I believe 3…2…1 was where I left you the last time. My heart racing, my cousin on one side and long-time friend Maddie on the other, the rain had gone from light to pouring to light again but it was pretty windy. However, we were ready to run.
It was finally our chance to cross the line and we were off. We started the four of us in a line but within a minute it was clear Maya was on a whole new level than Maddie and myself and she was gone. She crushed it with a time of 4:17 for her first marathon. I am so proud of that girl.
Right out of the gate Maddie had to pee but being former athletes we all just thought that it was that nervous energy. When she still had to go as we approached the 4 mile mark we stopped and that was where we lost Kristy (she was doing the half and only had 9 more miles to go so I don’t blame her). We both went because who knew what the bathroom situation would be on the road ahead and then we trudged on. We were stopped for about 2 minutes there and were on our way.
In that first four miles Maddie and I were keeping a great pace just under a 10 minute mile perfect to our plan. We had to go around a huge circle which was annoying because as you entered you saw people who were half a mile ahead of you completing the circle. There were a lot of stupid twists like that on this course which made it less enjoyable but the course review is for another day.
As we approached the 7-8 mile marker my knee started to really hurt. As mentioned in my countdown blog, I had hurt my knee during training which was rough. But this was different on one of my steps I had a shooting pain up my leg starting from my knee. I decided to go from a running motion into a fast walking motion and that seemed to help it. Maddie was great, she slowed her pace with me and we kept an 11minute mile up through mile 18. For me it was a combination of running when I could, which was about a quarter of a mile out of every mile, there were periods that I ran for longer and periods I ran less; however, the pain would come back. Maddie jogged along side me encouraging me the entire time. She really is one of the best friends a girl could ask for. At anytime she could have left but she didn’t and we talked to keep our mind off the race. We also kept a running SnapChat story to pass the time.
It wasn’t until the 17 mile marker that the pace we were keeping, I could not keep up, my muscles were starting to really cramp from using different form then I had trained for the distance. My knee was also starting to really hurt overall – I was dreading looking at it after the race but I pushed on. At the 18 mile marker Maddie turned to me, I knew she was starting to cramp and she had to pick up her pace and stride it out. She looked so disappointed she couldn’t finish it out but it comes back to rolling with the punches – I told her to go and not think anything of it. Then I was alone (well with the other marathoners) but alone in my own head. Maddie was able to finish with a 4:50 time, so proud of that girl!
This was about the time that I put my headphones in and turned on my playlist I had prepared for the marathon. Up until that point I had not listened to any music because Maddie and I had been talking. Plus I wanted to have battery on my phone if I actually needed it. I thought with 8 miles to go I would be okay. I also texted my mom (see to the right) with jumbled texts and told her I was hurt and had been for awhile. My hands were so swollen by this point it was a nightmare.
But the journey was about to get worse, there were mud puddles everywhere, roads were flooded at one point but that wasn’t the worst part. There were hills from mile 22-24.5. When I say hills I am not talking baby hills I am talking you are going straight up without water for over a mile, then you go down hill and then back up and down and repeat (again a course review is coming). My mom reminded me then that this was a marathon not a sprint and it was about finishing.
The hills were almost the death of my knee. It was frustrating because there was no mile 23 marker so I didn’t know where I was, if I was getting slower and the mile was just lasting forever or what was happening. As I approached the 24 mile marker I was almost five hours in which I had planned to be done over half an hour before that. What really helped keep me going was the texts from my mom, sister, cousin, dad, other family members and a few other friends. The thing with my marathon was I never hit a wall because Maddie and I were talking the whole time. I think the other part of that was because I was in pain for so long and being a former college athlete I had been trained to push through things. But that being said, I would never run a marathon or half for that matter alone. I do not know how Brian did it.
What was even better than the texts and I almost broke down because of it was when I saw my sister on the bridge at about the 25.5 mile marker. I needed to see someone I knew. She talked me to the end of the bridge as I approached the finish. Even though I hadn’t run since mile 18 I was determined to run over the finish line so I sucked it up and ran the last stretch across the line.
Crossing the finish line was a relief. I do not look happy in the pictures because of the pain shooting through my knee, being soaking wet plus I was exhausted but I had done it. Even though it took me 5:20:53, I finished. I finished a marathon with no race experience to my name. I had never done anything athletic for 5 hours straight (AAU basketball all day tournaments are very different than running and being active for that extended period with no breaks) and on March 14th I had. Seeing my mom, my sister, Brian (he was in a lot of pain as well) and to my surprise my two former college basketball teammates, Alexis and Becky. It was great to see them. As I was so focused on the finish line they had been cheering me along on the fence that lined the home stretch – they thought I was mad at them because I ignored them but really was just so focused on crossing that line that I saw nothing else but that finish line. I instantly hugged them when I saw them.
To say that marathon day was ideal would be stretching it to the extreme. But what it was, was an experience that I got to do with the love of my life, my childhood friends, my cousin and have my family and friends there to support me. Marathon training is probably one of the most challenging things I have ever done but it is supposed to be that way. Getting to the starting line is more than half the battle. Once you reach race day thats the fun part. Completing a marathon is an experience that I will never forget for the rest of my life and it is also something that no one can take away from me. I am a marathon runner!