Last year I ran the Surf City 5K. It was my second running race ever. If you would have told me that in one year’s time I would be back in Surf City running the marathon, I would have told you you were crazy. Turns out I am the crazy one.
There were five of us (my two training partners, Elise & Kelly, and my two nieces) that all started together. I can’t say enough about running with friends. It made training bearable and the entire first half of the marathon darn near enjoyable.
Mile 1 – The weather is so gorgeous, we shed our outer layer. Looking at each other, we said “Remember how we feel right now, because we are never going to feel this good again.”
Mile 3 – We hear our first surf band singing “Walk, Don’t Run”. Another runner points out it’s not a very good song for a marathon so I helped pump everyone up by belting out a few bars of “Eye of the Tiger.’ Split time: 26:57 Pace: 8:59
Mile 4 - While trying to drink a cup of water and put down an energy chew, my phone and three bags of chomps fly out of my fuel belt & slide down the hill. Not wanting to know the damage, I scoop it all back up and smash it back into the belt, barely missing a step. (Thanks for your help Brenna!)
Mile 5 – First sighting of our cheering section. Todd had the difficult job of wrangling three children while taking photos and doing live tweets.
Mile 5.25 – I see my sister on the sidelines (who I knew was coming) and my parents (who I didn’t know were coming). Tears well, but I didn’t have the time or energy to let them come.
Mile 6 – After hearing numerous compliments on our sparkle running skirt, we decide to amuse ourselves by counting the comments. Split time: 53:46 Pace: 8:58
Mile 7 – We pass our cheering section again. This time, I catch Baby Brother’s attention & he gives me the best smile.
Mile 8 – Hitting what was really the only hill on the course I use my mantras, “I love running hills!” & “I only train hills!”. All lies, but I still believe in positive self talk.
Mile 9 - Up to 25 compliments on our sparkle running skirts since mile 6.
Mile 12.2 - Split time: 1:50:02 Pace: 9:02
Mile 13 - Still running with Elise, we decide at this moment to start “fresh”; we just needed to run our best half marathon.
Mile 14 – Another voice yells out “Love your skirts girls!” and we turn to recognize the owner of Running Skirts snapping our photo as we pass by. It’s only a matter of time before they come out with their own version of the sparkle running skirt, but we know it won’t be nearly as great as our “Team Sparkle” running skirts (stay tuned).
Mile 16 – With fatigue setting in, our pace slowing, and all that “starting fresh” talk not working, it’s nice to see our cheering section again. BTW -counting skirt comments ends.
Mile 17 – Since the course loops back on itself once again, we see our cheering section once again. I try to soak in all their good energy because I know I won’t see them again until the finish.
Mile 19 – Elise & I are still running together, but our growing fatigue shows in the complete silence between us.
Mile 20.9 – Split Time: 3:09:49 Pace: 9:05
Mile 21 – The four hour pace group catches up to us. Silently i think “If I can just keep up, I can still come under a four hour finish”
Mile 21.5 -The four hour pace group slowly passes us. My pace slows a little more. Then Elise pulls ahead. The bad voices enter my head as I come to grips with the fact that I won’t be able to meet my goal of finishing under four hours. Filled with disappointment, the voices in my head say “just quit”. I now understand why everyone says you should never have a time goal for your first marathon. I don’t like to fail and it’s hard not to feel like a failure.
Mile 22 – Running alone now, it’s even more important to keep only good thoughts in my head. “I am a marathoner. I do not quit.” I depend heavily on strangers in the crowd who cheer for me because they love my sparkle running skirt. They buoy me up.
Mile 23 - My body seems to turn on me. As much as my brain is back to thinking good thoughts and wanting to finish the race, my body does not agree. I officially hit “The Wall.” Feeling light-headed and tingly, I promise my body I will walk through the next few water stations if it promises to run in between them.
Mile 24 – Walking through the water station feels terrible for the first few steps, but then it feels so good. So, so good. Like a big piece of the most satisfying pie you could ever eat while soaking in a huge bubble bath good.
Mile 25 – There’s a huge part of me that wants to walk the rest of the way to the finish. I mean, my goal time is already out of reach, so what does it matter at this point? Then I picture the marathon finish in my head. My family & friends are waiting for me there and I am not walking. I am running. Somehow I get my legs moving again after the water station (although at this point, my running could be better described as a shuffle).
Mile 26 - I see my family, cheering harder than ever, just like I pictured. I try to smile, but the energy I have left is all devoted to putting one foot in front of the other.
Mile 26.2 – I cross the finish line of what has to be one the most physically and emotionally taxing things I will ever do in my lifetime. Relief is the prominent emotion. The relief is soon replaced by joy. The first words I speak are “That was so much harder than I thought it would be,” immediately followed by “I never want to do that again.” Finish 4:06:29 Pace: 9:25
Standing with my girls is when I feel the most proud of our accomplishment. We all finished. For four of us, it was our first marathon.
24 hours after crossing the finish line – My fellow marathoner, Kelly, has already talked me into signing up for Marathon #2 in June. I’m surprised at how quickly I change my mind. Todd is not. He knew I was too close to my goal to not try and take another stab at it.
I told you he was my biggest fan.