Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Bliss of 26.2

Yes! I completed the Rock ‘n Roll Savannah GA FULL Marathon yesterday. It was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced... it was fun, excruciating, exciting, daunting, easy, and impossible. And now that it is behind me, it's all so surreal. Did I really just do that? No really, did I just finish 26.2 miles?
After 5 long months of consistent training. Days that I had to run in the heat or cold, sometimes in the dark or rain. Days when I didn't "feel" like exercising I had to go out, I stuck with it, and made it happen.That is a whole lot of hard work... to get laryngitis a month before my taper. My final 3 weeks of training before I started to taper I was doing just a few short runs a week, and they were rough. Next Think I knew it was my "taper weeks". I hadn't run more than 18 miles, and that 18 miles was 6 weeks before my race... 

Race day came, I was in complete panic. I was terrified. I was scared I would fail. That I wouldn't finish.

Next thing I knew, it was go time! I hit my first set of hills at mile 2 (a bridge), no problem. It was all pretty euphoric. Justin found me at mile 7 and I was so surprised to see him, what an exciting boost! I was still going strong at that point and feeling good. I passed the half marathon/full marathon split around mile 12... that was really exciting. Passed the half way point on the freeway and still felt pretty strong. There were so many funny signs along the way, and encouraging people out there motivating you. Every 2 miles or so there was a water station, and between the water stations was a live band playing. So many distractions!!!
I hit some sort of mental/physical "wall" around mile 17. There wasn't a lot going on, no people or distractions. My legs were tired, and I just kept thinking "I'm not going to make it, this is very hard". I was in tears, on the verge of crying. So many emotions, and pain!

My amazing husband was at mile 19 with 
Gatorade and encouraging words. The shock when I saw him. I just kept saying "this is so hard" and he said "Oh my goodness you are doing amazing. I'll see you at the FINISH LINE!!!" That was the final push I needed. Holy Cow talk about a 2nd wind!!!

Everything after mile 21 was a breeze, 5 miles left? I was cheering for other people encouraging them at this point "We can finish, we are almost there!" dancing with different music playing, thanking and high-fiving all the bi-standers. I started really having fun at that point "I'M GOING TO FINISH!".
At mile 26 the lanes split and I was running up a blocked off "hallway" of people, the pavement said "FINISH LINE STRAIGHT AHEAD" and that moment was my favorite part of the ENTIRE day. "I am really going to finish, I am finishing my very first marathon NOW". No way! It was so surreal. I kept reading it getting closer, and closer. Everyone was cheering so loud.Then, I crossed, immediately seeing my husband. I got my medal, space blanket, food and water. I wanted out of the race area. I wanted to find my husband. I needed to find my husband.
I made my way out to our designated waiting spot... I'm in shock.

I stretched, drank my water, and cried. He finally found me what felt like an eternity later (probably 2 minutes) and I re-composed myself giving him the biggest stinky sweaty hug ever. I FINISHED.
Pure Bliss.I can't describe the pride I feel in setting my mind/body to do something, and achieving it no matter the physical pain, mental fatigue and overall time commitment. I started, and I finished.
Best advice I received? "Ignore everything from the waist down". Seriously, amazing advice.

"The first is like no other. Breathe through your nerves and just relish in the moment. Just think, your finish time will be better than most of the population because they’ll never start, you will be in the elite 0.5% of people who have completed a marathon. Just remember, you’ve got this."

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