Thanks to God, a slew of friends and family, and Dr. Awesome, I finished my first marathon today.
Here’s photographic proof:
I am even prouder because I spent the three days before the race at a work conference that involved walking up and down hills and very long days. Oh, and I took a nasty fall that made my arms and hip hurt. I do not recommend it.
That all said, I prepped my gear the night before just to make sure I didn’t miss anything since I’ve been known to forget things like shoes, socks and headphones. Ahem.
Race day morning was perfect. It was in the 40s and sunny, meaning I started stripping layers about three or four miles in.
My pacer was awesome: 71-year-old Arlen on his 97th full marathon despite having a hip replacement less than a year ago. He also climbs mountains, does ultra marathons and tris, and did an Ironman just a few years ago.
I felt really good for the first half of the race and kept a decent-for-me 13-minute mile pace.
I got to enjoy the gorgeous day and beautiful scenery through the Michigan State University campus farms and fields. But the best things I saw during my run were my friends who turned out to cheer or who came back after they were done with their own half marathons plus messages my friends wrote for me in chalk.
Fast forward to about mile 20, when I start to slow down a bit. I was still running, fueling every four miles and drinking all of the water and Gatorade offered on the course.
No big deal. I figured I could run 10K no problem.
Then miles 23 and 24 came. My nemesis. I had a peek into what I’ve heard people call “the wall.” I couldn’t feel my legs. I was shuffling more than running. My mind was alert and I knew I would finish, but my body was just plain tired.
I kept moving with Arlen giving me encouragement, just concentrating on moving forward. I must have muttered “trust the plan” dozens of times.
And then I saw a bunch of my Black Girls RUN! Lansing friends. I can’t imagine what I would have done had they not been there.
My training partner Janet even joined me for the last two miles, sporting a green tutu (she was a pacer for the half) and giving me the strength to just keep going. I won’t call it a second wind, but it was a boost and for that I am forever grateful.
As soon as I saw the chute, I knew I could draw some energy reserves only available to pigheaded women. I high-fived them, then saw my husband, daughter and youngest son, waiting near the finish line. I smiled and finished strong.
In the end, I met most of my goals: I ran at about 13:27 per mile pace, finished in under six hours (5:52:50) and didn’t die.
I’ll call that a win.
Have you ever run a marathon? Did you hit the wall? How did you recover?