Saturday, August 7, 2010

Grandma's Marathon

I'm finally getting around to dedicating a blog to running Grandma's Marathon.  Let's see if I can get all my thoughts down...

Leading up to the big day, I was nervous.  First because running 26.2 miles is insane and I have never been a runner in my whole life.  I ended up deciding to run because my husband John said he was going to.  I figured if he could do it, I could do it.  I'm just a little competitive ;)  We started training in January and our training went really well for the first couple months.  I had a lot of trouble with my left knee for a while, but got new shoes and it got better.  We even ran while we were on vacation in Florida.  When April/May rolled around it got really difficult because John had many business trips and we just weren't around to encourage each other.  We really tried to keep it up, but it was hard.  Some days I just HATED running, even though the feeling after reaching a goal was fantastic!  My longest run before the marathon was 14 miles.  After that run my right knee got really bad.  It was an awful pain, even when I was just walking.  It sidelined me for a while, but even after seeing a specialist for 10 minutes and paying a ton, she told me there was no structural damage.  With no structural damage I just scale down my training, rested it and hoped for the best.  I knew that they stopped timing after 6 hours.  Goal #1:  Finish the marathon.  Goal #2:  Finish in under 6 hours.  My emotions were a roller-coaster for about a month before.  I cried about my knee and feeling like I let John down and feeling like I was a failure.  It was a really hard time for me and for John too.  We ultimately decided that we wouldn't run together and we would face this task head on.  I knew I had already paid for it and not everyone finishes.  I knew I had to give it my best to feel good inside.

We drove to Duluth on Friday in the afternoon.  It's a beautiful drive.  I love Duluth!  I remember feeling excited/nervous.  The marathon was the next day, so there was no more time to prepare physically, mentally or emotionally, no more time to change my mind, no more time to wrap my head around what I was about to attempt.  Once we got to our hotel they told us they had canceled our reservation because we weren't supposed to be able to book online for this weekend.  Needless to say, John was very upset and the manager wasn't at all sympathetic.  They did call a different hotel for us that had one room left!  We ended up paying quite a bit more than we had planned, but we were there and we were going to run.  The room we got at the Holiday Inn was a suite with two double beds, which initially was upsetting, but after the run we appreciated having separate beds :)  We went to bed early on Friday night after eating our spaghetti dinner.  4 AM was going to come all too soon...

The first picture is of everyone waiting for the race to start, next one is John and I on the bus riding to the starting line.  The third picture is one that the MarathonFoto company caught.  This photo makes me laugh because it's 100% the opposite of what I felt.  At one point John asked me if I was okay because I looked like I was ready to throw up.  Truthfully that's how I felt.  I had NO idea what was going to happen.  I was a mess, but time would keep ticking and no one was going to think less of me if I couldn't do it.  My blood pressure was probably super high.  The race started at 7:30 and we lined up with a few friends we knew from Dassel-Cokato. 

Me, John, Curt and Randy

When we started running the atmosphere was crazy.  So many people cheering and so many people running.  In total 5,786 people started the race.  People really kept me going throughout.  
This is Randy and he rocked the race.  It was his 20th marathon and he was the person who kept me going.  I have known him my entire life because we attended Dassel Covenant Church together.  We talked the whole time and it was fantastic.  I loved that he said 'Thank You' to all the volunteers and the people watching as we passed.  The enthusiasm ended up rubbing off on me by the end.  The race is set up so well that I think it really equips runners to finish.  There is a water stop every two miles until mile 19, then they are every mile.  Randy walks through the water stops which were about 50 yards each, so I knew that if I made it through the two miles I'd get a little break.  I kept making small goals and I kept finishing them :)  I also had berry, lemon lime and caffeine watermelon sport beans, which are these awesome Jelly Belly jelly beans that are made for sport use.  They are SO good!  I knew from reading that you're supposed to only put into your body what you've been using, so that's what I did.  We got extra water from Randy's wife Marcia at a few stops along the race course.  At about the middle my knee was really hurting.  We saw Marcia and family and they gave me some Extra Strength Tylenol, a knee brace and some ice.  What a lifesaver!  I would tell everyone to take some kind of pain relief during the race.  At that same stop Randy ate a candy bar and drank a Mountain Dew.  I was amazed to say the least.  haha!  The miles just kept going by.  I was so surprised at the way the people around me and the people cheering us on along the way kept me going.  I am SO thankful for them all!  The half-marathon seemed like a breeze to me.  
I don't remember when it got really hard, but it was probably around mile 21 or 22.  There was a hill and we ended up walking up most of it.  At this point I was going to finish, but I really didn't know if I would finish in under 6 hours.  I knew at the pace we were going I wouldn't, but I was SO tired.  Randy told me Marcia would be waiting at mile 24 for us.  I was going to stop with him, but he told me, "If I had it in me, go.  Do it!" I did.  I had been averaging about 14 minute miles, but I ran my last two a little until 10 minutes a piece.  I just kept running and running.  I didn't stop for water at the last stop because I knew I was SO close.  Especially during these last miles I was repeating, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me," to myself.  The photo above on the left is how excited I was to be getting done.  haha!  I was telling everyone I was running past that they could do it, we were almost done!  I was so incredibly excited to finish.  As I rounded the last corner I saw that I had 1:30 minutes to finish.  I didn't really know how much distance I had to cover, but I booked it.  I ran and ran with energy I didn't even know I had left.  My gun time ended up being 5:59:53.  Yes that is about as close as you can come to finishing in under 6 hours :)  (Since it took us over 4minutes to cross the starting line at the beginning my official time from my chip was 5:56:09.) John's time was only a minute before mine at 5:58:39.  Poor guy's calf cramped up in the middle and it really hurt him.  He finished, so he was still pretty pumped.
We did it!  I really couldn't believe it.  It was crazy!  I was SO pumped.  The walk back to the hotel my body hurt so much, but I was beaming and that made the walk a little easier.  What a crazy feeling for me to finish 26.2 miles!
I can't even begin to put into words about how it feels to finish.  It is such a sense of accomplishment.  I don't feel like even a fraction of me thought I could do it, so it was a mental breakthrough for me. Very refreshing.  Just a crazy day full of crazy physical, emotional and mental feats.  An amazing experience. 

1 comment:

  1. I am crying reading this. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." This is HUGE, Emily, and you proved that mantra. I am super duper proud of you. Thanks for sharing your story!!