|River Road, Lake Placid|
I had only 6 ½ hours until midnight and only 6 hours until I hit hour 17 – the required finishing time. That meant that I would have to run a PR for the marathon. Not likely, but, "No matter, I'm going to keep moving." The two miles went pretty well. I ate my first shot-block at mile one as I planned to do for each mile – more of a mental countdown than nutrition related really. I knew that would be the only one I would eat. Perform at the aid station. I knew that would be the last perform I would be drinking. My body was so done with both. I drank water only at the next station.
I love, love, love River Road. As beautiful as the bike course is, this is my favorite part of event; especially the horse farm opposite the mountains. I had waited all day to get there. I saw several T2 teammates on this stretch. When they saw me, there was a slight look of surprise quickly followed by relief. Their little "celebration" that I had made it was what I used as energy to keep going.
Near the 6+ mile turn around I started to feel a little foggy – "DAMN! I have to get something to go down." I took a gel, but that too was the last I could do. I hit the coke at the next station.
Up the hill in front of the ski jumps there was a DJ. He was playing the song "I Can Only Imagine" that plays in the Hoyt video. I started singing loud. He would find me later near the finish to tell me who he was and that he had loved my singing and that I knew all the words.
I don't really recall how much I was actually running at this point but I did walk the hill into town. PC and BL met me near the start of the out and back to run with me. Little did I know at the time that they were trying to push me to make the ½ way cut off by 9:00 p.m. I stopped at my special needs bag deciding it was time for the pepto chews. I took one look at the Pringles and my second lap of nutrition and through them back in the bag. By now they had the chicken broth out and I was rotating back and forth between that and coke. I was having a good time, talking with my friends and taking in the crowds. Tara Costa ran by us and PC yelled hello – she turned and waved. This was the only part of the course that I had not done in training and it seemed like it took forever to get to the turn around. On the way back I saw Matt Long. I pointed to him and yelled "You are my hero!" He yelled back "I love you too!" I laughed. Then BL turned to look at me and said "If you have enough energy to talk you are not running fast enough, now let's go!" I chuckled a little at her under my breath and then got serious. I finally got what they were doing.
I don't remember seeing the club and T2 people either time that I passed but I know I heard them. (I'm guessing I was causing the second stroke as they collectively held their breath to see if I had made it through.) PC and BL let me go on my own at the corner of Park and waited. I saw a man doing something on the road – removing the "second lap" arrow tape I think. He looked up at me. Sensing that he was going to stop me, I asked if I'd made it. He said "sorry." Turns out I was about 30-60 seconds too late. But then another staff member came up behind him and said "Yes – you're the last one." And they let me go. Truth be told, there was a little piece of me that would have been okay with being done. I mean, I had been out there now for nearly 15 hours. I had told PC that even if I made the cut-off there was no way I could finish by midnight. He said "Don't worry about that right now! You're the one that said this is the place of miracles." "No matter, I keep going."
The spectators and volunteers had been awesome all day long but let me tell you, the ones that stay until after dark are beyond awesome. Many of them told me they'd be right there when I got back. I saw a couple of my teammates again and knew they were on their way to the oval with plenty of time. Somewhere along the way a "final competitor" vehicle (an ATV type of vehicle) started following me. He pulled up alongside of me at one point and asked if his presence was bothering me. "Hell no, it's kind of comforting knowing you're there." I was really thinking of him as my personal bear chaser really – it is damn dark out there! Not long after that I actually passed another athlete. After the turn around I saw him being picked up by ambulance. He had clearly given it everything he had.
My watch had died at mile 18 so I had no idea what time it was but I was starting to feel a little guilty for keeping these people out there. They were packing up the aid stations but every one of them still had left out one or two of everything and offered to get me whatever I wanted. I tried some pretzels at one point but spit them out. Coke and then broth. Coke and then broth. At one point I though about the fact that I could in fact be "that person" on the video. The last finisher - how cool would that be!
The man on the ATV would pull up every once in a while to ask me how I was doing or to tell me that I was doing great and he wasn't going to leave me. Two different times a volunteer, biking back to town, rode next to me to encourage me. One was a little lost for words but finally said "you are what this is all about – never quitting, never giving up." No pressure right! Mile 18...mile 19.... mile 20. Just feet before entering my favorite stripe of River Road I had to make a pit stop. There was some whispering in the rest area near by. As I approached, a woman stepped out of her truck and told me she had to pull me off the course. I wasn't questioning, but she went through the entire reasoning; "we have a strict midnight cut-off;" "you're still five miles away;" blah; blah; blah. I looked at her and said "how did you get this job? " "They always send a girl" she said. The man on the ATV shook my hand and commended me on my efforts. He had to tell me who he was because I hadn't actually ever seen his face. I wish I remembered his name. I climbed into the truck.