I finished my first marathon! 26.2 miles.... check!
WARNING: Slightly detailed and probably overly wordy explanation below. This was just such a huge momentous day that I really want to get the whole experience down in writing before I forget!
I always told myself I would never do a marathon. It just seemed so unattainable, even after a half marathon. However, things changed when Whitney, the wife of Russ's cousin, emailed me last December and asked if I wanted to do the Ogden Marathon with her. Luckily Russ is in tune and knew that I secretly wanted to do it. With some not-so-subtle hints he convinced me to sign up. He bought me a marathon training book by Hal Higdon for Christmas. Two weeks later I started my 18 week training program.
For the most part I enjoyed the training process. It felt good to achieve another milestone week after week, especially once I had passed the 13.1 mileage and started reaching numbers I had previously never hit. The 15 miler was especially significant. As the mileage continued to build and I was doing 30+ miles a week, it started getting rather stressful, exhausting and causing a bit of anxiety. It might have something to do with my crazy twins. :) I was having to find babysitters to go on long runs (which seems crazy to me), Russ was picking up a lot of slack with Max and Clara, and I was just really physically tired. As race day approached, anxiety started building and I was having a hard time sleeping. I just wanted to get this race over with! One of my favorite things about those super long runs, however, was when my little support crew would find me on the trails. It always made my day! Again, Russ is pretty much amazing.
On Friday after work, my mom came to stay at our house and Russ and I drove up to Ogden. We stayed in a crappy little motel since we were late on the whole "get a hotel next to the shuttle bus" thing. :) As per usual with races, I barely slept (maybe about 3 hours?) due to nerves.
So, so, so tired at 4:15 am after 3 hours of interrupted sleep. I think I was contemplating driving home instead of getting on the shuttle at that point. :)
I was so glad I had my San Antonio friends, Stacie and Andrea, to be with before the race. I also loved knowing Ryan and Whitney (Russ's cousin and his wife) were in on it, as well! Runners are a crazy bunch, but at least we are all crazy together. We got to the starting line and had to wait for about an hour and a half. It was freezing and even started lightly snowing at one point! When we threw our clothes bag into the bus to take down to the finish line, I put my rain jacket in the bag thinking I would probably be fine (very quickly regretting my decision). At the starting line I had just my tank top and a plastic bag over me (because rain WAS in the forecast). I wanted to kick myself! What had I done?! I said a silent prayer that I would be OK. After the starting buzzer went off, I was slowly walking to the line in the crowd and saw a few items of clothing on the ground that others ahead of me had discarded. I pulled to the side and picked up this random rain jacket that was a few sizes too big. I wore that jacket the ENTIRE race. Haha! That was a new low for me, but I was also so incredibly grateful for that stranger's rain jacket - an answer to prayers for sure.
The race was such a rollercoaster of emotions. I was so pumped up to finally be doing the thing I had worked so long to achieve. I was exhausted, especially halfway in. I was frustrated that this huge day I had been looking forward to had the worst weather EVER. It started raining pretty heavy at about mile 1 until the very end. It never stopped raining, and at some points there was horizontal rain directly into our faces. Super brutal conditions for a 26.2 mile race.
My main goal of this race was to 1) FINISH and 2) try to run the whole thing. I am so incredibly happy that I can say I achieved both of these goals! Aside from walking through the water stations, I never stopped running! At mile 17 I made a friend named Lindsey. We ran with each other till about mile 23. I am so grateful for her! She helped distract me from the dreaded "20 mile wall" I was super nervous about. I was so shocked to also feel a boost in energy and endurance around mile 22 or so. I picked my pace up for the last 4 miles, something I also never thought would happen. Previous to the race I had only ran about 19 miles, so I was fully expecting the need to walk near the end.
This was around mile 23 going up our last little hill of the race. You can see my awesome rain jacket. :)
I saw Russ for the first time at mile 21. I started crying. Seeing him standing there, so excited and supportive, made me so full of love and appreciation for him. He has been my rock through this whole training process. He was on his bike and was able to bike along side me between mile 24-25, which really helped me stay energized. He left me at mile 25 to get to the finish line, and I started kicking it into high gear (such an amazing feeling!). When I could see the finish line far away, I started getting emotional again. I sprinted the last quarter mile or so. I was so, so so excited to be DONE and to get out of the rain. Despite the fact that every inch of my body was screaming in numbing pain, I found enough energy to do so. It is AMAZING what our bodies can do.
I am convinced running is 49% physical and 51% mental. It truly is "mind over body."
Crossing that finish line was beyond incredible. Again, I was surprised by my emotions. There were times when I thought I wouldn't be able to finish - both during training and the actual race. But once again, I proved to myself that I CAN DO HARD THINGS. I finished at 4 hours and 38 minutes. I had never really set a goal time, but I am perfectly happy with that time, especially considering the horrible conditions I ran through. My main goal was to finish, and finish I did!
I don't think I'm going to do another marathon for quite a while, if ever. However, this was something on my bucket list, and what an awesome feeling to say I did it.
Sigh of relief!
Here I am with Ryan and Whitney (who I pretty much owe this experience to! If she hadn't asked me to run it with her, I would not have thought to do it). We were dry and had just had our complimentary massages, so obviously we were feeling much happier. I think it also helped that we had finally, for the most part, stopped violently convulsing from being so cold. Fun times! :)