Monday, April 27, 2015

Glass City Half Marathon

Well, it has been about a year since I have run a half marathon. I have made a decision to do a half marathon every year because running long distances in the heat is just not fun right now...

So, this weekend I went out and took on the promised 'flat' course in Toledo. We will get to the flat
situation in a few minutes, but what I will say is that this race was fantastic on so many levels! First, and most importantly, I got to spend another weekend with my closest friend prepping for another race that we would again start and finish together. Her with patience of steel as I bought and lost items within minutes of each other, and me crying for no reason minutes before the race even started... But what else made this race great? Another very close friend of mine came up to take on Toledo!!! The awesome thing about Chris doing the race is that she ran my very first half marathon, ten half marathons ago. Those are just the starters!!!

This race started out with dogs on the course, an enthusiastic runner dancing through the crowd, and a complete stranger taking a picture of me and Sue at the start of the race, on her cell phone with the intent of texting me the picture. Apparently I gave this stranger the wrong phone number, so some other stranger is walking around with a picture of us, likely wondering who we are.

After the starting tears, pictures and dancers, we quickly learned that Toledo falsely advertised the 'flat' aspect of the course, because the first mile was all up hill, and then there was a Mount Everest sized hill right around mile eleven. This might be a slight exaggeration, but as you have heard me say before, never argue with a distance runner about their experience with a hill. Those weren't the only hills, as mile seven had a hill in the park, and there were other hills that felt like mountains, but we managed them perfectly throughout the race.

My friend and I have a strategy during these things. We like to play association games during the race to keep our minds off running. This half marathon included games that had us identifying things we love, hate, movies, songs, you name it, and we associated it! It also included a fair amount of crowd participation. Imagine this, trying to figure out a name of a food that starts with the letter x while you are running a distance race. Seeing as I can't add one and one while running, I certainly can NOT think of a food that starts with the letter A, let alone the letter X. This is when we would ask the volunteers for words a water stops. They amazingly could come up with words that we would have never considered!!! Anyway, these games distracted us, made us laugh and likely kept me from crying, when I would otherwise have been face planting into the proverbial brick wall during the race; playing them with my closest friend made it that much better.

But what propelled this race from good to great besides my friends, the games, our spectators, and my personal motivation? The medical staff. It is no secret to anyone who reads my blog that I have Multiple Sclerosis, but it might be a secret that I can struggle walking after a run, especially when I get over heated. About two weeks ago I emailed the race director, who then copied the medical director, about my need for an assistive device after a run. I explained that gear check is painfully far from the finish line at most races, and it would be helpful to ditch my cane with the medical staff during the race. They both immediately responded with accomodating emails.

At the expo, I stopped at the help desk to see if I could leave my cane the day before. They called the medical director who responded immediately and came to meet me to collect my cane. He told me it would be there for me at the end of the race. Now, what I expected was this: I was going to finish the race, plop down shortly after the finish line and then make my way over to the medical tent after several minutes to collect my cane. I didn't expect any other special accomodations, but what I got was the best greeting a person who was falling over could dream up.

Sue and I crossed the finish line with smiles, high fives and congratulations. Then came the stumbles... Before I could even get full hold of my friend's arm, the medical staff was grabbing my other arm. And then another staff member appeared with the cane, and right there at the finish line, they plopped me in a wheel chair. All the medical staff congratulated me and Sue on our finish, rolled me through the area where we collected our medals and water, and brought me to an open area to lay down for a bit. They then brought me water and ice packs to cool down. While this was all going on, I was talking to the medical staff member, if I knew her name I would write an email to thank her personally, and she explained to me that they knew I was coming in and were waiting there for me. To say I was shocked is an understatement, and here I thought I would hobble to the medical tent to get the cane, not have my cane delivered and assisted immediately! I am honestly still overwhelmed by that moment.

Anyway, the bottom line is this... I love my friends who are always there for me!!! I love the people who came out to cheer for us!!! I love that I get to run these races!!! I love the Glass City Marathon Staff!!! And I love the Glass City Marathon (minus the hills)!!!

Thanks to all of you who were part of this journey as my running buddy, friend, spectator, food deliverer, bed provider, etc. You all made this weekend very special to me!

PS. I totally forgot to get a picture of me, Sue and Chris, so you only get the silly thumbs up pic from above. 

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