Monday, September 10, 2007
26.2…that number will forever hold a special place in my heart. I completed my first marathon this morning at Presque Isle in Erie, PA in just under 4 hours and 30 minutes and I never knew it would feel like this. I feel strong that my legs could carry me so far, weak that I can barely walk, exhausted mentally and physically, energized by the accomplishment, emotional (well, when don’t I?), proud of finishing, humbled by all the support, and even a little depressed—a sort of post-marathon let down of, well—what now? I guess I could take on the challenge of one man I passed whose shirt said “50 in 50 by 50.” I asked him about it and he said that he and three of his friends are doing 50 half-marathons in 50 states by the time they are 50. They started when they turned 40 and do about 5 a year, meeting up in each state as they all live in different places. I was floored by the amount of experience so many runners had—some had done over 30 marathons! I went up to Erie yesterday with my friends Lea and Lisa and we had a great lazy day—picking up the race packet, watching an America’s Next Top Model marathon (well, you know it was a marathon—it fit in with the theme of the weekend), eating a carb-loading spaghetti dinner, and then this morning I was up at 5. I felt good and actually had managed to get about 5-6 hours of sleep even though my heart was racing and my thoughts were non-stop as I first lay in bed. I walked outside to meet my parents who were picking me up to take me to the starting line and saw that it was raining. I wasn’t disappointed but just focused—I barely talked to my parents at all as I blocked almost everything out. While prepping for the race, a girl asked me if I was running my first one—was it that obvious? I told her I was and she asked me what my pace was. When I told her it was about a ten minute mile she asked me if I wanted to run together. She was going to run with a friend but she had backed out. I was actually really hesitant to say yes because I had trained solo and wanted to do this solo, but I said yes. As we were about to start we decided we would start together but feel free to leave if we felt our paces were different. I found it was actually really nice to run with her. Our paces were almost exactly the same- I didn’t feel like I was going to fast or too slow and we naturally matched each other. I think we were both shocked as we crossed the first mile and found our time was 7 and a half minutes! We both had heard about adrenaline pushing you forward and thought we were going so slow…anyway, we brought it back down and then stayed together for about the first half or the marathon, talking now and then. Lisa and Lea were there to cheer me on at 6 miles and then again at the halfway point. Water breaks were manned by “pirates” and “Hawaiians” and there was music at every mile or so. I found I even had enough energy to sing along…especially when they played Living On a Prayer…gotta rock out to that song, I mean, come on! After the first half, I was still feeling good and found myself pulling ahead of Becky. I couldn’t stop thinking about a bathroom starting around mile 14 or so and didn’t stop until I reached one at mile 19—my first stop. It was quick though, and at that point I had run into Katie and Derek—who had surprised me to run a few miles alongside me. They were so supportive and told me they thought my pace was pretty good and they would stay until I met up with Lea at 19. As it turned out, all three stayed until the very end—making it the furthest Derek had ever run. Thank goodness they were there because they kept me going when I hit my “wall” at mile 22. I made the mistake of stopping for the water break (the rest of the race, I just grabbed the cup as I ran through) and I almost lost it. I bent over and gasped, “I don’t want to run anymore!” and boy, did I mean it. But they kept me motivated and I actually picked up the speed. The final two miles we passed some people and I even sprinted the last few feet to the finish line, tears running down my cheeks from emotion and perhaps, sheer exhaustion. That’s when the pain hit—all down my legs. Though I had never felt pain like that, I also never felt such a sense of accomplishment. It was one of the best moments of my life and I was so amazed to be able to share it with my friends and family and was suprised by how many people called me afterwards to ask me about it...completely humbling. I thank God for giving me the strength to finish the race. So…when is the next one?!