The Track of All Tracks

~continued from 5/4/11 The First Track~

I can’t give you many details about that mile run back in 5th grade, because it was 18 years ago. I started too fast. Got tired in the middle. And saved a little kick for the end. I ran the whole way. I knew I just had to finish, and I would win.  It took me almost 12 minutes (I was tired, and running alone, give me a break!) but I did it.

I can’t give you many details about my marathon, I assume for the same reasons women don’t seem to remember labor in enough detail to stop them from ever considering doing it again. I can tell you that the starter pistol did not mean I was off and running. I moved along in a sea of people, too packed in to do anything more than walk. I crossed the line than activated my timing chip about 2 minutes after the gun… somewhere in the middle of the pack. The morning was not quite see-your-breath cold, and as I found room to run, I took a deep breath and let go of my apprehension, and embraced the air of excitement.

My mom, my youngest brother and his girlfriend were waiting near her house at Mile 1. I spotted them before they spotted me, as they were diligently scanning over 8000 runners. College seniors up before 7:00 is a rare event, and I felt honored. My favorite moments of the race were the corners that I came around and saw my family. Mom, Dad, Kevin, Paul, and Amanda all came to support me, even though all I’d been telling them was how bad it was going to be.

The most exciting part was around Mile 11, where the half marathon and full marathon courses split, with a sign pointing left and right respectively. I’ll let you imagine the temptation that presents.

The best part was that I felt so much better than I’d expected to. I wasn’t stiff and sore. My knees were both cooperating. I kept the pace I’d hoped to for about 19 miles. I did not think that would happen, I’d been strategizing for a walk/run plan. I didn’t start walking short segments until then. I’d inadvertently been running with the 4:15 pacer (orange CLIF jersey, bunch of balloons on a stick) for a long time. I hadn’t planned to, or wanted to. But I wasnt going to waste energy getting away from the guy. After a couple walking stints however, I fell back.

The most interesting part was that I have never loved Gatorade so much in my life. The gel shots… still a little gaggy. Though I happily gulped down two. But an inch of lemon lime Gatorade in the bottom of a paper cup was like golden nectar as that race went on.

I got tired and my legs started to tighten up around 21 miles, my hamstrings mostly. I’m going to tell you though, that this wasnt the hardest part. I didn’t push myself to the point where I felt like I was dying. I backed off a bit (and lost some time), but I needed to be sure I could finish.  So I went on walking/running until mile 25. Then I picked it back up and held on.

On a sidewalk corner as I approached the final stretch, I slowly recognized my dad. He ran alongside me for a minute. He told me something about my arms and the finish, but I couldn’t really understand words. I just tried to smile. He said he’d see me at the end, and that he didn’t want to mess up my stride. I think I said, “K.”

Mile 26. The sign that should have made me smile, made me want to cry. 382 more yards!! That was the hardest part. I wanted to walk again, everything felt numb,and my arms and legs were pumping but I felt like I was barely moving.  But I was so close to the stadium. Hayward Field. Prefontaine’s Track. THE Track. I pushed my iPod wheel to advance one song, hoping for a good one to finish.

(Oh, side note, I turned my iPod on in the corral waiting for the race to start, and my heart dropped. It wasnt charged. I don’t know what happened. I bumped it on the night before? Anyway, the battery was down to the yellow, after all the time I’d spend crafting the playlist, I wasnt going to get to use it. I quickly decided to save the songs for later when I’d need them. Turned it on at Mile 18, and it lasted until the end.)

So, the first notes of a song began.  It wasn’t at all what I’d been expecting, it wasn’t a power kick song, but I knew instantly it was perfect.

Come up to meet you

Tell you I’m sorry

You don’t know how lovely you are

Nobody said it was easy

No one ever said it would be this hard…

A couple people know how much I love Coldplay’s  The Scientist.  It is by no means a beat-driven song.  But it is powerful, to me.  The unexpected consequence of this choice was that as I turned the last corner onto the track, I choked up a little bit. I am not a crier. And I certainly hadn’t just run a race worth crying over. But it was still my accomplishment, however slow.

I crossed the finish line at 4:28:49. It was not dramatic. No collapse, no arms raised in victory. But, it was an amazing feeling, for lack of better words.

I lost my family for a short time after. Runners were chute-ed, medal-ed, photographed, and herded into a fenced area with food, and I was afraid that if I left I wouldn’t be let back in. And there was a pancake I had to eat before I did anything else. It was an amazing pancake. Then I wandered Frankenstein-like to find my family.

Feeling not much different than I had at 11 years old, I was so proud to be able to say, “Look Mom, I did it!”

Finishing my first 1500-meter adventure.

Finishing my first 26.2 mile adventure.

Wearing my medals after (Yeah, that’s 1st in the shortest and longest races).

Wearing my medal after (because they let everyone have one).

I don’t think that was my last marathon. However, I’ve never been so sore in my life. So I’m going to be sure to recover carefully. And maybe find someone to train with next time around. It makes so much difference to have other people running around you. Maybe it’s time to encourage Margie Mahoney Corey to come out of retirement.

P.S.~  I know it’s a little early, but Mom, Happy Mother’s Day!


~ by Lindsey on May 6, 2011.

2 Responses to “The Track of All Tracks”

  1. i totally got teared up! linds, i’m so so SO proud of you, girl! i really can’t say much else. i admire all your hard work and determination to finish (and all the training too!) when it would have been much easier to just back out or take the exit left. congratulations, cousin! i’m sending you hugs and imaginary leg rubs!

  2. Thank you. I Love You.

    Now I know what you were looking for in the photo album. I had a great day watching the race with the whole family. Again, great job!


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