I can’t believe it has taken me over a week to document my first marathon but I get so overwhelmed when I just think about writing it. There are just so many things I wanted to remember and now I feel like I’ve forgotten those small details. Even during the race I would tell myself “don’t forget to document this!” and now it’s all jumbled in my head!
DAY BEFORE THE RACE…
George’s parents came down Thursday night. They helped us out tremendously by watching Hudson on Friday while we took Emma to Vanderbilt.
We got up really early-5:30ish I think-got ready and headed to Nashville on Friday morning. I was having a hard time eating my breakfast b/c my nerves were going crazy at this point. I had already been sick to my stomach all week and then I just didn’t want to eat. Which is probably not the right thing to do the day before a marathon, right? George kept telling me to eat, eat, eat but when you feel like you are going to vomit it right back up, it doesn’t seem very appealing. I think I had a vanilla latte for breakfast and that was it. Emma’s appointment was at 9:30 and we were out of there by 11:30 or 12 I think. I’ll talk about her appointment in another post.
After we left Vandy we headed to Green Hills b/c I had some gift cards for Carabba’s just burning a hole in my pocket! I LOVE me some Carabba’s! Plus, lots of carbs, right? I ended up ordering my favorite-Chicken & Spinach Canneloni and a ceasar salad. Up until this point I hadn’t had any water so I knew I needed to hydrate. The whole week leading up to the race I drank 100+ ounces each day so I felt good about that. I started sucking the water down really quickly and I had 3 HUGE glasses of water within the hour of lunch. I was floating out of there! After our tasty lunch we shared a nice big chocolate dessert with Emma and then headed back to Huntsville.
For dinner that night I just had leftovers from lunch and snacked on some other things. Once again, my nerves were going crazy. I laid out all of my clothes/GUs/safety pins so everything would be ready the next morning. I forgot to take a picture of everything…whoops!
I’m pretty sure I set the alarm for 5:10 the morning of the race. One of the good things about this marathon was the start time-8am! The other races I’ve ran started at 7am so it was nice to have that extra hour.
I did jump in the shower very quickly and then I got myself ready and had half a bagel with cream cheese, small cup of coffee with cream/sugar, and 12-16 oz of water. After a few trips to the bathroom we left the house at 6:30am. My in-laws were so wonderful to keep the kids and meet me at the finish line. It was nice only having to worry about myself that morning.
We picked up my running partner, Amanda, who lives half a mile away and headed towards downtown. I had George stop at the McDonald’s by Jordan Lane so I could bypass the port-a-potty and I quickly regretted that b/c it was disgusting. I absolutely hate public bathrooms.
We got to the start line a few minutes after 7am and parked in the Embassy Suites lot and walked over to the Holiday Inn. Amanda and I had to pick up our packets and it was so easy. There were no lines so we quickly got our bibs on and then posed for some pictures in the hallway.
#1629-ready to run!
Our friends, Alissa and Barb, had a room at the Holiday Inn so we joined them upstairs and took more pictures & had a few hundred bathroom stops.
Amanda was the only one of us to complete a marathon before and she finished the Rocket City last year in 4:13 (I think). Amanda and Alissa both wanted to finish in under 4 hours while Barb and I were more flexible. I really really wanted to finish closer to 4 hours but it just didn’t work out that way.
Anyways, we headed back down to the lobby with hoards of people and I remember the announcer saying “head to the start line-less than 10 minutes until the start.” Everyone was trying to get outside and that’s when everything started happening super fast. I ended up taking my jacket off and giving it to George. I had his gloves on and my ear covers and it was cold but not freezing. Since Huntsville is.the.only.city that doesn’t allow headphones, I had George’s phone play my music on speaker so I could have something to listen to. We all 4 lined up with the 3:55 pacer (the awesome Katie Maelhmann!) and next thing I know the national anthem is going. Then all of a sudden the gun went off and we were running. It was so fast! My nerves disappeared immediately and I felt great. It was really congested for the first 4-5 miles and I kept clipping Alissa’s shoe. I felt so bad! Amanda and Alissa jumped ahead rather quickly (by mile 1 or 1.5) and I stayed with the 3:55 pace group b/c I was terrified of burning out too soon.
The start line…
So I stayed in my own rhythm and talked to a few other runners in those first few miles and really enjoyed myself. I started hydrating immediately too. The first aid station was at mile 2.9 and I took water and/or gatorade at every single station except the last one I think. I’ve also realized that aid stations really slow me down. I can’t figure out how to take the water cup and drink it without slowing down to a walk. It always ends up all over me if I don’t stop and walk. Then I feel behind. I also had a nightmare with my GU. I like to bring my own vanilla GU because I had planned to take 4 during the race with my first one being around mile 6. Silly me thought I would be smart and open one GU a little so I wouldn’t have to take my gloves off & on, etc. Not so smart. Lesson learned. I had the stickiest hands throughout the entire race. At one aid station I tried pouring water on them…didn’t work. It was horrible! NEVER EVER open your GU ahead of time!
Around mile 2…
The one bright spot in the whole day was when I saw George along the course. He was at mile 3.5 (I think) and at mile 14 working the aid station. It gave me a surge of energy and a smile on my face. Here he snapped a picture of me running with Katie…
At this point I took my gloves off and gave them to George. I still felt great at this point too.
I think it was around mile 6-7 when I lost the 3:55 pace group. I remember it was after we went under the tunnel and it was the first hill. I slowed down a little and the pace group didn’t. I was so upset that I slowed down but I told myself it was ok. I didn’t want to burn out. We were running through residential areas still with lots of trees and it was so pretty. I still had a smile on my face and talked to a couple of runners.
Things started to really get tough around mile 10 or close to it. We had a 5 mile stretch on Bailey Cove Road where I was running by myself and cars were just passing me constantly. I slowed down quiet a bit during these miles and never regained speed. I was still happy at the halfway mark (13.1) b/c my time was 2:03. I was thinking there was still hope at getting close to a 4 hour finish. Nope. It just got harder and harder.
Just after the halfway mark my awesome friends Greg, Tracey, and their kids were cheering me on like crazy. I was so happy to see them! Tracey had told me they planned to be at the halfway mark so when I didn’t see them I was a little bummed. Turns out they were right up the road. They were cracking me up with their cheering and since I was getting really hot, I asked Tracey to give George my ear warmers. I took my ear band off and it was soaked in sweat. I squeezed the sweat out and apologized as I handed it over. What a wonderful friend Tracey is!
Right after I saw them I came up on the Hasher’s aid station where George was handing out water. It felt so great seeing George b/c I was running out of steam and needed a pick me up. I ordered him to run with me for a minute and he told me about one of the Hasher’s that got hit by a car earlier while setting up the water table. My heart sank. George didn’t know his status except that he was knocked unconscious. Part of me wished he hadn’t of told me at that point b/c I wanted to sit down and cry for him but I kept telling myself that he was going to be ok and I needed to push on. George had to go back to the water table but he said he would meet me at Hillwood Church and would run with me.
The race got super duper hard at this point. I remember the 4:10 pace group passing me by at this point and that upset me. Those next few miles were the LONGEST miles ever. I had struggled at the same point during my training long runs so it didn’t surprise me. I wanted to sit down and cry so bad. Other runners were feeling it too. People would stop and stretch, walk, etc. I continued to run but at a snails pace. It also started to get really really cold at this point. The entire first half of the race the wind was at my back and it wasn’t bad at all. Somewhere around mile 15 or so the wind started hitting me head on and I regretted taking off my gloves and ear covers. I was miserable. I kept telling myself to just make it to the church and hopefully George would have my gloves and all would be peach and rosy.
I got to the church and there was no George.
My heart sank.
I was so over the marathon at this point and I needed his encouragement.
This is when I started to walk for the first time. Somewhere around mile 19. I was freezing cold, my hands were sticky, and my fingers were swelling. I can’t explain how miserable I was at this point.
Around mile 20 I picked back up and felt like I had more gas in me. Not literally though.
Then it was finally time to go back through the tunnel and I could see the light at the end. I knew that within an hour or so I would be finished with my first marathon. It didn’t matter my finish time anymore. I was just determined to finish sticky hands and all.
Then I saw George. Just after mile 21 I believe. I was so beaten down and he was all smiles and roses! We started slowly running together and at times, walking. I thought it was funny b/c he was carrying the camera and people started saying “wow, look at you running with a camera!” At first George started trying to explain that he just started running with me but people couldn’t hear him. Finally he started saying “thank you” and we both laughed.
Around mile 23 (Airport Rd), our friends Paul & Carmen had baby Rose and they were cheering me on. I loved having my friends there even if I did look like death! They really kept me going. Then not long after that (mile 24ish) our friend Justin was waiting for us and he took some pictures. Those last 2 miles were so long yet so fast. The 4:40 pace group had caught up to me and while it sucked, it was ok. They seemed like such nice people even though I didn’t talk to them. I stayed behind them until the last 1/2 mile or so and then I took off. At one point George seemed to be slowing down and I said “keep going faster!” b/c I needed him to sprint with me. I gave it all I had that last 1/2 mile and it felt awesome! I passed a couple of people and as I got to the finish line the announcer said my name and my city/state. I also saw my in-laws and the kids standing right before the finish. I quickly glanced at them but I couldn’t lose my focus. I was afraid I might trip!
As soon as I crossed the finish line I was greeted by a handler and she wrapped a foil blanket around me. She also gave me my medal and an orange hat. She was so sweet. She kept asking if I was ok and if I needed medical. I was fine. My balance was a little off but I was ok. Ashli, BJ, Paul, Carmen, Rose, Rusby, Judy, Emma, Hudson, and George all got to me very quickly. I was a hot mess! I gave out some smelly hugs and took a couple of pictures. I felt like I was in a daze. Even though the race took 4 hours 39 minutes, it seemed to have happened so fast!
Ashli and I…
Carmen and I…
After seeing family & friends, George and I went inside the Holiday Inn to get some food/drinks. There were gobs of people and at one point I thought I might pass out waiting in line. I was so weak and cold. I wanted to eat everything in the world but my stomach wasn’t ready for it. I got a big bag of pb&J, ice cream sandwich, moon pies, crackers, veggie soup, and I can’t remember what else. Then George and I went upstairs to meet with the girls. I was so happy to see them and Alissa said she got her sub 4 which was awesome! Barb was happy with her 4:09 or something close to it. Unfortunately Amanda started having knee problems and had to stop at mile 18. She didn’t care though since she had ran it last year. I was so proud of my running friends! I felt like I let them down by finishing so late but they kept saying how proud they were of me. In case you can’t tell, I’m very competitive with myself!
Us with our medals! We did it! (Amanda didn’t get a medal so she put my hat on)
We lounged around the huge hotel room for a bit and I got some food in me. Then when we went to leave we found my inlaws & the kids by our van. They took the kids on home for us and we hit up Shaggy’s and Starbucks! I kept saying it just didn’t seem real that I had just ran a marathon. It still doesn’t seem real! Will it ever?
When we finally got home I jumped in the shower and Greg and Tracey stopped by with a present. They got me a 26.2 purple ornament. It is so pretty and it meant the world to me.
The rest of the day consisted of me being lazy. Ru-Rus went and got Steak-Out for us for dinner and it was the best dinner ever! I LOVE those huge potatoes and their tea. I would be willing to run another marathon just for that yummy food.
My legs and body were so weak all night. My legs kept thinking they wanted to cramp up and so did my feet. It was so hard to sleep that night b/c I couldn’t get my legs comfortable. That was rough. Sunday was really hard too. I was so tired b/c Hudson woke up around 10:45pm with a fever. He was so miserable and it was around 2am before I got back to sleep. He slept in my arms that night so I was really worn down Sunday. Luckily his fever went down but after taking him to the dr we found out he had bronchitis. By Monday I was feeling much better. I was still sore but I felt normal. I felt almost sick Saturday and Sunday from being in so much pain and being tired. Everyday I’ve gotten better but I can still tell that my knees and hips did not like the marathon. I’m definitely feeling like a 30 year old! ha ha!
So that’s how my first marathon went. I know I left some details out but it feels good to get it all written down finally. I haven’t ruled out running another one but I can’t bring myself to sign up for the Country Music just yet. I still need a few weeks to mentally recharge and prepare for Christmas and my 30th birthday.