This is how my morning started. I couldn't sleep passed 5:00 am and that was pushing it! All night long I was sleeping and not sleeping. I went to bed at about 9;30 or 10 pm and tossed & turned. Tried to force it BUT that meant up at 11:30, 1 am, 2:30 am and 3:45 am. So I decided to get my banana & nutella on toast breakfast in while reading the final pages of Hal Higdon's Marathon book.
I slowly got my gear on because we were not set to meet the other Stroller Warriors until 6:20 am in the lobby. Thankfully to the marathon packing lists...I had remembered everything I could possibly need! I had a mental checklist that I repeated over and over.
- Compression sleeves
- Room key, ID, cash and phone
- Gear check bag with flip flop, shirt and protein bar
My hubby was the driver for a handful of us to get to the start line. The plan was to have my partner's daughter sit in the room while he did so the littles could still sleep. Thankfully the bigger 3 all stayed asleep for her but... As you can tell, Sweetface had a different plan!
Hubby took our Stroller Warrior picture for us at the Sea Ranch Resort. We knew finding each other at the start might not happen so this just made things the easiest with all but one lady staying here!
We arrived at the start line by 6:40 am and it was beautifully cool weather. Ok ok ok...it was a little chilly. I had brought a jacket to toss on the side BUT last minute I left it in the truck with my husband because I thought I wouldn't need it. Oh well! We made our way in and got to the UPS trucks that were doing the bag checks. Right after, a woman walked up to me that I had never seen before and wished me good luck. She also told me congratulations on the weight loss. I must have looked really shocked and confused until she told me how she had seen me on Instagram. Sometimes I forget that I am sharing my life with so many in hopes to inspire others. It just seems like a big family with extended cousins everywhere most of the time LOL. We chatted for a little bit but I feel horrible. I didn't catch her name. Something so easy to do and I didn't. She came up to me again before the start and we chatted a little more. Again...I forgot. I know. I'm horrible but my head and heart was in an anxious flutter before the start. In hind sight, I wish I would have and even more. I never realized then how much that would have meant to me.
The announcement was made for t minus 7. The group of us that had car pooled together got a picture, packed up and moved into our corrals. A prayer was said over the loud speaker and then we were off. The first couple minutes we went straight through and ended up ahead of the 5:00 hour pacer. I had no intention of sticking ahead of that group. It was just time to get the blood flowing and warm up cold muscles.
By the time my partner and I hit 1.5 miles, we switched to the 3:00 minute run/30 second walk intervals. Honestly, we had grown a lot stronger than the intervals over the course of our training but we were sticking to the things that worked during the training. This was after all both our first marathon. We were both within the first two years of running all together. And we both had a challenge in that short amount of time... I started running, got pregnant, had a baby and working my way back into a training. My partner had begun running, broke her leg while training and had to restart it all in the beginning of the year.
As we were intervaling, we began to hear the crowd of the 5 hour pacer behind us. It was a little disheartening to say the least until we looked at the timing. They were ahead of the pace card I had for a 5:00 hour marathon and by a lot. After talking that through, we knew to just let it go. No need having that in mind as the miles were going to be challenging enough without adding extra stress of a time to them.
First through Kitty Hawk and then into Kill Devil Hills, we were making great time. Mile 8 was one of the coolest miles! We ran along the base of the Wrights Brothers Monument. We were all business until this moment. Tried to remember that this is one of those moments that will never come again. This is our FIRST marathon. It was time to soak it in!
Not too long after we first started to round the base of the monument did we then catch an awesome message flying over our heads.
"Good Luck Runners"
It really is the simple things in life! We kept on moving only to find out that the trackers for the 10K didn't register us. Not that big of a deal since our husbands knew our estimated times to be at different areas to cheer us on but it caused a little distraction for what we were about to head into...Mile 10: the trail portion of the course. Loose sand, pine needles and gravel. We had done some trail training but not a ton.
I am alright with trails but I have to spend quite a large amount of the time staring at my feet. Being flat footed and a huge barefoot/flip flop wearer person, I have rolled my ankles A LOT! My friends still tell the story of how I rolled my ankle miss stepping down a set of stairs to get a pitcher of beer from a keg. I was laying at the bottom of the steps crying for a minute or two before sitting up, hobbling to the keg, getting that pitcher, getting back up those stairs and brought the pitcher to them then fell into a chair for the rest of the party. Ok... I never said I was smart. I lived on crutches for about 2-3 weeks after that incident, BUT I got the beer LOL!
And by the way, I mentioned my partner had broken her leg while training, but I didn't mention the fact it was on a TRAIL!
Before you say it... yes, we knew there was a trail. But trails are their own beast when running. "Trail" could mean flat packed dirt, loose dirt, sand (loose & packed...huge difference!), tree roots, mud, gravel, pine needles & leafs (slippery when wet), puddle jumping, snake jumping...
This is what we thought we were getting... "Around mile 10, you’ll enter the Nags Head Woods Nature Preserve. This lush maritime forest will amaze you with its understated beauty. All the beauty of trail running, along a well-packed, dirt road. No one said this was going to be easy. At about the 12 1/2 mile, you’ll leave Nags Head Woods on a narrow trail with off-road conditions" (Check reference below). Now don't get me wrong. It was very very beautiful but definitely not well-packed, dirt road.
We pushed our way through the trail and tried to just keep in mind that this is the road before us. This is the race we trained for. Let's do it. After spending what felt like a 5K in the woods, up and down the little hills, we hit the pavement again!
They had a time mat that I slowed to be sure that it would read me. Next second, my phone dinged! 13.1 split at 10:00 am was 2:38:57. Even with the trail slowing us a bit, we were 7:16 minutes off from our half marathon time. We began to head into Nags Head passed the largest sand dune on the East Coast, Jockey’s Ridge State Park.
This was flat, pavement running but the hurt was definitely chiming in. As we made it up to the 19.3 split at 11:22 am, we hit the course time of 4:00:53. I had yet to see my husband & my babies and it was starting to wear me. He got a text that I was almost in tears sending... "I need you". I kept staring down at my pictures as I was holding my emotions back. It was the moment just like I had during my first half marathon when I hit mile 9. He sent me back some encouragement and told me not to worry because they were right before the bridge. I began to count down the steps until the bridge...until I could see him.
The closer we got... the more anxious I became. I have a terrifying fear of heights. And bridges. And heights going down while in water. That probably sounds odd but choosing a marathon with a bridge at Mile 23 may have not been the best idea. But I'm not one to back down. I like to scare myself to death if that means I can take down a fear's hold on me.
As we hit the start of the bridge, my partner looks to me and just said "there he is". I hadn't even seen him yet. And there they were with their "Run faster mommy" sign that had all their hand prints (and an uncooperative baby's foot print) on it. I choked up. Ran to them and kissed them all. Big ball of emotional mess. I cannot even tell you what my husband said but I just know it was perfect.
We started pushing to the bridge and my partner took over with consoling. I was trying with everything in me not to let it show how scared I was. She stayed on the outer edge of the running path. We continued to run up to the base of the huge incline before starting to walk. I couldn't stare down because the cement had lines that made me feel dizzy with us still moving, couldn't look off to the side because of how high up we were and staring ahead became the lesser evil.
We made it up that monster and down the other side. By Mile 24, I felt like death. My feet were hurting bad right in my arches or lack there of. My IT band and quads were angry. The mileage didn't seem to move. Then we saw her husband pass by us and a little while later mine. They were heading to the finish! No matter what hurt was there...they were heading to the finish. That meant we were heading to the FINISH. It was the final push. Everything we had left.
We began to run through Manteo. It was the time to just leave it all on the pavement. When we started our training (what feels like so long ago), we had agreed that 5:30 would be our time. And guess what? We hit 26.2 on our Garmins at 5:27! Granted the mileage that we recorded went over that BUT hey...that alone was an awesome feeling!
The end was awesome. Ok... it was painful but awesome. I'd tell you all the pain washed when I crossed that finish line at 12:54 pm, but it didn't. We both smiled as we crossed that line. BUT it was for a different reason. The announcer mispronounced both of our last names LOL! http://youtu.be/ayH8ESn0YcI
I am sad for one thing. We forgot to get a picture together at the end but there is always next time. And yes...next time is already planned! I'm hooked!
This may sound a little like an award receiving speech but I have to do this. I am so thankful for this journey. I am thankful for meeting my partner at MOPS a year ago and all of the other wonderful Stroller Warriors that we shared this moment with (especially to the one that came out, snapped the greatest race picture ever and cheered us all on!). I am thankful for my husband picking up the pieces when I was out running and I'm thankful for my partner volunteering to push a stroller so we could do our end of training mileage together in the morning time. And I am thankful to all of you that have been listening and reading my endless jibber jabber regarding the marathon and running.
OH! One last thing.
This is of some importance to me. I tried to send out an instagram to find the woman who wished me luck. We had seen her 2 other times along the course. The last time she was stretching and nervous about a possible pain or injury. I wanted to express this to her. Hopefully it reaches her. I have to admit that I have wondered about her here and there because she is from the same area as me, she knows of the Stroller Warriors and honestly...the kindness she gave to a total stranger was absolutely amazing.
Please know that you are forever in thoughts now.