This is it! Marathon day! I cannot believe that this day is finally here, and that i woke up 3am and was wide awake. The race started at 7am, so our plan was to be to the start area by 6:15 in order to have time to stretch, use the bathrooms, and get in our corrals. Therefore, we needed to leave the hotel at 6:00am. My alarm was set for 3:30am in order to eat and digest before leaving my hotel room. For breakfast, I ate my normal pre-long run fuel of an english muffin, peanut butter, a banana, coffee and water. It was harder to make myself eat all that food due to my nerves, but I ate it all and was digested, dressed and ready to go before 6!
We arrived at the start area about 6:20, and immediately went to the bathroom line. We were threw that in no time, and into our corrals soon after. It always feels like you are standing in the starting line for so long, but today it was only about 10 minutes. This race started in waves, so once 7am hit, the elite runners were off! Then, each corral moved up and started every 3 minutes. I was in corral number 3 (green), so as soon as they gave us the 2 minute warning, I got rid of my “throw-away” shirt, and started taking some deep breaths. And, then the countdown started: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 – and we were off!
The start was great – I was feeling great! I saw Brant and some other friends right after the starting line, which was definitely motivation that I could do this!
They had planned to spot me at other places along the route, so I was excited to look out for them at those points! The first 10k was nice – fairly flat, fairly scenic, everyone was in a great mood! We started down the main street in town in order to hit the 10k mark and it was lined with onlookers. They were yelling out everyone’s names and just cheering people on (I definitely ran that mile too fast!), but they were pushing me along. Shortly after the 10k I spotted my fan group (Brant, Brian, Jaimee, Andrew, Rachel, Debi, Eric…) and gave a smile and a wave. How fun to spot them in the crowd!
The next 10k was great as well. We ran through a few parks, up some hills (mile 9 was a killer!), and had some great support especially as we were making our way closer to the halfway point. The halfway point was packed with people! Half marathoners were finishing and marathoners were half way done! It was definitely my favorite part of the whole race. Once again, I spotted my fan group. I was off to run another 13.1 miles, while they were off to breakfast .
The next half was getting harder. I needed to focus on my pace to make sure that I would have enough steam in me to finish those last few miles. We made our way towards the river, which is where we would run the last 10 miles. Once we were along the river, we were passing runners heading to the finish line. We saw the lead male and female – it was so cool! At mile 16, it was motivating to see those runners almost finishing, but by mile 19 I hated all of them! They were past mile 20…and I was not!
Eventually, I hit mile 20 and was right on pace! The spectators were few and far between during miles 14-19, but mile 20 was our turnaround and it was on a small main street with hundreds of people cheering! People were passing our beer and chocolate brownies, along with the normal water and oranges. Everyone was so into it. And, there is was! Right ahead of me, Mile 20!
I touched the cone at the turnaround point for good luck and made my way back up the gradual incline to the river for my final 6 miles. Miles 21-23 were great. I was focusing on pace, and cheering on the runners who had not made it to the turnaround yet. But, at Mile 24 my legs started throbbing. It was all I could do to keep them moving! I knew that if I stopped, I would not start running again and I was determined to come close to my goal! I still kept an ok pace of a 9:30 mile for these last 2.2 miles, but it felt so much slower than that. I passed Mile 26, saw my fan group (to whom I did not flash a wave or a smile to this time!), and saw the finish line!
Those last .2 miles felt like the longest .2 miles I have ever ran, but I stayed strong until I crossed the line with my hands and head held high!
I did it! I finished my marathon in 4:04!!!
I could not believe it, and still cannot believe it 3 weeks later. I could not be prouder of myself for sticking through the training and running a great marathon!
I eventually made my way through the finishers shoot – got my medal, mylar blanket and Philly pretzels in hand – and to the family meeting area to meet my family and friends.
My legs were initially throbbing, but felt much better after a little walk back to the hotel, a snack, some stretching and a hot shower!
What a day!