When I last left you guys, I was one month into marathon training, struggling with running in the heat, but making the most of it.
After many weeks and many long runs, the day of the marathon finally came… Sunday, January 19th.
That morning was an early one. My running buddies (C, Alicia, and Christi who was running with me), my fiancé, my running buddy’s mom and friend (who was running the half) were also there.
We walked to the convention center to wait until we could head to the start line. We went to the bathroom, and patiently waited until it was time to head out.
We made our way to our corral, and we had some time to kill. It was a bit chilly, and I felt like I had to go to the bathroom (despite having JUST gone), but I tried to ignore the feeling. We reminded each other “it’s just a long run with a bunch of other people;” our mantra for every race. As we waited, I prayed for strength, the ability to do this, for my legs to not feel heavy, to finish this with a smile, and be able to finish it strong.
When people finally started moving, it had almost been 20 minutes since the start gun had gone off. Our plan was to stick with the 11:30 pacers for at least 5 miles, and then go on our own.
MIles 0-7: We started the race about 21 minutes after the gun went off, and during the first mile, my knee hurt a little bit. It went away on its own shortly there after. I kept seeing the kilometer markers and I was annoyed.. I knew there would be 42 of them, and it would be a LOT worse to see those go by one by one, than the mile markers. I finally decided to make a pit stop around mile 4, and Christi was to keep going with the pacer so I would be able to find her. As always, I chose the wrong line, and had to wait to use the porta-potty. I felt like it took me forever to catch up to them. There were turns and I just couldn’t see the pacer at all… Until I finally did about a mile later and rejoined my friend. We hit the 10K mark at about 1h 10min, and it felt like we were going a bit slow, but I had to remind myself that we weren’t running a 10K, but a marathon. I was in contact with my fiancé and my sister via text messages (I had Siri read the messages and I dictated my replies), so I had asked for my hand towel as it was getting hot. I’d brought the hand towel because a wet hand towel had really helped me during those 100°F runs, and I knew it would warm up.
Miles 7-14: We saw our cheer squad around mile 7; my fiancé handed me my hand towel as I ran by.
It was such an adrenaline rush to see them. I was VERY excited. We sped up a little bit and passed the pacers. At the next water stop, I soaked the hand towel with water, and placed around my neck. Around mile 8, the course divided up, and the half marathoners went a different way. At some point, Christi had to go to the bathroom, while I ran on. By this point, there weren’t nearly as many people lining up at the porta-potties. We hit the 13.1 mark at 2:28:something (I knew because I started getting texts about where I was.. unbeknownst to me, my mom had accidentally signed me up to receive them), and while we were ahead of our 5 hour pace goal, we didn’t have a big cushion. My sister texted me and I laughed at how Siri interpreted her text “You’re doing great! Half way!! Green heart, green heart, party popper, party popper, party popper, confetti ball”
Miles 14-19: I started to recognize the galleria area, and I knew our cheer squad would be there. I saw my fiancé, who was holding a sign, but he was alone. he was running in with me to get a photo; it was so cute.
We were starting to get tired, but we kept marching on. As it got closer to 30K, it felt like it would NEVER happen. I was feeling so tired, and my body was screaming at me to walk; I said to Christi, “I don’t know how we’re still running!” We finally saw the 30K sign, and the text notification told me 3:32:something. Which meant that I had beat my time for the 30K two weeks earlier by about 8 minutes. I was very stoked! We hit a water stop, and we walked it. I was breathing a little heavy, but once I caught my breath, I felt energized, even though my quads were getting sore.
Miles 19-23: The next place we were meeting our cheer squad came up rather quickly. We were planning on meeting them at mile 20, but they couldn’t drive into Memorial Park. My fiancé texted me, “we’re just past I-610” as we saw the sign for I-610, so they were just on the other side of the highway. They had stuff with them for us to eat (a cutie orange and some pretzels for me). This was our planned stop to eat; our coach told us we could eat something then, and we’d be okay to finish the race; he also said it would help mentally. I told my fiancé also that I didn’t know how we were still running, and I wanted to cry. Alicia ran with us for a little bit—she was such a welcome distraction. We saw the 32K mark, and I said, “we GOT THIS. We’ve only got 10K to go!” Alicia left us to go back, and we kept marching on. It started to get hot, we were getting more tired. We walked a little bit, took longer at the water stops.
Miles 23+: It felt like the kilometers were dragging on… I saw the 37K marker, and I told Christi that we had 35 minutes to do a 5K, that we HAD to pick up the pace if we were going to meet our goal. So we were re-energized, and kept going. My mom texted me to tell me they were watching it on TV and they would be looking for me at the end. Around 38K, Christi was like “you’re so strong. I can’t do this” and I said “yes you can!” and we kept going… for a few more steps, then she said “no I can’t” and I turned to see her, and she had slowed down to walk. And I thought “i gotta go…” I HAD to try my hardest to meet my big goal.. to make it under 5 hours. I don’t know where I got the energy from, but I started moving faster than I had been. It was quite noticeable around all the people who were walking, and people were calling my name and commenting on my pace. It felt like I was never going to make it to the finish line. I approached mile 25, and I got a text from my sister “you’re so close! one more to go!!” followed by another text asking me to wave at the camera when I got to the finish line. I told myself, “you can do this!” So I kept digging and digging from somewhere, and praying “please give me strength!” and I would clench my teeth and move forward. The last long stretch downtown (on Lamar), it felt like there would never be a turn toward the finish line. I saw the 1/2 mile marker, and I complained to myself, but kept running. I kept checking my Garmin; it was going to be tight. I was picturing the end of our runs, where we are when we’re coming up to the store. I saw the next sign “1/4 mile” and I was like, “what was only a quarter-mile???” and then I made a slight turn and saw my cousins cheering for me. I was sooo excited because I didn’t think they were going to make it—they never texted me. They were cheering so loud, and I waved at them.
I also knew that at the bleachers, our cheer squad would be there, and I saw them going crazy! I waved and started sprinting. I kept running until I had crossed both of the markers.
I looked down at my Garmin. 4:59:40. I then saw the cameras and waved as my sister had asked. I got the text and my unofficial time was 4:59:37. I got my medal and started crying. I couldn’t believe it. Not only had I completed the marathon, but I had also done it under 5 hours. I waited for Christi.. it didn’t take her long to come. I’m so incredibly proud of the both of us… I never thought I would actually be able to run a marathon, and do it so well.
We were hoping we wouldn’t get picked up for going too slow. My second goal was to beat my dietitian’s time for her first marathon (she told me to); her time 5:01:15. My big goal was to do it under 5 hours; definitely not fast… 73% of the finishers did so before me. However, according to the stats, I passed 814 runners in the second half, and 10 passed me (compared to over the first half where I passed 379 runners, and 199 passed me).
I definitely want to run more marathons in the future, perhaps one as early as this December!