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.
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.|
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.|
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.|
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.
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.|
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.