My second marathon was yesterday. It was a long road to January 19, 2014.
The last couple of weeks before the marathon were kind of stressful for me. Granted, it was stress created by me and was probably unnecessary, but it was stressful nonetheless.
First of all, we had some awful weather a couple of weeks prior that gave me an excuse to not run all of my training runs. It was cold, snowy, rainy and then icy. I ran about half of my runs at the gym on the treadmill. The other half, well… They didn’t get done.
This is what it looked like out my bedroom window for the better of a week (never mind the ‘junk’ in the yard. We are having a remodeling job done and the contractor left that crap in the yard.)
During the week before the marathon, I ran on Sunday but then it was like there was a conspiracy to keep me from running the rest of the week. I woke up with headaches three days in a row, one morning I didn’t wake up in time to run before I had to take my son to the airport… Blah, blah, blah. I felt guilty all week for not running but I never made myself get up and go. It was like I was sinking into some kind of ‘lazy vortex’. (That was pretty dramatic! Hahaha!) I just kept thinking I was setting myself up for failure. I read somewhere that you start losing physical fitness after four days.
I had physical therapy on Thursday and afterward, I started thinking that maybe I should have skipped it. My thighs were sore and my hip hurt a little bit the morning afterward. I started thinking “That can’t be good, can it?” I sure didn’t want to start the marathon in pain!
As Friday afternoon rolled around, I was feeling nervous and anxious. Was I really ready for this? Was this a mistake? How much would those missed runs and pain after therapy hurt me?
We dropped Sophie (the dog) off at the boarding facility and headed to the airport. Before we could get to the airport, we got a notification that our flight was being delayed an hour. Then we got another one: delayed another hour. So… Now we couldn’t make our connection in Dallas. Wonderful. After switching to a new flight through a different city, we went back home for a little bit.
Alright! Now we’re on our way for real! Yes!
NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!! After we got through security at the airport and found a place to sit and wait for our flight to board, I realized I didn’t have my phone. My husband went back to the parking lot to see if it was in the car. It wasn’t and there was no time to go back home to retrieve it. Ugh. I think I cried a little.
This weekend did NOT get off to a good start. I hoped this wasn’t some kind of omen. I was feeling pretty down (yes.. about my phone – don’t judge) It got worse, though. Our flight in Chicago was delayed for almost 2 hours. It was 3 in the morning on Saturday before we got into out rental car in Houston.
#fail – big time
I guess if I were the sort to look on the bright side of things, I would have concentrated on how good it was that we traveled on Friday and not Saturday. I can’t even imagine how terrible it would have been to get to a Houston at 3am right before the race.
Saturday morning, my husband and I went out for my very last run before the marathon. I was supposed to run a mile or two. I ran .43 miles and was tired. Nothing hurt but I was winded and tired.
At the expo for packet pickup, I met the pace leader for the pace group that I decided to run with. She seemed ok. It was kind of a non-event. For some reason, I thought I would get some pace group tips, secrets and little known facts or something. But no, there was just a FAQ poster and a wristband with mile splits.
When the alarm went off the next morning, I was ready to get this show in the road! I lucked up and stayed at a hotel that was about 2 blocks from my start corral (GO Corral D!).
At 6:30, I was dressed, had my half-charged Nike GPS watch on (which died before 19 miles) and was headed out the door to line up. I should have been excited but I was more scared and nervous than anything. We found my pace group pretty easily. My husband encouraged me to run a little bit to warm up. I sort of poo-poo’d the thought but did it anyway and it was helpful.
One of my husband’s old friends came to wish me well before the race and snapped a picture of us.
Our chorale started about 25 minutes after the gun. I was SO nervous. Back in June when I entered the lottery for this marathon, this moment seemed like it was a really long way away. All of those questions about my readiness went out of my head. All I could think about at first was putting one foot in front of the other and I was super aware of any body part that might be (or start) hurting.
After the first few miles, I was feeling pretty good and I WAS HAVING FUN!! WHAT? HOW COULD THIS BE?
From the start to the finish, the spectators in Houston were great! I saw Elvis, chickens, cows, all sorts of super heros, hot dogs, dogs, bears, lions, belly dancers, lots of singers and bands and a whole lot of DJ’s. It was so much fun reading all of the crazy signs and posters. A few of my favorites were:
Marathon is Greek for ‘Poor Decision Making’
Smile If You Just Pee’d a Little (My husband didn’t like this one so much)
I’m Proud of you Random Stranger
This is the Worst Parade Ever
There were also 3 different “Prayer Stations” along the course which really touched me. At each of them, there was someone with both of these verses on posters:
Part of Hebrews 12:1 – “…and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…”
Phillipians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
I got really choked up the second time I saw the prayer station. I was moved that those people were out there wishing us well and praying for us. It meant a lot to me.
I’ve never run a race with a pace group but I can’t imagine doing a marathon without one, now. (Wait… Oh, never mind.).
Our pace leader was the.best. She kept everyone pumped and feeling like we were all doing a great job. She encouraged everyone to drink at water/Gatorade stations, she suggested fueling if we had GU or gels, etc. and she made sure we all knew when she was running or planning to walk.
She kept us on a 5:1 schedule. We ran 5 minutes and walked 1 minute for an overall pace of 12 minute miles. After about mile 15, I couldn’t walk anymore because it hurt my hip too much to start running again. It was easier to alternate running with a ‘trot’ than to walk.
So, as I mentioned, around mile 11 my hip started hurting. By mile 15, it was burning like a fire in dry hay. At that point, I was seriously considering stopping at one of the prayer stations. I was struggling but I was still able to keep up with the group. Looking at all of the spectators was really helpful because it helped take my mind off of my burning hip.
The absolute best part of the race was seeing my family along the route. It made me feel so happy to see my husband, my daughter, my sisters and my nieces and nephews yelling and cheering me on. It was just great. And how about this? At around 19 miles, when I was starting to really be bothered by my hip pain, my brother-in-law runs up beside me and ran the rest of the way with me. Not impressed? Well, he’d already run the half that morning – and PR’d by the way. It was such a boost for me! I think I ran those last 7 miles much stronger and faster because he was there.
Even though I was in pain for quite a distance, I felt happy and excited the whole race. There was ONE time when I thought maybe it was going to end poorly but I was still excited to be there. What a difference environment makes. Galveston was an absolute nightmare: rainy, cold, windy, no spectators, two loops… This was SO much better!
When we were about 2-1/2 miles from the finish, our pace leader told me and Charlie that we should just go because I was running faster than their pace. She thought I was running strong – which made me feel pretty good even though I was hurting.
So – we ran off. After about a half mile, another lady from the pace group named Abby joined us and the three of us headed toward the finish.
When we got about a mile from the finish, Charlie (my BIL) asking me if I could see the George R. Brown Convention Center (where the marathon began and ended) but I couldn’t. I wish I could have. It would have made me feel better. I really wanted to see that finish!
We rounded a corner and Charlie said “Can you see it? It’s right up there.” I told him I couldn’t see it and some guy on the side if the street yelled at me “Yes you CAN see it!” It was hilarious. I appreciated the interaction but I still couldn’t see it.
When I did see the finish line, I wanted to sprint to the end but my hip was hurting SO, SO bad. I told Charlie I needed to walk for a few steps, which I did. Then, I took off and ran as fast as I could to the finish line. It was such a great feeling. I was so happy. When I got to the man who was putting my medal around my neck, I wanted to cry, but couldn’t. When he was putting the medal on me, I told him. “I’m so happy!” He congratulated me and pulled out a medal for the next person.
I finished feeling great! I was tired and beat down but I NEVER HIT THE WALL, and my knee didn’t bother me at all. Was it the IT strap that I wore around it or did the last minute therapy, stretching and massage help? I think it was most likely a combination of all of these things.
At the finish, I was so happy and proud. It was a great feeling!
I accomplished all of the things I wanted to accomplish:
do better in this marathon than I did in Galveston in 2012
have a pleasant time
feel like I couldn’t have done any better
So proud of you!