Tuesday, March 24, 2009


I've been trying to get myself ready to write about the marathon since last night... but somehow, I feel as though I just don't know where to start. People have been asking me to let them know when I have something posted (blogs, photos, etc) and so I feel compelled to start somewhere. So I shall start with how I'm feeling right now.

I'm feeling kind of sad, to be honest. I can't quite believe it is over... after months of training and fundraising and getting to know the coaches and my team mates and the TNT staff... it's kind of a let down to think that I'm no longer involved in all that. Fortunately part of the team is still training for the Nashville Country Music Marathon... so I can still go join them for their Saturday morning training runs for a few more weeks yet.

When I get past the feeling sad that it's over part... I'm feeling mighty proud of myself. I ran 26.2 miles on Sunday. That is 8.2 miles (over 13 kms) further than I had ever run before. Now, I didn't break any land speed records... but in effect, that means I ran far longer than the speedy-gonzales people in the pack.

I had hoped to finish in under 5 hours... and things were looking good for it by the half-way mark. But at mile 14 I stopped to go to the toilet, and never quite caught up to my team mates (who I had been keeping pace with from the start). I never would have imagined I would find it so hard to keep going on my own.

Not that I was truly on my own, as there were still loads of other runners on the course... but the psychological support of having my team mates beside me was clearly something I had been relying on. I kept running at a good clip until about mile 18... which is as far as I had ever trained. And then I hit a funk.

Miles 18 through 22 were really really hard.

In order to keep the energy levels up, we had to consume vast quantities of sweet crap... gels, gummy things, gatorade... none of which I would ever reach for on a regular day. But for a long run, it's necessary... so I gagged down the vanilla gels and the lemon gummies, and chugged water and gatorade until I could pretty near feel my teeth floating.

Even still, I ran out of steam... my walk breaks became more frequent and lasted longer. My feet hurt. My hip hurt. My legs felt like lead. And the miles felt long and lonely.

We ran down a quiet wooded road... a vastly different experience than 2 hours earlier when we ran en masse through the army base, slapping palms with cheering army service men & women... vastly different experience than 1 hour earlier when people lined the streets with their stereos playing and tables full of beer for the returning runners...

Down the wooded road we straggled. Very little conversation remained, and what little there was focused on getting each other through... keeping each other going.

I chatted briefly with a woman who was from Virginia Beach, who had trained on that stretch of road. She told me we would be passing the oldest remaining light house on the east coast... she told me that we would be passing the landing place of the earliest settlers in Virginia... she told me the story of how the marathon came to be 26.2 miles (rather than 25) long when the queen of England wanted to watch it during the London Olympics so the race was extended to run past Buckingham Palace.. and how runners now say "long live the queen" when they reach mile 25.

I forgot to say it when I reached mile 25... that was a good hour later on, and I had other things on my mind. Like not throwing up, for example. All that sugar and water were sloshing about in my belly, and goodness knows nothing else was left in there to slow the movements down.

But by that time I had also come across Coach Joe on the course, and he had offered to run me in ... he kept me going by telling me how proud he was to have been my coach and my friend, by reminding me of the obstacles I had overcome during training (and in life), by asking me if I had realised yet that I was going to reach the finish line...

I have a much deeper appreciation and respect for the coaches as a result of race day. I had always been appreciative of the training tips and support... but really, the final few miles were the point for me where I came to understand all that they do for us.

Joe embarrassed me with his over the top cheering and pointing as we rounded the corner and came onto the boardwalk where the last loyal spectators remained to cheer us on. But he helped me to finish strong. He helped me to finish running... and I shall love him forever for that.

My mom, dad and brother were there on the boardwalk... still cheering after almost five and a half hours of waiting. They sent me text messages as I ran, telling me they were there with me and that I could do it.

The clock read 5:22:12 as the announcers struggled to pronounce my last name... Actual time for me to complete the race - 5:19:51.

My husband was there at the finish line, taking photos and then holding me up as I searched desperately for something to eat (box after empty box of no more bananas!!!). He reminded me to pick up my medal, which I had totally walked right by... He helped me to find the TNT tent, helped me to walk back to the hotel, ran me an ice cold bath and sat with me until I no longer felt like I was going to be sick from the shock of it... and tucked me into bed with a turkey sandwich.

(He also called around mile 20 to tell me that he was back at the hotel, stretched out on the bed watching tv... so he's not always my hero... just most of the time)

It is possible that I have never been more proud of myself than I was at that moment... stretched out in bed, legs up on pillow, toes poking out because they were too tender to have the blankets weighing down on them, eating my sandwich, too tired to sleep.


Funny marathon moments & highlights to follow in the next posting...