Saturday morning came. I approached the starting line, and 3 hours 22 minutes and 8 seconds later I crossed the finish line.
At the suggestion of a friend of mine who PR’d in the half-marathon, I read up on Thursday about how to run in the rain. I never run in the rain. I don’t enjoy it, and I am afraid of slipping. One of the perks of having a gym with an indoor track is that I have a place to run when the weather is bad – which is the only way I was able to get in enough training for this race.
I went to Kohl’s on Friday night and bought some new shorts that would hopefully help prevent chafing (they did!), I put to use that free hat they gave us this year because it’s breathable unlike my other baseball hats, and I put to use my Brook’s long-sleeved shirt from the Iron Horse Half in 2013 and the Asics shirt they gave out for this race. Both of those shirts are moisture wicking, not cotton, and lightweight. Another tip I put to good use – Vaseline. It makes a barrier to help prevent chafing from clothes and blisters from your socks and shoes. If it’s cold, it can also help keep you warm.
Now for the real stuff, let me just tell you, I was dying. God gave me a lot of stubbornness, which usually I think is more of a character flaw than a gift – not on Saturday morning folks. Stubbornness helped me keep pushing my way through. That and the slogan on the shirts this year “I run because…” I knew why I was running. I was running because of a commitment that I made to myself, to Orphan Care Alliance, to all of you who donated (THANK YOU!), and to God. Running is something God gave me the ability to do decently well, so I run because sometimes I get the opportunity to use that gift for the greater good, to make the world a better place, to make an impact.
I have to say I have never been more sore and exhausted, but more happy at the same time. Ok, maybe when we won nationals my junior year. Finishing this marathon is definitely right up there with bending in a corner kick and being part of an amazing team of girls who were national champions in college.
I know that I ran 25 miles 3 weeks ago, but I have only run over 15 miles 4 times in my life. That isn’t a strong base, which is why my legs felt like they were going to fall off from about mile 17 on. I sorta knew that would be the case though, so I strategized a little for it. Three weeks ago when I ran 25 miles, I realized that I had a shot of finishing with a Boston qualifying time – much faster than the guess I plugged when I registered. My bib had me placed in coral B at the starting line, which was the 3:30 pace group for the marathon. To qualify for Boston I needed to be under 3:34. I knew that my legs were going to start hurting, and that consequently I would slow down. Rather than stick with the 3:30 group which I knew I could do, I jumped up a coral to the 3:20 group.
As sore as that made my legs, I don’t regret it. I ran the first 12 miles at a crazy fast pace with a woman I met at the starting line. Guess what?! She is a dietitian! That’s what I am going to to school for at the moment. It was so encouraging to meet her and hear her story and passion. I feel like that was a gift from God. She ended up finishing 7 minutes ahead of me because I had to slow way down after running so fast for so long, but it made the first part of the race very enjoyable despite being sprinkled on.
After that, the hills came. Then I hit the wall around miles 15-17. That was terrible. I kept thinking “This is too soon; I have too far to go to feel like this right now.” But some crowd encouragement, remembering why I was running, and a little prayer helped me muster through it. As I was pushing through “the wall” to a second wind the rain came. COLD rain – about half an hour of it. I was soaked, freezing, couldn’t really feel my fingers, and extremely grateful for the free hat that they gave us. The rain stopped after that, but there were still several miles to go. Miles 20-22 were a difficult stretch, but again God placed someone right there to talk to and be an encouragement to each other. After a quick prayer at mile 22, God gave me the final boost of energy and stubbornness I needed to keep putting one in front of the other. I knew that the distance I had left was the same distance I run from the gym to our house – I just needed to make it home to where Hubster was waiting, proud, with warm dry clothes.
I finally made it to the home stretch. I turned the corner for the finish line (about 200 yards I would say). Will was right there as I was turning with a HUGE, proud smile on his face. Seeing someone love you enough to stand in the rain while you do something crazy is a pretty good motivator. I kicked it into the highest gear I had left for those last couple hundred yards and heard them say my name as I crossed the finish line. Running in a race gives so much more understanding and depth to Hebrews 12:1-2 and 2 Timothy 4:7.
I did it. My first ever full-marathon. 3:22:08. 12 minutes under Boston Qualifying. I was so exhausted, sore, and excited all at the same time. I wasn’t sure if I was going to throw up, cry, or be able to move again. I really did feel nauseous (the rest of the day), and I did almost start crying (especially once I found Will again), and seriously… I have never “walked” so slowly in my life.
When we got home I took a hot shower and did a yoga video called “Runner’s Stretch and Unwind.” Then we napped, and then Will and I ate this GIANT Reese’s Bunny he had been saving for me for the last month as I was trying to stay away from sugar till the race was over.
After our nap we went to John’s Walk Run Shop. What better way to celebrate a marathon, than with some new running shoes? AND these are my favorite color! I can’t wait till my legs recover enough to take them for a spin!
Thank you all for your support, prayers, and encouragement. I definitely could not have finished that race without it. Without my amazingly loving/supportive Hubster, my family, some God given athleticism and stubbornness, and I wouldn’t have run this fast without the help of soccer teams and guy friends past who taught me I am faster than I realize.
Here’s to hoping I make the cut when registration for Boston opens up later this year! You can see below that not only did I finish the race and raise around $900, but I was the 132 person to finish the marathon, the 23 woman to finish, and the third woman age 20-24 to finish. I ran an average of 7:43/mile. Apparently that’s really good for a first timer because everyone I was running around was on their 6+ marathon and was very shocked to find out it was my first.
All in all, it was a great experience. I am glad I did it. I learned a lot about myself, even more about how great Will is, and experienced so much kindness from everyone’s support and donations to OCA.
I posted this too soon I guess, they just updated the OCA page, and God brought in $10 more than my goal! Thank you to everyone who gave! You were part of raising $1010 for Orphan Care Alliance (all of the runners for OCA combined raised about nearly $10,000)!!!! So blown away!!!!