A Survivor’s Guide to the Cape Cod Marathon

Reegan enjoying her runner's high after the Cape Cod Marathon.

By Reegan von Wildenradt
BU News Service

I come around the bend to an incredible sight. The Atlantic Ocean extends out to my right; a cluster of beach houses to my left. Straight ahead, a road hugs the coast, peppered with dots of neon orange, lime green, bright white and shocking pink. Something about race day inspires many to bring out their brightest sweat-wicking apparel. A white lighthouse juts out in the distance. Behind me stretches 22 miles of hilly pavement, decorated with the finest spectacle of fall foliage the town of Falmouth has to offer.

Cape Cod Marathon, Falmouth MA

Cape Cod Marathon, Falmouth MA

Oh, and my sweat. There’s a lot of my sweat sprinkled on that pavement behind me. The four miles of pavement ahead of me is in for an equally tasty treat.

The 2015 Cape Cod Marathon in Falmouth, Massachusetts, was run in completion by 627 people. Unlike the first marathon, ran by our friend Pheidippides back in 490, B.C., not a single person died. Perhaps if he had had a large Zip-Lock bag of gummy bears handy in a nifty little hip pouch, it would have been a different story. Perhaps if he had run past the spectator at mile 17 with the sign “Punch Me For Extra Power!!!!” he would have gotten that extra boost his cardiovascular system desperately needed. Maybe someone should have advised him to actually take advantage of the water and Gatorade stations that littered the course.

If he was really feeling bad, perhaps he should have stopped at one of the five medical tents set up along the course. My best guess is his pride got the best of him, or his training plan was terrible.

I glance down at the watch on my left wrist. I’ve run 2.4 miles. I glance down at the watch on my right wrist. I’ve been running for less than 25 minutes. I do some math… I have at least 3 hours and 30 minutes left of willing my feet to take one step after another.

“You know, I could probably watch two Harry Potter movies in that amount of time. What if I bonk? I should have eaten more pasta yesterday. WHY did I put Nutella on my toast yesterday? It’s going to be the death of me, I KNOW IT! Did this really sound like fun five months ago? Why did that person just pass me? I’m going to get last place!”

I look around; I’m surrounded by people who look like they are having similar conversations with themselves, all of us mentally preparing for what lays ahead. A seemingly endless road of pavement that instead of driving, moped-ing (it’s a word, I’m pretty sure) or even biking, we have all opted to run.

Approximately 16 weeks ago, at the beginning of July, we all enthusiastically jumped into a training plan we found online, eager to follow it exactly, confident that we would be the anomaly where absolutely nothing but perfect training runs happened every single day. No injuries, no illnesses, no unforeseen conflicts. But of course, every single one of us ran into a problem. Some of us perhaps injured a hamstring, others a foot, maybe some of us got the flu a week before the race like me.

But we all somehow persevered, and now we are all trudging through Falmouth’s roads on this late October morning. I glance down at the watch on my left wrist. I’ve run a little over four miles. “More than half way to the half way point of being half way!”

I’m 14 miles in. My legs are starting to feel a little bit like Jello. I have a twinge of a side ache. Someone passes me. I am staring down at my neon-green shoes, which seem to be shuffling along mechanically. I am certainly not willing them to move. In fact, I’d be much happier if they’d stop, because I’m pretty sure I’m starting to get a massive blister on one of my right toes.

I reach into the pouch attached to my shirt and pull out some gummy bears. Five should do it. Maybe six. No, my favorite number is seven. I wash them down with a swig of water from the little bottle I carry in my right hand.

I look up and around, surrounded by a fantastic fall display of orange and yellow, the faint smell of the sea in the air. A cheer from a group whose favorite runner apparently just passed sounds in the distance. Perhaps it’s the perfect amount of gummy bears, or maybe my neck is getting tired of staring at the ground, or maybe, even, it’s that sought-after “runner’s high,” but I break into a near cheek-cramp-inducing grin.

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