it has been almost two weeks since i ran my first marathon && i am still trying to figure out the words to say when describing the experience that is 26.2 miles. it was literally THE hardest thing i have ever done in my life, but also the most rewarding. to cross the finish line of a marathon is one of the most amazing feelings. i have to say it will arguably be one of the greatest days of my life.
when i started out running i never dreamed that i’d get to the point of running a full marathon. but here i am telling the tale of how i came to run 26.2 crazy, fun, beautiful, exhausting, && painful miles.
the night before the race was nothing out of the ordinary. i just relaxed && watched some movies with my compression socks on as i usually would before any race. i laid out my outfit && really felt as ready as i’d ever be. i was [[&& still am]] struggling with my fitness journey. i have been falling off the wagon && getting back on for almost two months now && am hoping that since thanksgiving is over i can get back on track! since i hadn’t been consistent i was afraid that it would effect my race but i knew i just had to dig deep && trust the training that had consumed my life for five months!
anyway, race day came && i was excited yet SUPER nervous. i don’t know that it ever really hit me what i was doing. the car ride up to PA was short so once we got there && i grabbed my bib it started to sink in a little. was i really about to run a marathon? then all of the questions flooded my brain. can i really do this? what the hell was i thinking? how can i back out now? but as i asked myself each of those things i immediately reassured myself that i trained for this. i had been working my butt off for five months to get to that point && nothing would take it away from me!
with the support of my husband, sister, && her boyfriend i made it to the start line. i hugged each of them && told them i would see them over 4 hours later when i crossed that finish line. it was an emotional moment for me as i toed the start line because i realized what an amazing accomplishment it was to even be standing at the start line. in that moment one thing popped into my mind, grams. she was the biggest cheerleader in my life for so long && i knew she was looking down on me that day. i was in my corral but i looked over at my husband && asked him for a marker. on the back of my bib i wrote grams with a heart as a reminder that she was && always would be with me on each && every race day. the 26.2 miles i was about to run would be in her honor.
when it was time for my corral to go the nerves set in but i let them leave my mind as i turned on my headphones && let music distract me from the moment. i told myself it was just like any other day at home where i went out for a run. i started off a little fast which is normal for me because i always get over excited. i quickly settled into a great pace && was feeling super strong. the course was an out && back course along the BEAUTIFUL delaware canal!
there were plenty of spots along the toe path where spectators could come watch but i never expected to see my family. i just assumed i would see them at the finish. seeing them at mile 8 brought tears to my eyes. they had found cardboard && made signs that they were holding. at that point i was still feeling super strong && i just ran past them trying not to bawl my eyes out. i was at just over 2 hours at the half way point which is a great pace for me. as i turned back around i told myself i was halfway there.
i continued to just listen to my music && let whatever thoughts came to me just come && go as i took in the beautiful scenery around me. then around mile 16 i felt something pop in my hamstring && it did not feel right. i continued to run && try to keep pace but i felt myself slipping. for the next two miles i felt so beyond defeated because i had trained so hard && there was just no way i was going to call it quits && not finish. on top of that we were out on a pretty secluded path. there were volunteers on bikes that passed us occasionally to make sure everyone was alright but i was not going to throw in the towel on this one.
i let myself walk when i needed to but never stopped moving. it actually hurt me more to walk so i more or less shuffled along. at mile 18 i saw my family again && that time i stopped to grab water from my sister && i cried. you can see the pain written all over my face in the pictures my sister took of me [[a HUGE difference from the look on my face at mile 8 when i first saw them]]. i knew i had 8 miles to go at that point && it just seemed like i would never make it.
how could i go from so strong to feeling like total crap? i tried to push these negative thoughts from my mind && kept good music flowing. when i had about 4-5 miles to go i decided to pick up the pace as best i could && really push myself to the finish. at the 3 mile mark i told myself i was only a 5k away from the finish. i was hurting but determined to finish running, not walking or shuffling. i pushed && pushed until finally the finish line was in sight. the last mile was just like the first. it was a sort of loop around the start area so i saw my family as i came in with just over a mile to go. i knew i wasn’t at my fastest pace, not even close BUT i was doing it. i was finishing a marathon.
when my watch went off && said i hit 26 miles i took off like a bat out of hell && sprinted those last .2 miles. as i crossed the line i threw my hands in the air && could not believe i had just conquered 26.2 miles. the rush of emotion came quickly but i am not one to make a scene so i wiped a few tears from my face && hugged my husband. then my sister && her boyfriend came over to me && i knew she would cry but shockingly she held it together pretty well [[i think she did it so i wouldn’t get upset]]. they knew what my goal time was && obviously saw my finish time.
i hate to admit that i did beat myself up over my time briefly but then i remembered that i just ran a freaking marathon! it was also brought to my attention [[by my husband]] that i ran the last 10+ miles on an injured hamstring. in my mind that was just pure determination. i was not willing to quit or back down. i was going to push through even if i had to walk && i did a little bit of both.
i do think goals are important in life && in running. they give us something to work towards. i know my goal for my first marathon should have just been to finish it but i had a time in mind. unfortunately i can’t control everything in life so when i pulled my hamstring i just had to deal with it. plus i still finished, so i have given up on beating myself up over my finish time.
i was asked all about my marathon over the next several days but one question remained, will you ever run another marathon? my answer, YES! while if you had asked me during my marathon in those tough miles i would have flat out said no, i feel ready to take on another marathon. it won’t be until next fall but my long term goal is to run a marathon a year && of course a bunch of halves && other races in between. i just LOVE running. it is my passion in life && while i have been struggling to get back on track, i know i will get there.
running a marathon took A LOT out of me. way more than i ever expected. i was exhausted both physically && mentally for over a week. && when i went out for my first run nearly a week later i was afraid i had outran my love of running. which i have come to find is not true because i have gone out multiple times since && am running a 10k this coming saturday! it will be my first race since my marathon && the farthest i have run since then as well. i can’t wait to tell you all about the cocoa classic 10k! stay tuned!!