Yesterday was the big day. After 25 weeks of training with Luke's Locker in Allen, I ran my first 26.2 marathon. I can honestly say that it was the HARDEST thing I have EVER done.
Back Story: Saturday night we went to our Sunday School classes Christmas party. The hosts from our class are also the ones that encouraged me to attempt my first marathon. Amy has run several marathons and decided to sign up with Luke's Locker Marathon Training Group and told me about it. I knew I couldn't tackle this endeavor on my own so I too joined Luke's training program. Let me just say it was awesome. The coaches, training and support have been invaluable. Amy has been a huge cheerleader and encourager for me during this process. At the party she let me borrow a copy of the movie "Spirit of the Marathon" to watch that night before the big day. I did just that and it was so inspiring. I recommend to anyone considering a marathon to watch it. Amy also asked if I had any good luck items that I would be bringing with me to the marathon. I didn't, she walked back to her room and came out with her good luck charms for running her marathons. A beautiful pair of silver 26.2 earrings. She let me borrow them for good luck. I proudly wore them yesterday during my marathon. Thank you, Amy!
So, I set the alarm for 4:45 a.m. to give me time to prepare for the race. I needed to eat and make sure I had all my gear, which had been laid out the day before. We were on schedule and headed out at 5:45 a.m. Plenty of time to get to Fair Park. WRONG! It took 2 hours and 10 minutes to get there when it should have taken 40 minutes. The rain that stayed with us the entire day caused gridlock on the way. It took us 40 minutes to go 1/4 mile. We were making great time, we got to the 75 and 30 exit and sat on the bridge barely moving for 40 minutes. Once we finally got on 30 every exit was backed up forever. When we finally got off at our exit the traffic was backed up at every light. A police officer was redirecting traffic to another route which we were unfamiliar with and at this point we had no idea where we were or how far from Fair Park we were, plus there were no signs and no more police officers directing traffic. Finally at 7:50 a.m. I could see where we needed to park but traffic was inching along. At this point I burst into tears. Keith had missed the bus that was suppose to take him to his relay point, I was going to be late for the marathon and there would be no time to find my running partners from Luke's. I was completely FRAZZLED! Keith pulled into the parking lot, ignored all the people directing traffic and rushed me to the front gate so I could run in and find the baggage drop and the corral to start.
I was dropped off at 7:56 a.m. The race started in 4 minutes. I started following a lot of other runners who were trying to get to the bag drop off and the start line. I found the entrance to the corrals but didn't see the bag drop off spot. I started asking people. I found a lady who looked like she worked there and asked her where the bag drop was. She pointed in the opposite direction and said it was a 10-15 minute walk to it. The gun went off to start the race. I freaked! I HAD to drop off our bags. The bags contained dry clothes and shoes for after the race. We would need them. It was cold and rainy. I ran to the bag drop and checked in our stuff. While dropping off the bags I ran into Johan, the first runner for the relay team I had encouraged being put together so I would have someone new to run with every 5 miles or so.
I also had to stop in the bathroom. When I came out I didn't see him so I figured he went to the corral to start the race. I headed that way too. I could see the corral but couldn't find the entrance gate. There was a chain link fence between me and the corral. The race had started I wasn't sure which corral was left waiting to start, I got frantic again and climbed the chain link fence and jumped over. At this point I see Johan heading my way from the bag drop so I wait for him and we start the race together. I run with Johan for about 2 miles and realize I'm running a sub 10 minute pace and decide to slow it down. He goes on ahead to his relay point, Keith is waiting there for him.
When I pass the 5 mile mark I start looking for signs on where the relay team will enter. I'm hoping to find Keith and run with him for a bit. I've been running by myself since mile 2 because of the chaotic start. The miles are not marked very well between miles 5 and 10. I finally see Keith ahead of me and catch up to him. We run together for a few minutes. He has just realized he is running a steady incline. It happens to be the portion of the course with the biggest incline. I didn't tell him this ahead of time in hopes of not psyching him out. I end up leaving him behind when he decides to take a walk break.
Onto point two. Kim is to join me for this leg of the race. I was really looking forward to it since I had been running solo for the majority of the race until this point. I pass her relay entrance and keep going because I know Keith is behind me but I'm not sure how far. I try and take it slow, one to conserve energy because I know I started out to fast and two to allow Kim to catch up. Finally, as I'm entering the White Rock Lake trail portion I see some porta-potties. I decide to stop and luckily Kim catches up with me. I was so happy to see her. Around mile 12 I start to hit the wall. Way to early in the race for this to happen but with all the drama of trying to get to the race, my start being too fast, the cold and rain were taking a toll. I pulled out one of my mini payday bars. They work better for me than GU. I knew I needed to eat something because my vision was getting blurry and I'm also thinking I just want to quit. My left hamstring is hurting, my hands are freezing (I steal Kim's running gloves and never give them back) I have no energy, blurry vision and I feel really stiff. I don't quit though because I have told everyone I know, people on Facebook and complete strangers. I can't tell them I just gave up so I keep trucking along with Kim's encouragement.
I guess it is around mile 15 I run into the Jane's (Jane Burk and Jane Wilson) from my Luke's Running Group. Jane W. is doing awesome and is like the energizer bunny and just runs on past us. Jane B. is running this as a 22 mile training run because her marathon is in Houston in a couple weeks. Jane B. stays behind and runs with Kim and I. She is a huge blessing to see. Very supportive and encouraging! I have to make yet another porta-potty stop at mile 16 so Kim runs on ahead to pass off the timing chip to Derek who is running the next leg.
Jane and I run/walk together to mile 16.5 where we pick up Derek. Derek ran with us until the first water stop where myself and Jane B. grab some water and walk and Derek keeps on going. So proud of Derek!!! Jane B. and I run/walk (I did more walking than I wanted to going into this race) I'm still having a lot of stiffness and my hamstring is killing me. But with Jane B's encouragement I keep on trucking. Just over the Dolly Parton hills is the last relay point. It is mile 21 and Jane B. and I pick up Sam.
Sam is a ball of energy. Great person to have bring me in the last 5.2 miles. She use to be a track coach and has one of the most positive and enthusiastic personalities. I told Kim at packet pick up on Friday that I was afraid Sam's enthusiasm at mile 21 might irritate me because I would be so tired at that point. I'm happy to report it didn't. Sam provided the encouragement both Jane B. and I needed to finish. Jane B. decided to do the whole marathon and not stop at mile 22 as she had planned for her training run. Jane B. got a second wind around mile 24 and I didn't see her again. Sam was great at keeping me going....we would run to mile markers she picked out along the way. I'm so glad she was there or I probably would have walked the last 5 miles. Sam was singing, dancing, encouraging all the runners and her liveliness kept me going. She encouraged one guy to stop walking and run along with us. She is an awesome encourager. I'm not going to lie. This last stretch was difficult. Sam would tell me we were going to run and I would role my eyes, but I did it. My stomach was getting very upset around mile 24 and I made my last porta-potty stop. I also had Sam feeding me pretzel sticks for the salt. When we finally started to head into Fair Park and passed the mile 26 banner I knew there was only .2 to go. Sam really encouraged me to pick up the pace and finish strong. It was so hard. I just wanted to be under the yellow "Finish" banner. I was never so happy to be done. Kim and Derek greeted me, Keith had been getting pics of me finishing and caught up to us as we walked to the finishers building to get my medal and change clothes. It was a huge feeling of accomplishment and I was sooooooooooo happy to be done and get out of the cold and rain.
We headed into the finishers building where I received my medal and finisher shirt, took some photos and grabbed a bagel and banana.
I got my clothes and changed. I've never been so happy to get into dry clothing. Then we got to walk another 2-3 miles to the car in the cold and rain.
Kim, Sam, Derek, Keith and I enjoyed a celebratory lunch at Chili's. I left the house at 5:45 a.m. and got home at 5:45 p.m.. It was a long day and one that I am proud of!
P.S. Huge Congratulations to my husband. He has never even run a 5K and came out on a cold, rainy day to run a 5 mile leg of the relay to support me. He is the BEST! I am so proud of him. I love you, Keith!