Bucket list item: Run a marathon……CHECK.
Guys, I ran a marathon! I can’t believe I did it. Here’s how it went down:
On Saturday, I picked up my race packet. While I was there, I checked out the small expo and found a sweet, new headband to wear to my race.
Since the race helps the Marion Rotary with their charity to collect shoes for kids who can’t otherwise afford them, I bought and donated these shoes:
The forecast had been calling for rain all week, so my family was prepared with rain ponchos and umbrellas, but it turned out that we didn’t need them. It ended up being sunny and very warm for the race on Sunday morning.
At the start of the race, I noticed a woman who was a pacer for a 5:30 finish. My goal was to finish in 5:45, so I thought if I could keep her in my sights, I might have a good chance of finishing the race at my goal pace. For the first 8 miles, I was doing really well. But then I think the heat started getting to me. Even though I was drinking frequently, much of the course was made up of paved roads out in the country – with lots of hills – and there was no shade and so the sun was just beating down on the runners.
My husband was riding along side me on his bike. The race volunteers said that as long as he stayed out of the way of the other runners, it would be fine to ride along side me during the race. Thank goodness he was there! Between the heat and the hills, I struggled the last 13 miles of the race. I honestly didn’t think I would make it, but I told my husband, “Don’t let me quit.” And he wouldn’t. No matter how tired my legs felt, no matter how nauseous I felt, he was there to make sure I kept going and that I drank fluids, even when I didn’t feel like drinking. The volunteers along the course were awesome, too! They kept giving me words of encouragement: “You’re doing great!”, “Keep it up!”, even when I was walking and looked like I wanted to die.
And seeing my daughter and her boyfriend along the course with these signs really helped:
My daughter said that a lot of the runners and volunteers stopped to take pictures of the signs! They were a big hit!
After 8 miles, I was running alone on the course and to be honest, I thought that I was most likely in last place. At that point, I didn’t care. I just tried to focus on getting through each mile. At around mile 15, I started seeing people ahead of me and eventually I caught up to this poor woman who was throwing up on the side of the road. My husband and I stopped to ask her if she was okay and she said it was the heat. It was really getting to her, but she said she’d be okay. My husband said that she eventually dropped out. The heat was really brutal that day and I found out later that someone else I knew dropped out because of the heat.
Although I felt like quitting 100 times, I just knew that I wouldn’t. Even though I was having a really crappy race, and I ended up walking a lot, I just really wanted to finish. My goal this entire time of training has been to FINISH. I just kept moving my legs. My husband kept telling me I was doing great.
The last 4 miles were full of hills. Are you FUCKING kidding me?!?!? I was so exhausted by that point, but my husband, along with some volunteers, just kept telling me I could do it. I was so close.
When I got to the last mile, even though my legs felt like heavy logs at that point, and I just wanted a shower and air conditioning, I finished as strong as I was able. I saw my daughter and her boyfriend up ahead and they were cheering for me and it was the best feeling in the world, knowing that I was going to finish. The race ended in a local high school football stadium and my daughter ran with me inside, and then I had to run just a little bit around the track to the finish line by myself. The announcer called my name as I crossed the finish line and as I was handed my medal, the emotions I felt just completely overwhelmed me. I’m crying again just thinking about it. I was so relieved it was done, and just so incredibly proud of myself because I did it. I DID A MARATHON. My daughter came up to me and we both started crying. She said she was so proud of me and I was crying because I was proud of me, too.
When I crossed that finish line, it was 6 hours and 23 minutes after I started. It was 40 minutes longer than my goal finish time. However, considering the conditions, and the difficulties I had, I consider it a major victory.
I walked over to the food table, where the volunteers were yelling that they had cold water. There were also bananas, orange slices, bagels and cookies. The volunteers were awesome. The cut-off time was supposed to be 6-1/2 hours, but there were still 3 runners behind me – yes, that’s right, I wasn’t in last place – and so they extended the cut-off so that everyone could cross the finish line and receive a medal. Not once did I see a volunteer table close down early, nor did anyone run out of water or power drink. As a back-of-the-packer, I never lacked anything. The volunteers made sure I had everything I needed.
Today, I’m still basking in the after glow, though I’m a bit sore and frankly, really, really tired. Nothing that a couple days of rest won’t cure. Yesterday I was determined that I’d never do another marathon; however, today I’m already considering doing another one at some point. NOT ANYTIME SOON, but yeah, maybe one day. My next marathon will be at a time of year when I can train in the fall or winter, and then perhaps I can travel to a place where the temperatures aren’t hot and humid or frigidly cold and wet.
Oh, and I saved the best moment for last. As I was coming to the last stretch and saw my daughter up ahead, she was holding this sign:
I’m pretty proud of me, too.
A few statistics about my marathon journey:
Number of weeks training: 18
Miles ran: 332
Pounds lost: 2
Toenails lost: 2
Pairs of running shoes I went through: 3