Well, I did it. I finished. And it was fabulous.
Last night my (also fabulous) husband made me my carb load dinner – chocolate chip pancakes.
I didn’t sleep particularly well but I didn’t honestly expect to. Something about the fear of oversleeping, which is a freakishly rare occurrence anyway, made me wake up about 30 minutes early anyway. I was dressed. I had my water, my race food, my ipod, my phone and most importantly my shoes with my chip and my race number. I posed for some pre-sun pictures.
And we were on our way. Bryan, ever the comedian, turns out of the neighborhood and proceeds to drive the car in the dead middle of the road, straddling the double yellow lines and proclaims “If I were flying a plane, this is how I would land”. Awesome. Now please get out of the middle of the road.
He dropped me off at a friend’s house (Carrie….running her first half marathon!!) who was going to get us both the rest of the way. Since no race is not complete without a roadblock -pun intended- my ipod chose that precise moment to stop working. The button that allows my screen to turn on and off ceased to function, leaving me ipodless. I blew on it (thinking perhaps dirt got stuck in the button), I picked at it with a safety pin, I banged it (that’s what she said), I called it stupid, I threw it on the [carpeted] floor, and nothing. At least I had my phone for backup.(see? incessant planning has its benefits)
Carrie and her boyfriend entertained me on the drive by blasting Justin Beiber over the speakers. While her boyfriend vehemently denied enjoying the music, I knew he was lying when he started singing along. I laughed at him but when “Black and Yellow” came on and I began dancing in the passengers seat like an idiot, I figured I had little room to talk.
Carrie and I made our way to the start line and asked a stranger to take a picture
The National Anthem was sung before the race began, and I may or may not have chuckled like a 5 year old when the singer said “land of the freeeay”. Then, we were off! My goal was to finish this race at least faster than last year (4:30) and hopefully somewhere between 4 hours and 4 hours and 15 minutes.
Miles 1-5 were easy. Nice scenery of the coast and a large crowd of people kept me from going too terribly fast right off the bat – important when trying to pace yourself. I enjoyed the signs. My favorite signs included: “Run like you stole something“, “Its long. Its hard. That’s what she said“, “Worst parade EVER“. Miles 6-10 weren’t too terrible either, though I may have started to drive Carrie crazy talking. Carrie left me somewhere around mile 9 where I fell into pace with the 4:15 pace group. Hey, if I can finish with these guys, I’m golden. A slight snag occurred around mile 12 when I had to stop to take off my pair of pants and attempt to get my music going as I was noticing I was starting to get slightly sore already. Running while stripping, while likely funny looking, probably wouldn’t do anything to improve my time as I tumbled along the pavement, so I actually stopped for a couple of minutes to get myself situated. It took me about a mile to catch up with the pace group again. It helped that I got a second wind.
Around mile 14 I started to really notice the soreness, particularly in my butt and thighs. I wanted to slow down. Not one to be outdone (outrun?) though, I pressed on with the group. I cursed myself for remembering everything except to take ibproufen before the race in attempt to alleviate some of the soreness. It was a bit too late to turn around and go back home though. If you think someone who runs a marathon is crazy, you should have heard the conversation amongst the group – Ironmans and hoping to one day complete 50 and 100 mile runs. 100 miles? I was informed that in order to qualify, one “only has to run 50 miles in 13 hours”. Cool. File that in my “when hell freezes over” file.
it’s rumored that mile 18 is the real test. Last year mile 18 wasn’t so bad, but I think it’s because I was going slower than I needed to in order to avoid overdoing it, and had taken off from my group around then. Since I had started pushing myself already around mile 14, I understood the rumor today, because that’s when I really started to hurt. With
only 8 miles left to go. Crap.
19 crept up. Then 20. My legs begin to go from sore to ow. (not OW yet, but stay tuned). Luckily, John, who I ran a couple of training runs with and who ran the 5k (and won third place masters!) had hung around and ran along for a bit. (Thanks John!) Theoretically, all that is left at this point is a 10k. Mile 20 is where the mental part really kicks in. At this point I start to set my goals from water stop to water stop, by this point nicely placed at every mile or so, and I’m grateful for the few seconds of walk time and quick stretches I can get in before catching up to the group again.
At mile 22 I crank the music up, perhaps hoping it will drown out the OW (there it is). At the very least the pace of the music helps me keep up with the rest of the group, but I’m still essentially running for each water station.
Mile 23. A 5k (plus .1) left. I’m honestly starting to wince a little, knowing that perhaps I pushed myself a bit too hard but too late now. I think I’m groaning a bit and the wind is getting annoying. I feel a bit better when people notice the pace girls’ shirt and seem excited to hear we are the 4:15 pace group (who actually, has been running about 4 minutes ahead the whole time) and I feel like a small celebrity for a few seconds, pausing to smile for the paparazzi.(wait! I didn’t get a chance to do my makeup!)
Mile 24. I pull my phone out and haphazardly attempt to text Audri and Bryan, who so nicely hung around to see me finish and let them know I’m two miles out. It takes awhile (but takes my mind off running) and in my attempt to type “one and a half” actually type “1 ands a hf”. Yeah yeah, no texting and running. I attempt to put my phone back in my belt but it’s not working, and I’m not stopping, so now I’m stuck holding it. I can now feel every step I take, every pound of the pavement.
Mile 25. The longest. mile. ever. I’m at about 4 hours in and my calves feel like they are starting to lock up. I’m totally on autopilot and honestly, I really want to walk. I pass the water stop though because at this point, if I stop, it’s over. Honestly, I really hurt. At this point, all I want to do is see the finish line. I just.want.to.see.the.finish.line.please. I round the corner and I can finally see it, and its glorious (you’d think I’m exaggerating, but I’m not….trust me). AND, out of seemingly nowhere, Kim and Audri pop up with just about .1 miles to go, and run and cheer me on the rest of the way in. This encouragement allows me to speed up for the last tenth, and I am SO grateful that they did that.
On a cool side note, I ended up running in alone, and I hear the announcer saying “And now we salute Theresa from Summerville, SC!”. I salute back. I pump my fist in the air. I cross the finish line, accept my medal, and check my watch, which of course I forgot to stop when I crossed.
Coming in at 5 minutes under 4:15, and a full 20 minutes faster than last year. I hurt a lot , but I feel incredible. There is nothing I have experienced yet like crossing the finish line of a marathon. You feel proud. Amazed. Excited. And sore. But that’s an occupational hazard.
THANK YOU, Kim and Audri, for running me in!
I know I definitely pushed myself. After finishing, it was hard to stand up. I literally wobbled back to the car. Luckily sitting for a while helped, but the rest of my day is most definitely on the couch.
Race Fee: $90
Shoes: $ 140 (two pairs)
Race gear, music and audiobooks: $100
Crossing the Marathon Finish Line: Priceless