Before I recap my first 26.2 mile race ever, I want to thank you all. Thank you for the tweets and texts and Facebook messages, and for showing up to cheer me on, and for hanging with me.
Thank you for sending me cards telling me to eat bananas, and for passing along traditions from one no-longer newbie to another. Thank you for everything. Yesterday meant more to me than you will ever know (but I'll do my best to explain it here, as always).
Now.... onto the recap, right?
My day started at 3 a.m., (earlier than even I am used to waking up). I stayed at my parents the night before since my Mom was driving me to the race and would drive me home afterwards, too.
I had half a cup of coffee (which for someone addicted like I am felt so wrong). I had my usual long-run breakfast: Bagel, peanut butter and banana.
I put on my favorite running gear (gray hat in case of rain, hot pink tank and pullover, black running capris, and my trusty Vibrams).
I double-checked my pre-packed bag of extra post-race clothes, made sure I had my ID to pick up my bib, water, Gatorade, GU, notes from Laura and David (because I needed them there in spirit).
Before we left the house, Mom showed me the sign my son had made for me that said "Run Momma Run" that he had painted in glitter paint his feet on and made it look like he stomped all over the sign. He was staying home since it's hard to kill 4-5 hours with a toddler by the side of the road.
I tweeted a quick pre-race photo and we headed for Hampton Beach.
When we arrived, my nerves were suddenly gone and I just wanted to run.
I picked up my bib and special marathon tech shirt (in yellow and blue, which I took as a good sign since those are B.A.A. colors) and then made my way to the music shell where I was going to meet some friends.
I met twitter-buddy Kris (So nice to meet you!), and scanned the crowds for my friends Craig, Scott, and Emma.
I finally found everyone when we made our way back to the corral for the start. As we stood like cattle in a holding pen, we all very nervously chatting about who out of the group of us would win (for the record, guys, I feel like I won, so there's that).
When our wave started I had a giant smile on my face and all I could think was "holy crud, I'm running a marathon."
Course, it's easy to think that at mile 1 -- mile 24? Not so much.
Let me just say right now that the weather was, in a word: miserable. It was cold -- very cold. There was a headwind. There was driving rain at times. I started the race damp and ended it soaking wet.
Scott (a former co-worker of mine from Maine and good friend) hung with me for about the first 10 miles. I took comfort in his sticking with me as he's a much faster runner than me and much more seasoned than I am, but it made me less nervous to glance over and see him running near me.
Craig and Emma were speedy and way up ahead of me (they usually are and are wicked awesome).
All along the first few miles of the course (which was a double loop) there were signs marking the last few miles of the marathon -- so while I was on mile 5, there would be a sign for mile 19. It was SUCH a head game.
The worst mile for me? 11. Why? Because that is when we marathoners split from the half-marathoners and had to head back out for more miles. So while the folks running the half had people cheering them on into the finish, we veered right and kept on trucking.
I was feeling strong and was keeping up the pace I had decided to run, but seeing that group of runners stride on home while I had to keep running in the rain? Well, let's just say my sunshiney disposition was not present at that moment.
At mile 15, I got a cramp in my calf. I kept going and didn't stop, but I did slow down a bit to see if I could ease out the cramp with a slower pace. By mile 16, after I took some GU, it had passed, but my slower pace decided it was here to stay for a bit.
At mile 17, I had to stop to go potty -- which made me mad because I didn't want to stop at all, but I was making sure I was hydrated so a potty break was necessary. I wasn't the only one who had to stop, either. I've decided the definition of "fast" is a marathoner ducking into a porta-potty and then flying back out.
By mile 20 my legs were getting tired, but I cranked up my music and told myself to just get to mile 21. At mile 21, I told myself to just get to mile 22.
At mile 22, just when I was wondering where the HELL the finish line was, I got a wave and high five from my in-laws. They were bundled up in raincoats, with hoods pulled over their heads, and they were the ONLY spectators I had seen since mile 19. The runners in front of me were even pumped to see two people cheering them on. It was a downhill progression into mile 23, and I started to look for my Mom, since I knew I was approaching our car.
At mile 24 my eyes welled up with tears of joy. My mom was yelling and waving and had put up the sign my son made me. "Run Momma, Run" I saw with his little glitter feet all over it.
"I am, buddy, I am," I thought. And told myself to keep going 2 more miles.
Those two miles were the longest miles of my life. The other marathoners around me and I started to chat as a way of running ourselves in "at least we don't have to go back out again" one said to me as she gave me a high-five. "Hell yes, thank goodness," I said back. Another running in front of me a few strides said "are we sure it was just 2 miles left, because I'm feeling like we should be done already."
Some people stopped to walk.
I kept going. I had not stopped the entire race and I'd be damned if I was going to stop with less than 2 miles to the finish.
At the one mile mark I saw my work hubby, Joe, and his hubby, Chris. I was elated. Joe and I ran our very first race together and his first marathon is next week. He knew what these miles meant to me. I waved and gave them high-fives. And all I could muster (half-joking) was a "where's the damn finish mat!?"
When I crossed the line I was given my medal and my medical blanket to wrap around me so I looked like a human baked potato.
At first, I was just so happy to be done. Then, after getting hugs from Joe, Chris, and my Mom it hit me that I had just run an amount of miles I never thought I could ever run.
And then, I wanted to know my time.
All told it took me 5:50:05.3.
That time gives me something to work on for my next, big endeavor.
My running buddy and amazing friend, David, and I are running the Boston Marathon for charity. It's official. I got a bib.
So, I'm celebrating my first marathon by running the one marathon I said in a blog post last year I was determined to run somehow, some way, no matter what it took.
And now I have a time to beat, too.
Stay tuned for more from David and I. We have lots in store.
But today? Today I'm legs-up, enjoying coffee.