I don’t even know where to start. Ever since I picked up my race stuff Friday morning, all I wanted was the race to start so I could quit being anxious, and now I am sad that it is over. It was the most rewarding and empowering thing I have ever done. I really expected to come out of this feeling defeated and not ever wanting to run again. Just the opposite, I could not feel more proud. In fact, I am crying as I write this…good tears. I am the type of person who wears my heart on my sleeve, and this weekend leading up to the race has been pretty emotional for me. I teared up nearly every time someone commented on my blog, Facebook, or Twitter. The support was overwhelming and I feel very fortunate in this regard. My mind was also playing games with me…was I ready for this, should I have run more this last week (the last time I ran was on Thursday), I started remembering my bad runs, I was worrying about the weather, worrying about what to eat, and hoping I wouldn’t have any digestive issues the morning of the race. I really just tried to stay positive, and at many times tried to forget about the race altogether.
So I guess I will start with yesterday. I didn’t eat a whole lot as I was afraid of having digestive issues today. Of course, I waited until the last minute to actually try on the clothes I had planned on wearing. Glad I actually did this because I decided not to go with my original choice. I also wrote many of my favorite quotes on my arm, just in case I needed to be reminded of them. I also created my own “name tag” so that people could cheer for me! It was so awesome to hear people cheering your name. Sometimes it gave me chills, and other times it brought me to tears. Not only did I have my name tag, but I wrote my name in pink lipstick on both of my arms. Amazingly, it stayed on both arms even with all of my sweating.
So after I had every thing ready for this morning, it was time for bed. Only problem…I wasn’t tired! I probably fell asleep between 10:30-11:00. Sometime, I am guessing probably around 2:00, I got up to use the bathroom. Guess what? I never fell back asleep. I tried, but my mind was moving a million miles an hour. Finally, when my alarm went off at 3:45 I just got up. I still really wasn’t all that tired. I was happy that my anxiety was finally going to put at ease, the big day had finally arrived.
I didn’t eat anything this morning before I left, and I drank about a cup of water. I hadn’t eaten before any long runs prior to this, and I wasn’t going to start now. My friend Chuck, who was also running his first marathon today, was gracious enough to let me pick him up. (Chuck’s time was amazing! His goal was 2:15. He finished in 2:11.) This was a blessing because he knew where we needed to go, and where we needed to park! By the time we parked, and walked to the starting area we had about 30 minutes before the race started. Good thing we were early because there were rather long lines for the porta-potties, and of course, I had to go. Have I mentioned how much I hate porta-potties? They are just nasty! After using the bathroom, I put my hydration pack on, got my iPod ready, took my energy gel, and headed to the starting line. Based on all of my previous runs, I was predicting a three hour finish. I made sure I was close to the back of the line. I was amazed at how many people lined up behind me…they must not have realized how slow I was going to go!
While waiting in the starting line, I started my iPod. The first song that came on was This Is My Now by Jordin Sparks. It was at this point, I nearly started crying before the race had even started. This was going to be MY now. I told you I was emotional! This marathon was a BIG DEAL to me! It wasn’t just about the running. It was about having the perseverance and mental strength to stick it out, to go the distance.
I am proud to say that except for three minutes on the steepest hill, I never walked more than I had planned. I was able to stick to my schedule throughout. I don’t have my “official” time yet, but it’s around 2:58 to 2:59. For those nearly three hours, I walked a total of 37 minutes. The walk breaks saved me, especially towards the end when I could tell I was getting tired. My longest walk break was six minutes, and about four of those were on the steep hill.
Did I already mention that I am sad that it is over? It was an experience that I can’t put into words. My two biggest fears going into this marathon were 1) that I would want to quit somewhere along the way; and 2) that I would be the last runner and the sweep vehicle would be hot on my heels. I am so proud of myself. Not one time did I ever think of quitting, it never crossed my mind. I never questioned myself about why I signed up for this, or thinking I am never doing this again. I was shocked and still am! Not only was I not the last runner, but I finished roughly 30 minutes before the last runner. There is nothing wrong with being the last runner, as I have stated before no matter how slow you are, you are still lapping all those at home on their couch. For me, it was just an irrational fear that I had. I thought I was the only slow(er) runner out there. The great thing about the marathon was that I learned that I am not the only one. I watched the last couple runners cross the finish line, and it was a proud moment for me, for them. I could relate to them…we were slow but we finished. As a wise friend told me last night, “how you get to the finish line is of no importance.”
I was lucky to have my mom there with me. She saw me a little after the first mile, and again at the finish line. I am really glad she was there because this was a big moment for me. All she was hoping for me is that I would finish before three hours. Of course, I didn’t know this until I finished. When I first said I was going to run a marathon at the beginning of this year, I don’t think any of my family believed me. As the card my mom gave me this morning states, “Half of doing it is believing you can.”
I was so happy to cross the finish line in less than three hours, it wasn’t by much but it was still less. My new Personal Record! Going back a bit, before the race started I was asking about porta-potties on the course. I told them I sweat so much I won’t have to use them, and my time wouldn’t matter because I was going to come in last anyways. Amazingly, one of the volunteers who heard me say this was at the finish line when I crossed. He said, “I remember you. Before the race you said you were going to come in last, and you didn’t did you!” That made me smile even though I was exhausted and overheated. I was so focused on finding some water, that I almost missed getting my finishing medal.
Although the race started at 6:30, it was still sunny, hot, and humid. My heart rate was elevated before the race even began, partially from being nervous. The weather took it’s toll on my body. My average heart rate was 179, and my maximum heart rate hit 191. After seeing those numbers, I am amazed that I even finished…throughout the race I was at 92% of my maximum heart rate. The good news out of all of this is that I burned 2,351 calories, and sweated away 4.2 pounds (which will be back I am sure)!
I am so pleased with today, and so incredibly proud of myself. I am definitely stronger than I thought. I can’t wait to be part of this experience again. In fact, I wish I could just rewind time and start it all over. It was as good as it could have been. I didn’t have any issues with my knees or my IT band. I didn’t have any blisters or chafing. I am still alive, and I am still walking! I have a feeling that my calves may be a little tight tomorrow, but other than that I feel great. Tomorrow may be another story!
I waited until the race was finished so I could get some pictures in front of the finishing line. They didn’t turn out that great, but are definitely better than nothing.
A few more victory pictures at home, before I get out of my sweaty, stinky clothes. I couldn’t wait to get in the shower! I managed to spill Powerade on myself at some point! I was gross.
I am so pumped. Today was amazing. I can’t wait to run again. Will I have bad runs, yes, but days like today make it all worth it. This has been am amazing journey. Thank you to all of you who have vicariously taken this journey with me. I can’t wait to begin the next journey, and hope that you will continue along. Your inspiration, encouragement, and support mean the world.
I DID IT!!