Thank you to Philadelphia Marathon and a special thank you to Arctic Ease who made this all possible!
I cannot believe I trained for 23 weeks for one big event. That is nearly half of an entire year. I stayed focused, I kept my eye on the prize, and on Sunday I finally got to experience what I had worked so hard for all those months.
We had road blocks, we had obstacles, and I almost did not race due to our dog passing away. But in the end I decided to push through all the sadness and tears and do what I have come to love, run my heart out.
I woke up at 4AM on Sunday morning feeling like I had a hangover. (that is what crying for hours will do to you) But I had to wake up! I got into the shower and it helped me wake up. Then I got suited up and headed out into the darkness to meet with Gene. He was going to drive us to the race! We had a little mishap that turned out to be a good one. He left his Garmin on the roof of his car causing a thud as we left the hotel! He found it wedged onto his trunk, but it prompted me to remember mine, and how it was still in my hotel room. So we went back snagged it and got back on the road. My mind was racing already.
It was pretty chilly that morning so we were bundled up in disposable clothes. The guys Gene and Damian were trying to make me smile.
She ran her 8K the day before and did great! I will ask her to recap for us this week ;)
This race was very well organized into corrals. I was in the green corral alone so we said good bye after a warm up and went to get ready to race. Nicole came with me to keep me company and reminded me of how inspired and proud she was. It felt great having a friend there to keep me calm. I kept on disposable clothes until we got ready to start. It was cold but once I got moving I was not cold at all. I also had on magic gloves and hand warmers. I kept those on for about 2 miles.
As I stood there lined up in my green corral I started thinking about all I had over come this entire year and how it was all leading up to this big day. I really started to cry a little just thinking about it all. Then the horn went off and away we went! I started out strong, my legs had been well rested all week so they were just itching to run. The first mile going through all the crowds was awesome. This is the biggest race I have ever participated in and it was amazing just having people cheering and there watching us.
I heard my name called many times, this was the nice feature of our bib numbers, they were customized with our names. It was a nice feeling. I also had several pats on the backs and good lucks from fellow runners passing by thanks to my Race Ragz shirt ;) The first half I felt good. I was averaging in the 8:20s and I felt good. But that feeling began to dwindle during the second half. I began to get tired, I know I should have started out at an easier pace. But it was hard, I had felt so good during those first miles. A few times here and there I would get sad, I would see a dog and remember my Benny. I lost it at mile 12 when I saw a cocker spaniel, part of me wanted to stop and go pet him, but I just cried for a minute and let it out and kept going. I was a woman on a mission.
At mile 15 it got a little tough, I got water from stops and kept refilling my bottles. I had stuck with my plan and had been taking in 2 blocks or a shot packet every 3 miles but it still felt like it was not enough. I was dragging and my pace reflected that. I was averagine high 8s and low 9s for those middle miles and it sucked. I felt like I had to keep pushing, I knew I wanted to hit that time goal I had kept in mind and I literally had to push my legs to move faster. There were orange slices around mile 20 and I grabbed one and another after that, I remember that was the best tasting orange I had had ever! I kept going.
I began to see people hurting around mile 22 is when it really began. People would fall off pace and stop cringing in pain. I felt bad. I have never been in a marathon before so it was all new to me. It is rare you see much pain and agony in a half marathon, this was a whole new beast. I kept going. I knew I would finish the race I knew I had that much in me. What I was unsure of is how quickly I would be able to get to that finish line. I knew in my heart I had to hit that sub 4. I had watched my 3:40 goal slip away and I was determined to hang on to my 3:45. It became a dog fight right then at mile 24. I had to dig in really deep and push my legs, I wanted to keep a good strong pace to finish out the race.
When I look at my Garmin report here I see my miles were not well paced. I guess this is what I need to work on for the next one. I did take a walk break for 30 seconds at every mile marker so I still maintained fresh legs through the race. Let me tell you, those walk breaks work! Every time I felt like I could not possibly keep running I would remember I had a walk break coming up and it would get me through.
I came into the finish chute and again the crowds were amazing. I started raising my arms and cheering so loud! I was so excited to actually be crossing the finish line of my first marathon! I kept cheering and jumped for joy when I was those blue markers :)
I got my medal and then the search for the family began, I was teary eyed and dizzy with joy and amazement. I kept walking for what seemed like forever. Finally about 15 minutes later I found them! They were hanging out with the awesome Arctic Ease people in the VIP tent ;) They were having fun. I remember just looking frantic all I wanted was to grab my baby girl and hold her.
It was so emotional. I was crying tears of joy and I felt like I had accomplished so much. My dad was even there to surprise me! It was amazing.
Of course Damian was there too! He never misses a chance to race! He has a strong half marathon finish completing his third half this year!! We celebrated with our medals.
Gene did great too finishing his first marathon! (by the way, no he never takes a serious picture ;)
So what were the final results?
I came in 2609 over all, the 611 female to finish, and 178 in my division place. But most importantly...