The marathon is over. Done. I finished. My goal was to complete it in 5 hours. My
final clock time was 5:02. My final mat time was 4:58. I am sooooo happy with
my time. I am so thankful for so much today, I am practically spilling over with emotions and gratitude.
For starters, I am thankful for the weather. Had it been any hotter, I never would have made that time. I was watching the weather so closely for about 10 days before the event. At one point, the high was predicted to be 89 degrees. This really freaked me out. When they announced that because of the predicted high temperatures, they would allow deferrals to next year, I really started to panic. The weather ended up being about as perfect as it could be for a June marathon. The skies were cloudy, so the sun didn't beat down on us. It rained for about 15-20 minutes at one point which was great at first and got some cheers from me and the runners around me. After a little while, the rain got kind of annoying but I would much rather have run in the rain than the heat. Over all, the weather gets a good grade from me.
I am also thankful for my chiropractor and massage guy. They helped keep me as healthy as possible, provided me with training tips and tricks, and sent me off after each visit with encouraging words and positive affirmations. I dealt with some pretty painful things such as migraines, pulled muscles, and old injuries and they got me in the shape I needed to be in order to be able to complete the full 26.2 miles. They instructed me to do things like dump water on my neck to stay cool, start out slow, and walk when I needed to. Without them, I would be severly injured right now or might not have even been able to finish.
A big thing I am thankful for is the supporters along the course. They were awesome. From the people manning the water, relay, and cold towel stations to those clapping for us for hours to those who set up their own water and snack stations to those who made signs, they were wonderful. I had two favorite signs, one that made me laugh and one that made me cry. The funny one was "Because 26.3 miles would be crazy." That one got me giggling early on because it felt surreal to be out on the course knowing that before noon, I could be finishing 26.2 miles and that did feel crazy!! The one that made me cry was "Someday you will not be able to do this, today is NOT that day." It was very inspiring and somewhere around the 2 mile mark, I think, which was a good place for it to be because the inspiring message was something I kept repeating the rest of the run. That day was my day to do something big!!! My favorite supporter by far was a gentleman cheering us on around mile 23, where things were really getting hard. He just kept saying things like, "Fight your mind." It really does become all mental for those last 4 miles and the reminder that it was now just as much about mental toughness as physical ability was helpful. You might not think you made a difference cheering on the course but trust me, you did!!
The thing I am most thankful for though was my crew. I had a group of people willing to do whatever I needed, whenever I needed it, wherever I needed it, in order to help me get to the finish line. I realized kind of late in my training that I wasn't going to be able to carry all of the fuel I would need because of a nagging injury involving my c-section scar. I had several family and friends who had already asked if there was anything they could do to help and I had said not really, maybe cheering me on the route. I put the call out for help once I realized I was going to need it and they responded.
My father-in-law provided fuel early in the race as well as support and encouragement. Friends whose son attends school with my son, provided me with high fives and water dumped on my neck to cool me off and it was so welcome. My husband, kids, and mom met me around the 10 mile marker and provided kisses and excitement as well as water and food. Two of my dearest friends waited at mile 15 and were awesome crew members who took care of me and provided words of encouragement. They suprised me by showing up again around mile 25 with more supplies just in case . An unplanned supporter was a former co-worker and friend who provided encouragement at several points on the route as she watched her husband and other friends run. She even took some of my gear from me at one point when I passed her while she was stuck in traffic. My father-in-law returned around mile 19 to give me more fuel and surprised me by having my great-grandfather-in-law in tow. Another dear friend met me around mile 22 to run the last 4 miles with me. Her support, encouragement, presence, distraction, and motivation are what got me through the last 4 miles much faster than I thought possible. I walked a lot less than I would have had she not been there. She pushed me right up to the end until I ran out onto the field where my kids joined me for the last 50 yards and crossed the finish line with me. My husband then supported me as I feel apart after the finish. I started to cry after I crossed the finish line which then caused me to hyperventilate. I got that under control but when I said goodbye to some of friends and got emotional again, I hyperventilated again. He stood by me in the first aid tent as they checked my blood pressure, oxygen level and pulse and then carried me up the stadium steps to the car. He took such good care of me the rest of the day and on Father's Day of all days, the one that was supposed to be all about him. This group of people were truly what allowed me to finish this marathon, meet my time goal, and feel such love and support. Without them, I would never have been able to accomplish this and feel a sense of satisfaction and joy. There are not enough ways to say thank you.
Today, I am more than a little sore and a little bit lost. Many have said there was nothing in their sites beyond marathon day and I would agree. All of our energy has been focused on this day for months and we became more and more intensely focused as the day approached. I had no plans for what I would do or what would happen after the actual day of the event. I can barely move without wincing and the thought of walking up any type of hill strikes fear in my heart. As the title says, my elbows don't hurt, and maybe my teeth, but pretty much everything else hurts. I now have time to think about what's next and you know what...no, not a marathon, how crazy do you think I am!?!?!? But the Akron half marathon is looking pretty inviting right now and a half marathon sounds really easy at this point!!!