This was my first marathon. I have been running for 3 years and decided a year ago that it was time to move up from the half marathon to the full. I trained with my Sole Sister (and 20 year younger) best friend Kala. We do not have a running coach. We do not belong to a running club. We do ask other runners a lot of questions, rely on advice from our chiropractor, and use goggle. After our last half marathon in September 2017, we decided to complete our marathon training running side by side.
Through the weeks that followed, we logged a lot of miles, starting earlier and earlier on Saturday mornings. There is nothing like a 15-20 mile run that starts in the dark, continues through the sunrise, and ends refreshed and ready to take on the day. We developed a check system to make sure our bodies and minds were still working. When race day came, there was still a little doubt if we would actually finish this. Our longest run was 21 miles, and the goal on race day was just to finish,regardless of the time.
Race day started with our usual pre-race routine: heat pad, light breakfast, double checking the weather forecast, changing our minds on what to wear. When we started the race, there were plenty of butterflies. By mile 5 we had worked our way through traffic and found our grove. I am not sure who had the biggest smile. We knew this was our day.
When we passed the split for the half and full - it was an easy choice to bear right. I know we screamed with excitement when we crossed that border. When we arrived at the State Fair, I was real confused on where we were. For some reason, the map in my head, did not have me arriving at the fair grounds in the same way as the course. Kala stopped me in front of the 38th St sign to prove to me that we were on 38th St. At the 13 mile marker, my grown kids meet us with supplies. Their race signs were getting lots of comments. It was so great to see them and to get a warm hug. It was at this point that I realized how fast we had ran the half - it was actually the fastest half I had ever ran (where is a PR bell when you need one). But on we go, as there are still more miles to run.
On we go through the neighborhoods. The spectators were great. There were young kids searching for High 5’s, riding their bikes on the sidewalks. Home owners were out tailgating, sharing jello shots, bloody-mary’s and beer with runners. On we go, smiles on our faces, just enjoying the run, scenery and spectators. When we arrived between mile 17-18 at Butler, we had a surprise as some of our co-workers showed up to cheer us on. This was a great feeling as they traveled over two hours to get here. After a short hello, we continued on to the IMA.
It was here that I hit the wall. I had given up my jacket at mile 13, and the temperature had started to drop. Kala was instrumental in keeping my head in the game. A few weeks ago, we had started a mantra, 5-4-3-2-1. Whenever we hit a hard place and we need to dig in, we kick it off with a count down of 5-4-3-2-1. From each mile here on out, we start it with 5-4-3-2-1. We continued to check our body and our mind - working out the negativity, concentrating on keeping warm, keeping the movement, and keeping our can do minds on the right track.
At mile 20 there was a large group that had some great signs. They were full of spirit. I remember there was a policeman there. We thanked him for being there as we do all police officers. He said thank you back, and told us we were doing great. I looked at him and said,”can you believe I am not dead yet?” He smiled and said, “Ma’am, you are amazing, you can do this.”
We keep running as the temps appear to drop. We see some runners at aide stations trying to warm up. I know some of them were not able to finish. Then we turn right onto Meridian Street. This long stretch felt like it was going to the south pole. Kala knows that I mentally struggle with long straight stretches. She turned and looked at me and said, “we got this. We are almost there.” We keep going, my smile started to come back.
At mile 25 there was another police officer. He was AMAZING. He was cheering us on, stating that we had 1.2 miles to go, there was a group of spectators ahead that wants to see runners, so we better dig in, pick it up , and make them happy. I wish I knew who he was, because I owe him a huge hug. We start to pick up our pace. Our heads were held high, huge smiles, and maybe a tear or two running down our checks.
Close to mile 26 I remember looking at Kala and saying, that I did not want to go dancing that night. She asked if we could still go out for tater tots, I said yes. The two runners behind us just chuckled. I think we had entertained them for the last 5 miles with our antics and conversation. When we made it to 26, Kala’s family was there cheering like crazy. It was so good to see them. When we had tenth left to go, I saw my kids. I remember looking at them and pointing to the finish line. They smiled and told me to run. Kala grabbed my hand and we crossed the finish line hand in hand with smiles on our faces.
I know this is not an amazing story to most. We are not elite runners and do not plan to be. For us, this was about the amazing journey. A story of two girls that wanted to see if they could run a marathon. Another page in our story book.