This girl ran a marathon

Three days ago I ran a marathon. No really. Me. This girl right here.

It’s crazy to think I did that. Crazy because I am one lazy wench and had never run a single mile in my entire life up until a year and a half ago. Oh, and I used to be 204.4 lbs, too.  So it's crazy.  But true.  And it means anyone can.  And that's crazy, too.  But that's true, too.

Because running doesn’t come naturally to me. It requires effort. Some people do it effortlessly. Some people make it look like a cake walk. I make it look like a hot mess express of an effort.  And if I can run one, anyone can.  You just have to be willing to do the work.

I was a nervous wreck leading up to my marathon. Especially the day before. We got a hotel room so we wouldn’t have to drive that morning. That’s one of the few perks of your husband traveling non stop for 7 months last year. This hotel also happened to be very fancy. Naturally, the Clampetts rolled into that place in sweats, carrying all our stuff in backpacks and sucking down a giant Dr. Pepper from Wendy's. Because we’re straight up classy, yo. I even documented our classiness with some selfies while we waited for our room. Holla.
For dinner, I face planted into a bowl of pasta and biscuit after biscuit after biscuit. I had even picked out a dessert to face plant into except I did such a good job face planting into my pasta, the thought of dessert made me want to puke. Disappointing but true.
The next morning was a banana, some spark and some fretting. And then I was on the shuttle riding to the starting line. I made chit chat with the girl next to me who was running her first half marathon followed by a 30 minute wait in the expo building for a bathroom with a toilet that flushes in the hopes of using one less port o potty that day. Then I stretched a little and it was time to hit my corral. I nearly broke down crying when my corral was called to start moving up to the starting line. I teared up crossing the actual starting line. And I teared up again around mile 2. It had been a long journey getting there. It felt completely overwhelming to actually be there let alone feel ready to do it.  It felt surreal that I'd set a goal 6 months ago and piece by piece had built a path there.  

I’m just some girl. I’m not even athletic. And I’m definitely not a hard core workout junkie. I'm just a wife and mom and I’ve always been more Brainy Smurf then Sporty Spice. But I sucked it up and didn't lose sight of the plan.

For the first 3 miles I was busy reminding myself that the first few miles are always kinda hard until I settle in. They were. But I settled in. And I reminded myself not to get caught up in excitement and go too fast trying to stay up with the crowd. Mile 3 to 8 were fine. I was feeling pretty good.

I had decided ahead of time that I would walk through all the water stations. In my previous races, I’d tried to drink while running not wanting to walk any of the race just on principle. I wish there was video of what it looks like when I attempt to run and drink from a cup. Half of the water doesn’t get in my mouth. Half ends up either down the front of my shirt or splashed up into my face. It must be very entertaining to watch but it doesn't get a lot of water in me. Since I don’t like to carry water when I run, I knew I’d need to actually get that water in my mouth to avoid being dehydrated. So I went in planning to walk those.

I also knew going into the race that I was going to walk a minute periodically in the hopes of avoiding my calves feeling like jello. The water stations were roughly every mile and a half so I figured walking the water stations and a little past them would work. By mile 9 we hit a giant hill. It was uphill for most of a mile. I knew it was coming so I’d saved my walking break for that hill. Best decision ever. I was actually passing people that were running.

Somewhere around mile 10 I saw my husband for the first time. He spotted me and yelled my name. I ran over and covered him in sweat and teared up telling him how hard marathons were. I’m sure this is all very obvious to him since he’s run 2 and is far more experienced than I am in nearly every physical endeavor. He tried to tell me I was almost done and I called him a liar and smothered him in more sweat before heading off.
Captain Obvious done wiping sweat on her husband and ready to head off again.
At mile 11 the half marathoners branched off and went their own way headed to the finish. The crowd was way thinned. It was nice that I wasn't dodging around people anymore but it did get progressively depressing because you start to think it’s because you are the slowest runner on the planet and the whole world has already finished.

I finished the first 13.1 miles around 2:30 and I felt like I was doing okay. But the temperature was warming up and it was humid and I was starting to feel it. I was with the 5 hour pace guy and feeling pretty good. And for the record, the 5 hour pace guy looked 70. On the downside, it’s demoralizing when you are 30 years younger than the pace guy. On the bright side, he walked up hills instead of running them. So all of us with him didn’t feel so bad walking them, too.

Miles 13 to 17 required effort. I started playing my alphabet game naming things that start with each letter. For my category, I decided to name, “Desserts I like to stuff my face with.” I struggled with C because so many yummy things start with C. Chocolate won out but cupcakes, cookies and cake were all finalists. I also hit my first port o potty of the day. On the brightside, it had toilet paper in it and I remembered to not look down. On the downside, it was a port o potty.

By this time there were people stopping on the side of the road throwing up or just thinking about throwing up.  It was unseasonably warm and humid and that probably wasn't helping anyone stay hydrated.  There were also people on the side of the road frantically stretching cramping muscles. And there were some people limping already. I’d let the 70 year old pace guy go by this time having come to the epiphany that lines for port o potties and saying hello to people I know would drag my time down anyway. I still felt kinda bad about my time but everytime I'd see one of those people struggling I'd remind myself that I was at least doing better than them. I found it comforting and said to hell with any time related regrets.

By mile 18, I was starting to wonder where my husband was with my banana. I had known I’d want something more substantial than fruity energy chews by 16. He had gone to the 16 mile marker but missed me. I’d like to claim it was because I turned on my afterburners and shot by it at light speed. But in reality it was mostly traffic and dumb luck.

Except I didn't know that so I spent my walk break at mile 18 frantically calling and texting him to ask where he was. Or, more specifically, where the hell my banana was. Have you ever attempted to operate an iPhone while you are a sweaty mess running a marathon? Because I have. And I’m here to tell you it’s frustrating. Especially when you are having trouble locating a dry spot on your clothes so you can get a dry finger to work with. Then, just when you get the phone going, your finger will touch something sweaty and you are back to trying to find a dry finger.

Luckily, my running buddy was at mile 20 and she had a banana and pretzels and I shoved all of it in my face.  I’m prone to overdramatic statements so of course I’m convinced that banana saved my life. It came along right when I thought I’d lose my mind without something to fill me up a little.< Best banana of my life.  Then her husband suggested a bottle of water and I was convinced he was a genius thinking of that and I washed everything down. They walked along with me while I shoveled crap in my face and made more Captain Obvious statements like “I’m dying” and “Marathons are so long.” I feel confident I talked with my mouth full and that I smelled. I hugged my running buddy despite that and then I was off running again.
This is the face of a woman that just spotted her running buddy holding the greatest banana of my life.
My husband had reported in by then and was at mile 22. The greatest banana of my life combined with knowing he was just on the horizon was enough to keep me going. And then around 22, I spotted my dad. He was hard to miss in a goofy sun hat and I waved wildly. And then I spotted my brother and then my babies and then they started running with me. And then I wanted to cry and had to take a deep breath. And then my dad started running along the side of the street, too. And then my tears subsided as I tried to decide if he was going to have a heart attack doing that or if I was running so tragically slow that even un-athletic senior citizens have no trouble matching my pace.

2 blocks of running together and we found my husband. I covered him in sweat again and reiterated that marathons are hard. I also told him I wasn't quitting and that I was still going. Naturally I teared up again so he started squirting water in my mouth telling me not to even think the word quit. A random stranger took a picture of the whole gang. And then I was off again.
Me and my cheering squad. 
By mile 23, my death march started. I was walking more than I was running. My calves were pretty jello-ish but it was my feet that were the real problem. They hurt so bad I don't even have a good overdramatic statement to explain it.  They just wanted me to sit the hell down and take a break already. You’d think they’d eventually go numb or something from the pounding but they didn’t.

I was running ½ a mile and then walking until I could talk myself into running again. My husband, kids and brother appeared on bikes around 23.5. They started riding along next to the path. My brother and kids rode ahead and set up a giant 3 poster board sign that said, "Go, Momma, Go." I was dying a slow death but I’ll be darned if seeing them with a sign for me didn’t make me run and lift my pathetically low spirits. The power of people rooting for you should never be underestimated. 
And then it was just my husband riding next to me for the last 2 miles. I could live the whole rest of my life and I will never forget how kind and supportive he was. He told me over and over again how well I was doing and how proud he was of me and that I could do it.  He was reminding me to drink and handing me a water bottle and encouraging me to run during a period I know I would have just walked if he hadn’t been there. He’d say "Just run to that bridge" and if I’d stop he’d tell me "Just a little further. You can do it. Just get to that bridge." And then I did. And then he'd pick a bench to get to and we'd do it again and again.

We saw an official race photographer and I told my husband to get his bike up next to me so they’d get him in the photo because I wanted that photo so I’d never forget what it was like having him there riding next to me and how humbled and proud I felt that he would do that with me to help me get to that finish line and accomplish my goal. I was so profoundly appreciative. I’ll also never forget how he tried to hang back to not be in that photo saying it was my race not his.    
The half a guy on a bike to the right is my husband.  I'm the full blown lunatic in the middle.  Duh.
And then he sent me into the last part of the race towards the chute leaving me on my own telling me to go get it because it was mine.
And it was. I got there running in on pathetically exhausted legs. But who cares. I got there. Finishing is winning. And I did. 5 hours 26 minutes.
Medal around my neck and children standing over me, I laid down on the ground putting my feet on a bench waiting for my husband to get his bike to where we were on the other side of the barricades. Then I laid on the ground under a tree with my feet on the trunk waiting for my husband to ride his bike to the car and come and get us. I was an exhausted mess. When we had logistical issues getting the bikes to the car, I was on a street corner shouting at my children to stop climbing rocks and get their bikes and walk to me. I couldn’t understand how they couldn’t look at me and see how desperately exhausted I was.

My brother got the kids going on the bikes. My father tied my shoelaces for me. And then we were finally at the car. My husband helped me into the car. He also took my shoes off for me and came up with the genius idea of icing my feet. It was like heaven. Then I shoveled a giant cheeseburger in my face and I was ready to get home and take a shower. So we did. And I laid down and never wanted to get up.

I figured I wouldn’t be up to going to work, but the next morning I felt significantly better and capable of sitting at my desk. So I figured I’d save my day off for when I wasn’t. I wore my finisher’s medal all day at my desk and subjected everyone that crossed my path to the story of my death march. 

It was beyond hard but I'm beyond proud to have done it. 
Three days ago this girl ran a marathon. That's nuts. But true. And I’ll never be the same.


Seattle_liz said...

You don't know me, and I don't know you, but I'm SO PROUD OF YOU! That was EPIC! GOOD JOB! I'm totally all teared up over here, too. :) I've been reading for awhile now, and I knew you would do it - I KNEW YOU WOULD!

Anonymous said...

that is freaking amazing!!! it doesn't really click with me why people would want to run marathons. but you've talked about your progress leading up to yours and it makes more sense to me now. i love your honest about every step of the way.

Crystal J. said...

So freakin proud of you!! I've been following your blog for a few months and your hilarious family makes my day sometimes. I'm so glad you did well on the marathon!!!

Shan said...

That is just amazeballs! Seriously! Good for you! I'm in awe.

Desiree - Finding the Skinny Geek Within said...

oooh SO PROUD OF YOU! That is just fantastic! Way to go! Congratulations!!!!

Jennifer C said...

I just cried reading this. I ran my first marathon in November so I know exactly the feelings and emotions you felt.
AWESOME job!! You are a marathoner!

Cara said...

WAY TO GO!!! You must be so damn proud of yourself!! And I have tears in my eyes reading about your husband, what a guy:)

Shelley said...

Oh I am so very proud of you!!! What a fantastic feat to accomplish! And I love how much family support you had out there, too. Such a neat race report to read. Big, BIG congratulations!!!

ALG, Uninterrupted said...

Best race recap I've ever read :)

Congratulations sister!!!

April said...

Wow. How awesome of a race recap! Here I am timid to push myself to a halfmarathon ...but you are right. Finishing it is winning it. I have to do it.

Eat Pray Run DC said...

Congratulations!! It's such an amazing feeling :) Yay to you :) Visiting from #SITSSharefest

MCM Mama said...

Yay! Great job! Finishing a marathon is such an amazing feeling. Sounds like you are recovering well too! Stopping by from SITS.

Jenn said...

I cried from start to finish of this post! I am so emotional reading about every mile and moment. You did it - a full marathon!! You are an inspiration and I couldn't be more proud of you!! Amazing.

Kara G said...

Amazing! You are amazing!

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