Short version--A PR and my longed-for sub-6:00. Ran 5:42:27. Now I have to do it again to prove it wasn't some kind of weird fluke :) It was very very very cold. Never was my status as a Floridian, even an adopted one, more certain. All that is left of my Midwestern-ness is my weird speech pattern (so I've been told), as my cold-hardiness has left me, apparently ashamed of my desire for warmth and sun in December.
Okay, a bit melodramatic, but it WAS freakin' COLD.
Picked up Kay in Winter Garden around 8:30-ish on Friday morning and drove in. We only almost got killed once, by some woman driving a big pickup truck with a long flatbed trailer, who seemed unconcerned that we were already in the lane she wanted to be in, with nowhere to go. I honked, but I don't know if she didn't hear me or was just laughing at my Hyundai's "happy horn." (I swear, I'm gonna get a semi horn put on that thing.) Anyway, we made it there in one piece and tried to drive onto Kiawah Island. Where I got turned around for the first time. Made a big circle and actually managed to get onto the island, found packet pick-up and Giddy, Kay (the smart Floridian) bought some tights at the expo, and we went to find the little subdivision where our villa was. Where I got turned around for the second time. Once we found the correct street, we tried to find the actual villa. Where I got turned around for the third time. Moral of the story: don't drive anywhere with me if you like to find things quickly, efficiently, and on the first try.
Finally found the villa, got settled in a bit until Kirsten and Linda showed up, and read the information booklet the resort supplied. This included advice such as "Don't feed or taunt the alligators." You can imagine how foolish I felt, having brought my gator-pokin' stick all the way from Florida. Kirsten and Linda called and told me they couldn't find the villa. We gave them some half-assed directions, and, miraculously, they managed to find us. We picked rooms (Kirsten and I roomed together--Yay!) and headed out to the pasta dinner.
Found Chris (my Pop Fairy!) from Commerce, and went in to find enough seats for all of us. We chowed down, had a lot of fun, caught up on some Penguin and Connector gossip, KB got some pictures, listened to the band, and talked talked talked. Went back to the villa, I took a quick shower, and we went to bed. Except Kirsten and I kept chatting, so we probably got to sleep around midnight. Like a mini-slumber party. But we hadn't seen each other in two years, so there was a lot to talk about :)
Woke up around six on race morning. The Weather Channel said it was 20* in Charleston. Yikes! Too cold for me! But did I put my long sleeve tech shirt on? Nope. I wore a short sleeve, compression shorts, and a long sleeve cotton throw-away shirt (which did NOT get thrown away. It barely got taken off...) Started out fine. Saw Chris fairly early on. Never did see Kelly or George :(
I was WAY ahead of my pace for the entire race, but I think my body was in a state of shock from the cold, it just wanted to keep running. There were a few times I actually felt kind of disconnected from my body. Something weird was going on with me. I took my cotton shirt off at 10 miles. I put it back on at 15.5 miles. I left it on until 26 miles, when I only took it off because a TNT guy told me there was a photographer at the finish. I walked between 19 and about 20.5. I tried to catch Kay. I got lost once and wound up running in the street along the path I should have been on. I got dizzy and light-headed and vomited near a tree somewhere around mile 22 (I think...) First time for me. Then I ran like hell just to be done.
The course is extremely lonely after the half-marathoners turn off. I was out there completely alone a lot of the time. Even the aid stations were abandoned. I constantly worried that I was going the wrong way until I found a big red arrow, or an (empty) aid station, or the random guy on the corner telling me which way to go. I wasn't prepared for complete desolation. I've run smaller, rural marathons before (Bayshore in Traverse City was that way, but at least the aid station volunteers stayed until the last runners came through). Even though I PR'd and smashed the hell out of my sub-6:00 goal, this was my worst marathon. Or, at least the one I enjoyed the least. It was beautiful, but I would definitely say stick to the half. I hope I don't sound like I'm whining, but the second half was mentally brutal, and by no means am I one of those runners that needs crowds cheering me on. So, I'm happy I finished and I have my seventh state in the books. And I'm thrilled to death with my PR! This training stuff really works ;)
After we finished, Kay and I waited for Giddy to come in, then we waited for Kirsten, who was walking her first marathon after a four-year bout with an ornery ankle. We hobbled back to the villa, took showers, and went to a nice restaurant, where I got my standard red meat, still mooing (sorry--gross, I know...), came back, chatted some more, and went to bed. We all left on Sunday, around 11:30 AM, and I was back home in Hudson by about 8 PM. So it was a good weekend with good friends, but a not-so-hot (in many respects) race.
Now it's on to Mercedes in Birmingham! Woooo!!