The rest of the story

The Lehigh Valley Marathon was special for me in that I finished it.  As I was running near mile 23, I thought to myself, “If I finish this, I bet this will be one of those moments that flash before my eyes right before I die.”  Funny what you think about when your body is close to collapse. 🙂

This post is about the unusual occurrences that happened before and after the marathon.

First, wanting to be careful and make sure we know where we were going, TJ and I drove to the Lehigh Valley Hospital Saturday afternoon.  I looked it up in my GPS and we drove there fairly easily.  We ran around a large parking lot for 2 miles and drove home.  I felt better knowing where we would be going in the morning.

That morning I woke up at 3:00 AM and never went back to sleep.  We left the hotel at 5:45 to get to the marathon starting line at 6:00.  We drove there fairly easily other than a traffic jam (at 5:50 AM on a Sunday morning).  They were working a bridge on the Interstate and had a lane shut down.  But we still managed to get to the hospital by 6:00.

Hmmm.  There was no one there.  No police, no runners, just a hospital.  My stomach sank.  We were at the wrong Lehigh Valley Hospital.  TJ figured out where the OTHER hospital was and I looked it up on my GPS.  Fifteen minutes later, we were at the right hospital, in another traffic jam.  Talk about nerve wracking!  We were 45 minutes away from the start and stopped in traffic trying to get to the parking lot.

We finally got to the parking lot and ran for the porta potties.  There were a total of 6.  We waited another 20 minutes, did our business and headed to the starting line.

Marathon Starting Line

Marathon Starting Line

They counted down the start and we were off.

(See Finishing the race! for details of our run).

The finish line was chaotic for me.  I just crossed and couldn’t hear anything because of the loud speaker and people and just lots of noise.  I told my mom and brother (that I had FaceTimed a few minutes before the finish) that I had to hang up (since I couldn’t hear them) and hung up on them.  Then I looked up and TJ was coming towards me.  He was a sight for sore eyes.

Just finished

Just finished

Getting Finisher's Medal

Getting Finisher’s Medal

I got my finishers medal and a water and just tried to make sense of the situation.  TJ suggested I go to the medic tent and get checked out.  I didn’t look very good I guess.

The medic tent was well done.  I got and IV after 3 needle pricks and laid there for an hour while it filled me up with fluids.  I felt badly for TJ having to sit and watch me get an IV for an hour, but he never complained.  Finally, I got up SLOWLY and we walked out to find the shuttle back to the starting line.

This is where everything went wrong.

TJ and I literally limped to get the shuttle.  The race is run in a straight line, so we were a half hour away from our car.  No one could tell us where to go to get the shuttle, but just pointed us in a general direction.  We finally found the spot…  Two hundred marathon runners stood in a line for a shuttle.  We waited about 10 minutes and the first shuttle pulled up.  It was tiny.  Probably 20 seats total.  It filled up with some runners and took off.

At this point I was becoming desperate.  I had to check out of my hotel in an hour and my 2 youngest sons were waiting for me.  On top of this, my phone battery died and TJ’s had only 4%.  I had to get back to the hotel to get a shower and head to my mom’s birthday party 3 hours away.  I walked around SLOWLY and looked for anyone I could ask for help.  I saw a police officer and told him my situation.  I asked if I could get a cab.  He said the wait for cabs was really long.  He was nice, but no real help (not that there was anything he could do).

A half hour after the first shuttle left, another shuttle arrived.  This was a full sized bus.  The line made progress.  A half hour later the tiny shuttle showed back up and took a few people.  There were probably about 50 people in front of us to get the next shuttle.  I should be able to make it.

I love runners.

We all stood in line after running 26.2 miles and everyone talked, laughed and waited.  A nice lady in front of me lent me her phone so I could call the hotel and my kids.  It was getting late and I had to make a decision.  Did I make my boys pack the room and sit in the lobby until I got back or did I bite the bullet and stay another night in the hotel.  It was now 1:00 PM.  I knew it would take 30 minutes to get back to the starting line if I could get on the next bus.  Then it would take about 15 minutes to drive back to the hotel.  I knew what I had to do.  I called the hotel, paid for another night and had HR call my Lovely Wife and let her know we were staying.  She called my mom and told her we would miss her birthday.

Now the frustrating part of the day.  We waited for the bus.  We stood in the sun for another hour with no shuttle and no explanation.


A runner forced suggested we move the line to the sidewalk where there was some shade, so everyone reluctantly moved.  As we waited on the sidewalk by the main road, one runner held out a $20 bill to passing cars asking them to give him a ride.  Finally one stopped and loaded about 4 people.  Everyone cheered.  We all talked, vented, stood, sat and baked in the sun.

Finally a guy came up with a couple cases of bottled water.  That was nice.  But we still stood with no bus.  In fact 2 large buses went past and just kept going.  Talk about some upset runners.

Finally a bus came by and stopped.  Cheers.  Only 2.25 hours later.  We started to load.  I wasn’t sure I could get on this one, but I knew I would give it a try, even if I had to sit in the toilet.  Then another bus pulled up behind the first bus.  BUT… It didn’t wait for the first bus to load and then move up, it just opened its door.  So we were in the back of the first line and others were loading in the other bus.  I was an unhappy camper.  Fortunately, TJ and I made it on the very back of the first bus.  People were actually sitting in the isles.

30 minutes later we were back to our car.  3:00 PM, 3 hours after we got in line, we arrived back at the hotel.

I wrote the race director and asked about the transportation issue.  They were apologetic and gave me a free pass for next years marathon.

Sorry for the long post.  I wanted to get all this out.  I must say that although it was a tough afternoon, I met so many great people.  Exhausted runners standing for hours and smiling.  Everyone was great.  It wasn’t fun waiting and I was upset to miss my mom’s 85th birthday, but I will remember this marathon for a long time to come!!!

27 thoughts on “The rest of the story

  1. How awful to wait so long! That probably contributed to your body/leg aches considerably. That transport needs some serious re-organisation. Would you consider going back next year if you thought a 3 hour wait was in store again? What a panic at the start too. Glad you got there in time for the start. Hope you enjoyed a belated celebration with your Mom too.

    • The issue with the wait was I didn’t want to sit or I might never be able to get up!!! Good question. If I knew I had to wait that long, I wouldn’t do it again. The race director said they would look into the issues for next year. I did have a great time with my mom and brothers, a day late. Thank you!

  2. That is a nightmare! Race organization is a big issue, and that’s just not acceptable, especially for people who have just been through such a physical ordeal. So sorry that you missed your mom’s birthday!

  3. What a logistical nightmare! I know transporting that large of a group takes some finesse, but it sounds like they dropped the ball from the start on that one! Congrats on the finish!

    • Thanks! It wasn’t very logical to have only 2 buses to take all those runners a half hour away. It is the 6th time they have done this marathon. I just figured they knew how to get this done.

  4. I would have lost my mind waiting like that! I just remember how sore and stiff I was after my marathon. You would have had to carry me onto the bus while I cursed a blue streak at anyone who would listen. You, my friend, had an eventful day! Now the question is – will you use the free pass?

    • That is a huge question. I’ll wait and see if I want to train all summer again. Also it wasn’t my favorite terrain to run on. It was an adventure!!! I hope Portland goes smoother. 🙂

  5. 😦 What a let-down to end your race; you ended up standing in line for almost as long as you were running! I guess that the race director has been willing to listen is a positive: here’s hoping that it really does make a difference in future!

  6. Geez. That sucks. You’d think they’d know about that sort of thing since it wasn’t the first year they’d put on an event.

    I worked a 5k a few weeks ago and we weren’t given nearly enough water for the water stop. There’s just some things that shouldn’t fall by the wayside. Getting the tired runners to their cars and hydration are a couple that shouldn’t be forgotten.

    • I agree. There are some basic needs that need to be addressed. Water is one. Porta potties another. Only having 6 for 2,000 runners. Not good. Buses are a must when you are 30 minutes from your car. Oh well. We are runners. We are used to difficult circumstances. 🙂

  7. My blood pressure was up the whole time I was reading this! I would have been so anxious before, with getting lost and traffic – and then so frustrated after! I agree with MaybeMarathoner about race organization being a HUGE factor – the worst race I ran was because of the race promotor being under prepared for the weather conditions and it was a nightmare!! Well anyway overall your race day was unforgettable for many reasons!

    • Yes. I always try to be positive. It was my fist marathon and the issues made it even more unforgettable. However I would have rather had a smooth beginning and end then to deal with the issues I had before and after. I agree. They should have had the ability to figure this out before it happened. Thanks!

  8. Great post however going to the wrong place is my recurring nightmare! Waiting 3 hours? at least you got a free pass for next year. I want to run that marathon too so I guess I should train on some trails before hand. Sorry you missed your mom’s birthday. Overall and epic day though.

  9. Wow that sounds like a nightmare waiting for the bus. I would not have handled it as calmly as you! It is too bad you missed the birthday party. But moms always understand.

  10. Pingback: Connecting Hearts In Pennsylvania | Running To Her Dreams

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