Mile zero: Never in my life have I seen so many fit people jammed into such a small place. Hey, I think I've seen her in the paper. "I didn't expect to see you today," A friend of hers shouts from somewhere as I stand on some raised landscaping admiring the crowd. "I have an important race Saturday so I'm just running today," She hollered back as she made her way towards the starting line. Yeah, that must be Leah Thorvilson. Just running. She will obviously win today. The anthem. The gun. No need for me to jump right away--I'll just wait here till the half and relay people clear out and then I'll begin my long saunter.
Mile 2: Funny, I don't think I've ever driven these exact roads before. I like the hills! That's quite a column of runners ahead of me, going all the way around the next corner. Lots of spectators, that's cool. The guy in the striped shirt is having more fun than we are!
Mile 3: (to guy in striped shirt) "Hey, didn't I just see you?" "Wasn't me, man!" he shouts back as he continues to cheer for all the runners. I shake my head.
Mile 4: I point and shout, "Now I know I've seen your ass before!" to guy with striped shirt. He smiles back.
Mile 5 1/2: Note to self: Do not open pill baggies on windy overpasses. Only dropped one Endurolyte and have plenty of extras so no harm done, but let's be careful. Mindful. Mindful is a better running word. Tilt your head down or that hat will be gone!
Mile 7: Great crowd on Gregg Street! Where the hell did they all park? I hear: "Alright 146 in the Tilley hat!" "Dude, you guys rock!" High-fives for the whole line of them.
Mile 7 3/4, as the half-marathoners peel off to go to the Scull Creek Trail: "That could be us," we green-bib-number people all lamented together. We turn later and get our first glimpse of the legendary Rush Running aid station from the Van Asche Street Bridge. We hear the music full volume, though!
Mile 10 1/2: Holy shit, that dude is flying! And him, and him. How is it possible to look so fresh after something like 19 miles? Where is Leah?
Mile 11: Aha! Those dudes must have been relay runners. Leah sure looks focused!
Mile 15: Shuffling up with my empty hydration bladder in my hands,"Do you guys have lots of water?" "Barely any. We have tons of Gatorade." "No thanks just dump those two cups in here and I'll be good to go till the next stop. You guys rock!" Note to self: Fill pack early and often.
Mile 17: "And it's cold, too! Thanks guys, you guys rock!" 1.5 liters for the last 9 miles, good to go!
Mile 17 1/2: The wind feels nice but take a look at those clouds!
Mile 18 1/5: "Hey, can I get a picture with you?" Turns out the guy in the striped shirt was named Jacob. He ran the Little Rock Marathon last month but then injured himself and was not able to run the Hogeye. He wanted to run so bad! Instead, he just drove from place to place to encourage the runners as they made their way. I would see him three more times before the finish. Some people are just awesome!
Mile 20: Finally! I though I was going to run my whole first marathon and not get drenched with rain a single time.
Mile 21 1/2: The energy of the Rush Running aid station cannot be described in a blog entry, it must be experienced in person.
Mile 23: It's mile 23, and I have earned the right to go as fast or as slow as I want to for the remainder of this race. I'm walking!
Mile 24: I'll be damned if those motorists on Sycamore are going to see me walking. I'm running!
Mile 25: Still running!
Mile 26: Note to self: Be mindful of tongue when passing professional photographer near finish.
Mile 26.2: Is sitting down a good idea? Maybe I should walk around some more. Or stretch. No, stretching is a lie. I think I'll just sit here and enjoy this Mountain Dew. Damn, that was fun!
Dry cloths, Mazzios, icewater, Flyers hockey, and a very cool kid. Life is good!
(Oh, yeah. To Leah Thorvilson, I'm just running today means breaking her old course record with a time of 2:52:02. Way to take it easy, Leah! To me, I'm just running today means five hours and ten minutes, which I think is a damn fine first effort. I can't wait for the next race!)