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
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.
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.
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!!!