I ran my first marathon with my sister Emily.
We chose Disney, ’cause, ya know….Mickey. Little did I know my feelings about Disney characters would change dramatically.
I trained pretty well for the race, sticking to a beginner training plan. Usually that will get one through a marathon in a decent amount of time.
I had some issues with a muscle in my leg call the iliotibial band which runs the length of one’s thigh and ends around the knee. It would tighten up which makes running difficult/painful.
We had to get up at some crazy hour because the race started early, given the heat in Florida. This huge group of us was standing around in the dark, waiting for the race to start. Emily and I chatted.
I always start races on a high, the excitement of starting, the energy of my music. It’s easy to be pumped in the first mile.
Emily and I stayed together and we were running at about the same pace…until about mile 10. My IT band started to tighten up. I continued to try to stay with Emily or she slowed down a little for me.
Throughout the race, there are medical tent and water stations. At the medical tent you can get aspirin and there are people standing outside the tent holding tongue depressors with two kinds of jelly on them. One is clear and the other is blue.
Since my muscle was tightening up, I grabbed one of the depressors with the clear stuff on it and rubbed it on my leg. I kept running.
I told Emily to go ahead and keep her pace so we parted ways about mile 13 or 15, I think. My leg muscle continued to hurt and running was difficult. I would walk off the pain then start running again for a while. I stopped several times to grab a tongue depressor with the clear stuff on it. Also stopped for aspirin twice.
Somewhere around mile 18, I figured out that my leg wasn’t getting any better and the gel wasn’t having any effect on it. It occurred to me that maybe they didn’t have the right stuff to give people on the race. So when I stopped again, I asked.
“What’s the difference between the two types of tongue depressors?”
The medical staff explained that the clear gel was Vaseline for chafing. Runners sometimes get chafed under their arms, between thighs, etc. The blue stuff was Biofreeze, a substance like Bengay that helps relax muscles.
I had been Vaseline-ing my leg for about 8 miles. It was shiny but no more relaxed.
I finally grabbed the blue stuff.
My finish time was 4:30 which isn’t bad for a first marathon. There was a gospel choir at mile 25. I managed to not punch any Disney characters…so all things work for good.
Never ask me for directions, you may end up in Vaselineville.