It's true what you hear, that running 26.2 will change who you are. It did for me. I didn't cry for 4 years, weird right? Must be some deeper emotional issue I have, hmm, But since the Marathon I have cried countless times. I cried before I ran, during the race, getting the medal placed around my neck, eating post race pizza, driving past where the race was. You name it, I'll cry over it (only about running though of course). My race recap will be blurred since it was my first one so there was a whirlwind of emotions working through my body but I will try my best!
At 7:30 us runners lined up at the starting line, waiting for the gun. I was in between the 9:00-10:00 pacers (finishing time of 4:10-4:30) so I moved up to my normal pace of 8 which I would eventually find out was not the best decision. The gun didn't fire until 7:40 (que immense waves of frustration, nerves, jiggly legs etc) and then were off. We took off to the East Side of Providence and I was feeling like a million bucks. It was a rainy day but turned out to be humid so my pullover came off before we even hit mile one, so I had to tie it against my waist eh. I was running 8-8:30 min. miles until about mile 15. I was ahead of the 3:10 pacers for most of the race and thats how I knew I was going way too fast for my own good. Since that is normally how I run I felt good but It would eventually catch up to me when I hit the wall at Mile 17. I had heard it countless time 'Don't let the adrenaline get you' , 'Start off slower than your regular pace' but of course I didn't heed them. It is so hard, all the buildup and the excitement, I kept telling myself to slow down but I was just too excited.
I stopped at almost hydration station to ensure I was properly hydrated because I am always paranoid of dehydration and collapsing. Surprisingly I did not have to stop to pee once! Which usually I do on a 3 mile run because of my ridiculously small bladder. There was not a crazy amount of people cheering on the side, there are times when we were completely alone but when there were spectators it was amazing and they got me through a lot. A few people at several miles had the sign "Boston Strong, Do It For Boston" - which brought my to tears each time and pushed me harder. At mile 17 I felt my legs losing their energy and my mind began to wander to I took a Clif ShotBlox, which I never trained with and I KNOW that is the cardinal rule to follow, not do anything different on race day but I did and I learned the hard way. Mile 20 my stomach was on fire, I was in so much pain from my stomach to my ankles and I had to walk. I was not dropping out no matter what, I would have crawled if I had to to finish.
I also always heard stories of amazing encounters on marathons and speaking to other runners who will encourage you, which is 100% true of almost anyone you talk to. Around mile 15 a man gave me one of the water bottles from his belt because the next station was not until another 2.5 miles. At mile 20 I met Leslie, a Marathon Maniac who was currently in the process of completing her 26th Marathon and 21st of many states. What an inspiring and amazing woman and runner. She knew I was upset and encouraged me to keep going, she kept my mind off the present moment by telling me stories and different things about her, her kids and husband and life in general. She told me what I needed to hear that it was my first marathon, don't worry about the time and once this is over I am going to go home and register for my next one. I will say she was 100% right about everything, I owe my last 6.2 miles to her, If I hadn't met her I am not sure what I would have done. I am forever grateful for you Leslie and I am so lucky to have met you.
Totally ignoring the sharp pain in my left ankle and my stomach, I sprinted the last 1.2 miles because I'd be damned if they took my finishing picture of me walking! I was finishing strong. And I did, in about 5 hours but I did it. I know if I had kept running at my beginning pace I would have qualified for Boston, making my first Marathon a truly amazing marathon to remember but once I was off of that time I didn't care, I just wanted to finish. And it still was the truly most amazing experience of my entire life and I am counting down the days until my next chance at crossing that marathon finish line (which is October 13th).
26.2 has a permanent place in my heart.