First...a few facts for the runners and non-runners alike:
- A marathon is 26.2 miles. All marathons are 26.2 miles. No, New York City and Boston are not longer than the rest (yes, I was actually asked this).
- About 1% of Americans have attempted a marathon. Only .5% have successfully completed one. About .13% of the world's population can boast completing a marathon.
- Winning finish times are typically just over 2 hours for men (there are all kinds of debates because apparently if the course is more down hill or has strong tail winds the finish times don't actually count) as record breaking
Anyway, back to Sunday morning. I got to my corral about 7:40 am (race start at 8). My feet were frozen solid. I had two throw away shirts on which both came off pretty early (by miles 1 and 3). The biggest piece of advice I got was not to go out too fast. Let me tell you...with the crowds that was just not possible. My 5k time was a pathetic 34 minutes. Nope...no worries about going too fast coming from me.
The first few miles, though crowded, were pretty uneventful. Up the hill at mile 2, no big deal! On that first hill is where I had my first moment of realization of just what I was partaking in. I passed a pack of Marines running in formation with 50-lb packs on their back. They ran until someone said walk. They would walk until all were ready to run again. They were so inspirational and motivational. I teared up so many times....especially when you saw the groups pushing other Marines in the wheel chair part of the race.
Back to running...up the hill at mile 8, again, the hill was no big deal. I guess all that hilly training paid off for me. The gloves came off somewhere around mile 8. I continued my shot block every other mile strategy (on the even miles). I felt strong and the miles just kept ticking away.
Before I knew it I was at the halfway mark. Time was flying, I was enjoying myself and just taking it all in. I remember my halfway time of about 2:21 which was 10 minutes slower than my half marathon PR set in September. I was fine with that knowing I still had 13.1 to go.
The crowds and the Marines were fabulous. They really kept you going. I made it past the Gauntlet at mile 17 and then headed to "beat the bridge" at mile 20. Sailed past there pretty easily and that's when the thoughts of "get this damn race over" started creeping in. My hubby was jumping on with me at 21 so I just focused on getting to him. I finally found him at 21.5. That was a huge spirit lifter for me. He started telling me about all the texts I was getting from friends and what was going on with our kids (i.e. they are fine, I talked to them, etc.).
I ran a pretty pathetic pace for the last 5 miles. I was hurting and ready for it to end. I did perk up somewhere around mile 24 at one particular sign. My favorite sign of the whole day...(and trust me, there were some really good ones)
"You have NO CHOICE but to F***ING FINISH".
That sign really made me smile and just keep going. I needed to get it done! Running up the hill at mile 26 was incredible. I was amazed at how many people walked the hill. I was not about to walk the finish of my marathon!
My finish time was 5:06:33. I ran the whole thing (only walked through water stops). I am so incredibly proud of myself! And, I know my Dad is, too.