The Cleveland experience.

Oh hey, guys. Aw. Hi. It's been a while. And that last blog post I wrote is funny. Funny like not only did I NOT break four hours in the Cleveland Marathon, but also funny like it almost took me FIVE hours. Don't you worry. *sad trombone*

I don't know what happened, really. I was all, "La, la, la... running sub-9-minute miles... I feel not-bad... look at me go... oh, weird my calves are tight... oh, and that side ache... ow." And then BAM. Mile nine. I was just done. Absolutely done. So done, in fact, that I took the time to yank my phone out of my pouch, pull up Twitter and boldly state FUCK THIS SHIT I'M DONE.

OK. To be honest, it was more a polite, "Well guys. There will be no sub-four-hour marathon for me today. Legs just aren't feeling it." But who's really keeping track of what was said? I know in my head there were some swears here and there.

My legs felt like anvils. Dead weight. They ached. It was a sensation I'd never felt before. I kid you not this was, by far, the worst I've ever felt during a run. I've never felt my legs so lethargic. At one point, while walking -- oh yes. I walked a solid third of this marathon, I bet -- I considered splitting off and running the half. Once it was too late for that, I considered quitting. Just up and calling it a day. It was cold. Raining. General misery. And there is no worse feeling than knowing you still have THIRTEEN MILES TO GO when you feel that terrible. But my sweet cheerleader Sara was there -- ALSO in the cold and rain and misery -- with her best smile and nothing but encouragement. So... I kept going.

And going.

And going.

And what the fuck this is the worst marathon ever.

The 4-hour pace team had already passed me. Then the 4:15 group. The 4:30. The 4:45. Oh my god. Why? WHY. WHY AM I DOING THIS? WHOSE IDEA WAS IT TO BE A RUNNER?

At mile 18 I had an epiphany. Or I was just desperate. I tore off my shoes and ripped off my compression socks. I'm a huge fan of compression socks, especially for recovery. I wear them often on long runs with no issues. They tend to feel quite good. But my legs just felt like they were suffocating that day. And I was desperate. I had no other socks to replace them with, and thus ran the last 8 miles WITHOUT socks, but the second I took those first steps without the suffocation of compression socks, I felt like a new woman.

I could feel the blood circulating through my legs. They felt refreshed. I actually SMILED. I won't forget hitting mile 20 and feeling like I was flying, even hitting sub-9-minute miles again. People probably thought I was nuts. Smiling, passing left and right. Just a mile ago they all passed ME as I limped along the side of the road like a kid who dropped her ice cream cone.

Of course it wasn't long until the effort of 20+ miles caught back up with me and I found myself slowing. And then the bloody feet started. The hot spots on my feet from running in no socks started to bleed. And hurt. And bleed some more. And soak through my pretty, pretty neon yellow running shoes.

BLOOD. I kind of hate blood, and had I not actually noticed it soaking through my shoes, I probably would've just assumed I had some wicked blisters on the way and paid no attention. BUT BLOOD. I saw the blood and immediately decided it was the worst day of my whole entire life. Or at least, like, top 35. I was hardly across the finish line (in 4 goddamn hours and 53 goddamn minutes) before I was tearing off my shoes and stepping into rain puddles for relief.

I was done. It was terrible. But look! I was still alive! And my medal was so neato! And OMG BLOOD. A guy at the finish line actually fist-bumped me after he saw my bloody heels and blood-stained shoes in my hand. "Atta girl!" he says.

And that's kind of my general feeling on the whole entire race. Atta girl. Atta freaking girl.

For your viewing pleasure, some highlights:

Before the race, I was happy. I'd found some of my running buds. We were all shiny and colorful and dang, I was color-coordinated. Hooray, happy!

And then mile 14. Sad Panda says THIS IS BULLSHIT.

Let's say you were running a marathon in the cold and rain of Cleveland and your feet were bleeding all over the place and you were miserable and hungry and things, and it just took you an hour longer than you'd hoped to cross the finish line, THIS IS WHAT YOU WOULD LOOK LIKE.

But hey! Bloody shoes! That's kind of awesome.