Well we did it! It was a great experience and a learning experience. The weather was not on our side though. It was a very warm day. Temps started out nice and chilly for the start and quickly climbed with a lot of the race running straight in to the hot sun. A lot of the race had very little shade and let us not forget the many hills that were throughout the first five miles. My knee starting hurt at mile 8, my knee never hurts! But one of the sections of the course had a slight slope in the road and my knee just did not care for it. The slope went on for a few miles. I never could get it stretched out and the pain stayed the rest of the race. And after a while my entire right leg hurt all the way up into my hip. It was not going at all as I had hoped for or as I had trained for. We held a sub 4:45 pace up until mile 18 and I just could not keep on. Melissa was running so strong at this point I felt so bad for holding her back. But like the amazing person she is she stayed by side. She had her husband and I had my daughter waiting to see us close to mile 22 so I told her just stay with me till then and then to go do her thing.
At mile 18 I started tearing up due to so many emotions. Frustration was definitely the major one. Mad at how hard I had trained for 20 weeks to end up feeling like this. My training runs were so much better. And as I teared up and started to open my mouth to complain, a gentleman ran by with two prosthetic legs. And we just both looked at each other after she pointed him out to me. She told me, Yes you can do this and you will do this. I just held the tears back and ran. I made it to mile 20 and the battle seemed doable at this point, just 6 more miles. And I thought about my sweet daughter waiting on me around mile 22. When I finally reached her I ran straight to her and hugged her and cried and said, “I just want to be done.” She made sure to tell me after the race how nasty I got her! But just being able to see her gave me what I needed to finish. I reassured Melissa I was ok to finish alone. Because you really aren’t alone out there. And sometimes you just have to handle your battles solo. Don’t get me wrong, I would have loved to have had her by my side the rest of the way but I knew how badly I felt and how much walking would be happening. And my sweet friend would have stayed with me every step of the way if I had needed her to.
Every step for the next 4 miles were brutal. I felt my legs do things I had never felt. I am not one to cramp but my legs were trying to cramp up. They really felt as if they would just seize up on me and I would be done. So why the struggle? After all the training? We can chalk some of it up to the heat or a lot of it to the heat. I could not get enough to drink even though there were a decent amount of water stations. The hills were way worse than we anticipated and the slope in the road knocked me down way in the beginning. Also the crowd of people running this race was more than I had ever dealt with. If we had wanted to run faster the first half we really could not have. We were stacked in so tight running. And sometimes it’s just not your day. Sunday just wasn’t my day. Melissa and our other running friend, Jay, that came with us might also say it just wasn’t their day either. And seeing a lot of messages on Facebook I would imagine over half the participants would say the same. But you know what? We did amazing! We battled through the elements and finished! And who cares about time? The race was incredible. Having all the military support on the course was truly wonderful, and to have the opportunity to run for them and show our support was a true honor. I ran almost 18 of those 26.2 miles in pain but so what? I am alive. I have my freedom. I am healthy enough to push through it. Pain is temporary. Their sacrifices to us are not, as we were reminded of that during the Blue Mile. Seeing picture after picture of fallen soldiers, most under the age of 30. Lives taken too soon, taken from their families and friends. That mile we all ran in silence. Then to finish the last of that mile with family members of fallen soldiers holding flags lining both sides of the road. Grabbing our hands as we ran by, pushing us forward, supporting us, motivating us. Those people are my heroes and they have no idea how grateful I am to each and everyone of them. This world is a crazy place and it scares me. And I am so thankful to have men and women out there to fight for this country and for me. I cannot do much for them but I am so happy that I spent 5:03:26 out there remembering them. Fighting my own temporary pain knowing they died for me. Knowing that every soldier out there goes into battle or gets deployed knowing they too may lose their lives for our freedom. So with this blog I say Thank You!
To sum it up…
The race was hard. I expected it to be difficult but it was more than I imagined. And I am grateful to have ran 2 marathons now. But even with a PR. I know that I am just not a marathoner. It has been a great journey with some amazing people, especially with Melissa as she encourages me to be a better person daily, and a better runner as well. She plans to run another marathon in the future. I agreed to train with her up until the long runs go over 15 or 16 miles. After that I she has to find a new buddy! I am still very sore but much improved. Nothing a great massage later won’t fix. I will take a little time off from running and jump right back in. Next big race is St. Jude Half Marathon in Memphis. That was my first marathon and I am so excited to participate again by doing the half. My daughter will be doing the 5K as well and feel that this is a race she needs to experience.
But I encourage anyone that thinks they may want to do a marathon to do one. It isn’t for everyone but you won’t know that unless you try. I feel stronger for accomplishing what I have. It has helped me so much. It shows me that I am so much stronger than I give myself credit for. It helps my confidence and it helps me to believe in myself. Whether you do a marathon, a half, a 5K or just a run around the block. Keep running. Keep believing in yourself and always push yourself to do more in every aspect in life. I hope you have enjoyed this marathon experience and I really had anticipated doing more blogs during training. Maybe 2018 will lead to some sub 2 half marathon blogs! (Yes that is my next goal) And until my next blog, Happy Running!