Okay – first off? Let’s just say that the phrase “I ran a marathon” is not exactly accurate. A better choice of words would be “I ran more than half of the marathon and then hobbled the other half.”
I got to the start line at 7am, but they were doing corral starts and we were put in a corral based on how fast we said we’d run. I assumed that we would all start at the same time, it would just take those of us in back longer to actually cross the start line. Nope. They actually started each corral separately. I started at 7:40am, which means my mile 1 time was almost 1 hour. That’s a pretty depressing start to a race.
Luckily, my Dad, son, and brother were there to cheer me on. I got to hug LilZ right before I started which was the boost I needed. I saw them again at mile 8 (I beat them to mile 3 because I was SO DAMN FAST.) and stopped for a second to eat some of their food. I had been feeling really light headed. Probably because it got very hot very fast.
My longest run of the training has been 16 miles, and I walked a lot of that. I also got blisters around the 14 mile mark, which is pretty typical for me. I went into yesterday expecting the same, and knowing the last half of the marathon would be pretty painful. Little did I know? That something about yesterday would inspire my feet to blister at mile 4.
Mile 4 of 26.2.
By mile 9 or 10, at least one of them had popped and I had them on the bottoms of both feet. I was still running, but not well, and I was being passed by walkers. But – I was still running and was in a good crowd. However, I noticed almost the entire crowd around me was wearing yellow numbers, which mean they were running the half-marathon. I started wondering how thin the group would get at the 11-mile mark when we split off.
Oh – and hearing them all cheer at the 6.6 mark, “Halfway there!” made me want to smack someone. I was all, “Seriously? Are there no other marathoners around me to cry with right now?”
When the 11-mile split came, they divided us down a closed 4-lane road. The marathoners were running on the left side while the halfers were running on the right. The right side of the highway was packed full of runners. The left side? Was me and, like three other people. That would be when I started getting a wee depressed. I just suddenly felt lonely. Everybody had a running buddy it seemed, but me. I started thinking about how my husband and daughter – half of my family – were 120 miles away. I was thinking about how I had so far to go. How my feet hurt so bad. How much my family would hate me if I quit.
Around mile 13, we turned to a more secluded area. Since the roads were shut down, the only activity you saw were marathoners and anyone at water breaks along the way. Part of the road past 13.1 turned down this greenway by the river. Gorgeous. But so quiet and lonely. That was probably the darkest part of the race. I was still running, but barely. I was upset with my feet for crapping out on me so early. I was upset with the corral start that had me in a group 40 minutes slower than I should be (I felt like if I were 40 minutes ahead, I wouldn’t be so alone.) I kept being passed by pairs of people talking and chatting their way down this lonely stretch of road. I was not in a good place.
I called everyone in my family twice for the next 2 miles or so. I cried to my Mom. I cried to my husband. I called my brother and tried not to cry but he could hear it in my voice. He was going to meet me at mile 20 and run the last 6 with me. After hearing me he said, “We’ll head to mile 19 and just walk backwards until we see you.” I was happy he didn’t tell me to get over it since he’s the man who ran his first marathon AFTER swimming 2.4 miles and biking 112 miles.
Around mile 14 or so, I started walking/running. My feet were just hurting so bad that every pound to the pavement on my blisters made me want to cry. Around mile 15 a girl started talking to me. Jennifer. My angel from Texas. She was all, “The bottoms of my feet hurt. And they never hurt!” and I hugged her and asked her to be my BFF. We walked/jogged together for the next mile or so and then committed to just walking awhile. I felt happy again. We got out of the damn stretch of the course where it was just us and the river and we got back into civilization. I was thanking the spectators and the police men still holding the course for us. I was a barrel of sunshine. Like a totally different person. I was walking, but I was HAPPY.
My brother met us at the 18.5 mile mark. That was great. We jogged a couple of feet every mile, but mostly it was me hobbling. We were going to see my Dad and LilZ at mile 20 and I joked I wanted to run toward them so it would look like I had been running the whole time. We ran and then I popped the other blister on the other foot. AWESOME. That’s what I get for showing off.
Jennifer ended up walking ahead of us a short while later, I was going very slow for miles 21-23 or so. Like 22 minute miles. I kept telling myself, “It is not this race that should represent my accomplishment. It’s the 400+ miles I have RUN up until this point to train.” I was trying not to get down on myself for walking so much, I wanted to remember all of the running I had done until that point. But it was hard. 22-minute miles is slower than I walk in normal life.
Around mile 23.5 or so I started feeling the finish line getting close, so I was able to pick up the pace. I think those last 2+ miles were about 18-minute paces. I looked at my watch at one point and thought, “The 25-mile marker should be here soon.” Then, this lovely woman who was still there cheering us on said, “Good job! The 25-mile marker is hiding behind that ambulance right there.” I about kissed her I was so happy. 1.2 more miles.
At the 1-mile to go mark, there was a huge sign that said, “We (heart) Kim!” I told the people sitting next to it that my name was Kim and thanked them for the sign. It was the first sign I had seen with my name all day. I thought I would see more since “Kim” is such a common name. But if I were only going to see one? That was the best one ever.
My Dad and LilZ were at the 26-mile mark. I asked LilZ if he could run the last stretch with me, and he said “Yes” which was awesome since he’d been walking all day. We ran, I mean, ran to the finish line. My Mom and Aunt were there cheering us on. I crossed the finish line with my son. My husband and daughter couldn’t be there – but crossing that line with my son was amazing. And then being able to do it with the rest of my family watching? Was the most amazing thing. It was as close as it could have been to perfect without MrZ and NikkiZ there. It wasn’t the showing I had hoped for, but the medal represents more than those 26 miles. It represents me not even being able to run half a block a year ago. It’s the 2 half marathons I ran before. It’s the 300+ miles of running I did to train. It represents me – a girl who hates to excercise – a girl who loves her TV and donuts – proving that you can really do anything once you put your mind to it.
I want to run another one someday, after I have a life more conducive to the training requirements. I had to short myself on a lot of runs because where do I find the time for a 10-mile run three times a week? I will stick with the half-marathon distance though. It doesnt take too much to train for that. I want to stick with running, maybe 20 miles a week if I can. And then run one or two half-marathons a year (I love getting those medals too much!) but I won’t do another marathon until I’ve got all of my kids at least in school.
But I did it yesterday. And I have no idea if you all realize how much you were in my heart. Especially those miles 11-14. I kept telling myself that my friends inside the computer were cheering me on. They believed in me. They think I can do it. And if they think I can, then I must be able to because they’re always right about everything else.
(Coming next: A list of things that hurt on me. Starting with my sunburn which is sexy because I now have a sock tanline. SO HOTT.)