I decided to take a 4-day weekend, Friday-Monday, which was an awesome decision. While I anxiously waited for my mom, sister, aunt and uncle to arrive, Eric and I went to the pumpkin patch! It was very cold and windy, but we got our pumpkins and headed home to paint. As you can see here I painted mine STL style. Although it didn’t help the cards move on to the World Series it still looks pretty!
My family finally got into town a little after 10 and we headed to bed shortly after so we could have a full day on Saturday. When we woke up, my mom, Kelly and I trekked it over to my aunt and uncle’s hotel. We grabbed some breakfast and headed to the downtown farmer’s market. Even though there weren’t nearly as many venders as there usually are, it was still enjoyable. It turned out to be a really nice day so later on we headed to Gray’s lake where Kelly and I decided to take an easy 2 mile lap around the lake. It was perfect. I was feeling great for Sunday.
We ended the night at Tumea & Sons with a lot of good Italian food. I tried to get to bed early but you know how that always goes the night before a race – never good. I think I only got about 5 hours of sleep.
I woke up about 5:30 a.m. on Sunday morning and was greeted with “Moves Like Jagger” blasting from the speakers in Nollen Plaza getting ready for the race. I had my usual pre-race breakfast of a banana and 2 pieces of toast and started up my own music in the apartment to get pumped up. The plan was to meet Shelby, Olivia and Jeni outside of my apartment at 7:15 a.m., so after we were all there and took a quick bathroom break we headed in the sea of runners to find a good starting place. We ended up choosing a spot in between the 10 and 10:30 pace groups. I think everyone was a bit nervous by then.
When the clock struck 8:00 a.m. the runner took off. It probably took us about 5 minutes to even get to the start line, but when we finally did we took off together. It was the perfect temperature for running, but I knew it would heat up soon enough. The marathon and half marathon courses are the same up until mile 3 so I ran with my running buddies and sister until then. At that point I knew what was ahead of me – hills.
Miles 3-7 were hilly. It definitely slowed me down but I made it thanks to training on these hills and some of the people along the way. At one point there was an older couple standing next to a life-size Barack Obama cut out shouting out that Obama was proud of all of us, etc. There was also a group of young girls who had a song and dance routine made up especially for us runners. Those kind of things make the run a little more enjoyable.
We got back on level ground again heading down Kingman and into Drake Stadium. It was pretty cool running around the stadium with a band playing and the runners on the Jumbo Tron. Once I got back on Kingman, I finally hit the half way point. I was still feeling pretty good at this point and actually beat my PR for the half at 2:13. I thought about my sister, Shelby, Jeni and Olivia who were all probably crossing the finish line, while I still had 13.1 miles to go.
My knees and feet were starting to feel tired at this point but I kept going. We started running toward Water Works and when I finally arrived at the Water Works loop I wanted to cry. For those of you who have run in Water Works you know what I’m talking about and for those of you who haven’t – here is what you see – a 2+ mile (not really sure how long it is but seems REALLY long) loop that seems to go on forever and no spectators to cheer you on. This was at about mile 19 so I was struggling. Really the only thing that kept me going was looking around and knowing that everyone else was miserable too.
I really wanted to stop at this point. Every part of my body was hurting, but I knew that if I stopped it would be really hard to get going again, so I kept going. I didn’t even stop at the water stops. I got very good at running and drinking water. I did, however, slow my pace down A LOT. I think at this point I was doing about a 12:30 mile. I slowly made my way around Water Works and then on into Grays.
Grays Lake was NOT fun to run around. I was crabby and sore and tired. At one point I even yelled at one of the photographers not to take my picture – which I later realized was a little silly. “The hill” coming out of Grays was horrible. I knew it would be hard, but it was even harder than I expected. Ouch! But – after climbing that hill I saw the end in sight. The last 2 miles weren’t too bad. I tried to speed up my pace and honestly felt like I was sprinting only to look down at my watch and see I was only running an 11:00 mile.
The last .2 I ran up 2nd Street and saw all my family and friends cheering me on! I crossed the finish line in 4:54! I did it!! I was crazy emotional at this point and started crying my eyes out. This led to me having trouble breathing for about a minute which was a little scary. I finally calmed down and caught my breath. I couldn’t believe that I just finished a full marathon. I grabbed some food and set out to find my family and friends. They were all there, waiting and cheering me on. I couldn’t have asked for a better support system.
I would truly like to thank everyone that helped me through my training. My running buddies, Jeni, Shelby and Olivia – for going on all of our weekly runs together and for mentally being there. You have to have people to talk to who understand what it is to be a runner! To my boyfriend, Eric, who put up with all my emotional ups and downs for over 3 months. I know I wasn’t the most pleasant person to be around all the time :). And to all of my family, friends and co-workers who supported me and cheered me on either in person or spirit. Your support is what got me through this huge challenge and what keeps me going.
I love you all!