I'm not a Christian, heck, I don't even have a religion, but I know why athletes, musicians, actors and other "winners" all get to a microphone and thank Jesus and their mothers.
I have never felt so grateful in my whole life than on Sunday, October 16, 2011. I wanted to hug a million people and kiss babies and maybe even thank MY mother, who wasn't even there for the big day. Accomplishing something you hadn't even dared to dream of accomplishing is an amazing thing, and makes you realize how many people helped you get there. Sure *I* did it, but it's hard not to think that people who believed in me, didn't laugh when I told them I was going to run a marathon, who came to the race, who sent well wishes via text/facebook/twitter, handed me a blue-raspberry coolatta in the middle of the course - so many people.
So here's how it went:
Alarm went off at 5:10am. John got out of bed. at 5:30, John came back and woke me up. He made my protein shake for me, cuz he's awesome like that. I drank up and got dressed, started stretching. We were in the car by 6:00am. I ate a peanut butter sandwich on whole wheat and drank 20 oz of diet coke on the ride. We parked in a garage about a 10 minute walk from the start, and arrived to the starting area around 6:45 for an 8am start. It was in the low 50s outside, so we found a spot indoors to stretch and warm-up. Then we found gear check, dropped off our stuff and got in line for the bathroom. I was the last person in line for the indoor bathroom, and we ran outside to hear them playing the national anthem. JUST IN TIME. :)
We jumped into the starting crowd somewhere near the back. no pace corrals. only about 1000 marathoners and maybe 2000 half marathoners. We ran together for the first 3 miles or so and then they turned off.
Our race course is advertised as fast and flat, with 2/3 of the field Qualifying for Boston. John and I were not concerned with the qualifying standards, but we really counted on the FLAT part, which was fairly accurate. The course features a double loop. We didn't get lapped until our mile 9 or 10 (their mile 19 or 20). We were hoping we'd avoid getting lapped, but c'est la vie.
We ran the first half in 2:30, which I thought was pretty good. It was faster than our half time in August, and I thought would be a decent start to running a 5:30 marathon. Neither of us struggled during the first half - we walked the water stations as planned, and we walked 2 hills. After the halfway mark, John's family greeted us at mile 14+. They resupplied us with Gu, Gatorade for John and a blue-raspberry Coolatta for me. I think I also ate some chips. They held signs that said "Goofy or Bust". I was so happy to see them, but we had to keep going. That was our longest mile - 20 minutes - so I guess we stopped for about 5 minutes with them.
We made the last turnaround on the loop and were on the "homestretch" at mile 17.5, when my quad started cramping. and my foot. and my calf.. sort of. All on my left side. ugh. I stretched some, which of course tripped up my hamstring a bit, ate another Gu packet (I was Gu-ing every 2-3 miles up to this point) and vowed to Gu every 1.5-2.5 miles the rest of the way - and did. At the next water stop I filled my Coolatta cup with multiple cups of water and gatorade and drank that. The cramping eased up with the upped electrolyte intake. AMEN.
Around mile 20 John started to run out of gas. our walking breaks became more frequent, but we soldiered on. At mile 25 he told me that I should just go on ahead and run for it if I "had it", but I didn't come 25 miles with him to leave him to shuffle alone. We weren't racing, we'd already missed all our goal times, and our biggest goal was to do it together. He hadn't left me when I was cramping, so we ran 1/4 miles at a time, and then as we were a 1/2 mile from the finish we picked it up. My sisters and nieces and nephew were at the 50 yd mark to finish which gave me a huge boost and then the sister with the camera took some pics and then ran to the finish line to catch me. At this point I pushed ahead and left John and beat him by 3 seconds. LOL His family was right beyond the finish line waiting with hugs and gatorade. I accepted my space blanket and bottle of water from the race volunteer, assured them I was good and met up with our fans. John wasn't aware they were right there, so I had to call him over. We drank gatorade and accepted hugs and kisses over the fence, posed for pictures and ate protein bars.
I'm so proud of us. I'm so proud of me. 3 years ago I was morbidly obese. Not just fat, but "wicked fat". Now I'm a marathon runner. Two days later, the pain is fading, and I'm thinking about the next run. We've got a 5k on Sunday and we're talking Goofy strategies. Life is amazing!!