They say when you run a half marathon, you're just half crazy. I guess that means that I have now achieved full crazy status since running my first 26.2 this past Sunday!
About 2:00 on Saturday, I headed to Columbus with this crew to pick up our race packets at the expo, get dinner, & then check into the hotel. It was good to be with familiar & new friends because it kept me somewhat distracted. I only briefly felt like having a full-blown meltdown right about the time of this picture because I was running late due to misplaced headphones, so I was slightly freaking out. We finally found some headphones that would work (thankfully since they were Kade's & he found them in a pocket of shorts that had already gone through the wash...good grief, they were in 10,000 knots, but they worked!). Otherwise, it was a pretty good eve of the race aside from the fleeting moments where I would think, "Oh my gosh, I'm running a marathon tomorrow" & the butterflies would kick in yet again.
I was awake at 4:30 a.m., even though the alarm was set for 5. The temperature read 39 degrees, but feels like 35 degrees. I began to second guess my race day outfit, but had no choice but to stay with the original plan of running in shorts because I didn't pack running tights anyway. I'm glad I listened when the veterans suggested that you wear an old sweatshirt & gloves that you can toss as you get warmed up. Very glad. (And later I was glad that I was in shorts because the day was cool, but perfect running weather.)
Once downtown, I just tried to soak in the excitement & find a place shielded from the wind while waiting to enter my starting corral. It was really something to be in the midst of so many people who were also waiting to reap the reward of so many months of training.
I'm glad I had a friend (Allison) to wait with in the corral. Otherwise, I probably would have freaked some poor soul out with nervous chatter!
By the time our corral had moved forward to be launched on this 26.2 mile journey, I was just ready. I decided, though, that someone had a fairly twisted sense of humor when they decided that a good motivational song to send us off with was "Highway to Hell". Not funny, peeps.
With the experience of 2 half marathons fairly fresh in my mind, I wanted to learn from some mistakes I made in those races. One of the big ones was starting out too fast, which is so easy to do when your adrenaline is pumping. I settled into what felt comfortable, & set out to do another thing different than in past races...ENJOY it!! I have always been one to run alone, put the headset in, & zone, but thanks to new running friends, I have learned to take in my surroundings better. I knew at some point I would need the headset, but I started without it. I can honestly say that I absolutely, thoroughly enjoyed the first 15 or so miles of the race. The course was beautiful, following city streets into beautiful neighborhoods, some of the motivational signs were hilarious, there were awesome fans all along the course as well as bands & DJs, & best of all, each mile had a child champion for inspiration, which is why I began this journey in the first place.
At Mile 15, I got to see my Child Champion inspiration, Kylie, as well as my husband, who has been such an encouragement.
It was also awesome to hit that point because some of the new friends I met the day before had finished running the half marathon & hustled up to Mile 15 to cheer everyone running the full on.
I can't really pinpoint why, but about mile 18 I was feeling a little bitter. I could feel my pace slowing down, my legs started feeling pretty tight, & I felt like we were going uphill for what seemed like forever (which was actually 2 miles). I'm assuming that was my "hitting the wall", but by 20, I started digging into all the things people had been telling me: Trust your training, run with heart, etc. About mile 24, I remember suddenly feeling like, "Ok, I'm really doing this." I knew Joe would be there waiting for me, which also spurred me on. For whatever reason, Joe was waiting for me right about mile 26 instead of at the actual finish, which really helped me dig deep & turn that corner to finish up the final .2.
Once I rounded the corner & saw the words "FINISH" up ahead, I think my body just went into automatic. Between the spectators cheering & the emotion welling up in me...there really just aren't words.
I finished in 5 hours 1 minute. If I'm honest, that little bit over 5 drives me nuts because I had wanted to finish under 5 hours. However, there are things I did that slowed me down that I would do all over again like high-fiving patient champions & their families, talking to some runners along the way, & really trying to enjoy the experience. But I've already decided I want to run another one to get under 5. ;o)