Ok, time to finish this before I forget that I even RAN a marathon! We woke up race morning (I already don't remember what time) and I was ready to go! I didn't even wake up tired... but that was probably adrenaline - I could feel the nerves. I got dressed and went down to the hotel lobby where they had set up a buffet just for the marathon. I opted for a piece of toast with peanut butter, a small hot chocolate and a gatorade. Hot chocolate before races is one of the things I found that helps me "get moving" in the mornings so I don't have stomach issues during the race. I wish I liked coffee but I don't so hot chocolate did the trick.
Here's Erica and I's before photo... We put our names on our shirts to encourage people to cheer for us :) I don't remember it being this bright out but we were ready to go! We found the Bank of America VIP section (Erica is a customer) so we had very short lines for one more port-a-potty stop and then headed to the start corrals. We had to say goodbye to Courtney at the BOA section as it and the corrals are not open to spectators so we wouldn't see her again for a while.
My grace band. Because I had no real time goal for the race, I had a grace band made. Instead of focusing on hitting a certain pace each mile, I focused on thinking of loved ones each mile. I don't usually enjoy running with music so this was an extra tool to occupy my mind. I LOVED it! Each one of these people has meant something so special to me in life or along my training that it really helped me to think about them for motivation during the race. I couldn't fit the entire band in the picture but Mile 26... it said "This one's for me!"
I met a couple of other girls during the race that had prayer lists in their hands. They were hand written lists that they were carrying but then at each mile marker they said a prayer based on their list. I ran a mile or so with them talking about what was on each of our lists - that was a great mile.
Anyway, I'm skipping ahead. We waited in the corrals for a while. We lined up around the 12 minute pace group. The start was pretty anti-climatic because it actually took us over 20 minutes to get across the starting line. No one can explain the sheer number of people that are there! There were over 38,000 people running and 1.7million spectators.
I really wanted to take it easy the first couple of miles to make sure I got warmed up properly. I ran with Erica and we chatted for a while. My watched beeped one mile and said we had run a 9 minute pace. I knew that wasn't right so I double checked against Erica's watch and we had only went 0.75 miles. I was frustrated so focused on trying not to get too worked up over my watch and decided that I would just reset it at mile 1. When mile 1 came I reset it and it seemed to be working fine. Somewhere around 1.5 miles I left Erica and started running my own pace. We didn't expect to see Courtney until mile 13 so I was so excited when I saw her at mile 2! I stopped and gave her a hug and then took off running again.
The miles seemed to tick off pretty effortlessly. I was excited for mile 8 (Boystown) but didn't think it was all that it had been hyped up to be. My favorite neighborhood was the spanish one because I swear EVERY SINGLE PERSON on that block yelled out my name :) What can I say, I loved the attention! I also really liked China town, it just looked really cool.
I found Courtney at mile 13, reapplied my body glide, got another hug and snapped a quick picture. She said Erica was about 30 minutes behind me and she'd see me again at mile 20. I glanced at my watch and it was frozen at 11.3 miles, which would have really been mile 12.3 but I couldn't get it to respond at all. I am a Garmin freak but for some reason it didn't bother me too much. I just decided that I would run by feel. The mile markers had clocks on them but I wasn't sure how long it had taken us to get to the start line so I wasn't sure what my time was... but I kind of new mile to mile how long each had taken me. Plus, I ran most of the second half of the race right by the 5 hour Nike pace team. I started getting excited that I was going to be right at 5 hours or even slightly under. At the aid station around mile 18 I slipped and fell (the stations got REALLY slick) and I lost sight of the pace team and never saw them again. I planned on asking Courtney at 20 if they were ahead or behind me but I never saw her there either.
Finally around mile 25.5 I saw Courtney again and she ran a block with me. That was FUN! I loved the last mile... there were SOOO many people and I just got this overwhelming feeling of finally knowing I was going to be able to finish!
5:03:59... Finished, I am a marathoner! I was a little mad at my Garmin then because I think if I would have known what my time was I would have pushed a little harder, who knows. I got water and beer at the finish line but I barely drank either of them.
I walked what seemed like forever to the runner meetup area and waited for Courtney. When she got there we sat and waited for Erica to finish. Erica finished in 6:23 so the wait took a while.
When she got there we walked to our hotel for our bags and went to the train station where we attempted to eat something and then rode the train for an hour to Courtney's house. Getting off of the train after sitting was the most painful! We showered at her house and rested and snacked. Courtney was a great host! She ran to the grocery store while we were showering and got us snacks so we could just hang out.
I really wasn't that sore the next morning or couple of days either! I have one purple toe nail but I don't think I'm going to lose it.
This is me sitting at the runner meetup area - texting with Russ and enjoying all of the facebook messages that I had received:
Splits (that I do have):
Mile 2- 10:52
Mile 12- 11:10
During the end of my training I thought that I would do this one marathon, check it off my bucket list and then go back to half marathons. Well, I have bitten by the bug. The half is still my favorite distance because it is so easy to train for... but I will ABSOLUTELY do another marathon. I loved it! And I WILL be faster than 5 hours! I don't think I will do a spring marathon as I don't want to do long runs through the winter. I'm thinking half marathons in the spring and another full next fall. A few races I am considering: Chicago again, Marine Corps Marathon in DC, Nike Women's Marathon, Fargo, or St Louis.