Comments from the Wife -- version 4.0
The elevator doors opened and the roar of a lobby full of people came rushing in our face. It reminded me of a Vegas casino but without the "ching ching ching" of the slot machines or the blast of cigarette smoke that's shoved up your nose.
We checked in before heading to the shuttle bus. Three forty-five in the morning in San Diego sure is dark and cold.
I had a nervous stomach the minute my alarm went off. A few days before heading to San Diego, Wil hurt his foot and leg. Some kind of plantar something or other. Even though there were thousands of people doing the marathon (17,420 to be exact) I was so nervous that Wil wouldn't be able to finish it with me and I would have to motivate myself. Knowing that Kris and her husband were going to be at the finish line was very encouraging, but there were 26.2 miles between us.
We sat on the grass and stretched while trying to keep warm with Hefty bags over us like some kind of poncho. Surprisingly, it helped. The sun started to come up and race time was getting near. I must have asked Wil twenty times if he was going to be o.k.
I stood in the huge line for the port-o-potties (scary) before entering our corral (#19. You get placed in a corral according to how fast you think you'll finish the race. Speedsters in the front and so on.) The start gun went off promptly at 6:45 am. Everyone was so excited as we all scooted slowly to the start line. It took ten minutes to reach the actual start line because there were so many people there.
Wil and I cruised along with all the other walkers and got out of the way of the runners making their way through the crowd. It was so exciting to finally be there after all the training and the wonderful response with donations. I kept saying "I can't believe we're doing this!" I also kept saying "Is your foot alright?" to Wil. I still wasn't sure if he'd finish with me.
So along with the nervous stomach came the nervous bladder. Only two miles into the marathon, I was ready to experience the lovely facilities that only Andy Gump could provide. Unfortunately, so did at least fifteen other people. So Wil impatiently waited next to me in line telling me the whole time that we were getting really behind. See, the other nervous stomach thing that was happening to me was that we had to get to mile 12.7 by a certain time or they would re-route us directly to mile 23. There were so many people there that if there wasn't some kind of schedule, people could be out there all day. After all the training and donations, I wanted to finish a FULL marathon, not part of one.
After our 15 minute (yes, we waited 15 minutes. Can you believe that?! Next marathon, it's all about the bushes) stop, we decided we should run a little to make up for lost time. Not only did we have that 15 minute stop, but we lost that ten minutes at the start line so we needed to move!
We ran about a mile which I was stunned we could do. We had only trained to walk and although I thought I was in pretty good shape, my lungs felt otherwise. I had to slow down and just walk fast so I could catch my breath, but still try to make up that lost time.
The marathon set-up was very entertaining. There were bands all along the route singing and cheering everyone on. There was one band of three or four kids that were only in 7th grade. They sounded awesome and I thought it was so great of them to be out there so early on a Sunday morning to support the marathon.
After several surges of running mixed in with walking fast, I heard someone say there was a woman wearing a "Pacer" shirt and she was well, the pacer. We needed to be either with her or ahead of her if we were to make that 12.7 mile cut-off in time. So we ended up running most of mile 8, 9, and 10. Wil said he was feeling great and his foot was hardly bothering him at all. My lungs however, felt like I had spent an entire hot, smoggy, summer day in the over-chlorinated pool. I know you remember how that felt. Like someone standing on your chest and you can't quite get enough air. But somehow, we caught up to her.
When we finally rounded a corner and caught up to the "pacer", we were so relieved that we needed to celebrate with our old friend Andy Gump again. At least there wasn't a line this time.
When we jumped out of Andy's place, the pacer was nowhere in sight. DAMN! More running. It had become somewhat of a joke just trying to catch up and stay ahead of her. It was like a dream where you're running away from someone but they're moving fast and you're hardly moving at all.
We were really wiped out as we neared mile 12. But this mile was a slight upgrade and would require more energy than I could muster. That is, until the lady at the top yelled "three minutes to cut-off!" What?! All this running and lung burning and there isn't any extra time? "How the hell did that happen?" I said. "Fuckin' Andy Gump is what happened" Wil said. Damn, I hate when he's right. But at least he's still with me, so I wasn't about to complain.
We raced up the hill and made the cut-off with less than two minutes to spare. Two minutes! That was way too close. I looked down the hill at the hundreds of people that didn't make it. It was kind of a Titanic moment.
In all our training, we were able walk 13 miles and feel great. So I figured when we did the marathon, it might me a bit tiring, but such a thrill to be there that it wouldn't matter. Boy, was I wrong. By the time we reached that oh-so-exciting 13.1 mile marker (that would be the half way point for those of you keeping score at home) I was completely exhausted. "Half way!" I said as we approached the sign. Of course, the people around us probably thought I was excited but the truth was, I was pissed that I felt so terrible and it was only have way done. Or halfway left. However you want to look at it.
Wil and I both went through waves of feeling great and feeling like we couldn't go on over the next ten miles. Of course, when Wil was feeling great, I had to listen to him make up songs about keeping our head up and our shoulders back. Mmm. That was nice. But when I was feeling really wiped out and in pain, I just kept saying "this is nothing compared to seven days of radiation or a month of chemo." Then I felt like such a chump for even complaining at all.
Kris called me on my cell phone "Hey! Where are you guys?" she said. "Mile 22" I said. Boy, I thought we'd be further by now.
Kris and her husband were making their way through the Marine Corp. Recruitment Center to the stands that were set up at the finish line. Security was really tight there. I told her it would be about an hour before we finished. Hopefully.
Wil was starting to have major foot and leg pain by mile 24. I ended up jogging all of mile 25 just to get the pressure of my hips and onto my thighs. "Come on Wil! It's so much easier if you just jog!" I yelled back. Now I was being the annoying songster. "Hell no!" he said." I can't do that anymore. And where's your friend Andy? I've been looking for him for the past two miles!"
Andy eagerly awaited our arrival at mile 26. Good 'Ol Andy.
I called Kris and told her we were making our way into the Marine Center (where there were Marine guys with machine guns patrolling the fence along the street. That was comforting.)
She said she could see us from the stands and would meet us at the finish line.
We walked through the archway and down the path to the finish line. I kept saying "I can't believe we did it! I can't believe we did it!" to Wil. Even now as I'm typing this, over a month later (overdue is more like it) I have tears in my eyes. We did it and so did Kris. She was there at the finish line, jumping and waving and yelling for us. It was by far, the most incredible moment of our lives.
We checked in at the finish (we came in something like 15, 200 something. All of that worrying and there were still 2,000 people behind us!) got our magic "26.2" pin (it's not really magic. Just go with me on this one) and headed straight for the first aid tent for Wil's leg.
I sat in a chair and talked to Kris and her husband while Wil got an ice pack treatment which he enjoyed while laying on a cot. The lady being treated next to him was having the blister the size of an egg on the ball of her foot examined. After all my whining, I made it with only a little soreness in my legs.( Well, sore legs and a huge ugly bruise on my big toenail from my shoe rubbing on it the last 6 miles. It still looks hideous. Gotta love nail polish!) Our time was 7 hours and 14 minutes. I can't believe we would have finished in under 7 hours if it wasn't for those stops. Not bad for a first marathon!
We headed back to the hotel for a nap and hobbled in to meet Kris and her husband at the "celebration" dinner two hours later. We hobbled everywhere for the next three days.
We ate fast (starving. 26.2 miles and all) and said goodnight before heading to bed early. We slept 10 hours that night. Actually, we napped during the day and slept 10 hours a night for the next three days. On our train ride home we kept getting up to stretch. Again, something we had to do for three days after the marathon.
I was surprised when we got home that we still got several donation checks. So the final count was $28,135. I still can't believe it. Thanks to all of your help and the help of Kris' family and friends, we more than reached our goal. We were all part of something great. Something that will make a difference. Thank you. The whole marathon raised 85 million dollars total.
A week after we got home, Kris went in to have the two surgically implanted catheters removed. They were removed because they aren't needed anymore because her bone marrow test came back completely cancer-free. She's officially in remission. She tells me every time I see her that our support of her and doing the marathon in her honor made all the difference. I know it did and I'm so glad we were able to do it. She also shows me new things that keep happening to her. Like all her eyelashes growing in and little sprouts of hair on her head.
Wil has donated platelets at City of Hope since being back. Unfortunately, my veins still don't want to do that, so I'll just be the driver. He wants to do that as often as he can to help others. Yep, that's my husband. He's pretty great like that.
We have also started jogging at least three times a week. Because next year, we're RUNNING that marathon baby!!