As I continued back through the start and the masses of people I tried to listen hard for my family yelling my name. It was decidedly, impossible to scan the crowds, there were just too many people. I heard nothing. I mean I heard things like “Go Achilles” and “Whoo Hoo” and ringing cowbells, but not my family. The BF was looking for them too as he had stripped one of his three shirts and wanted to safely drop it off. People had abandoned so much gear throughout the course that a person picking it up could have made a small fortune re-selling it on ebay!! I decided it was time to pop an endurolyte. Mile 14 (.9) was 7:52.
The night before at the expo we had discovered there was some type of construction issue so we were to be diverted here and UP another freakin’ hill!! I could feel my quads tiring and I was getting upset that after my many months of hard training I was again to be thwarted from my goal. Determined not to be stopped today I vocally berated myself “Don’t be a pussy…run motherf#cker!!” The BF looked back just to make sure I wasn’t talking to him, but truthfully he knew better. He had accompanied me on a training runs before and had experienced my "self-help talk." I crested the hill and that’s when my quads really let me know they were tired. The downhill was so steep I had no choice, but to brake a bit as I descended. OUCH! I saw the BF right in front of me doing the same thing. His posture indicated he was no happier than me. I was panicking. My quads were checking out. The endurolyte was not working. The cramps were on the horizon. Here I took my 3rd gel and gingerly made my way through the aid station as the many cups of dumped water and Gatorade had frozen on the blacktop and WOW, it was slick. I had 11 miles to go, checkpoint 3 complete. I had to get to the next one at mile 20. Mile 15 - 8:44.
We hit the parkway which would wind itself in a chicane like manner out to Manyuck, where I had heard there were tons of crazy people to cheer those in need of a second, third or even fourth wind. I also knew the second half of the course was way flatter than the first and I had seen many people’s results showed a negative split in 2007. I dug deep and reasoned if I ran in proper form I wouldn’t need my quads. I only needed my cavs and my hammys. Completely and utterly convinced my legs managed to move forward at a steady pace. Mile 16 – 8:20.
The second half of the course is out and back so it was at this point that we saw the lead marathoners heading in for the finish. I didn’t recognize the leader as he was a little white guy from the Ukraine, but when the BF gave a shout “Go Fred!!” I looked up to see one of the Cleveland local running phenoms heading to a second place victory. The marathon stayed congested as it was a 2 lane out and back and the farther out I got the more of the marathon madness set in with people slowing left and right. I ran as close to the center line as possible focused on a girl in black just in front of me, until she pulled off at the aid station. Darn!! I lost my pacer. Mile 17 – 8:17. I was still running without my quads and the pain was manageable.
The BF was still moving with me at this point. He had not yet dropped and I only saw him sip a little water or Gatorade around mile 10. It was at this point I began to feel more relaxed. I heard music up ahead playing “I like to move it, move it!” I pulled ahead of the BF. I could see the BF’s shadow in front of me and it faltered and seemed to shuffle for a second. I was concerned, but stayed focused thinking here is where he was going to drop, but I was wrong. He re-grouped and pulled up next to me. Mile 18 – 8:16.
We had hit Manyuck with two miles to the turnaround and it was N-U-T-S!! There were people screaming and waving signs everywhere. I saw an aid station up ahead. I was surprised because the last aid station wasn’t even a mile back. I went to reach for a cup and then I heard it “Yingling Beer!” Oh shit. I can’t drink beer now! I retracted my hand, but thought what a "ballsy motherf#cker I would be if I could do it and still pull this shit off." Little rollers popped up everywhere at this point and they were painful. The quads had gone silent on the flats, but I needed them for these and they were not up for the call. I know at this point they had voted me A$$hole of the day for every downhill I made them carry me through. I popped my second and last endurolyte, hoping it would be enough. Mile 19 – 8:32.
It was like some kind of sick torture. I would run up a little hill and the quads would do their job and then on the down hills they felt like they might snap at any second as I punished them more and more. Mile 20 was included another clock you do a 180 degree run around. Time 8:22. I was still holding on as I took my fourth gel. One more checkpoint to go.
I only had a 10k left. I was a tad behind the time written on my arm, but I did the math and I had 54 minutes to get in. More than half brain dead at this point, I knew I had to run somewhere between an 8:30-9:00 minute pace. Then I realized that 9 x 6 = 54, so it had to be 8:30 to less than 9:00 minute pace. Over the months of training I had not only physically prepared myself for the last miles, but mentally too. I was constantly telling myself on many of my runs "it was going to hurt so much worse and but I could do this and push through." I was not going to go down without a fight.