The day finally came...and it was a whirlwind, let me tell you! It started when I woke up at 2am and perked up to think, "I'm ready!"...but then I had to make myself try to fall asleep for 3 more hours to get up at 5. Didn't fall asleep until about 4:15 then the alarm finally went off at 5:00. The morning started smooth, got my toes vaselined (helps prevent calluses and blisters), put the body glide all over the body, clipped the toenails, and all the other race preparation as needed. I left with a very smooth start until I got to Fair Park. They suggested we get there at 6:30 to avoid traffic. I was there at 6:15 and sat in traffic without moving for about 45 minutes. It was a little bit stressful but I finally found a parking spot and made my way toward the Cotton Bowl. I was supposed to meet my team at Gate L but I had to go to the bathroom so I thought I'd stop at the port-o-potty before I met them. That was when the first diaster started. I had my phone with me and set it down when I went in. When I came out, I walked 3 steps and noticed that I had left it in there. I waited for the dude to come out and went to go get it after he left. It wasn't in there. I freaked out thinking I went to the wrong one, but I knew that was it! I looked around, couldn't find anyone with my phone and I freaked. All my communication with my mom that day was going to be on that phone, not to mention the fact that it was the iPhone4 that I'd only had a week. So I start crying, and this person lets me use her phone to call it. Some dude answers and says he has my phone. Phew, thank god! So I go and meet this dude to retreive it...really nice guy, but here's the thing...it wasn't the dude that came out of the port-o-potty! So yeah, not sure I'll ever figure that one out but I'm sure glad he was a good person. He even called my mom to tell her he had my phone and was going to turn it in to lost and found. Yay for good peeps!
So I finally had my phone and it was time to meet my peeps. Everyone was great and we got to our places before the start. We were kind of toward the back and there were tons of groups in front of us that we knew would start ahead of us. We were all in good moods and excited to start this amazing race that we've worked so hard to complete. I'm a first timer so it's safe to say I was the most excited, and because I'm extra bubbly, apparently it was funny. Oh well :0) So when the race started, we listened to them release the first group and it was really exciting. They released each group by alphabet letter, A-P. This took FOREVER and kind of made us grumpy. We knew that the course was only open for 6 and a half hours from gun time and they kept wasting more and more time. They FINALLY released us at about 8:48am or so and the race started at 8:00am. Once I saw this, I knew we didn't have a prayer to finish in the time limit. Not the best feeling to start off a long race with.
So we started and if I'm honest, it was super annoying dealing with all the people. You couldn't even set your own pace until about mile 2. I also got really warm at about mile 2 and chunked all the extra clothing. Readjusting the bib also took time. I always think I won't get hot in that cold of weather but I always do. So I readjusted and I was a little bit slower than normal, and I still don't know why. We went through downtown and then uptown and it was really good scenery and then we passed some really peppy bands and that kept our spirits up. At about mile 9, we knew we were approaching the split where halfers go one way and marathoners go another. I was running with my pace group leader, Jamie, and when it was time to split, we went one way and everyone else went the half marathon way. I was like, "Oh crap, what have I gotten myself into." We went on a long time with just us and then I was happy to see more people behind us as we kept going. This part was when it started evening out. It got much more quiet as we approached White Rock Lake. It was actually kind of funny, we've run that lake a lot and usually there are tons of people on it. Not that day, it was almost empty and it was so peacful, very different than I was expecting. We continued to keep going. Met some great people and checked out some new port-o-potties...again, wasting time. But I am NOT going to be one of those crazy serious runners that just goes in their pants because they don't want to lose time. GROSS! Anyway, I held up pretty well, again dissapointed with my pace...slower than normal. I started to notice some pain and fatigue around mile 18. I got even slower and had to start the mental game. Not fun. About this time, all the bands packed up and photographers went home. There were even people missing from the food/water stations and I wasn't happy about that. I started getting upset. When you hit that point where you feel like it's killing you to move forward, that is when you need the support the most. That is when we had it the least. And quite honestly, it's sending a message that slower runners are insignificant. I wanted to cry. And then I did. I was hurting, ready to stop and I still had 8 more miles to go. Jamie was great, trying to distract me and make up convos to keep the focus off the pain. I got slower and slower and once we got to mile 23...it was suckage like I can't explain. Everyone was gone. They were the slowest and longest miles of my life and I just wanted it to be over. I knew I had to keep going but it took 5 times the effort it usually does to move forward. We continued on and FINALLY came up to Fair Park. I remember thinking, "Okay, the finish line is on the other side of this turn." I was worried it would be taken down and all the people giving out our medals would be gone and I wouldn't get a finishers shirt. Jamie ran on ahead and says, "It's still up!" We turn the corner and there it is...the most beautiful word in the world...FINISH! Thank GOD!!! We ran at a faster pace at that last .2 miles and it was AWESOME! We crossed and a lady put the medal over my neck and congratulated me. (I had a blue bib so everyone knew I was a first timer)...she also handed me a finisher shirt. I, of course, was crying, partially because I was so happy to be done, but also because I finished and they stayed for us and allowed us to have the finisher moment we deserved. Carrie, the other pace group leader, waited for us to finish and was so sweet and supportive as usual. My friends Jeana and Christina were there with my awesome mom and it felt great to have that support. I got tons of text messages during the race from all my wonderful friends and it was a good day, despite some dissapointment.
Then came the hard part...recovery! Once I finished, I could barely walk, it was rough. Walking to the car was a nightmare and then I discovered that I didn't have my car keys or my license. When you finish a long race, you're so out of it that you aren't really focused or thinking clearly. I remember having them near the finish line so I knew they had to be there somewhere. My mom went back to look for them and Jeana, Christina and I went back to the car. Mom found them at the finish and then Jeana finally found my license in my car. YAY! Crisis averted! That makes #3 for the day! We then went to El Fenix for dinner and I was so hungry that I ordered two meals. This was quite comical. I said, "I'd like the two enchilada dinner, and the chicken fried steak meal." He says, "Enchiladas a la carte?" I said, "Nope, the dinner and the other dinner." He looked at me like I was nuts, it was hilarious. My meals took up half the table and we got a good laugh out of that. I ended up not eating much and took it all home to my brother. I got home and assessed the damage. I had two big blisters...one of which was on top of a callus. I had chaffing under the sports bra which I had before on the 23 mile training run. Even with those conditions, I actually was feeling pretty good (except for the couldn't walk part) and then about 8:30pm I started feeling sick. Usually this happens immediately after a long run so I was pretty excited that the nausea came late. By that time, I was on the couch and ready to go to bed anyway. I finally fell asleep around 10 and had to be up for work the next morning at 6.
The next morning, I was really sore and absolutely EXHAUSTED! Even after 8 hours of sleep, I was trying to stay awake all day. I felt good but so tired, it was rough. The soreness was even worse and I was just trying to make it through the day.
On Tuesday, Day 2 after the race....HORRIBLE! Day 2 is always the worst concerning soreness so I forced myself to take an ice bath. Those are intense and really hurt but MAN, does WONDERS every time! Once I took one, most of the soreness went away and by Wednesday I was walking normal.
Looking back, I feel much better about the experience now than I did the day I completed it. I was slow, everyone left, I felt hopeless and insignificant...but I FINISHED A MARATHON! Less than 2% of Americans have done that. I am a marathoner! I should be proud, and I am. My final time was 7:13:18. That is a suck time but ya know what, I'm going to get better. I'm going to train on speed this spring and try again next year and I will beat my time. I know what to expect now and I know that I have plenty of room to grow. My team has been wonderful and so have my friends and family. I might have been near the end but I was not last. It was a good day.
I am going to take 3 weeks off of running then start a 16 week speed training plan that I already have created. I have very high hopes for myself and I'm really excited about getting started.
I finished my first full marathon...it only gets better from here!