Wednesday, November 9, 2011

26.2 DONE

Well, it's finally done, on Saturday...

Shortly after I finished.
I still can't believe I can now count myself among the people who've also achieved this feat.  Running that far was an exhilarating, challenging, exciting and emotional experience that I know I'll remember forever.
Was it the hardest thing I've ever done?  No.  Giving birth was harder.
Do I want to do it again someday? Definitely.
Was it as fun as I thought it would be? Yes and no.  The crowd, the adrenaline, the bands, and the other runners made the experience a blast, but the actual run was the worst "long run" I had during all of my training. 
Did I enjoy myself?  Yes! I absolutely love running in races, especially ones that have people cheering you on...there were tons of supporters! High-fiving the little kids was the best.
Did I like running it by myself? Yes and no.  One of the reasons I love running so much is because it is totally an individual sport.  100% up to you.  But there were lots of runners in pairs and small groups, it sorta made me feel lonely.
What was my time? 4:39:26  I don't really have anything to say about my time except that it's a tad longer than I was expecting.  But it does include a restroom break, a first aid break,  texts and calls to and from my family, and many water stations I walked through.
Am I disappointed by my time? Yes and no.  Yes because I'm hard on myself and my pace was the slowest I've run any long runs, but no because I ran 26.2 freaking miles!!!!
What was my favorite part?  Finishing.  And seeing family as they cheered me on about 50 yards from the finish line.
What did I do after I stepped across the finish line? I savored the moment and tried to hold back my tears. Yes, I wanted to cry.   
How did I feel after? I was on this crazy runners high for the first hour or so afterwards and then I crashed.  I was extremely tired and started feeling all the aches and pains in my legs and feet.  I came home, showered, and didn't want to move for the rest of the day.

Now a short play by play of how it all went down: 

We ended up getting to the Savannah Mall to take a shuttle to the starting line at about 6:15ish, the race started at 7:30.  With Savannah being a fairly small city, shuttling people downtown to the starting line made the most sense logistically.  When we pulled into the parking lot Kyle dropped me off near some portables so I could use the bathroom while he parked.  We figured giving ourselves an hour and 15 minutes was plenty of time, but after examining the lines of people waiting to get on the buses I quickly realized there were a few THOUSAND people already waiting ahead of us.  Yeah, a few thousand!!! And after some serious bus drama (I'll spare you guys the long dramatic story about how hundreds of evil people cut us in line) we finally made it on a bus a little after 7:15.  Even though I was in corral 11 and Kyle was in 15, I knew we were going to miss starting with our groups.  To say I was freaking out would be an understatement.  Kyle in his "if it's something I can't control I'm not going to stress about it" state of mind was trying to reassure me that it was going to be fine.  We didn't get off the bus until 7:45...maybe a little after!!  We ran to the portables to use the bathroom one last time and then we ran to the front of the huge line of people waiting to start the race.  I ended up starting in corral 17 or 18 I think.  There were tons of people in the same predicament that we were who had missed their corrals too...hopefully the race people recognized these shuttling issues and a better solution will be set in place next year. 

Picture I took on my phone right before mile 1. See all those dots off in the distance?  Those are people!
When I first started the race the adrenaline was flowing and I was pumped...this really came back to bite me in the butt.  I ran the first 4 or 5 miles waaaay faster than I should've, in the low 9:00 pace range where I usually start off at a slower 10:00 pace.  After we passed mile 6 it hit me, I still had 20 more miles to go.  And soon after that I started to lose that initial wave of excitement and began to slow my pace down.  The full and half marathoners ran together for about 11.5 miles and there were a lot more half runners than full.  I think that only hurt me.  Those people were in a totally different state of mind and were running half the distance I was.  Around mile 10 I noticed many people started to pick up their pace, and I began to slow mine.  As we began to split, part of me wished I could just continue on with the half runners and the other part of me was proud to be "one of the crazy people."

Miles 13-18 were the worst.  I began having stomach cramps and was starting to feel mentally defeated.  I started off the race entirely too fast and had used energy that I needed then.  Never in any of my runs had I felt as tired or weak as I did during those miles.  Right after I passed mile 15 I saw a little girl holding a sign that said "only 11 more to go."  The sign was not encouraging.  Now don't get me wrong, I was having a good time and I was relishing in the excitement of running my first marathon the entire time, but those miles were hard to get through.  During that time I stopped to use the bathroom and stopped at a first aid station to get some pain medication for my cramps and for some pain I was experiencing in my hip. 

After I got to 19 I started to see the end in sight.  And then around mile 21 I saw my friends Laura and Miguel  with their cute dogs and they seriously gave me the greatest boost!!!  I hadn't seen a single person I knew up to that point and seeing them really helped me out.  After that, I got a second wave of energy.  All the aches and pains I had been experiencing (mostly) went away and I started to feel positive and really excited again.  Many people around me began walking but I just continued on.  Those last 5 miles were the most fun because with every passing mile I knew I was getting closer and closer to the finish. 
Laura snapped this picture of me as I ran past.
I am so happy she took these, they're the only ones I have of me actually running!
Finally I was at mile 25 and I picked up my pace to a little under 10:00.  As I passed mile 26 I couldn't believe it was almost over.  I kept scanning the crowd looking for Kyle and my family.  When I finally saw them I felt so proud and loved.  I grabbed Cambria's hand as I ran by and she smiled and clapped for me (a moment I'll always remember).  I also distinctly remember my dad giving me a huge high five.  I did a slight sprint into the finish and it was over! I was thrilled..and the instatnt I stopped running I felt every ache and pain. When I finally found my family I gave them all hugs and when my mom asked me how I felt I couldn't help but cry.  I had finally achieved something I've wanted to do for years and something I've spent countless hours training for over the last 18 weeks. 

Kyle almost to the finish.  I think he was probably yelling to get Cambria's attention.
Kyle finished the race in 2:20:46! Two years ago Kyle was not even a runner and he struggled through a 5k...he's come such a long way in the last two years!  I'm so proud of him for running the 1/2 in the time that he did!!! If you would've asked us two years ago, I don't think either of us would've thought we would run the distances we did.

Another one of Kyle waving to everyone.
The moment I found my family.  That's my dad with arms open wide ready to hug me.
Love my daddy <3
Hugs for everyone.
Crying after my mom asked me how I felt.  Ashley's saying "that's exactly how I felt too!" (she recently ran a 1/2) You know, prior to that big belly ;)
Proud of those hard earned-medals! I think our TEAM FREEMAN shirts looked sharp.
I felt so loved having my entire family there to support us.
Kyle's dad Sean also ran the half, he did awesome as well!!  Running this race was an absolute blast...can't wait until next year!  Thanks to everyone who helped Kyle and I throughout these last few months by watching the know who you are! :D And thanks to my sisters and Phillip for coming all the way from Atlanta to support us! Love you guys :)

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