I did it! I finished my third marathon…and I can still walk!
I planned for this race. I followed a training plan down to the very last fartlek….that is until the 20 mile run. The week of my 20 miler, my bestie landed herself in the hospital (don’t worry, everything is fine). I spent the entire weekend either at work or at the hospital and the 20 mile run had to be sidelined. The next weekend was the Women’s Half Marathon. It was unseasonably hot in the upper 80s and I had a very tough and humbling run.
The closer I got to the Marathon, the more I began to doubt myself. I threw around the idea of switching to the half several times but I didn’t want to waste that 19 mile run. I trained for a marathon and darn it I was going to run one!
It takes a lot of GU to run 26 miles!
Knowing that I was nervous about this race, a friend had agreed to meet me at mile 20 and run the last 6 in with me, and my friends running the half were going to find me on the course when they were done to cheer. I was set! Then, the day before the race, I found out that my friend who was going to do the last 6 with me got injured and wasn’t coming at all…whomp, whomp, whomp.
I laid out my gear and hoped for a restful night’s sleep.
I got to the start line with a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I managed to find some half fanatics for a pre-race photo.
But then I fell apart. Its usually not a good thing when there are tears at the start line of a race. The truth is, I didn’t feel ready. I had such high asparations for this race and nothing in the last few weeks had worked out the way it was supposed to. Work was crazy…family was crazy…I didn’t feel prepared…and then the starting gun went off. Luckily, these two fabulous ladies hung with me for the first nine miles.
Mile 9 was the half marathon turn around point. All of my friends turned around and I kept running. It was a small race, and I am slow so mile 9-10 I was completely alone. I didn’t see another single runner until mile 10 when the really fast started coming toward me. They were at mile 21 and I was only at mile 10…ouch.
I saw lots of faster runners coming back at miles 10-12. These were the 3 – 4 hour guys and they were pretty awesome. I got several thumbs up, good jobs, and keep it ups and when I passed mile 13 at 3:05, I was feeling pretty good.
I chuckled as I passed mile 14 and there was a guy loading up the port-a-potties. The course had a 7 hour time limit and I hoped there were people behind me but I wasn’t really sure. The very nice man asked if I needed to “use the facility” before he loaded the last one on the truck….luckily, I didn’t have to go.
Mile 15 sucked! This was the point that I had to run over what I not so fondly refer to as the “dam bridge.” The course runs over a ginormous bridge that crosses the Chickamauga Dam.
Miles 16-21, I was still feeling good but definitely slowing down. I stopped at the aid station at mile 21 and found that the decision between M&Ms and Goldfish Crackers was just too much. After a brief moment of panic over deciding on a snack, I grabed a cup of gold fish and two orange slices and continued on.
At mile 21.5 I ran smack into “the wall.” The greenway we were on divided and there was no sign telling which way to go. I came to a dead stop, and wanted to cry. I remember saying out loud “but I don’t know which way to go.” This did no good whatsoever since I was still completely alone. At this point I was convinced I was dead last in the race and just wanted to make it to the end. I picked a direction and just went for it. It turns out, the two paths reconnected just feet ahead so it didn’t matter which way I went.
At mile 23, three of my friends (who had no business still running after doing the half) began to run with me. One would run a half mile and then trade out with another.
I had to walk miles 24-25 because I just couldn’t seem to catch my breath.
I ran mile 25 and was feeling good. I got to the end of the last bridge…mile 26…only .2 left to go…and I turned the wrong way…whomp…whomp…whomp.
There was no sign. Apparently a volunteer had been there earlier directing runners but had already left by the time I got there. M and her mom were driving back to finish to meet me and luckily saw me and told me to turn around. I once again wanted to cry but I powered through and made it across the finish line. With a 4 minute PR of 6 hours 35 minutes!
The only photos I have at the finish line were taken by a friend’s cell phone. The photographers at the finish had already packed up and left…as had Noodles and Co. with the post race food. All that was left at the finsh was water. I am not usually one to complain, but it turns out, I was not the last one on the course and there were actually a few people behind me. If the course has a 7 hour time limit, why was everything already gone? I got an email yesterday with a link to my race photos….I clicked through, entered my bib number, and it told me there were no photos of me. How is it that I ran 26.3 (with the wrong turn) and there were no photos?!
Besides my issues at the finish line, this was a great race! It is a good course, there are tons of aid stations, and the volunteers were awesome! I would recommend it to anyone…and I might recommend they use a different photographer next time
Oh, and did I mention, the medal rocks!