So, I've been talking about it for months and training really hard for the past 18 weeks. I didn't miss a single workout and made a serious commitment.
I'll skip everything boring like, breakfast, the light rail ride, etc. I arrived at the Running Festival around 7:20 with my sister (running in the relay) and my mom (spectating). Temperature was in the 70s, but it was expected to drop throughout the morning.
I used the bathroom and met with my Geico Pace Group (4:30) around 7:50. It was very, very crowded and I could barely hear our pace leader giving us instructions. The confetti gun went off and the lead racers started off and a few minutes later I crossed the starting line. I had already lost the pace group! I expected them to be wearing crazy hats and carrying signs, but, they didn't do anything like that- so they weren't easy to find. Anyways, I figured once the first few miles thinned out I would find the pace group again. Not so much.
Within the first mile I saw another girl (Melissa) from my pace group and asked if she minded if I ran with her until we found the pace group. No problem. So, we trotted along together, briefly chatting and passed the first 4 miles without much excitement. Around mile 4 she picked up her pace a lot and I decided I couldn't go that fast. Then, about two miles later, she ran up from behind me! She had stopped for a long water break when I must have passed her.
So, we trotted along again. Both sorta bitching about the Pace Group thing. We had both counted on the camaraderie and encouragement from that group to get us through our first marathons. I talked about my race plan- break it into 2 ten mile runs and a 6 mile run. She liked that plan.
Around mile 10 we saw my Mom in the crowd and celebrated the end of the first ten mile run. We saw a guy dressed like Will Ferrel from the "cowbell" SNL skit- banging away on a cowbell.
At mile 13, we saw my mom again- blowing on a kazoo of all things! And celebrated being halfway done! My friends were going to be at mile 16, so we concentrated on getting to 16 miles. Along the way, we talked about everying- our lives, work, husbands and boyfriends, past races, other runners' choices to wear white spandex shorts.
At 16 we stopped to pee and saw my friends, drinking beer!! along the side of the road. It was a nice little boost. Our next goal was to get to 20, get to 20 and we can do the rest. It was all about mile 20. There were A LOT of hills (we both knew this going into it) and I think I managed them really well, but they were killer on my butt and thighs. I think this was the toughest part of the marathon. I wasn't in a lot of pain and mentally I was doing really well, but I just really wanted to get to mile 20! A guy dressed in a tiger suit dancing to "eye of the tiger" was great!
Unexpectedly, around mile 18 (I think) I heard my name (I had my name on my shirt so that was pretty common), but I recognized the voice. I looked up to see my best friend cheering and jumping up and down for me! I was so excited to see her..and it gave me a nice boost.
MILE 20! It was a fabulous sight. We cheered. SIX MORE MILES. We can run six miles, done it a million times before. We counted down each mile, each was one step closer to the end. We were both doing something we had never done before and it was amazing. Our spirits were really high.
I ran mile 25 for Boy- he said he wanted that mile. So it was, get to 25 for Boy...that was my mantra. Then, at 25, there is only one more mile to go!! It was crazy that we had made it. We saw the mile 25 sign and we both took off (well, it felt like we were flying, but we were running as fast as we possibly could!). We were passing so many people. The last quarter mile of the run
is through Camden yards and the Ravens parking lots and it's really really cool.
Just keep running was all I could think. I saw my mom again (and the kazoo), Melissa saw her husband and daughter. 26 miles came! .2 more. I sware I was sprinting. We crossed the finish line, smiling and hands in the air! I heard my name again and looked to the left. And there was my dad, standing right at the finish line, smiling and waving. I have never been so excited to see him! He yelled something about being so proud of me. I must have had the biggest smile on my face. I didn't think he was going to be able to sneak out of work to come, and there he was, at the very end. It's a moment I'll never forget.
Melissa and I walked through and got our medals and space sheets. And then, it was over. Here was a girl that had just helped me through my first marathon. Her company had meant the world to me. She said, "I'll never forget you." and I said the same, and she went to meet her husband. I really will never forget Melissa. She was the perfect running partner for my first marathon and I am very grateful that I found her!
My watch said 4:36 and I couldn't have been happier. My first goal was to finish and enjoy myself, my second goal was finishing under 5 hours, and my best case goal was to finish near 4:30. And I achieved it! All those lonely long runs and planning to run a marathon without anyone else had paid off. I am a 4:36 marathoner! I could not be happier with myself.
I felt fantastic afterwards. Of course my legs were sore, but it wasn't terrible and I felt really good. I found my sister and eventually my mom and we headed home. Ice bath, lunch, nap. Woke up and couldn't move!!! I am in so much pain. Stairs are impossible, I sware my butt muscles are going to tear. something is strained in my left foot. But, so, totally and completely, worth it. I'm wearing my medal right now and think I'll wear it to work. I'm getting a massage tomorrow and hopefully that'll help, but honestly, it doesn't matter. The feeling of finishing that marathon and being able to proclaim that I am a marathoner is the best feeling I have felt in a really long time. I will be running another. Just, maybe one with less hills.
Now, all I need is a 26.2 sticker to put on my car!