Well, I finished the marathon. It was an incredible experience! It's interesting to hear what people want to know about my experience. Some want to know if it was hard. The answer is: yes. Others want to know if I enjoyed it. The answer is: Yes, immensely. The following is my attempt to document the race for future reference and let you in on how it went.
My goal for the race was 5 hours. An 11-minute pace would have ensured me beating my race goal. I knew I could keep that up for 20 miles, but I wasn't sure about the last 6.2.
Here's my experience from race day:
5:30-Wake up and rub on tons of Body Glide (no chafing for me on race day).
6:00-I pulled into the parking lot at Fair Park south of the Cotton Bowl. The parking lot filled in less than 30 minutes. As I entered the coliseum, I saw hundreds of runners prepping for their run. The room was full of excitement. Everyone was trying to find a bathroom, so they wouldn't have to stop during the race.
7:50-A nice prayer by a man who did everything he could to leave Jesus out of it (a perfect display of civil religion really lit a fire within my body to run the race as fast as possible).
7:55-Military Fly-Over (Again, pumped up!)
8:10-The elite runners started the race. FYI: I was not apart of the elite runners, but they said I could try to qualify again next year. I think I failed to win the race because I wasn't able to pace myself with the Kenyans. 5 Kenyans ended up placing 1st-5th place.
8:45-I crossed the starting line. I can't explain the feeling of crossing the starting line on your first marathon. Nerves are pumping. Heart is pounding. My training gave me confidence, but I had no idea what might go wrong in the next 26.2 miles. Wind chill was about 25 degrees at the beginning of the race. The weather was perfect for the runners, but not so much for the spectators.
Mile 3-Left hamstring was a bit tight, but I kept running hoping it would loosen up.
Mile 6-1st sighting of my family. Holly, Maddox, Clark (brother), Lara (sister-in-law), Dad, Mom, and Ganna (Grandmother) were all present to show their support. They gave me a real boost.
Mile 8.5-Marathoners split off to the left while the half-marathoners made a turn to the right to head back to Fair Park. Believe me I was happy for them...not! It was tough to turn left and know I had 17.2 more miles to go.
Mile 9-I was surprised to see more family. Morgan (sister-in-law) and Cathy (mother-in-law) were there to greet me!
Mile 13.1-Halfway to the finish. I was feeling great. At this point, my pace was under 10 minutes per mile. And around the halfway point, I was running in the low 9s. I felt great, but I was concerned that I might be launching out too fast. I would tell by the end of White Rock Lake if my pace had been too quick.
Mile 14-I saw my family again at mile 14. My knee was beginning to hurt a bit at this point, but I was feeling great otherwise.
Mile 18-Holly's family and my family greeted me again on the east side of White Rock Lake. I was beginning to get more tired and sore at this time, but I was beginning to think a 4 1/2 hour marathon might just be possible.
Mile 20-One last sighting of my family as they passed me in a car. Mile 20 was a scary point because 20 miles was the most I had ever run before in my training. All of the miles ahead were new territory for my body. It was an unknown, but I still felt pretty good at mile 20.
Mile 21-This is where the race got tough. At mile 21-22, I met what is known as the Dolly Parton Hills. I won't tell you why they are named after Dolly Parton. I'll just let you guess. These hills killed me. It was only about a 100-foot climb, which is nothing in Colorado. But when you've already run 21 miles, a 100-foot climb isn't too fun.
Mile 24-My pace is falling, but I knew I was going to be able to finish. My IT-band injury in my right knee began to cause more pain. My goal was not to walk during the race and the temptation was pretty strong to stop, but I'm proud to say that I finished the race without walking (other than at water stations, eating my "jelly beans," and short stretches for my lower back).
Mile 25-At this point in the race, I headed south toward the Cotton Bowl. The finish line is almost in sight. I was passing a great number at this point because many were walking.
Mile 26-The crowds began to get thicker. As I turned the corner to see the finish line, I began to pick up my stride and run with all I had left to the finish.
The Finish Line-I can't describe the feeling of crossing the finish line. It was actually a very emotional moment. Tears came to my eyes and I got chills. And as I crossed the finish line, it was as if I had a warp-speed movie of my training quickly run through my brain. All of that work paid off as I met my goal. What an incredible feeling!
My time was 4:37:50. I had run 26.2 miles in a per minute pace of about 10 minutes and 35 seconds. I was so pleased with my time. Seeing my family after the race was one of the best moments of the race. Their cheering along the way helped me so much.
I want to dedicate my race to Holly and Maddox. Without their help, I wouldn't have been able to do the training. Holly spent countless Saturday mornings without me in order to let me do my long runs. I can't thank you enough Holly. You and Maddox were my inspiration in the moments I wanted to quit! I love you and Maddox so much!