Wow. That’s what I keep saying over and over as I relive and keep thinking about this past weekend. This is going to be a really long post!! I’ll start at the beginning….
Friday couldn’t have come any sooner. I know that all the ROHO’s were very anxious and excited to get this weekend going. So when Friday FINALLY came along, we were more than excited. We all took BART to the airport and got to ride the looooong train ride there together. Lots of giggling, squealing and chattering as we got on our way. Soon we were at the airport, checking in and flying high. Virgin America is the BEST airline!!! Loved the seat-to-seat chat for sure.
We made a mad dash to the rental car place, picked out our ride, then headed to our hotel. A-mazing. We had a two bedroom suite, complete with two bathrooms (mandatory with five chicks) and a full kitchen. We did a quick dinner that night and then headed out to a fabulous wine bar in the Gaslamp district!
Saturday was Expo Day! We all slept in for a bit, then headed to the biggest race expo I’ve ever been to. All the freebees were awesome and I got new Recovery Socks. They also gave us rad head bands that I’m obsessed with!
Aron and I with our headbands
Since I’m not too great at this blog thing, I didn’t really know many of the bloggers that the other ROHO’s were planning to meet. However, it was really great to meet them and talk about the race and get excited for the marathon the next day!
After the expo we did a little grocery shopping, hit up the hot tub and then went back to our room to relax. It was the best night. We all stretched, got our race gear together, and just talked. I loved bonding with my girls and really talking about races, running, life, marriage, boys, EVERYTHING! I heart these girls 🙂
RACE DAY & Full REPORT!!!!
My day began at 3:30 a.m. The alarm went off and Aron and I just looked at each other and said “race day!” I wasn’t too nervous, but definitely anxious. We took our time getting up, getting ready and eating our pre-race ritual – English muffins, peanut butter and bananas.
Before I knew it we were off on the shuttle and headed to the start line. We got off the shuttle and it was no joke, people were EVERYWHERE. This was by far the biggest race I’ve participated in. There were 20 something corrals and over 13,000 people. Pretty crazy.
All the ROHOs lined up in corral six. My goal time was 4 hours, but I was really flexible with this time. I knew that coming in under 4 was going to be pretty much impossible, but I just wanted to beat my first marathon time of 4:20. After the national anthem, and a few good songs, all the ROHOs crossed the start line together! It was a great feeling.
I started running with Aron and Danica, which ended up saving my life. I knew the course was all downhill for the first few miles and I DID NOT want to start too fast. Thankfully, Aron is the best pacer ever and kept me on a slower pace. By mile 2, Aron looked at me and said, “I’m already hot and we’ve only gone two miles.” The weather in downtown SD was really muggy and by the first few miles we were feeling it. So, we stayed the pace.
Mile 1: 9:31
Mile 2: 9:17
Mile 3: 9:08
Mile 4: 8:43
Mile 5: 8:57
These times were a little slower than my intended goal plan of about 9 minute miles. But, Aron kept reassuring me that a huge hill was coming and that we needed to conserve our energy. I took a Gu at mile 4 with the intention of doing this every 4 miles. True to the course schedule, a major hill greeted us from miles 7-10, and we were on the freeway, ugh!!
Mile 6: 9:02
Mile 7: 9:07
Mile 8: 9:07
Mile 9: 9:28
Mile 10: 8:51
By mile 10 I was in the zone. I knew I needed to get going if I wanted to shoot for a four-hour marathon. The course at this point was pretty good. I loved all the themed water stops and spectator participation. It really kept me going to see all the support and people cheering us on. Miles 10- about 12 were all downhill along the freeway. It was really exciting to run on a freeway, such a crazy experience. It was here that I caught up to the 4 hour pace group and ran into Tara. I got along side her and chatted with her a bit. She really needed to pull over for a second so I just let her go and continued on the course.
Mile 11: 8:38
Mile 12: 9:17
Mile 13: 8:41
Mile 14: 8:51
Mile 15: 8:58
I kept taking Gu every four miles and picked the pace up to sub-9 minute miles. I ran with the four-hour pace group through miles 12-23. At miles 16 I remember thinking, dang, this thing is almost over. And I was almost kind of sad. I couldn’t believe we’d already covered 16 miles and I was feeling great. Boy, did I have a rude awakening coming up…
Mile 16: 9:00
Mile 17: 9:13
Mile 18: 8:50
Mile 19: 8:58
Mile 20: 8:44
At mile 18 a little girl handed me a green Otter Pop – BEST race goodie of the day by far. I was so hot that I had already started taking water cups and dumping them on me at every water stop. I made it to mile 20 just around 3 hours and then I pretty much crashed.
As anyone who has run a marathon can tell you, anything after 20 miles is just hard-core. I felt my pace drift off after mile 21. I started seeing people walking, stretching, crying, pulling over, laying down, sitting down – you name it. People were hurting and crapping out. I was hurting pretty bad and I started to definitely question my sanity. Things like “Why am I doing this? I can’t keep going. Maybe I’ll just stretch for a little bit.” kept running through my head. At mile 22.5 I had to pull over and stretch. My lower back hurt, my legs were stiff and my feet were killing me. I was in bad shape. A really buff guy (and also pretty good looking I must say…what? Just because I’m running a marathon doesn’t mean some of my interests diminish…) stopped to stretch with me. We didn’t talk, but we looked at each other with that expression of “Yup, this is it. Go big or go home.” I was only stopped for about 30 seconds and continued on.
Out of all 26.2 miles, the last four were the most intense. I really wanted to give up, but inside I knew I didn’t want to. I dug really deep, deeper than I can even imagine. I remembered seeing a sign around mile 5 that said “In the moments you want to quit, you will find what you’re really made of.” I thought about that sign, I told myself that if marathons were easy, everyone would do them. I told myself that I trained and trained hard and this was my day. This was my time to race and race hard and not quit. I would gain nothing from quitting, but I would have so much pride in the end.
At mile 24 I saw my friend Danielle on the side lines. We both screamed and she came out to run with me. She grabbed my hand and told me I was amazing. I started crying. I don’t cry when I run. Ever. But this was hard and I was literally running on nothing. I started crying and she just picked me up (mentally) and carried me through the next .5 miles. I stopped crying, got myself together and then crapped out again. I started walking right at the 25 marker. I told myself, “I’ll just walk to the end of the cones” – I made it 25 feet before I felt the blister, that I knew was quickly forming on my left big toe, burst. I looked down expecting to see blood seeping through my shoe. That was it, I knew that if I kept walking I would be in so much pain that I would be really struggling to finish. So, again for the third or fourth time, I mentally shook myself, got it together, dug deep and kept going.
The next 1.45 miles were the toughest ever. I wanted to cry, I wanted to stop and give up. I wanted a bath and a shower and a cute boy to massage my feet. I wanted anything other than to be running. I’ve never, ever in all the running and challenges of my life wanted to quit as bad as I did in that last mile. The strength I found to finish this race will always live with me as I look back and see how amazing and strong I was.
As I got closer to the finish I could see the crowd, I could see the injured and struggling people being carried off to the side. I could hear the announcer and I knew I was close. I also knew, that if I picked it up and gave it everything, I would sub-four. I don’t know what I saw or how many people I passed, but I ran hard on my silly little burst blister, aching legs, and tired body. I left everything out there. I had nothing left in me and I remember thinking “If I pass out at the finish, it will be worth it.” As I crossed the finish I looked at my watch and saw it. 3:59:24. Sub four hours. Just barely, but Garrett had a big 3 grinning up at me once I was done.
Mile 21: 9:00
Mile 22: 9:06
Mile 23: 9:11
Mile 24: 9:16
Mile 25: 9:53
Mile 26: 9:10
Last .45 miles: 7:56
According to Garrett, I had run 26.45 miles, .25 miles longer than a traditional marathon. This is thanks to the wide roads and weaving between people. So, I ran longer than the marathon and still finished 21 minutes faster than SFM in August of 2008.
As I walked out of the finish area and toward the waiting medals, I couldn’t take it anymore. I pulled over to the side, away from everyone else, and I cried. A lot. I cried because I was happy, because I was exhausted, because I was relieved to not be running anymore, but mostly because I have never been so proud of myself as I was at that moment. I finally pulled my phone out and made several sobbing phone calls that I’m sure didn’t make much sense, other than I had finished really well. My mom and dad both got on the phone and gave me their words of praise and congratulations.
As I stood there, I got to see Tara and Aron cross the finish line. I’d finally gotten myself together and went to meet them. Maritza and Julianne finished a few minutes later and again the ROHOs were together – another marathon down.
This marathon taught me a lot. I learned that even when you think you can’t go on anymore, you can. I learned that as much as I felt like quitting, I’m not a quitter and I did not quit. I learned I had strength that I didn’t know I had. I learned that my body is amazing and can conquer anything. This race gave me the strength and courage to become anything I want to be. To take on challenges, to not be scared and to keep going. Pain truly is temporary. Things will get better and people who love you will be there to catch you when you fall and celebrate with you when you excel. Nothing is more rewarding than taking on a challenge and just crushing it. Marathons have made me a better, stronger and more patient person. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.
Finishing this report I’d like to give out a few thank you’s…
Thanks goes out to all my friends and family. Their support means the world to me. Every comment on Facebook, every “good luck” wish and every supportive comment was filed away in my mind and brought out when I needed it the most.
To my mom and dad – I love you both and you raised me to be awesome – just can’t fake that.
Last but not least. My ROHOs. There are NO WORDS to tell you how much I love you and appreciate each one of you for what you’ve given me. Julianne, you are our rock and our leader. Your support is unconditional and I don’t know what I would do without you. Maritza, thank you for breaking down on Saturday and giving me strength to look at my own relationship failure and find some anger to utilize in this marathon. You are amazing and I know you will continue to rock marathons. Tara, our long runs really paid off and we killed it. Chico girls definitely know how to run! Your 3:55 is coming, I know it. Aron, I will forever credit you for this race. You held me back when I needed it and gave me the advice I needed to hear from day one. I am truly indebted to you for this race.
Marathon #3? I’ll keep you posted….