was very large already, as there were 6,000 people registered for the races. There were not, however, 6,000 porta-potties. Did I mention that it was 40 degrees and windy? People were taking their time in the heavenly blue shelters of stench because they were warm.

**Chapter Three, Joining the Herd
After exiting the warm blue stench-houses we made our way to the corrals. Unfortunately, because we basked in the warmth and stench too long, we were stuck at the back of the pack, with the walkers. We could see the sign for the five hour pace guy (we named him “Five Man”) way up ahead, but there was no way we could get to him. We figured that since he was starting so far ahead of us, that we’d get our five hour finish if we just were able to keep him in our sights.

**Chapter Four, The (False) Start
The gun went off. And nobody moved. For like two minutes.I started crying. This was going to be an emotional race for me…I was doing it for my dad (who will be referred to as “Owen D” from this point forward). Said a quick prayer and a word or two to Owen D and we started inching ahead. I was a little concerned that the Nazi Walkers were going to take us out.Started moving a little faster, then into a jog….and then we added our part to the high pitched screech that was 6,000 timing chips going over the starting mat.

**Chapter Five, The First Few Miles
It was an amazing sight. As far as you could see was a sea of runners. Bouncing Bouncing Bouncing Bouncing Bouncing Bouncing BouncingWe were in awe. I had the biggest smile ever plastered on my face, looking around at the runners, the spectators, the blue sky….and I started hearing this obnoxious noise that I couldn’t place and was getting a little annoyed at how it was ruining the mood for me…..and then I crossed Mile 1 and realized it was the chip pad. Oh, okay. I like that noise. Crossing the chip pad (at each mile) was music. Plop, plop, plop…..thud thud thud thud……shuffle shuffle…..pit pat pit pat pit pat….an enormous collection of drum beats over a soprano note….the crowd cheering….people holding up lighters….. We were SO rock stars. (okay, so there were no lighters, but whatever.

**Chapter Six, Bob the Barefoot Marathon Man
On Saturday I came across a website about this guy named Bob who was going to be running in the Green Bay Marathon. It was going to possibly be his 50th barefoot marathon. I forwarded the link to Jo and showed my husband. I told Jo we’d have to watch for him. Suddenly, from out of nowhere he passes me on my left. Right next to me. I yell out, ‘Hey, BOB!!! I just read about you yesterday!!!” He turns and smiles. I ask, “is it number 50???” and he shows me his bib number…49. He says, “number 49 barefoot, 50 all together.” He says that he heard there was another barefoot runner up ahead and that he’s sorry but has to move on. We yell “go get him!!!!” and he’s off like a flash. It was like seeing Forrest Gump. We saw a running celebrity. Turns out Bob had about a 4:12 finish. Pretty cool.

**Chapter Seven, “Salad Shooter!!!!!”
Jo and I had Olive Garden Saturday night.My stomach wasn’t feeling so well…..I’d taken two Immodiums pre-race, but was still pretty concerned. As you recall, they don’t call our little running team the Trottin’ Bitches for nothing (you non-runners may not be familiar with what is known as "runners trots" but I'm sure you can figure it out)… We decided on the drive to the race that when we stepped out of a porta-potty we’d loudly say, “Salad Shooter” as it’s sung in the old commercials………. As it was the previous night’s salad that would probably be our downfall. My good friend, Imodium failed me. We made a few “Salad Shooter” stops mid-race.We wanted to be sure to tell you that had there been no “Salad Shooter” episodes or L O N G waits at porta-potties, we’d have finished at LEAST five minutes sooner. There was this porta-potty somewhere around mile 11 that I HAD to stop at…but three very ‘put together’ and snobby looking ladies beat us to it. They stood around, made comments about how ‘disgusting’ it was and took FOREVER. After waiting for three minutes, we decided to take our chances on another one being close by. Made it to where the half and full marathon courses split (I think around mile 12) and there were three porta-potties with NO LINE. They were all occupado, but no line. So we wait… and wait….and wait…. And finally someone comes out of the end one. And this bi#ch of a girl just jumps ahead of us and goes in!!!! Grrrrrr. So we wait…and wait…and wait…. And a line is now forming behind us and I checked the doors since nobody had come out in about 3-5 minutes… locked. Occupado. Then we hear the bi#ch girl in there BLOWING HER NOSE!!!! OOOOO, the line was getting fired up at this point. Finally she came out and Jo went in. When she came out, I was still waiting!!! And when I came out (Salad Shooter!!!!), the guy behind me was still waiting!!! Unbelievable. We were p i s s e d !! So, it shouldn’t be hard to meet our new time goal for Fox Cities Marathon in September…We do NOT eat salad or desserts the night before.

**Chapter Eight, How Far is THIS Marathon????
Jo and I had planned on playing a game of Double Dog Dare throughout the marathon. We would each supply a dare during each mile to keep it fun and interesting. Whoever lost, by not completing the dares, would give the winner a piggy-back ride over the finish line. We didn’t end up playing our game because we didn't need it. However, we (well, lets be honest….mostly just me) did do some of the planned dares, just for fun.
*I made a loud fart noise as we passed a runner.(Jo was supposed to say, "excuse me!!")
*I asked Jo, when we were right by another runner, “How far is THIS marathon??” (runners are asked how far 'this' marathon is all of the time...when all marathons are 26.2 miles.)
*I asked Jo, when we were right behind a guy runner, “Man, how far IS a 5K?? I’m really getting tired!! (somewhere around mile 16)
*I yelled to a spectator, “We’re in first place, right?”
*I asked someone, “How far to Soldier Field????” (that’s where the Bears play…Packers’ rivals)*I did some quality dancing when we came across spectators with music playing….
*I told a lady that her eyes were gorgeous. She said, “Oh, well aren’t you so nice!” I replied, “well, they are, and no, I’m really a pretty big bi#ch” Jo piped in, “yeah, she really is”

**Chapter Nine, Amazing Feats
We were pretty incredible, let me tell you. After the first several miles we really didn’t get passed again. We would get passed when we did our walks through water stations, but then we’d pass them up again right away. We held our pace through the marathon, which was a goal of ours. Others were slowing. We even passed a Packer. I didn’t recognize his name, and he wasn’t very big or particularly athletic-looking, but he was wearing a jersey…. And I think we passed two Kenyans, too. But Jo told me not to tell you about that. We also beat the cow guy. And the old guy in jean shorts. And the VERY fit-looking couple who we leapfrogged with for many miles (they asked us at one point how we were pacing…we explained that we were walking about a tenth of a mile through each water station. In the end I couldn’t see them when I looked behind us. AND we beat a LOT of people who looked a LOT better in their running outfits than us. THAT was satisfying, let me tell you. Fo’ Sho’.

**Chapter Ten, The Somewhat Disturbing Robotic Pace Girls
We did not see Five Man for a very long time. We thought we had passed him, and even had a fairly lengthy argument with three other runners about where Five Man was…ahead or behind us. Turns out they were right and he was ahead, but we cannot figure that out as we never saw him. We’re thinking that he either took a stealthy shortcut or cruised by during a ‘Salad Shooter!!’ moment. Regardless, without the help of Five Man, we managed to somehow keep our pace within SIX SECONDS on every mile from 11-26. How weird and scary is that??

**Chapter Eleven, Root Beer and near puking at mile 24
Jo told me the day before the race that there was to be root beer at the mile 24 water station. This was something that kept us going and excited throughout the race. We could not even begin to describe how tasty ROOT BEER would be at mile 24. As we ran along the river trail for six miles, I at times fantasized that the river was made of root beer watched how it foamed and fizzed and swirled…. It was euphoria when we arrived at mile 24. We each grabbed a big cup and walked and drank in the sweet nectar of the gods. Threw down the cups and started running. I didn’t tell Jo this until after the race, as it was at about this time that she started to panic just a bit and I didn’t want to freak her out…but I was VERY close to puking up my precious root beer. The running and fizzing and swirling all made for a belly very full of foam and it REALLY wanted to foam over as though I were a frosty mug. But I had waited a very long time for that root beer and I was NOT about to lose a drop of it.

**Chapter Twelve, Lambeau Field “The Frozen Tundra”
At mile 24 or so you come around a corner and first see Lambeau. You know you’re almost done, AND you know that you soon get to run INTO the stadium, through the players’ tunnel, and out ONTO the field. The 25.5 mile water station was Mardi Gras themed and we were given beads. (and no, my friends, I didn’t have to flash anything but my smile for them…..). Jo said at this point that no matter what we did, because of our current time, we’d finish before our goal of five hours. We made it to the parking lot and ran up to the stadium, going into the players entrance. We ran into the bowels of the building, and then into the tunnel from where the players run out onto the field. There is a row of bricks in the floor when you are about to enter the field and a plaque that reads something about all of the champions who have crossed those bricks over the years… I made sure to step on them for Owen D. And then we were out into the sunshine and running around the track. I reached down and plucked a blade of grass from the field and carried it with me to the finish line. We FLEW around the field. Jo yelled at me to tell Owen D to slow down. He was definitely running with me. My feet had wings. My heart did, too. It was amazing. And ten we ran back out through the tunnel, back onto those bricks, and out into the lot.

**Chapter Thirteen, The Big Finish
At this point we could barely see the finish and it looked like SO far away. I heard a couple other runners say the same thing. But suddenly we heard the familiar screech of the chip mat…mile 26. Honestly, my legs wanted to stop here. But then we saw the funnel and took off. We sprinted that last .2 mile. So fast, in fact, that the announcer missed us and never announced our names. And then, there it was….the final screech and the photographer and the medals and the silver wraps…..

**Chapter Fourteen, The Aftermath
The first people we met up with were Jo’s parents. Her mother looked absolutely bewildered. They were confused. Turns out they had gotten to Lambeau to watch from there at a little after 11, thinking that we were finishing then….and none of the rest of her family was there. (They were all at the finish line) They waited a long time and then finally gave up and went out to check on our times and where we were…and were told that we had JUST crossed the line. Somehow in their leaving the stadium we crossed paths and missed each other. They were so bummed. Then Jo’s huge entourage swarmed her and I tried to find my husband and girls. I went towards the bleachers where they had been watching the finish but they had gone to the family reuniting area (which I didn’t see until after we met up) and Jo’s brother–in-law went and got them for me. Pictures, hugs, popsicles for the kids and a 26.2 brew for me. A lovely way to end a marathon.

I can’t tell you how proud I am of Jo. She has come so far and she inspires me. A year ago she could barely run one block. Two years ago she was nearly a hundred pounds heavier. She now is a training machine and I can barely keep up with her. I am blessed to have a friend and running partner like her.

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