It's been 2 years since Matt and I made our "New Years Resolution" of becoming healthier, more active, and setting a goal to run our very first 5K. We ran our first official 5K in March of 2012, and I've been hooked ever since!
(First 5K in March 2012)
Running isn't for everyone, it's torturous to some people, but to me, it's stress relieving, "me" time, and something I LOVE to do! I have made it a priority to keep my love for running going the past 2 years, raced in several 5K, and 15K races, and it's what prepared me for the unexpected this past weekend. I had a goal to run 3 half marathons in 1 year. My first half marathon was the fairytale Disney Princess Half Marathon last February.
(First Half Marathon February 2013)
My second Half Marathon was the Masters of All Terrain with my rockstar hubby!
(Second Half Marathon June 2013)
My 3rd Half Marathon, to achieve my 3 in 1 year goal, was supposed to be the Mt. Dora Half Marathon, also with Matt, but our family got hit hard by sickness, and I was diagnosed with pneumonia the day before the race. I was super bummed, but there was nothing I could do about it. I quickly tried to find another half that I could race in before my 1 year mark, but everything was full. Randomly one Sunday, I was talking with one of my volunteers at church, who is also a runner, and she mentioned that her friend was injured in the Savannah Marathon a few weeks ago and was selling her bib for the Celebration Half Marathon in January. I quickly jumped at the opportunity to buy her race bib and achieve my goal! When I got to the Expo the day before race day, I was told by the race director that I was under the "Marathon" category, NOT the "Half Marathon" category. I immediately panicked and asked if I could switch to the half. His response was absolutely he could switch me to the half, but something came over me, and I was shocked that I was standing there thinking about actually going for the FULL! I called Matt, who had the boys at the soccer fields nearby, and I walked over to talk to him about. Honestly, his answer was he didn't think I should do it. I've only ever ran 14.5 miles at one time. People train a full year for a marathon, and he was definitely worried about me hurting myself. I somehow convinced him that I really thought I could do it, went back in to the expo, and started talking to every expert there on how to prepare myself in 20 hours for a Full 26.2 mile Marathon!
I spent all of Saturday afternoon calling all of my marathon running friends for advice! They were all so encouraging and were so excited for me. I had already had enough experience with which energy gels worked well for my body, so I stocked up on those, ate the right foods the night before, got a good nights rest, and was super excited when my alarm went off at 4:45am! My incredibly sweet husband had a card waiting for me in my car and it was just the extra encouragement I needed. My text messages were going off the whole drive to Celebration, and my best friend Erica even texted at 3am her time to wish me the best!
Driving into Celebration...
Parking was not bad at all, and I followed everyone else to the start line.
Ready or not...it's GO time!
I started off with a super low pace. I knew if I wasted all of my energy and overdid it in the beginning, I would be a mess at the end. The race course started off in the neighborhoods of Celebration, then went more towards the highway. There was a long stretch of road with not much to look at, so they had a bunch of funny signs posted. I especially appreciated and laughed at this one! Been there, done that! Loved my Disney race and will for sure do another one in the future, but they're right, getting up at 2am is not the easiest!
It's always fun to run with encouragement! My verse I have always repeated in my head during some difficult running days is "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." While we're on the topic of encouragement, let me share what is NOT encouraging and something I found to be a bit annoying on my first marathon. Those spectators who like to make signs that say "You're almost there...oh wait..no you're not, turn around NOW!" or "Mile 2, only 24 more miles to go!" I would like for those "spectators" to sign up for the next marathon! :) I'll stick with my encouraging guy!
At Mile 10, I was feeling good! My right leg started to hurt just a little, so I took a walk break at a water station and let the pain subside a little. The town of Celebration did an AMAZING job with water stations, support team, and bathrooms! They had so many people handing out gatorade and water, and cheering us all on. I will admit though, at Mile 10, I was starting to really look at people's bibs as I ran by. I wasn't seeing any "Marathon" bibs, only "Half Marathon" bibs and I wasn't sure how that was going to make me feel when they all stopped at 13.1 and I was going to double that! But I tried not to dwell on that too much and kept my pace going.
Then I saw these sweet faces around a corner! My sweet little angels riding their scooters around the town finding me at random streets (Matt the map man!) and cheering me on! Nothing makes me run faster than seeing my 3 boys rooting for me!
Matt snapped a picture of me running through one of the streets...
I got to the half marathon mark and crossed over, 2 hrs 43 minutes! If I kept up this pace, I'd finish with a pretty decent time that I would have been happy with for my first marathon (one I didn't train fully for!) At the half marathon line, I felt like everyone disappeared, but I was a little relieved to lose all of the people with the annoying watches that beeped every few minutes to tell people when to walk or run! :) I texted Matt to meet me at Mile 14 or 15 so I could eat a banana as I ran by. He also had cut up oranges for me and some fig newtons to hang on to. I had been through 3 gels out of 6 at this point. I knew I would need the fuel later. I quickly stopped for hugs and kisses and was on my way!
At Mile 17, I can honestly say I felt amazing! I felt like dancing in the streets to my tunes I was running to! I was definitely loving my Polar watch around this time because I was able to start some run/walk intervals to keep my pace going, but give my legs a break. There were also some awesome spectators on the sidelines handing out bags of jellybeans and gummy bears, and the sugar definitely helped!
Miles 20-22 were a little rough. Not on the mental side at all. I never hit that "mental wall" people talk about, and I really don't know why. Not sure if it was because I only had 20 hours to "think" about what was in store, or if I mentally was so in the game that it didn't bother me, but miles 20-22 were on a boardwalk with no one and it got a bit lonely! Not to mention I got a little dizzy and knew it was time to break out the fig newtons for some carbs. I continued my run/walk intervals though and after about 15 minutes the dizziness was gone!
I let Matt know when I was coming up on Mile 24 so he could get to the finish line. He caught this picture of me coming around the bend at Mile 26 around the lake in downtown Celebration.
As I rounded the corner, there was my Dad, cheering and taking video! My parents surprised me again, my Mom said it was because my Dad didn't want to have to "carry me over the finish line!" Then I saw my Mom with the boys and they were dancing in the street and screaming for Mommy to "run, run, run!"
And of course my biggest fan and supporter, my amazing husband, at the finish line, capturing one amazing moment in my life! I threw my hands up screaming "I did it!!!" when the lady put the medal around my neck.
I clicked my watch to stop and couldn't believe my time!!! Of course I have friends that have 4 hour marathon goals, but I'll take 5:30 for my first one! That's a little under 13 minute miles, and I was incredibly pleased with that!
My BIGGEST fans! We were all so excited!
My awesome parents who support me in everything I do! It always means so much to have them cheering me on, and I was very proud that I sprinted across the finish line and didn't need my Dad to carry me! :)
Matt is seriously the most selfless person I know. He spent over 5 hours keeping the boys occupied with different parks around town, taking them for ice cream, letting them ride their scooters, not to mention meeting me and cheering me on from different parts of the course! He knows how much I love to run, and what a big achievement this was and meant to me, and I love him so much for supporting me!
The boys were thrilled to watch Mommy and love hearing about every race I do, but they knew this one in particular was a really long way! They couldn't wait to see my medal and wanted to know if I won first place! :)
And now, I'm a Marathon Mom!
The only thing I have to compare this experience to is having a baby! Everyone has their own advice, their own tips, their own experiences, but each journey is different. My journey was different than friends who have done marathons before, my journey will be different for anyone who runs a marathon for the first time after me. You have to push yourself to the limits you are willing to push yourself to and will only achieve the goals you set out to do. I passed this sign and later cried when I re-read it. I think God knew I was ready for my first full, He brought me to it, and He saw me through it! Would I do one again? ABSOLUTELY! I can't wait for my next one, and I say that with bruised toes and sensitive legs. Bring it on! This girl is headed to the Savage Race next! :)