Wow, I can finally say it: I’m a marathoner!
I have never been more proud of myself in all my life. Where to start on all of this?
I finished class at 3 on Friday, packed up all my gear and left around 4:30 to get to Richmond. My awesome friend Laura let me stay at her house (literally less than a mile from the starting line) and she and her family hosted us. They were so amazing and hospitable and their cats were super cute too. 🙂
After a solid dinner of a fried green tomato BLT with a side of mashed potatoes (carb loading?), I took a shower and headed to bed. I also made sure to write some affirmations on myself. I used a sharpie, and jotted on my arm the word “endurance.” It’s one of my life mottos that I always try to keep in mind (see Hebrews 12:1) and I wanted to have something to glance at and remind myself of when the going got tough.
My alarm went off at 5:45am, and I felt pretty rested after a solid 8 or so hours of sleep! Strangely enough, I wasn’t that nervous even though I was expecting myself to be. I actually felt incredibly calm. I had oatmeal with PB and banana, plus water and coffee, and then I got dressed and left around 7!
The race started at 7:45, and I wished my friend Lena (shoutout to you Lena, you rock, also I think you’ll at least eventually read this post! 😉 ) luck as she headed to the starting line for the half marathon. It was pretty cold in the morning. I wore a light jacket, fleece headband, and fingerless gloves, capris, and a tank top. I tend to have really cold hands and ears, but the rest of my body overheats really easily.
Before I knew it, it was 7:45, and it was go time! I was in Wave 2, which had the same start time as all the other waves. I was only about 1 minute behind everyone in wave 1 though which was nice. Though it was pretty cold, it was nice and sunny and not too windy!
Miles 1-2 were pretty surreal. I couldn’t believe it was actually happening! By mile 3 I just wasn’t feeling very warmed up and great yet, and I was kind of worried about how I would get through the rest of the race. I decided I wasn’t going to freak out, to take it easy, and play things by ear. I took my first gel around 4.5 miles in, and that really perked me up. By mile 5 I was actually finally getting into a groove!
Mile 7 was when I saw some of my friends! I knew they would be there cheering, but I didn’t know where, so it was such a wonderful surprise to finally see them! I also handed my friend my jacket because I was starting to overheat (yes, it was like 45 degrees, but I overheat easily).
Miles 8-10 were probably some of the most beautiful miles of the course. They were parallel to the river, and all the fall foliage was just breathtaking.
I took another gel at mile 9. My basic fueling strategy was to take a gel every 4-6 miles. I ended up taking 4, one at mile 4.5, one at 9, one at 14, and 1 at 20. It worked really well, and I never crashed, and my stomach felt fine too. I also made sure to take water at every stop, as well as Powerade at every other stop. All in all, my fueling went really well, which I am very thankful for. I attribute it to my practice with using gels during my long runs!
By mile 11, I was excited because I was nearing the halfway point! The crowd support along this course was insane. People were in front of their houses, standing with signs with well wishes for random strangers, and they had bands all along the course. It was so encouraging and so amazing! I also had my name on my bib, so having people call out and cheer my name meant so much to me! There were some great signs. A few of my favorites: “26.2, because 26.3 would be crazy…” and “Beyonce is 30 seconds ahead and she wants you as your running buddy” and “Don’t poop yourself.” Definitely needed those laughs along the way!
At mile 13, I still hadn’t seen my dad and sister, who were coming down to see the race. I looked at my phone to find a text from my sister, saying they had gotten a flat tire and weren’t going to make it and how sad they were. I was a little sad, but also felt bad for them because having a flat tire is no fun! At that point, I was at least able to not have to worry about looking for them in the crowds. I was lucky that I had so many friends there to support me.
Despite being a little bummed, I was at the halfway point, at just under 2 hours, so I was able to get pretty excited again. My original goal was to finish in under 4 hours, which I didn’t really think was realistic. But around the halfway point, I got the crazy idea that it might be possible… I had saved my tunes for this point, so I got an extra boost listening to some music!
Miles 15-16 were kind of rough. They were on a bridge that was kind of hilly, seemed to go on forever, it was windy, and there were no people there to cheer. I kept looking at the word “endurance” on my arm and it helped keep my going. Things picked right back up after that, and my friends were back and cheering as I finished the bridge!
Miles 17 and 18 had some great signs and crowds, and I was still feeling really strong. By the time mile 20 rolled around, I was still feeling really good! I was so excited to get to mile 20 because I realized I was actually getting really close! I couldn’t believe how quickly everything seemed to go!
There were definitely some unique stops along the course. There were 2 junk food stops, a beer stop, and even one group of spectators (not official race volunteers) who were handing out shots! I must say that none of those things really appealed to me while running, but I thought it was super fun and unique.
Mile 22 was when I was finally starting to feel it. The finish was so close yet still so far away. I started to hurt (I’m honestly happy it took that long!) and was kind of ready for it all to end. The miles kept ticking on though, and I really worked to keep up my form and pace because I was thinking it may still be possible for me to beat 4 hours. By the time I reached mile 25, I knew it was possible. Mile 25 was a blur and before I knew it, 26 was in sight.
When I saw the 26, I picked up the pace and felt like I was flying. There was a HUGE downhill at the very end, and as I was flying down, a group of my friends was screaming and cheering for me! I got into the finishing chute, in UNDER 4 HOURS!!! I was so, so excited because I didn’t think it was possible!
Official finish time 3:56:42.
I got my medal and started crying. My mom called me and she was crying, saying how proud she was and how inspiring I was. I was an emotional wreck, in the best way possible. It’s hard to describe how proud, humbled, and amazing it feels to do something you never thought possible. When you push yourself so hard, yet have the strength and resolve to do it. Also there was pizza at the end and it tasted pretty darn awesome.
I could go on and on and on forever about what this experience meant to me. And I will do that later, but this recap is getting long. What I do know, is that the 10 year old me who ran a 5k and hoped to run a marathon someday, had her dream come true. That dream once seemed impossible, but it is now a beautiful reality.
If you got this far, thank you for staying! I appreciate all the amazing well wishes, prayers, texts, snapchats, and support I’ve received and continue to receive. 🙂