My First Marathon Recap #tbt

Written two weeks after my first marathon (Seattle Rock N’ Roll) in June of 2009 in the form of an email to all of those who supported my fundraising for Team in Training. Re-reading it brought me right back to that day. As I upload it here, I’m looking at the shadow box hanging on the wall in our office with my medal, bib and picture of Meghan and I crossing the finish line, hands in the air, smiling. 

I did it, I ran a marathon!  It was by far the most physically challenging thing I’ve ever done.  The weekend was a whirlwind of hilarity with my teammates, inspirational speakers including the head of The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and Runner‘s World’s The Penguin, and tears.  Tears of pain (mine), tears of remembrance, tears of happiness, and relief.

So here’s a little recap of my race, to give you an idea of what it’s like for a novice to run a marathon.  Sorry…it’s a bit long.

2:45 am

Time to get up and start getting ready.  It’s not like I had really been sleeping, but this time I was up for good.  I made my peanut butter and jelly toast (untoasted…boo) that I always have before a run and nervously paced the hotel room.  Once I had gotten dressed and put on plenty of sunscreen and Body Glide to prevent the dreaded chaffing, it was time to meet my team to go to the starting line.

4:30-7:25 am

We arrived in Tukwila.  We waited to check out bag and I hung out in a plastic trash bag to keep me warm.  After about a dozen trips to the porta-potties (just in case) it was time to get into our heats.  It didn’t really hit me until Meghan (the best mentor ever!!!) and I were standing at the start line waiting to hear our start that I was actually going to do this.

7:30 am

Here we go!  The Penguin sends us on our way.

Miles 1-5

I was feeling great!  Cheering and yelling out to fellow Team in Training teammates. I even sang a little Michael Jackson on the way. The sun was shining and I believe that Meghan put it just right when she said that it felt glorious.

Miles 7-14

Still feeling good, we broke from the half marathoners for an out and back over the water. We had a beautiful view of Mt. Rainier.  At this point I knew that there was no wimping out.  I couldn’t just do the half marathon anymore because when we met back up with them I’d already have run 14 miles.  After a quick porta-potty stop, we were on our way.  I was still feeling good but my tendons were starting to flare up a bit.  We saw Meghan’s boyfriend Adam who was cheering and capturing our excited smiles.

Miles 15-19

Now I was always told I’d hit the wall sometime around this point. Being positive, I though, eh, I’ve run 17 miles before, I won’t hit the wall this early.  Hit the wall I did not, but I sure did hit something.  This was a vicious out and back.  I was still smiling and feeling good when I saw Josh at mile 15.  I was shocked that I heard him yell out my name.  It pumped me up…until a two mile long hill hit.  That was the worst out and back of the entire race. I could see the Space Needle and Mt. Rainier but what I couldn’t see was the end of the hill.  It was shortly after we hit the turnaround point and headed towards the last 7 miles, that I shed my first tear. I tried to be tough and Meghan was cheering me on and staying by my side, but man exhaustion and pain were starting to set in and my GU was not helping.

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Mile 20-24

At this point I was in full blown tear mode.  Being tough went right out the window.  At this point it took everything I had to not to jump off the viaduct into the bay.  I was hot, tired and in excruciating pain.  So what do you do when you’re feeling like crap?  Stop? No way, Cry? yes. Yell and scream? Absolutely!   It’s amazing what some good yelling can do for you.

The Home Stretch (Miles 24-26.2)

This was my low point.  It took me an entire 31 minutes to get through these last 2.2 miles.  When I saw that I was so upset, 2 miles in 31 minutes?  Seriously, that is how long it usually takes for a 3.5 miles.  I walked up the last hill…who puts a hill in the last 1.5 miles?  That’s just mean.  It wasn’t a big hill, but you may as well had me running up Pikes Peak.  Meghan and Coach Jen were running and walking right besides me.  Cheering me on and telling me how tough I was to keep going even though my knees were barely bending. We all let out yells together.  Meghan and I crossed the finish line together, hand in hand.  I could not have done it without her.  If anyone wants yet another reason why TNT is such an amazing program, there is it.  Team Mentors really are there for you.

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Five hours later, I was at the finish line.  It was about a half hour slower than I wanted to run the race, but I finished which is what really matters.  It was exhilarating and sad at the same time.  I had worked so hard to get to the start line, ever harder to make it to the finish line and it was over. Once I got my medal, I went straight to the medical tent where they promptly plastic wrapped ice to both knees.  I grabbed my dry, plain bagel and devoured it.  Josh greeted me at the TNT tent with beautiful flowers from Pike’s Market and a big smile. We met up with the rest of my teammates who did the half and took lots of pictures before Josh had to lower me to the ground.

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Here I am almost two weeks later.  I’m walking normally again, with some nagging aches and pain. I’m taking the entire month off of running (killing me) as per my great physical therapist and really taking in what was just accomplished.  Yes, the marathon is my personal accomplishment but I could not have done it without all of your love and support. It got me through the injuries, pain and exhaustion.  More importantly, we raised $5000 to help find a cure for cancer.  As I ran beside people who had names and pictures of ppl that they lost to cancer it really hit me how important Team in Training is.

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25 runners came from the Rocky Mountain Chapter to run the Inaugural race with $109,000 raised to support important research and patient programs and we all came back with so much more than medals to show for it.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.  You are all amazing.

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