Monday, January 15, 2007

My G.A.S. Factor

Well, marathon weekend has come and gone and I had a wonderful time!!

Friday, I left work early and made it over to the Expo to pick up my packet and goodies. I then hung around at the TNT booth either allaying the fears of some first timers, greeting friends or (more importantly) describing the TNT program to those unfamiliar with it and encouraging them to come to an information meeting.

After that I headed over to a friend's house for a pasta dinner. I had at first planned on meeting up with some Houston Running Bloggers at the Spaghetti Warehouse, but a friend convinced me to go with her so I did. Either way - I would have had a wonderful time because they are ALL a great bunch of people!!

Once the dinner and socializing was done it was home to bed because I had a work thing the next morning.

Work was finished by 1:00, then it was home for some rest and at 5:00 I took off to the Hyatt with all my stuff for the TNT Pasta Party.

I picked up a cow bell and whistle and I, along with a bunch of mentors, coaches, staff and honored teammates, greeted the participants as they made their way into dinner where they enjoyed plenty of pasta and other yummy food! After that we listened to speeches from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, an honored teammate and the father of an honored teammate (one who battled strongly against leukemia but was not able to defeat the horrible disease), and lastly one of the TNT participants who is a doctor at MD Anderson Cancer Center. We all laughed and we all cried at the stories and photos that were shown. And we all came away with something special that would help us get through our journey on Sunday!

After some final details (decorating singlets, hanging signs on participants doors and two Guinness's) it was off to the room to prepare for the next day!

Marathon day arrives and we are checking the weather. What do we wear? I ended up with shorts, long sleeve tech shirt, singlet, visor and a poncho (just in case).

We make our way to the starting point at 5:30 and are off at 6:00.

It is certainly a different feeling starting early. Hardly anyone is on the course – just a few that want to make sure they get done before they start dismantling that finish line and stop handing out medals – like me!

We started out pretty slow because we needed to stick together until the first participants passed us. Well, we ended up being two groups with one just a little bit faster than the others.

We made our way across the Elysian Viaduct, out to White Oak Bayou, into the Heights and then Montrose. This was where we saw the first participants – the wheel chair athletes. And they were cruising! Arms of steel I tell you! Then the elite runners started coming. The first having to be Ryan Hall (the winner of the half) – WOW!! Then all the others came streaming by – some by themselves, some in packs. It was awesome! It so made it worth starting early.

As we made it through Montrose I saw Carmen and Erin decked out in purple and green! Crazy girls, but oh so much fun!!

Then it was through the Museum District, into the Medical Center, past Rice U then into the West U area where the spectators were out in force and the sides of the street were lined with American flags.

I took a break at an official TNT cheer stop around mile 12.5 and ditched my long sleeve tech shirt and poncho and made the rest of the way in my singlet with cleavage bared (along with some other areas that rarely see sunlight)!!

Right turn onto Weslayan, over the Westpark bridge and finally into the Galleria/Post Oak area. Another turn and we are running along the lush streets of Tanglewood. Another right turn and onto Woodway and into downtown. It may be 8 miles away – but I am heading in the right direction!!

Prior to this I looked at my watch and realized I could actually make it in under 6 hours if I stayed on course, and put a little effort into it. Then I saw Gary (boyfriend of Tammy – friend, fellow triathlete, MS150 teammate) and stopped to say hello. Then I did some dancing to a couple bands and shook my boobies with the belly dancers!

Close to mile 19 a fellow marathoner comes up behind me and asks me if I am the Jill with the ferret. I am like – yeah. And guess what? It is Miss Tri-Bunny herself!! How cool is that?!! And what is funny – I recognized her!! During all these months of running in the park and along the bayou I have seen her – just didn't know it was her!! Anyway – we gave each other a sweaty hug and chatted a bit, then I let her go on her way.

I made a stop to get a rock out of my shoe, then another stop for the other shoe. Then I make a stop at a medical tent for a Band-Aid – I felt a little twinge on my pinkie toe.

Finally – I am back on my way.

Under 610 and into Memorial Park – where I see a sea of flags dedicated to all our fallen in the Iraq War. I think to myself "I wish I had my camera." And then I realize I have my phone. I took a couple pictures because I figure these men and women are worth it and start my trek towards downtown once more.

Sign describing the memorial

Sea of flags

Each flag had a fallen soldier's name attached

Fallen soldiers from Texas

I am starting to see the affects of the miles taking its toll on many of the marathoners. Some are leaning to one side. Some cramping. Some just look majorly pissed off. Me – yes, I am feeling the affects. I have pain in the feet, pain in the legs, but you know what? I was really okay with it. I was just looking forward to getting done and was going to make the most of these last 6.2 miles and have a good time. I didn't hit the wall (in my book) at mile 20. But my "Give A Shit" factor sure did hit rock bottom! I looked at my watch again and realize I could still make it under 6 hours with a bit more effort, but I could care less. I was more interested in having a good time. And that I did!!

I said hello to fellow TNTer Greg. Did a little jig for TNT mentor Art and coach John at 21. Saw Gary again at 21.5 and was introduced to the fam and given a handful of Cheeze-Its. Stopped to have my picture taken with Carmen, Adrienne and Erin between mile 22 and 23.

Carmen, Adrienne, ME and Erin!! Aren't we cute?!!

I chatted and walked with coach Jane around mile 24. Saw Miss TxRunnerGirl along the way and stopped to give her a hug and to say Hi! Yelled a couple Hell Yeahs with the song Redneck Women as I went under I-45. Saw Miss Sarah and gave her a hug and was introduced to Jose! Saw Miss Erica and gave her a hug (I hope)!

And then there it was – the finish line! I was in the home stretch! I called my dad and Michele and my mom and told them to get on the Internet so they could watch the live feed of me crossing that line.

Mile 26 – 0.2 miles to go!! I am pumping my hands, yelling and getting those wonderful spectators a reason to cheer!! I smile for the camera and then I cross that finish line!! I am done!! I have survived!! I have CONQUERED!! It might have taken me 6 hours and 17 minutes to do it, but I did it and that is all that I care about!! It may be my worst time, but you know what? It was my most fun marathon to date!!!

I made my way into the GRB and received my medal and picked up my mug and finisher's shirt and then proceeded to the food line. I finally saw Tammy! She looked a little tired, but she got the job done and is now a marathoner!! I saw Jon and chatted with him for a few.

Then I saw one of our TNT participants being wheeled around. Come to find out she had some major blisters on the bottoms of her feet and would be needing to go to the doctor in the next couple days to have them taken care of. How awful! I took over wheel chair pushing duty from the nurse and once we were finished eating took her to get her shirt and mug and then it was out to the TNT tent so she could meet up with her family.

After getting to the tent and talking to some people it was back over to the finish line to cheer in the marathoners. I cheer from the sidelines for a bit and then I get on the course and look for purple. I catch up with them, tell them they are doing great and cheer them on with 0.1 miles to go. I clap and cheer for the non-TNTers, also. Look for their names on their bibs and give them an encouraging yell.

Then I see the police cars coming up with a TNT participant just a few feet in front of them. I go out to run with her a bit and cheer her on.

I make it back to the tent and find out we still have more on the course. Back to the line. And there is Adrienne (who had finished the half earlier) running in Denye (one of my mentees!). No time to go around the fence so I climb over and run her in. While standing at the finish line I see more purple and we head back out on the course to run them in. Back to the tent again and this time I pick up my stuff and head back to the hotel and then it is off to the victory party where I devour some beef fajitas with all the trimmings and drink a couple margaritas in celebration!

Congratulations to all who went out there on Sunday (in Houston and Phoenix) and conquered! You did it and you should be proud!


bunnygirl said...

I've never heard of wheelchair-level blisters. How scary for that girl! She must be one tough chica to have made it to the finish!

Congrats on your race-- you were keeping a pretty good pace out there where I saw you. It sounds like you had a much better day than I did. I usually fall in with other runners and offer encouragement, cheer in the latecomers, etc, like you did. But I just wasn't feeling it yesterday.

Some days are better than others, aren't they? I'm so glad you had a good one! I hope to see you out on the trails soon!

Erin said...

Great recap! I'm glad you had fun out there. You certainly looked great. Congrats again! :)

JohnnyTri said...

Awesome and Congrads!! Love those pictures of the fallen soliders! I am going by there to see if its still there!!

whats next?

Cassie (TIGGS) said...

sounds like you had fun- I can't believe I didn't see you at all!! I was at the Cadillac bar and ate and had a few drinks, but never saw anyone I knew besides Bill!!

bunnygirl said...

OMG- Dr. Jordan was out there! Cool! I wonder if he'd like the new pic on my blog?

Vic said...

Way to go, Jill. You conquered. I'm proud of you.

Christine said...

YEAH YEAH YEAH!!! I'm so glad that you had a great time!! Congratulations Jilly Bean!

LauraHinNJ said...

Congrats to you!

Sarah said...

Congrats! You looked like you were having a great time even at mile 25.5 where I saw you. :)

DisseminatingData said...

Awesome - sincere congratulations!

TX Runner Girl said...

CONGRATS Jill!!! You did look like you were having fun out there. It was great to see you!

Barbara said...

Jill, I saw Erin walking (already finished) while I was finishing up the last few miles - were you with her? I didn't have many brain cells left at that point!

Congratulations on a great job!!!

Tri-Dummy said...

Really good job!

26 miles is no small feat, proud of you!!

Jill said...

No, Barbara, I wasn't with her. Once I finished I stayed close to the finish line and GRB.