Thursday, December 11, 2014

Marathon Part 2: Race Day

Good morning Race Fans! 

Alright let’s just get started. My alarm was set for 4:45am the morning of the Marathon. I woke up at 4:30. Well technically I woke up about 3 times before that, but I was wide awake at 4:30. This had never happened to me before. I had always thought that I would have a hard time sleeping before a race, but I never did. I guess 11 plus months of anticipation was enough to wake me. The first thing I did was check the Facebook group. I was not alone. There were so many posts of people who had insomnia. One person had 2.5 hours of sleep. I don’t think I could have done it on that.

So I was awake and waiting for the alarms to go off. Heather’s went off first. I love it. Her song was “Best day of my Life” by American Authors. SO APPROPRIATE. We played it over and over.

Okay, this paragraph is something only runners will understand. If it’s TMI feel free to skip over. Haha. The most important part of my race morning is that I went to the bathroom. HOLLA!  I never want to have that hanging over my head at the start. I need to know it is out of the way. I got a high five from Heather. It’s hard on really early mornings. My body is not used to that schedule. Running is a naturally laxative. Get it done early. Next up is body glide. I don’t usually use this, but Heather offered to let me use some of hers. I eagerly accepted. I put it on my inner thighs and proceeded to get ready. Then the conversation of “Do you wear underwear while you run?” started. Yes I do.

Heather, my Lady in Waiting, did a great job. She was constantly yelling out the time so I knew when we had to go. I asked her to make me my bagel with peanut butter while I finished up.

I had been struggling with what to wear for about a week. No matter what the weather report, I will always wear my leggings for December races. I have been burned before wearing lighter and then freezing. The weather report was wrong that day. I can’t ever take that chance again. That was way too difficult to recover from. The weather report had rain in the late morning/early afternoon. That’s great…for everyone else. I will still be out there at that time…in the cold rain. And so I had to dress that way. I went with long sleeves. I put on my hat so that the rim would keep the rain out of my eyes. My family had jackets for me to bring to meet me on mile 18. If it was raining or looked like rain they would give it to me then.

When I was done getting ready, I made sure to carry all of my stuff downstairs. I would NOT be able to walk up them after the race. I would be showering downstairs later. Then Heather helped put my bib on. I was way too anxious. I would’ve poked myself with those safety pins no doubt. I love Heather’s etiquette “Lift your fun bags so I can pin this right below them.” We so close.

I needed a quick photo once I was ready.

On the ride to the race I attempted to eat my breakfast. I have been eating bagel thins so much that an actual full bagel was too much. I ate half and had a few bites of the other half. I may have been too nervous though. I also had a banana and a few sips of powerade.

We parked and I was getting really excited. I loved seeing everyone dressed for the race. I saw Santa with a group wrapped in Christmas lights. Too cute. We walked to the boardwalk and took some obligatory pictures. First off, a big shout out to my Dad. It was his birthday. Happy Birthday Daddy! Second, the race is not official if Heather and I don’t get a Jazz Hands picture before. Just sayin.

Aunt Carol had asked if I would call her before the race so that she could pray with me. I did and you know that I started to cry.

I had mentioned on the group page that if anyone wanted to take pictures to meet me by Santa’s house on the boardwalk. I spotted Ms. Emily and we got a picture. I also got to meet my new pal Mr. Joey.  And the bonus is that mom and Ms. Danielle found us. More pictures!

So I was getting anxious and that meant selfie time.

A few minutes before the start I sent my family to the start line so they could see when I passed. I hung back with Ms. Emily and her friends. Even though I was a little anxious, I was also very eager to get started. A little too calm for my liking. Although thinking back, I feel like it was my brain in denial for what was to come.

It was time to start and it was a little blur. I got focused on looking to the side to see my family. Luckily I did. YEAH! Okay, now I’m good. Let’s go! My first song is always the Rocky theme song.
I always struggle with the beginning of races. Generally I like to walk for a few minutes before I start running. My knees need the warm up. That doesn’t happen with races. I tried to at least drop my pace down and try not to keep up with everyone. That’s hard on the ego, but necessary. I don’t hit my stride until mile 5.

The first 3 miles were fun. I was trying to figure out what to do. I could really slow down or turn it up. After 3 miles there is a split for the Half and the Full. Basically I would only be with a large group of people for 3 miles and then I would be in the back by myself. So I decided to step it up on mile 2. I would slow down at the split.

While I was on mile 3 I saw Ms. Selene heading back towards me on mile 4. I waved. Hi Ms. Selene!
The mile 3 marker was the first tracking spot to send your time to friends and family.

I was very focused on making sure I followed the signs for the split. I had nightmares about missing it. There were signs and a gentleman directing people. I made the turn and noticed the 26.2 on the ground. I circled back and took a picture.

After the water stop I headed on to the trail. I didn’t realize it was going to be so much trail. That can only mean one thing. Pictures!  I stopped and took them as often as I could. I was going to enjoy this day as much as possible. My brain and my body started having a conversation. Basically, if this is what I wanted, they would make it happen. Yep, I wanted it. There would be not one “I can’t do this” thought.

I was pretty happy to see the trail. I had been training on trail.  I prefer running on it. My knees like it better than asphalt. This changed my plans. The new plan was: run trail, walk asphalt. I loved the trail. It was so beautiful and So not flat! I mean it’s not like hills in other courses, but it is running through dunes. It was up and down and up and down. My knee HATES hills no matter how slight. ACK! Alright, in full disclosure my hips were killing me from the trail. This was going to be a long day.

While I was on mile 5 I just kept thinking “Oh please don’t let the leader run back past me. Let me at least get to mile 6. Luckily he waited for that. He was on mile 14. A little while later Mr. Joey passed me, after he pulled over for a High Five!

So now all of the runners were headed towards me again. I was so focused on them that I missed a turn off. Crap!  Luckily a gentleman pointed and I was able to turn without losing too much time. Around mile marker 7 I stopped to take a selfie with the ocean behind me. A woman who was behind me offered to take the picture. I declined, but would stay a little behind her for a while. I had myself a bunny to keep up with. Hooray!

There were a lot of volunteers along the course. I made sure to smile and thank each and every one of them.

Mile marker 9 put us back on the road and back with the rest of the runners. I saw Ms. Emily just as she was headed back on the trail. Even though it was asphalt, I was feeling good and ran much of it. I was getting cheers from the runners on the other side of the street. I love this race!
I wasn’t hungry, but right around there I took out one of my protein bars. I needed to eat before I did get hungry and it slowed me down. Know your body!

There was a speed tracker sign on mile 10. It must be broke because it didn’t register my speed. Lol.
The Mile 10 Marker was the second tracking spot and my favorite water stop. I had been worried that my family would think something was wrong if they weren’t getting tracking updates. I felt better when I crossed it.

At every water stop I had been drinking a Gatorade and pouring a water into my water bottle. It was warmer than I had dressed for and I needed it to cool me down. This water stop was a bunch of teenagers. They were funny. They were clamoring to fill my water bottle. YEAH! This was also the prettiest stop. Hello ocean!  Ahhh….

There was a gentleman who passed me while I was taking pictures. He told me that they had donuts at that stop. What? How did I miss that? He and I kept passing each other for the next two miles. He had seriously long legs and was walking. I was running next to him at the same pace. DARN MY SHORT LEGS! Still waiting for that last growth spurt.

Right before mile marker 12 there was a gentleman walking with a sign “U R Awesome”. Yes I am!  I high fived him.

I was excited about the water stop at mile marker 12. We would be heading back into the trail. I had been walking through the water stops and anxious to get moving again. This was a gel stop. They gave me two and a bag of pretzels. HELLO! I was a little excited. No running when I am eating. So it slowed me down for a little bit.

I got focused on my eating and realized I didn’t see anyone in front of me anymore. Um…did I miss a turn again? CRAP!  About two minutes later I saw all of the gel packs on the ground. I knew I was in the right spot. I was just on a windy spot on the course. Thank goodness. And soon I was hitting the 13 mile mark. HOLLA!

I had turned my phone to airplane mode, but I decided that I would text my family to let them know I was halfway. That was the third tracking spot, but I was pretty sure it wouldn’t be real time. I wanted them to know when to expect me at mile 18. We were in a state park at the ocean…no reception. 
Crap. Luckily it went through shortly after.

I was happy to see that mark and then I thought…OH MY GOSH! I have to do that again!
On the next water stop they used the pitcher to fill my water bottle. YAY!

When I got running again I had a problem. My big toe was on fire. I pushed through though and soon I was at mile 14. My first thought: I am going to see my family within an hour. YEAH! And then on mile 15 it happened. I got the calf spasm. CRAP. It is the same thing that happened in Philly a couple of years ago. I got that weird snake like sensation that sent from my ankle up to my knee. And I’m walking for a little while.

On mile 16 I met up with the woman who I had been chasing earlier. She was struggling and asked if she could stay with me. Of course! Her name is Melissa and she ran the Philly marathon two weeks before. She was struggling and ready to stop. I told her I would get her to the finish line.
With 10 miles to go I was feeling good. Except for my toe I was feeling like I would be just fine. I had padded a lot of time from the first half. I knew my back half would be much slower. I was completely off my race plan. I would need it.

We were approaching mile marker 18. I was getting so excited that I would see my family. I was also very aware that I had consumed a very large amount of water. Argh…I did NOT want to use a porta potty. And then I remembered that there is a public restroom not far from the next water stop…do I? Oh I don’t want to waste time, but I have to go!

I couldn’t contain my joy when I saw my family and I started running to them. I hugged cousin Jacob, Ms. Danielle, and Aunt Kathy. I mentioned my dilemma and Aunt Kathy waved to mom and grandmom before running to the ladies room. Ahhh…I needed that.

I came back and got my hugs before heading out. 8 miles to go and I absolutely knew that I would finish. Aunt Kathy would be joining for me for as long as I needed her. I had struggled with this earlier. Part of me wanted her there the rest of the way and part just wanted her to wave me on. A little bit of pride wanted me to do this by myself, and then I thought No. I trained by myself all of this time. I do better when I have someone to keep me moving. So she stayed with me the last 8 miles. Her job quickly became to talk so that I could turn my brain off.

Shortly after we got started the other runners were headed back towards me again. Immediately I saw Ms. Emily. She was about to finish and I still had some time to go. And so we were off. Now that we were seeing everyone again I was noticing how much pain so many were in. People were wincing and limping like crazy. This didn’t really make me feel good. I maintained my smile, but I was hurting. I was hurting bad. My toe was killing me. I was scared to really run because of my calf. My goal was to finish and that’s the pace I kept.

On mile 20 Chariots of Fire came on my ipod. It made me smile.  

On mile 21 I started a new thing. I would kiss my hand and then slap the mile marker.  Aunt Kathy was laughing that so many people were smiling and waving to me. People knew my name. She said it was like being with a celebrity.

I got a little misty eyed at mile marker 22. This was my previous long distance. Every step forward was new to me. Shockingly I still knew that I would finish. In previous races the turn around point was at the end of the trail and then a block into a development. The course changed a little and we just turned around at the end of the trail…I was never so happy.

On mile 23 it happened again. I had to use the ladies room. I really drank a lot of water to keep my body temp down. It was working, but I wasn’t sure I would make it 3 more miles. I asked Aunt Kathy to check the porta potty for grossness. It wasn’t horrible so I went. I felt so much better.

I was getting giddy whenever I spotted another mile marker. I started to tear up at 24. I also noticed something. I could still see people in front of me. Either I was speeding up or they were slowing down. My pace was still good and consistent, but my strides were not as long as they had been.
It started to sprinkle on mile 24. I could handle rain for the last two miles, but it would suck. Luckily it did little more than spit on me. Actually it felt kind of nice.

It was also on mile 24 that we passed a gentleman heading towards the turn around. I was glad to see him with family members. This was such a lonely part of the course.

This time I did get offered donuts on the next water stop. They had about 5 left and one was half eaten. I passed. And soon we were at mile marker 25. God Save The Queen! (Previously marathons were 25 miles until the Queen asked it to be extended during the Olympics so that it would run by Buckingham Palace).

When we rounded the corner to the main road I was happy to see that the cones had still blocked off the lane for me. I made a comment that none of the cars passing were honking. And then they started. YAY! On the last stretch they were coming and picking up the cones. I’M NOT DONE! Normally I wouldn’t care, but this meant I should get up on the curb to finish. Um…I couldn’t lift me legs to get up the curb. I had to wait for a driveway to hop up.

The last water stop was closing up, but still there to cheer me on. I was good. I didn’t need any more water. I was so close to that finish line I could taste it.

Now as I said earlier, the course changed a little. And so did the finish line. In previous years I was able to see the finish line from here, but not this year. I knew I was close though.

Ms. Melissa’s sister came out to guide her in too. I wish everyone at the finish line could have seen the four of us. It was so nice to feel the support. We got to mile marker 26 and I got emotional. When I turned the corner I saw my dad at the end. I started sobbing. I wanted to run. I tried, but my body did not respond. When I got to the 13 mile marker I started running. Only point one to go. The problem is that I couldn’t see the finish line. I didn’t know if I turned left or right. My eyes were too blurry to see any signs or markers. As I got closer I realized it was to the right.

Now in my head I was gazelle-like for that last point one. I am fairly certain that I was not that graceful, but I don’t care. I FINISHED!  Twenty-six point two miles! 

Stay tuned for Part 3 tomorrow to hear all about the post race celebrations and travel.

Have a Blessed Evening

****Please note****

If you feel like you are alone on your journey and you just need some encouragement I am here for you! Shoot me an email and I will do my best to check in on you or give you the words of support you need several times a week. The journey is so much easier if you have support. 

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