Being a runner since 7th grade, I've always wanted to tackle a marathon so I slapped it on my 30 Before 30 list and let it simmer there for a while. Then I got this
My husband decided he would train with me and run the half marathon. I was thrilled! I think that lasted about 2 weeks, God love him. Somehow I got faster (who knew) and he got winded. From then on, he rode his bike next to me and provided water and entertainment on the long runs. I seriously could not have done it without him. There's no denying that. Sure, there were days when he wasn't thrilled about waking up at 6:30am on a Saturday to go to the bike path, but he did it. If I didn't hurry up and get it over with first thing in the morning, I would never do it. Especially when the mileage got up in the 16, 18, 20 range. That takes a long time to run and I wanted to be finished before lunch! We even mapped out 18 miles in Georgia and completed that run while on vacation. Now that's dedication. He bought roller blades to mix things up when he got sick of his bike, but that ended in hard plastic rubbing on his foot for so long it left his sock bloody and his mood dampened. I think he liked my cross training days the best when I could ride my bike with him instead of running.
Throughout the training, I tried several unusual methods to feel better. I drank pickle juice to help with muscle cramping. I soaked my legs in ice cold water to reduce swelling. I even ate Cuzzins Frozen Yogurt thinking, surely that would help. And it did. But I always went back to the classic R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression, elevation) method. That or just whine about being sore.
Although I took many pictures of my purple toenails and blister covered feet, I've decided to spare you and leave those off this blog post. You're welcome. But just know that toenails turn deep purple and sometimes fall off and it's possible to have multiples blisters on top of one another. These things cause lots of pain, crying out at random times of the day when your sock gets snagged and when you have to try to sleep with your feet hanging off the bed because even the weight of a blanket is incredibility uncomfortable. Then just imagine putting running shoes back on and slamming them into the pavement yet again for another 10+ miles. That's a terrible kind of hurt that I will not miss. But after all that training, even though it was painful, I was ready to run yesterday morning.
Brandon's cousin, Maria stayed the night, so the three of us ventured downtown just before 6am. Maria was running the half marathon so we planned to stick together. I knew I would be super jealous when she got to turn and be finished and I had to keep on truckin'. Before heading to our designated corral for the start, we took one picture and tried not to freeze. I believe the temperature was in the low 40's. The day before, we had gone to Goodwill and bought "throw away" jackets for $3! Any discarded clothing was going to be donated back to Goodwill so it was a win, win for everyone. I was glad to have it. They also gave out free gloves. Although, I only wore mine for the 30 minutes we stood at the start waiting for the gun to go off. We had brought hand warmers so that helped. I ran with mine until mile 20 or so!
When the gun went off, we still had to wait for thousands of people in front of us to start running. By the time we crossed the start line, the clock read 5 minutes, 14 seconds. Then we were off! Bobbing and weaving between people trying not to step on anyone's heals. The first mile was almost a minute slower than our ideal pace so we had to pick it up once people thinned out and it wasn't elbow to elbow. From that point forward, we were spot on our goal pace. It was amazing really. I guess that's what happens when you train. You're body just knows what to do. I felt great the first half! Maria clocked in at just under 2 hours, which was her goal. So proud of her! I kept pushing and crossed my half way point at 1:58. I was stoked! Then I had to pee. Figures. I found the first available porta-potty along the route and hopped in and out as fast as I could, nearly dropping my cell phone in, never to be seen again. I had a pocket in the back of my pants where I was keeping it and forgot all about it.
Around mile 20, I hit the proverbial wall. I knew this was going to be the hardest part of the course anyway because of the gradual uphill but I couldn't make myself run any faster. This is the furthest I had ever gone in my training. They say if you can do 20, you can do 26.2 but at that moment, I was doubting it. I had to play mind games and tell myself "I can't stop now, I've come so far". Around mile 23, I started feeling better. Shortly after, I heard a spectator say "all you have left is a 5K" and thought "I can do a 5K in my sleep!" so I pushed harder. All of a sudden I was at mile 26 and running as hard as I could! I crossed the finish line at 4:11:03 and felt pretty proud of myself. Had I not hit the wall and stopped for a porta-potty, I could have gone faster but that's all part of the gig. Plus, my goal was anything under 4:30, so mission accomplished. As soon as I found Brandon and Maria in the sea of people I said "never again". I can cross it off my list and stick to half marathons from now on. At least that's how I feel today. My legs are so sore, the tops of my feet get sharp pains, I have blisters the size of small children and no matter what I do, I can't seem to eat enough food to get full! I took the day off work to relax and not get off the couch all day. Ahh, sweet success. Thank you for everyone who has congratulated me through this journey. You kept me going in training and your comments and texts and calls were overwhelming when it was over. You guys are the best!