Back to the story...
As I got off the shuttle and started walking to the corrals, I noticed many, many photographers taking pictures for the race. I got mine took as much as I could, not knowing if any would come out OR [considering the model] not sure they would be any good. This way I was hoping I'd be able to choose the one I might want to get. It was pretty cold and everyone was wearing warmer clothes. I rarely wear gloves but had to have them on.
I met a lady just before we started running. She was alone, too. Her husband initially signed up for his first full, then she decided she would, too. Then he found out that he had to work and would not be able to go but she decided to come on. They live in N. Carolina and both are in different branches of the military. Her name is Amy J. This was her first marathon. She is in her early 30's and had planned to walk/run it but mostly have fun. She had not raced much before. But she had run track in school. We stayed together until about the 11th mile when she dropped back to walk. Our first miles were at a great pace and was much faster than what she had trained for. But, as you know, if you are a racer, the adrenaline of a race cannot be contained for long.
I had hoped to reach the half marathon mark close to 2:48. I arrived at that point in the race at 2:22. I felt so good!! And, it seemed easy. Passing the 14th mile, I made a "pit stop". It was there that a water table was set up and it was time for a GU; so I thought it would be to my advantage to go ahead and do my "chores" while I was stopped instead of stopping again another mile down the road and kill more time. It was all working out great.
Shortly after this time, I saw a good friend of mine from our GCRC Club, come by. It was Mark K. He was flying!!! I yelled out but don't think he heard me...OR he was so focused, which is probably the case. I was so excited to see him and see him running so good. Little did I know what was ahead of me. I got to thinking when I got to the difficult part of the race just how fast he really was. I don't know how he could run so fast!!
Then, I entered the 15th mile. I could tell I was getting a blister or something on the top of my left foot. All I could think about was "here I go again"!!! I ran a little further and then decided to stop and see what was happening. After all, I still had a ways to go. I took off my shoe and saw blood all over my sock! I had hoped that all it was was that my sock had knotted up on top of my foot and I could straighten it out and all would be okay...NOT!! Every step I took burned from that blister rubbing. This killed my race!!! I became so disappointed...SOOOOOOOOOO disappointed. By mile 16, I knew I was going to have to start walking. Every step I took, I hurt. All because of this dang blister!!!
Now, running a marathon is as much mental as anything else...provided you have trained. I learn so much and guess I always will. I began to get my head back on. There is nothing that will prepare you for blisters or things of that nature. I'd not had a single one. As you are told, I ran in what I had planned to run in on my longest mile, the 20 miler. The only exception was that I wore shorts instead of longer pants. I wore my belt with ALL the stuff I tote around, the same socks, shoes, everything. Nothing happened. It was all good. Then this happens in the 15th mile!!
Okay...I've got to get hold of this. My goal this time was to finish strong and uninjured. But, the racer inside me wants to beat a time!! I just can't help it. As it got closer to the race, all I could think about was coming in by a certain time...AND I thought it was doable. AND with the great time I had at the halfway point, it only confirmed my thinking that it was not only doable but achievable...pushing me harder to focus on "time". Well, when this little issue popped up and changed everything, I had to think about what my real goal was. Now, I do NOT think that a blister is an injury but something that demands attention...DEMANDS, I say!! It's like a tiny rock in your shoe that you can't get out...it gnaws at you with every step but you're not hurt.
I had been running alone for a few miles now. The race course was altered due to the heavy amount of rain they had been getting; which they were to get more on race day. Thankfully, the rain held off until after the race when the bottom fell out again. The course moved us into an area that was NOT flat. There were 3 hilly bridges with an additional smaller hilly one. They were steep enough that many were walking up them. This was NOT in my plan...especially in the latter part of the race...so not in my plan! This wasn't bad enough but that we had a turn around to do and cross them all again!! Can I say that I was NOT a "happy camper" right now.
As I got to the first bridge, I looked ahead and noticed someone running about the way I was. My first thought was that he was hurt or something happened. The thing about runners, you can never tell by physical appearance as to how they can run. It's all about the training. As I got closer, we began talking and running together. Aubrey was really nice with a family and lives in Mobile. He is a Highway Patrolman. We didn't make a pact or anything but one would run ahead a little, the other would catch up, we'd run together...it was back and forth.
By the 19th mile, my quads were getting fatigued. Not planning on a walk/run plan, it put more stress on my quads than I had hoped. Then I came off one of the bridges [I don't remember which one] and looking to my left was my friend, Nestor!! He was sitting on the bridge abutment watching the runners. We saw each other about the same time and I yelled out to him and asked what he was doing there. A few weeks ago, he had said that he would come and run with me the last 10k. I was so excited. But a couple of weeks ago, his son had a soccer tournament scheduled for that weekend and was not going to be able to make it. I was so disappointed. As it turned out, the tournament was canceled due to all the rain we'd been having. We've had lots...and the fields were too wet to play on. When I saw him sitting there I almost cried with excitement. He said he had come to run me in and I was even more excited! I don't know how he found me because he did not know that the course had changed. I bet he ran 2-3 miles before he got to this location hoping he had not missed me. With our run and him getting to me, I bet he got in 10 miles! This was the nicest thing someone has done for me! Thanks, Nestor, you'll NEVER know what this meant to me!!! And, on top of that, he brought his handy-dandy camera. It is rare that I get pictures of me in a race. After all, I'm not an elite runner where the photographers take pictures of every step I make...nor do I come in at a super fast pace. Here are a few pics. I won't bore you with many. But all I can say is that now I have enough to make a good scrapbook...yay!!
This is the second bridge second time over. It doesn't look like much but you can't see over it yet.
Feeling good here.
Me and Aubrey.
One of my favorite shots...I'm off the ground!!
And, crossing the line. I'm glad Aubrey and I crossed together since we had run the last 8 together. The time is incorrect since it was a delayed start for each corral.
And, the best yet...
Here's my great medal!
Nestor and me at the Finish Line. Thank you, friend!!
Shortly after crossing the line, my friend, Gina M. came in. Isn't she beautiful? Great job, girl!
Caught up with Amy J. at the end. So glad we got our pic together. Great job on your first marathon!
Then a last pic of us two couples. Love this one!
Oh, and btw...Gina was just featured in Women's Running Magazine. She's lost a lot of weight, happily married with 5 children and now loves running. She is truly an inspiration!
There are so many people I want to mention that ran in this race but for fear of forgetting someone and hurting their feelings, I just mentioned those I had pictures with except for Mark.
I took away a lot from this race. Like Aubrey told me while we were running: "I have a lot of respect for those that run marathons". And, I do, too; though this is the only one he says he will do. Said it was a lot harder than he expected it to be.
The last 6 or so miles really test your skills. Not only in your training and running, but mentally. How you adjust to the unexpected things or disappointments in the race is probably as important as the race itself. Though I initially thought I would not run another. I'm not so sure now. Guess my only deal with a marathon is all the time it takes preparing for it. I now have my sights on the Disney Marathon next year...we'll see. One thing for sure will change and that's my fuel belt!! It is now history!! Way too heavy and I must learn to adjust with less. Yes, I can do it...I can do it!
When it all comes down to it, I did exactly what I had hoped: to finish strong, uninjured and have fun. I've got to get my "racer" mentality out of a marathon. Oh, and...I got a new PR!! Finished 5:29:11 hours! Under 5.5 hours!! So, it is all good. Now for the recovery. Until the next race, I want you to
Run 4 It