Well, we did it. Mindy and I ran and FINISHED the marathon last Saturday. This post comes late because a busy week awaited us, which is unfortunate since walking proved difficult for a couple days. But our muscles are nearly back to normal, and we are both looking forward to working out again (in the gym, that is…I think we need a break from running).
Here’s how it went:
The two nights before the race I barely slept at all. Thursday night I got about four hours and Friday night I only had two. I’m sure most of it was nerves, but Friday night my throat started to hurt. I panicked, praying I wasn’t getting sick, and loaded up on Vitamin C. I lay awake all night long, only sleeping from about 2am to 4am. By morning, I felt feverish and I almost called Mindy to tell her I just couldn’t do it. But the idea of having to do this race at another time was unbearable since we had trained for five months. So I decided to just get up, get moving, change, have breakfast, and see how I felt. Worst case scenario would be that I ran a few miles and quit because I was sick.
It was a BEAUTIFUL morning. Mindy and I chugged our coffee on the way, and put on some very old (and very big) sweats to keep warm. It was so cold, probably not much more than 40 degrees. We parked and started getting ready in the parking lot…fanny packs packed, chaffing cream applied, ipods in place, numbers pinned on our shirts, and pre-race pictures taken.
At this point, the adrenaline was kicking in. The sun was nearly up over the horizon, everyone around us was jazzed and getting ready, and we started getting excited. I was feeling much better than I had been earlier (plus I had knocked back a few Advil, so that always helps). The sunshine and fresh air helped immensely.
We got to our corral and waited. Finally the gun went off, and our marathon….26 miles…began. We ran in silence, with just a little talking, the first hour and a half. We talked about the scenery and how we felt and all the people. It didn’t feel much different than our normal Saturday runs. Then we popped in our ear buds. The first 14 miles actually felt really good. We had a great pace, we felt good, and things were looking up.
Then came the half marathon/full marathon split, and we headed out to a very large out-and-back loop. A couple miles after that we started shutting down. I was starting to feel sick again, and Mindy’s knee was hurting really bad. We decided to walk for a bit. I dug more Advil out of my fanny pack, and Mindy stretched her knee. The feverish feeling was coming back for me. I was achey and starting to feel really cold again. I wanted to curl up in my bed and go to sleep. Finishing the last 12 miles was the LAST thing I wanted to do. Finishing the race started to feel completely overwhelming, and my body did not feel like it could stand the pain of another two hours.
I won’t lie. I started crying. Yes, folks. I cried because I was afraid I was going to have to quit the race and fail to meet my goal. And I cried because I just felt so crappy. Everything hurt, the wind was cold, and I felt miserable, telling Mindy I didn’t know what to do. She was supportive, either way, which was so sweet of her. So we watched for race officials to go driving by, and I fully intended on flagging someone down.
But nobody came. (And that’s probably why they don’t, haha). We were a few miles out already on a big loop. So no matter what we did, we had a LONG way to go. Finally, I got tired of walking and waiting. I figured even if I run, it may be painful but I won’t die, and we’d get done faster. If anything, I could deal with being sick later. I just needed to get through the last 12 miles. So we popped our earbuds in again and started shuffling. It was so painful. It was miserable. It was completely mental. But we chose to move faster and to finish. We willed our aching bodies to GO. And they did. It was definitely a point in the race where I realized we were capable of more than we thought. About 8 miles to the finish, we looked at each other with a big smile because we knew it was in the bag. At every mile marker, we pounded fists in silence and kept trudging along.
One of the BEST parts of the race was being cheered on by strangers. At the advice of a friend, we used iron on letters (the adult equivalent of puffy paint, which we used in high school) to put our names on our shirts. SO many people along the sidelines cheered us on, and it was the best feeling. It kept us going. Even other runners cheered for us, telling us we were doing awesome, to keep it up, and to hang in there. The camaraderie was extraordinary, something I so love about running.
Oddly enough, the last five miles were the WORST. It was such a short distance to us, but it was so far and took so long. Even when we could SEE the finish line, we were both really struggling and close to just stopping. About a quarter mile from the finish line, I saw my dad on the sidelines. I teared up, touched he had come to watch me finish. As we crossed the finish line, we both hugged and started crying. We could not believe we were actually done. We had finished, having run most of the race without stopping. My friend Mandy was there with her son Broden to congratulate me with a big hug, which meant the world to me. His little smile lifted my spirits. My husband Cody had come with my daughter Heidi, who was the one person I thought of most during the race. Her little face and her little smile and those little arms around my neck…I LIVED for those, and couldn’t wait to hug her when I was finished.
To say I’m proud I completed one of the biggest goals I’ve ever made for myself would be an understatement. I’m proud because we finished, and I’m proud because we raised money for Active Water. But one of the biggest things that hit me was that I DID IT. Something that took me half a year to train for and something that felt impossible…I did it. Plain and simple. I didn’t take off one day and do it without thinking. It took practice and planning and so much time. But it was possible. It empowered me to make a list of other goals I’ve tinkered with but never took seriously. It’s so easy to talk ourselves out of things. It takes too much time, I’m incapable, I have a baby at home, etc. But we CAN. It just takes time and effort. And if we’re not willing to put those things in, than it’s just an excuse.
As cliche as it sounds, it made me truly believe in myself. With some faith and effort, I can make an impact for good.
“I always loved running…it was something you could do by yourself, and under your own power. You could go in any direction, fast or slow as you wanted, fighting the wind if you felt like it, seeking out new sights just on the strength of your feet and the courage of your lungs.” – Jesse Owens