Wednesday, October 12, 2011

USAF Marathon Race Recap

This post is a little out of order as it was originally published on as a Guest Blog post (me?! a guest poster?! I was am honored to be given the opportunity! Thank you Melissa!) This race recap got me started as a blogger, so I wanted to be sure to post it. Plus, I'm still in amazement that I am a MARATHONER!

16 weeks of training led to an absolutely incredible experience. I'm still having difficulty processing the fact that I DID IT! I started running consistently 2 years ago (& 50 pounds heavier!) after getting the all clear from my ob/gyn after the birth of my 2nd son. My goal was to eventually run 5 miles comfortably. That morphed into a half marathon, then another, other races in between & finally, this insane idea to run a Marathon.  

My training certainly had some bumps in the road this time....I sprained my ankle around week 3 of this training cycle while chasing my 4yo. I took a few days off, then kept running as it didn't hurt. Finally went to my doctor who sent me to PT. I was getting strong, ankle doing well and feeling pretty positive about the race. Then I had back pain that kept me from running my 2nd scheduled 20-miler. I took an entire week off from running. I went out for my 20-miler telling myself to take it one mile at a time. I made it to 18.75 miles. Most likely I was just getting tired, but I was starting to have a little back discomfort and knew I couldn’t afford any more time off.  Lastly, I developed a meniscal tear in my knee (same leg as ankle, so thinking it's all related). I was out for a 13-mile run (already started taper!) and my knee gave out on me after 2.5 miles. I walked and stretched, trying to see if I could continue, but it kept giving out on me. I called my rescue squad to come and get me as I called my husband in tears. Only 2 weeks left before the marathon at this point. He urged me not to give up, rest, ice and see how it feels. I rested & iced all day Saturday and Sunday. Monday was Labor Day, so I decided to test it out. I went mile by mile with my rescue squad on stand-by. I texted my husband at several points to let him know that I was STILL running with no pain! I made it 11 miles that day. I could have gone further, but didn’t want to push it. I called my doctor first thing Tuesday morning, was seen same day and was diagnosed with the tear. Prescription: ice immediately after every run and good luck in the marathon. BEST NEWS EVER!

Based on all of that, I wasn’t at all sure at times that I would get to the starting line!

Finally, Marathon weekend! We got to the expo Friday afternoon and met up with my running partner and friend, Jamie (and her mom). My wonderful husband and two kids came with me. We walked around the expo looking at everything, got our bibs & goodie bags. Briefly, I even got to meet a twitter friend! We then headed to the hotel to check in. My parents were also coming for the race and they said they would have my boys sleep with them so I could get more sleep & not have to worry about waking them in the morning (my parents are the best!!)

I was able to get to sleep without too much trouble (surprising!!) and after a 1am bathroom break (TMI? very well hydrated for race!), I went right back to sleep! (doubly surprising!) My alarm went off at 4:15 so I could go through my morning ritual, have my coffee, etc before meeting Jamie & her mom for a quick trip over to the shuttle. We got on the shuttle bus and I was so excited I could hardly stand it!!

It was too dark to really see ANYTHING on the shuttle, but when we got off, we were walking across a field toward the starting line that was lit with spotlights. AWESOME!!!!!! I was getting chills (or maybe that was the extremely cold morning?) Anyway, we walked around looking at everything, sat down & waited. There were about a zillion port-a-potties at the start/finish, so we weren't worried about waiting in line (a first for me for a race). We met Pacer Paul for the 4:45 group; which we had both decided we were going to start with and see what happened. The National Anthem made me cry, then there was the plane fly-over which was super exciting and energizing. We were finally off!!!!....SLOWLY.... my only complaint about the AF Marathon is the lack of corrals at the starting line. There were lots of walkers that started ahead of us so we had a hard time getting into our pace and spent a lot of time going around people. The pacer tried to make up the time in the next couple miles & we stayed with him for about the first half of the race. Running around the military housing was fantastic, the military families were all out cheering for us when all i wanted to do was cheer for them and all they sacrifice for us. Amazing!

The “Mile 10 Party” in Fairborn was so much fun! I think it's really miles 9-10, and the only real place that civilian spectators can watch the race. The whole town celebrates the racers with bands, decorations, etc. It looked like some of the residents party all day, lots of them had tables & chairs set up outside. Food, drink, & fun. We saw our huge group of supporters (my parents, hubby & kids, Jamie's hubby, kids, parents, in-laws & a friend of ours with her 2 kids). Fantastic cheering section!!! We saw them as we started through town, so we knew where they were when we turned around. I may have cried each time I saw them....I was so excited to get back to them, so had to keep our pacing in check so we could make it past them! 

We both started feeling a little fatigued around mile 12ish (I think) and were concerned that we wouldn't make it. We decided to take another fuel break, I drank some more Nuun & that helped me enormously. The pace group was getting farther ahead of us, but after starting the run, my goal was just to finish. I was ok with NOT making it in 4:45. I think around 14 or 15 Jamie decided she needed to slow down a tad, so I turned on my music and just ran. As much fun as I had running with Jamie, I think I needed my music. Lesson learned. I train 90+% of the time by myself with music...I need my music to run. Best part...had a text from my hubby that I saw when I plugged my headphones in and that gave me the extra oomph to get going.

Around mile 17 (I think) we ran down a runway that just about killed was long, boring & HOT! That was my wall and I questioned if I would make it. We got off the runway, found a little shade & I was fine!!!! I walked up the freeway hill at mile 20-21 knowing that I still had 6 miles to go and wanted to be sure that I would make it. Other than walking through the water stops & to re-fuel, that was it for walking!

Mile 21, I KNEW I would finish! Sore legs, and it hurt when I stopped running and starting walking again, but I knew just keep putting one foot in front of the other and I would reach that finish. Mile 22...getting excited...Mile 23 it's mostly downhill from here...mile 24; really??? 2.2 more?? Every water station, when people told me I looked strong, i just wanted to cry since I wasn't feeling strong, I was feeling tired! But that really helped me keep it up! Also helped when I passed walkers; knowing that no matter how slow I felt like I was going, I was STILL running! Mile 25 running faster (or maybe shuffling at this point?!), mile 25.5-26...I can see the finish, running through a row of flags, around a corner to 26. Last .2 are down the runway under the wings of planes.

The spectators were all cheering, then I saw Jamie's family. It was awesome & I started crying. Then I saw MY family. OH, boy! (I’m crying even as I write this!!) Got a High 5 from my hubby, saw my parents and my boys and continued toward that finish line. I Got another high 5 from a soldier and random cheering from strangers was AWESOME!!! (Take note, ALWAYS use runners names if you can, it REALLY helps!), then I FINISHED!!! Under 5:00!! And got my medal & a handshake from the general (?) and I was crying like a baby. He told me what a fantastic accomplishment this was. Walking on, I was wrapped in my heat blanket (which I quickly discovered I did not need), walked through the food tent & waited for my family to come find me. 

They found me and again, I cried & cried!!! So wonderful to see them, to have them there supporting me and knowing that they were waiting for me to finish this crazy journey of mine!

Then I waited for Jamie and she wasn't too far behind me! I was so excited to see her come out of the food tent and know she finished! We hugged (maybe a few more tears), then her family found us too. My bestest running partner surprised me with a new disc to put on my running necklace... "Sole Sisters 26.2" (you got it, more tears!) Once I took my medal off, I put my running necklace with the new disc on it and haven't really taken it off since.

Other than sore muscles, I have felt fantastic since crossing that finish line. Got my finish line beer---I don't think any beer has ever tasted better than that one! Surprising enough, I felt great after the race; no nausea (guess I didn't push hard enough!) so we went to Wendy's (my boys’ “favorite eating place”). I  ate a cheeseburger, fries and a frosty. I couldn’t believe that I was starving, it usually takes me a few hours after races to eat.

We left Wendy’s and were in the parking lot. My husband starts digging through the bags in the back and comes out with a pink 26.2 magnet for the car. He brought it with us knowing that I would finish and wanting to put it on the car immediately! (I may have doubted myself, but he never did!)

I honestly can't wait to do it again!!!!!

1 comment:

  1. I'm reading this (again) 6 months later and have tears running down my face. I can't wait to share this experience with you again. :)


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