Two weeks ago, I finished my first marathon ever! I’m sorry I didn’t write sooner, but I have been helping Shannon with her business school applications until this weekend.
The good news: unlike Pheidippides, I finished and did not die.
St. George: Most Drive-thrus per Capita
The race was on a Saturday, and we drove up after work Friday. We picked up my number at the expo after dark and went looking for a dinner place. St. George has every kind of fast food known to man, but the nicest sit-down restaurant we saw was Claim Jumper. We couldn’t even find a Cheesecake Factory. We settled for Olive Garden.
A Room at the Inn
Now, we were supposed to stay in a friend’s cabin, but instead of following my friend’s directions, we followed Google Maps, which sent us an hour in the wrong direction up a dirt road with no lights through a forest. The race was going to start the next day at 6:45 a.m., and I was planning on waking at 4:30 a.m. Once we turned around and made it back to downtown St. George, it was already 11:30 p.m., and the house was still at least half an hour away. So, at Shannon’s suggestion, we turned into the Best Western in town instead. Luckily, they had had a cancellation and had a room available.
I love Best Westerns. There’s nothing particularly great about them, but I have never stayed in a bad one. They always have comfortable bed and since they’re independently owned, they each have unique things that make them seem like a bed and breakfast instead of an impersonal national chain. This Best Western was no different.
I had brought oatmeal and raisins, my normal pre-run breakfast, which I had planned to make at the cabin. Now that we were staying at the Best Western, I was worried that I didn’t have a bowl. It turned out the Best Western had a runner’s breakfast with waffles, eggs, bacon, yogurt, fruit, cereal, and yes, oatmeal with raisins. Woohoo! My day was off to a great start. And they had a van taking people to the shuttles so Shannon didn’t have to wake up to drive me.
“It Never Rains for this Marathon”
The weather forecast said that it would be cool and partly sunny in the morning and drizzling in the afternoon. I ate breakfast with a woman who was running her seventh St. George Marathon. As we walked out to catch the van, we realized in the blackness of the early morning that it was raining. She said, “I can’t believe it. It never rains for this marathon.”
In fact, it rained all morning. As my dad and I started the race, it was pitch black outside (I couldn’t see more than 10-20 ft. in front of me), raining, and gusty. The rain came down harder and harder, and the wind picked up. I saw one girl being taken away in an ambulance shaking, clearly suffering from hypothermia. With only short and a drenched shirt, by mile 11 I thought I might also get hypothermia. But around the half-way point, the wind died down and the rain let up.
The longest run I had done in my training was twenty miles. Right on schedule, around mile 21, my legs started killing me. I wasn’t tired all over and definitely wasn’t out of breath, but I really started to wonder if my legs might stop moving. I had told myself all race long that if I made it to mile 24, I was going to make it. Running mile 21 was the most physically challenging thing I’ve ever done. I had been tired before mile 21, but this was the first time in my life, I actually thought I might be physically incapable of moving my legs. It was a feeling I had not experience during training. I looked 50 ft. in front of me over and over again and said, “Just make it that far.”
“How much farther?”
I had been telling myself since the night before that if I just made it to mile 24, I had made it. But as I came into town and reached mile 24, the reality that I still had two miles to go was almost too much to bear, but as I had been doing for over five hours, I just kept putting one foot in front of the other. I wish that at the end of these races, they had signs that said “1/2 mile to go, 1/4 mile to go, 400 yards, etc.” Everyone is doing busy cheering to hear me ask, “How much farther?” I had the same problem when I ran the half marathon. I didn’t know how close I was until I turned the corner and only had a few hundred feet left.
This time, as I came around the corner, my dad (who had finished the marathon an hour before me) and step-mom saw me and ran with me. I can’t describe the flood of emotion that came over to me as I finally saw Shannon on the other side of the finish line cheering me. I had a last-minute burst of energy and gave Shannon a huge hug and kiss as I finished. What a sense of accomplishment! Since my sister first announced almost a year before that she was doing the Orange County half marathon, and I decided I couldn’t letter her show me up, I had been training for almost a year.
I’ve never been much of a runner and I don’t know that I’ll ever do another marathon, but it was truly great life experience to train for and finish a marathon.
Big thanks to my mom for planting the seed, Arestia for the initial challenge, Andrew for running the 10-miler with me, Thayer for being my training guide, Nike for incredibly good socks, Apple for Nike+iPod, my dad for inviting me to do the full marathon with him, Karen for the amazing massage after the race, and Shannon for always supporting me and pushing me out of bed at 5:00 a.m. to go do my training run. I love you all.