I so did it!!! Yeah baby!
February 28, 2010 I completed the Rock n Roll Mardi Gras Marathon in New Orleans, LA. My official time was 4:47:39 with a pace of 10:59.
Wow, what a feeling to finish my first marathon. I need time to reflect, but at this moment it definitely ranks as one of the greatest/toughest things I've ever done in my life. Training was by far the roughest part. Running 5 days a week (or at least attempting to run 5 days a week) and rearranging all weekend plans around the long run is tough. Also, the soreness and recovery from long runs is very difficult along with the strain it puts on family and friends dealing with you when you are sore and can hardly walk.
But, on the flip side, finishing the marathon was one of the most amazing moments of my entire life. I won't put it at number one but it is definitely up there. I will say though finishing was my proudest moment EVER. It is hard for me to find the words to describe the experience. I'm a perfectionist and my run yesterday was far from perfect, but surprisingly I am finding it hard to be disappointed in myself. I didn't give up. I finished. It was hard and I persevered. This feeling of pride is very strange to me, but it is wonderful.
Sorry for the sappiness, but yesterday was a very emotional experience. I am so proud of myself, but I'm also so in awe of my husband and my family's support. I couldn't have done it without them and I honestly mean that. Today, I can't help but reflect on how lucky I am to have that kind of support in my life. It is an amazing thing to have and not everyone is fortunate enough to have people that love and support them unconditionally. It reminds me that I need to remember how lucky I am and always stay grateful.
THANK YOU Ryan, Lindy, Loyd, Mom, Dad, Sophie, & Preston!! Thanks for being there. Thanks for supporting me. Thanks for being proud of me. And, thanks for giving up 2 (yes 2) birthday parties for me.
Okay, I'm done with the emotional stuff. On to the race.
Here is my recap:
I arrived shortly after 6am. Ryan dropped me off under the overpass and I walked to the start. I felt very alone because I wasn't in a group and it was just me. Sometimes crowds intimidate me, so I spent my time standing in line for the port-a-potties TWICE. Then, amazingly, it was 7am and time to get in my corral. I felt a little claustrophobic at first, but then we started moving. I didn't cross the start line until 7:30 and then we were off. I was sooooo nervous. At that point, I didn't know how my body would react to running since I hadn't run in two weeks. I also didn't know what my knee would do since the last run I had to cut short due to the pain. At this point, I just didn't know if I would make it 1 mile, 2 miles, 10 miles, or the whole 26.2.
Around the 1.7 mile mark on my Garmin, my knee started to hurt. Ugh. Why oh why. This sucks big time....But, I made the decision that I was not going to quit and I would just have to block out the pain. I ran a few more miles and by mile 4 I began to not notice it as much. I don't know if psychologically I had blocked out the pain, or if it just wasn't there anymore. At this point, I was on a good pace ranging between 10:00 and 10:30. The beginning miles were physically relatively easy but psychologically it was hard knowing how many miles were left to go. It was also hard not knowing how my body would hold up and anticipating the pain that I knew was going to greet me in the later miles.
I tried to enjoy myself by taking in the crowds and the scenery. Then, we were done with Uptown and on to the Warehouse district. I got excited because I knew my family would be waiting. And around mile 10...there they were. Oh, what a sight for sore eyes. I gave my nephew and niece a high five and I felt good. I ran through the French Quarter at a super fast pace. The excitement got to me and I sped up to about 9:45. I also saw some friends on Decatur and yelled and waved to them. All was good....
Until it wasn't...around mile 12 things started to get tough. I don't know what happened, but I got tired and my knee pain came back with a vengeance. I could feel it pulling and I could tell I was starting to limp. By 13.1, I couldn't even begin to process the fact that I had another half left. I angrily looked at all the half-marathoners that were running next to us. I hated them at that moment. I know it was irrational, but I did. I held on to the fact that Ryan was rushing to meet me at mile 15. I thought things would be better once I saw him and he refilled my PowerAde. There he was and I almost broke down seeing him. He gave me encouragement and my PowerAde. I must have looked bad because I saw concern in his eyes. He then asked if I wanted "an Aleve." I thought; however, that he said "Do you want to leave?" My eyes lit up and I said "YES." He then reached into his pocket and tried to hand me something. I was so confused until I realized he had two blue pills in his hand. Ugh. He said "aleve" not "leave." I declined the pills because I had already crunked 3 earlier. He gave me a quick hug and I was off again. 11 miles left...that is a long way....
I tried to pump myself up. At mile 17, I would only have single digits left!! Yeah, that didn't work when I looked to my right and saw the crowds of people crossing mile 24 on their way to the finish line. WOW...what a loser I am. All these people are almost done and I still have freaking 9 miles left. NOT HELPFUL. This was the hardest 4 miles of my life. I started to doubt myself. I also really slowed down. I was ranging from 11 minute to 12 minute miles. 12 MINUTE MILES....I've never run that slow...EVER. Oh well...I knew as long as I kept moving I would eventually finish. It was fun to think to myself "In two hours, I'll be a marathoner"...."In 90 minutes, I'll be a marathoner"..."In 1 hour I'll be a marathoner." That was a great motivator.
Then...finally...I got to mile 21 and we started to head back towards the finish line. I started to feel good again. I knew that I could finish. At mile 22 I got an amazing surprise. Ryan had walked over 2 miles to see me (I guess he was worried with how I looked at mile 15 and wanted to find a way to see me again before the finish). I was so HAPPY to see him. I threw my water bottle at him (it felt like a 20 lb weight at that point) and yelled "I'M GOING TO BE A MARATHONER IN 45 MINUTES." I could see the pride on his face. At this point, we both knew I was going to finish. It was an amazing moment. No more doubts. No more worries about the flu. No more obsession with how bad my knee felt. I was going to finish!!
I'm not going to lie, the next 5 miles hurt, but I had the confidence back. I just kept moving and every mile marker got that much sweeter. As I turned towards the finish line and passed mile 26, this guy in front of me turned around, and with an amazed look on his face he proclaimed "We did it!" I wasn't running fast, but I had my head held high and ran towards the finish line. I saw my family waiting including Ryan (I still don't know how he made it back from mile 22 in time...magic I guess). To make him happy, I did the John Wall dance. That got a big whoo hoo from the crowd. And there was the finish line. I crossed and did not know what to do with myself. I wanted to raise my arms in the air in victory, but I couldn't. I started to tear up. It was just amazing. There are no words...