Saturday, November 2, 2013

I am a Marathoner!

Today was the day. I ran my 26.2 mile MARATHON!

It's wasn't fast, and wasn't exactly pretty, but it was FUN! And I have to think that none of you thought I'd say that! It was fun because I didn't push myself to run a crazy fast pace, I had LOTS of friends and family come out and support me and I trained smart!

The race was Marathoning for Miracles. It supports the Children's Miracle Network. The sticker they sent out is great! It will be on my car tomorrow along with my 26.2 sticker!
We had planned to go down Friday night, but Maddie was playing with the high school band at the football game, so we ended up going to the first half of the game, getting to bed about 11pm and leaving the house at 4:30am. We arrived in Abilene at 6:30 am. It was supposed to be mid 40's. It wasn't. It was mid 30's. 

Here I am with my friend Crystal who was running the half marathon and my friend Lesley who BIKED and drove around the course to be my roving aid station! It was incredible having her help me. I needed her, but more than that, I KNEW that if I needed her, she could get to me quickly. It was awesome!!

And here I am with Doug. He did his first HALF marathon today!!! I hate that his big accomplishment was lost in my big day!
It was sooo cold when we were starting the race. Crystal's grandmother was there and she gave me her gloves to wear! Thank you Crystal's grandmother!!

Crystal and I started the race dead last. We were in the back anyway and then I couldn't get runkeeper to start! I was NOT going to do this big race without runkeeper tracking my progress!!

We ran the first few miles amid the frost and peace of the morning. Then we turned to the airport and had to run on unpaved hard-packed roads. YUCK!! We were NOT ready for that. We ran on the gravel, in and around potholes for a few miles. When we finally came through that junk, Crystal's family was there to cheer us on! FUN!! As we got to mile 8+, Crystal had to turn around go back to join the 1/2 Marathon race. (She started incognito with me 15 minutes early to pace me!! Super Friend!) Then I ran and ran and ran, alone on the country roads. 

Thankfully Lesley found me a few times and offered aid and cheering and SIGNS made just for me!! 

I wasn't sure where I was in the race, dead last? But then at mile 12 I saw a runner off in the distance and used him to motivate me. So I passed him at mile 13 and then picked off another guy at mile 14. Then it was back to lonely running on ROLLING HILLS!! OUCH. This marathon was billed as FAST AND FLAT. It was not! 

Anyway.. at mile 17 we turned back to where we had started and straight into a head wind! I knew it was coming. I went to college in Abilene (shout out to Hardin-Simmons University here.)and the wind is just part of West Texas life. My pace slowed a lot at that point.

As I neared mile 18, Crystal and her family were there to cheer for me and a dear friend ran towards me and offered to run with me for a while! YES!! Sabrina and driven two hours that morning, just to be there for me and to run with me for a little while if I needed her! She ended up running 8 miles with me! And these were CRUCIAL miles!

Then at mile 19, Doug, my mom and dad and my girls were there!! That was tear worthy! They tooted horns for me! (That was so cool! Shout out to two more incredible friends Mindy and Rachel... they made me a goody bag and sent the horns for my family!!!) My parents and girls had never seen me run. This was a huge deal for me!

From that point on, I had family and friends support my journey. It was incredible. This was my journey, but it was bigger than that, it was OUR journey! Crystal came back and ended up running 4 more miles (she ended up over 17 for the day!) and Doug walked a little with me, by that point he was DONE, but he wanted to join the effort too. Yes, he is a keeper!

I wish I had pictures of everyone along the way, but I was a little busy and I didn't want to take a chance of killing my phone battery before the race was over.

So finally, after 26.2 miles, here I am running in at the end. Lexi took the picture of me! I love that you can see my leg muscles!

And here I am at the finish!!!

And below is another picture that Lexi took. It's a horrible picture of me, but I love it. My dad is caught in the picture and I love that you can see that I'm not dying. My greatest goal for this race was that my girls would see that it was HARD, but that I wasn't doing something that would hurt me.
Now I just have to focus on those love handles and hips. no more donuts?

Love that we both got medals today!

And finally, here I am after the race and a shower that I got to take at Crystal's grandmother's house!!! See, it really was a group win.
Now that's the race is over and we have been home a while, I can say that without a doubt, this is one of those defining moments in life. To be able to say that I have run a marathon is mind boggling! That's the kind of thing you hear about OTHER people. And hear I am. Even better, I do plan on running another marathon, probably this same race next year.

In the end, my time was slower than I had wanted. I ran the first 13 miles exactly the way I wanted. Then I ran 14-17 even better. I picked up the pace just as planned. And then wham, the wind. Even then I was doing great. In fact, up until mile 21 I was feeling good. But then, the hurt was more than I could ignore. The ball of my left foot had hurt since mile 3 and it was just not going to play nice anymore. My right quad and calf were spasming and the pace dropped. Even worse, at this point, we (my two awesome friends Crystal and Sabrina and me) were running on the highway and the oncoming traffic was heavy and big trucks were LOUD and would blow you off course. But we laughed and talked and persevered. 

After it was all said and done, I wasn't last!!! In fact, I finished 3rd in the 30-39 age group. And yippee, I turn 40 next year, so I'll age up! (yes, running is probably the only sport where aging up is a good thing!)

So if reading this inspires you, I suggest you get off the couch tomorrow and go for a walk. Then find a local running group and start a run/walk/run interval program. Cause at the end of the day, there were two ladies laying on the floor of the expo with their legs propped up in bad shape. I stopped in there and had a few chicken nuggets and was enjoying my girls. As we got up to leave, one of the ladies stopped me and said, you are in MUCH better place than we are! So I said, well... I do a run/walk/run interval and that makes the difference. The other lady said, I guess we should have walked some. I told them that I did a 3 minute run with a 1 minute walk and that I just finished my first marathon in 5:13 and that while I don't want to go for a run right now, I'm good. They just shook their heads and said, that was our time.... I said that they might want to learn about the Galloway method. They agreed! I then smiled and told them good luck and walked out with my girls, without limping,  while the ladies struggled to move.

So to all of you out there, see you at the next race! I'll be one of those run/walk/run-ers enjoying my race, posting times that are better than my previous times and having a great time with my friends and family!

And thank you for sharing my journey with me!

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