An Unexpected Marathon

Blog, Sue Cloutier

It really came down to the wire with the Sugarloaf waitlist. On Sunday night, with three hours left to register, there were only five people left on the waitlist. By 11pm, there was only one left ahead of me, and the wait list page confidently told me “You are the next entry.” I was sure I would get in. At midnight, I was still the next entry. At 1am, I was still the next entry, and I decided to call it a night, and find out my fate in the morning.

I didn’t get in. I was so close, but I didn’t get it. After staying up late and praying, and wishing, and hoping, and then not getting in, I broke down. I was cranky, and PMSing, and seriously disappointed. So I wailed like a baby for a good 15-20 minutes, and it was such a good release of all that pent-up emotion.

After pulling myself together, I convinced myself that the Mainly Marathons race would actually be a better option for me because it was damn near pancake flat, and I know the course, and it would be a week sooner, so I would have more recovery time before fall marathon training. I could aim for even splits, and be home in time to work that night. I would definitely have to work that night at the restaurant. Sigh.

But before I go to the Mainly Marathons race, I still had my weekend in Cincinatti with Katie and Meagan from my Runner Girls podcast. We try to get together once a year to run a race together because although we talk every week, Katie lives in Kentucky and Meagan lives in North Carolina, and we rarely get to see each other.

I was really excited to take a mini-vacation, see my friends, and run some cool races in a new city. Flying Pig does a whole series of races in the weekend: a mile race, a 5K, 10K, half marathon, full marathon, plus kids’ runs and pet runs to boot! Meagan had signed up for the “3-way challenge with extra cheese” which was the half marathon, 10k, 5k, plus the mile race for the extra cheese. Katie only had time to do the 10k, which we would all run together. I decided to sign up for the 10k, half marathon, and the mile.

I was mostly excited about the mile race since I had never raced a mile. Meagan and I were planning on racing each other for fun. Which meant that she would probably kick my butt because she is way faster over shorter distances. Regardless, I was pumped to finally get an official mile time.

But that was not to be. To save money, and against my better judgment, I traveled to Cincinnati by Greyhound bus instead of flying. And my last bus into Cincinnati on Friday night was over 45 minutes late. I missed the start of the mile race. I can’t even begin to tell you how bummed I was that there was another race that I didn’t get to do. I wanted to start crying again, but I had a whole weekend to spend with my friends, and I wasn’t going to let missing that race get me down. Meagan, by the way, totally hammered that mile and ran an 8:01, two seconds over her time goal. I was floored. I doubt I would have been anywhere near that time.

Saturday morning the three of us had the 10K to do. Katie was suffering from a terrible case of bronchitis, with a fever to boot, so we ended up walking the 10k and chatting. It was a great way to see some of downtown Cincinnati, and some of northern Kentucky as well, since we got to cross a bridge into Kentucky during the race. It was a really nice way to sightsee, take some photos, and hang out with my girls.

After the 10k, Meagan ran her 5k race, then we went to brunch, and back to the apartment we rented. Around this time, I began to think about how cool it was in Cincinnati that weekend. I originally thought it would be quite warm, and it got me thinking… Maybe I should upgrade my half marathon registration to the full marathon since the weather was going to be so nice and cool. I knew that next weekend it would be at least 15 degrees warmer for Mainly Marathons, and raining, and I would have to work both the night before, and the night of my race. Maybe I should take advantage of the nice weather and convenience of being on vacation and run a marathon a week early?

I made the mistake of voicing this theory to my friends, and Meagan, for some reason, thought this was a great idea. She had been planning on starting with the 2:20 or 2:25 pacers for the half marathon, and I had thought she should start with the 2:15 pacers because she just ran a 2:15 half, without a lot of effort. So I told her, “If you run with me with the 2:15 half pacers and 4:30 full pacers, I will go for the full marathon.” I knew the hardest part of the course was the first nine miles, which included lots of large hills. After that, the half marathon runners split off from the full marathoners, so if Meagan ran at my pace, we could get through the toughest part of the course together. I didn’t think she would go for it, but I think the challenge excited her, and she agreed.

I was still waffling on the idea as we headed to the race expo, but when we got there, I shelled out $20 to upgrade to the full marathon. Isn’t it crazy how I couldn’t get into Sugarloaf two months before the race, but it was so easy for me to get into the Flying Pig Marathon the day before. What’s even crazier is that I was going to be running a full marathon two weeks before I had originally planned. I had just started my taper. I had been walking around all weekend. I hadn’t even begun carb loading yet. And those massive hills… I was doomed.

To be continued.

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