Sunday, November 20, 2011
Well, we've had one day to rest our legs and I'm sad to say that they are even more sore today than yesterday. We expected it, but I still hoped it wouldn't be true. My toes are worse than my legs-with Raynauds and MAJOR blisters I can barely walk. It was all worth the pain though! Where do I start with this re-cap? I guess I'll start the day before the race. You're in for a long post so hang in there with me ;)
Jeff and I headed into the city Saturday afternoon to visit the Expo and pick up our race packet. Things were a bit hectic in the city but we were settled into our hotel by 4 pm and waited for our friends, Kimberly and Joe to arrive. I picked up two bumper stickers at the Expo, one that obviously said 26.2 (because if I was running a whole marathon and, of course, was going to tell anyone driving behind me about it) and the other said this...
We had a few hours to relax before heading to dinner to get as much energy and calories before the race in the morning. Jeff and I ate a pasta dinner at our apartment together Friday night so we wouldn't overdo it the night before the race. The last thing you want is a sick stomach the night before or morning of! We were asleep by 10 pm and up around 4 am (only because we couldn't sleep). We had all of our alarms set for 5 am but at 4 I heard Jeff and Joe stirring in their beds because were were all so anxious and excited! We dressed, ate our oatmeal (Joe's race breakfast choice) and peanut butter and banana sandwich for Jeff and I and were on our way to the Art Museum for the start.
Our adrenaline kicked in right away-there were 30,000 runners and the anticipation of the start was so exciting. The ONLY complaint I have about the race was the bathroom situation-it was pure chaos. There were tons of porta potties but the lines were so unorganized that several people were unable to use the bathroom and just ended up going on the grass nearby. Thankfully Jeff, Joe and myself made it to one before the beginning of the race.
Around 7:15 our corral (grey) started to run. It was really happening! I have run the Philly half marathon so I knew what to expect but Jeff and Joe had not. We were all smiling at all of the many fans and bands around us. It was hard to keep a slow pace in the beginning because of adrenaline. But, we knew that we had to. With my Garmin watch we kept a steady 10 minute mile pace. So many people started off so quickly and we knew we would end up passing them towards the middle/end of the race. Sure enough, we did.
Mile 1-6 felt great. We knew our fans (My parents, Jeff's parents and Kimberly) were waiting for us around mile 6 which kept us going strong. When we saw them I threw off my headband (I was WAY too hot) and we also grabbed some GU chomps that my mom held onto for us. It was just what we needed to keep us going. There were SO many dogs the first half of the marathon and Jeff and I loved seeing them. It kept our spirits up.
The first 13 miles were actually pretty easy. There were two hills around mile 8 and 10 which were rough, but I had run them for my half and expected them. Our fans were waiting for us again at mile 13. This would be the last time we saw them until the finish since there was no way they could have seen us again and made it to the finish in time. We knew the second half of the race would be harder, not only because we were tired but also because we had no fans and knew that more than half of the runners were finished at the 13.1 mile marker. It was harder than we thought, though. We were no longer running in the downtown part of the city and although the roads were pretty, they weren't lined with any fans and were quite boring. You don't realize how helpful fans are until you don't have them anymore!
At mile 14, Jeff and I unfortunately lost Joe because we stopped to pee. We both felt the urge and knew we still had 12.2 miles to go. No one wants to feel uncomfortable for that long! We tried to catch up to Joe but didn't want to kill ourselves running too fast. We did, however, see him in several parts of the race when we had to run up and back, therefore passing the other runners on the way back. We gave him high fives twice! He did awesome.
Around mile 17 I started to struggle. There were a few gradual hills, my energy was low and I started feeling major pain in my feet, specifically my right big toe. A few times I said to Jeff, "My toe might be broken." He assured me it wasn't and told me to keep running :) The first time we walked was around mile 17/18 through the water station. It was super hard to run and drink at the same time without it going up our noses and we knew we needed all the hydration we could get to be able to finish strong.
Mile 18-20 were my least favorite. We went up into Manyunk and back. I HATE going up and back because you can see the runners coming back and you aren't. We couldn't really see where the turn around was and it felt way more than 2 miles. Once we made it around the turn though, we knew we were on our way back to the finish with only 6 miles to go! At this point our legs were done. We were in pain and exhausted but we knew how close we were. It was so encouraging to hear other runners cheering each other on. You really did feel like you were all in it together. I knew I wasn't the only one in pain and if the 70 year old man next to me could do it, so could I!
Once we saw mile 24, we picked up our pace a bit. We were SO close. We started searching for our family because we weren't exactly sure where they would be at the finish. Mile 25 felt like FOREVER. But then, I saw my brother-in-law and immediately knew my sister had surprised us! We didn't think she would be able to make it since Wyatt is a newborn, but it was such a beautiful, warm day that they decided to drive in to see us finish. With an 1/8 of a mile left I saw Laur running towards us...she was going to run into the finish with us! We both started crying-the only time I cried the entire race. I was overwhelmed with happiness and pain at the same time and my emotions got the best of me :)
We did it. My Garmin says we finished around 4:45 but our official race time said 4:52. Our goal was simply to finish, and we did. We saw the 4:30 pace group a few minutes ahead of the entire time and staying somewhat close behind them helped. We grabbed our medals and immediately hugged our amazing fans who woke up super early and dealt with the craziness of the city to cheer us on!
So, will we be running another marathon? HECK no. My 4'11 body was not made to be a runner. As much as I want it to love running, it hates it...and hated me for putting it through 26.2 long miles. It was the hardest thing I've ever done. I'm sure labor/child birth is harder, but since I haven't experienced that yet...this most definitely was. I don't regret it at all. Running a marathon is one of the best things I have ever accomplished in my life...and doing it with my best friend and hubby by my side made it that much better :) I was saddened to hear that two runners collapsed after the marathon and died of heart attacks. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do not push yourself beyond your ability if you are running a marathon-it is not worth it. I heard the news once we got home and broke down into tears. My heart hurts and goes out to the families who lost loved ones yesterday morning...