Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Continued: Back to Back Marathon Challenge-Race 2

Race: First Light Marathon
Date: Fanuary 10th, 2016
Finish Time: 5 hours, 15 minutes
Distance: 26.2 miles
Gain/Loss: 1328 ft
We arrived at the Expo in Alabama for the First Light Marathon. There were Alabama Bells everywhere supporting runners. Really made me feel like I was "in the south"! The expo was small, but still really exciting. Justin got a 26.2 sticker and we took some pictures in front of the marathon signs... Justin was finally starting to get nervous! haha.

We stayed in the downtown Holiday Inn. This hotel was beautiful, and pretty cool because it was round! We were on the 15th floor and had amazing floor to ceiling windows overlooking the city. This was the most comfortable bed I have ever slept in. The 17th floor was a Sky Lounge which had floor to ceiling windows all the way around. They also had live music and a really cool atmosphere.
For dinner we went to Buck's Pizza and got take out. It was about a block up from our hotel. We got a 1/2 veggie 1/2 chicken alfredo pizza and a small side of fett alfredo. We also split a draft beer while we waited. This place was packed and after getting our food we knew why, it was delicious. We watched a movie in our hotel and were asleep by 9:30 pm or so.

The next morning I woke up an hour before my alarm, 5:15 am. We slowly got ready, stretched a little and ate our breakfast. We walked down to the lobby (which was packed with runners) and saw the start line outside our hotel door... how amazing is that? It was cold, somewhere around 48 out but not raining so that was amazing.

The race started and the first few miles were very flat, and not real congested. I think everyone was running pretty slow after running Mississippi the day before, lol. We ran through several different historic neighborhoods. It was awesome. The houses were beautiful. People in Mobile weren't as supportive as they were in Jackson, but the race course was beautiful, and pretty flat! My foot was killing me, from the beginning of the race I had a pretty good limp going. Sharp pains from my Achilles through my foot and calve. It was awful. I powered through, but was grateful I had Justin pacing me nice and easy.

Justin did great, at the 13 mile mark he was still looking strong. I was starving and my foot was killing me, but I was feeling really good besides that. There was this dreaded hill called "fireman's hill" we knew was coming up somewhere around mile 19 and it was supposed to be so huge and so steep. Before we hit that hill there was a great aid station that had everything you could want from cookies/candy, to chicken broth, drinks, everything. We started up the hill and were to the top before we knew it. My guess is it was maybe 1/2 mile? not too bad at all, especially after running the Mississippi hills the day before!

I was struggling to stay with Justin after about mile 15. I had to pick up the speed, and started skipping water stations because my ankle hurt too much to start and stop on. I would run a few miles ahead and hang out at an aid station waiting for Justin, then would run with him for a few and would wait again. Watching my husband power through his first marathon was so amazing, and so emotional. I had so much pride in him, and knew mentally how hard it is to get through that first marathon. He is incredible. Over the course of the last 8 miles or so I had several people try to pull me from the course to see a medic, apparently I had a pretty good limp going. I was determined and refused to be pulled. I said I would crawl before I allowed myself to quit.

This race had the coolest final mile of any marathon I have ever run. You basically came down a series of hills (because the last 6 miles is all downhill, no joke, ALL DOWNHILL). Then there is a long, close to a mile section of down town that is completely blocked off. It is like running through a ghost town. It was so cool. We came up to the finish line which was surrounded by the Alabama Bells and crossed together. It was amazing. I felt so emotional, a combination of completing my first back2back and pushing through the pain of my foot for so many miles, and seeing my husband complete his first marathon.

Now, about that 50 miler I have been considering... I think I might be about ready to commit!

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