I realized a few weeks before the Williams Route 66 Marathon that there was a time limit on your water stops. If you ran slower than a 15-minute pace, you were out of luck. Too slow? Better carry your own water. I’ll be honest: it made me so mad.
I’m a slow runner. This isn’t modesty talking. I’m so slow, I sometimes get passed by walkers. Really. Once, my husband took a picture of me running, and we later discovered there was a man walking in hiking boots – hiking boots! – who was passing me. I don’t like to talk about my pace because honestly, I’m embarrassed. It’s slower than a 15-minute mile.
So when I realized that there was a limit for the water stops, I was scared. What if I couldn’t make it that quickly? What if ran out of water?
Also, setting a time limit can weed out the walkers and slow people like me. It’s pretty disheartening. Doesn’t my training count? Don’t my miles count? I do all the same miles. I do all the same runs. It just takes me twice as long as some people, even three times as long as the fastest folks. Does that mean it doesn’t count? The more I thought about it, the angrier I got.
I bought a water bottle belt the night before the race and my running buddy, Megan Rolland, gave me some Gu to put in the pocket. (She told me to eat it at Mile 6. I was pretty sure if I didn’t eat it right then, I would collapse on the course.) I wrote the mileage for the water stops at the time limits for a 15-minute pace. If I could make it to the first water stop at Mile 2, then I wouldn’t have to use my water until after then.
I headed out onto the hilly first half of the course with the determination to make it to the first water stop. I checked my watch over and over and over. I squeaked in and drank both water and Gatorade. I kept moving and made it to the next water stop. And then next. And on and on. Finally, I hit the last one – Mile 12 – just as they were packing up. I was there right at the 15-minute pace. Me. I was running a 15-minute pace. It was only 1.1 miles to go and I was spent.
It took me 20 minutes to finish that last bit. I ran a few steps, walked, ran a few steps, walked some more. It took so long.
I crossed the finish line and still didn’t really believe my watch or the time on the clock above. I shuffled through the food tent, my legs dragging. I met up with Megan, who had finished more than an hour an a half earlier, and then found my family. I sat down for a long, long time.
When I finally stood up, my husband took me to the timing tent, where a sweet woman in a cozy sweatshirt printed out a ticket for me. I beat my best time by 20 minutes.
Twenty minutes? Was that even real?
So, thanks, Tulsa. I was running as fast as I could so I wouldn’t dehydrate and die, and I set a personal best. So I guess I’m not that mad at you now.