Yesterday I ran my first marathon... and I survived!!! Ten weeks ago Alan and Drew came up with the genius idea of the three of us running the Portland marathon together. So we all signed up together, began a crash training program and hit the ground running (literally). "Running a marathon" used to be on my "bucket list", but I haven't even considered actually running one in years because I always figured it was just bad for your body to run that much. But after running my first half marathon this summer and the Hood to Coast relay again in August, I figured that if I am ever going to actually run a full marathon now is the time.
So for the past couple of months, a good chunk of my weekends have been devoted to long training runs. I have to say, there is no way I could have done the training for this race on my own. Believe it or not, I actually enjoyed going for long runs since my two buddies were running beside me. It gave Alan, Drew and I time to just talk and enjoy each other's company. Plus these guys were extremely motivating and encouraging to me since this was my first marathon to train for (they have both run marathons before). Marathoner Bill Rodgers said, "Your training partners are key to your success, and friendships based on your runs together are strong." --- this is so true. Thank you Drew and Alan for helping me succeed in this race and for being such strong friends!
The anticipation and anxiety building up to the race was intense and yesterday morning I was ready to just do it. After a sleepless night (including nightmares of missing the race), my alarm went off at 5:30am and I awoke to a disguistingly rainy and dreary Sunday morning. Fall in Portland -- what can you do? I downed a Clif bar, threw on my running clothes and hat and headed downtown. Unfortunately, while the three of us were on a training run 3 weeks ago Alan sprained his ankle which ultimately prevented him from running the marathon yesterday. We were all really bummed that he couldn't run it, but maybe (just maybe!) that will give us a good reason to run another race together in the future (the very distant future). But even though Alan wasn't running the race with me and Drew, he was nice enough to give us a ride to the starting line and then he biked nearly the entire course and stopped every few miles to cheer us on and take pictures. Seriously Alan, you really went above and beyond for us and I can't tell you how much I appreciate your support on race day.
So it rained (not drizzled, but rained) throughout the entire race yesterday. That made for pretty miserable conditions. The worst part was that my shoes were soaking wet and full of water making them much heavier than normal. Around mile 10 I could feel that my body was already getting weak and instead of my original 4 hour goal, I decided all I wanted to do was finish this thing. There is a big hill leading up to the St John's Bridge around mile 17 (right when you really want to die). About half way up the hill I about lost it and decided I could only walk. A random lady in blue ran up behind me and said, "Don't walk. You can make it. Keep going." I don't know who she was but actually several times throughout the race when I was struggling she came out of nowhere and told me to keep going. Creepy yet really encouraging - thanks, lady in blue! I made it up the hill with her encouragement and Drew pushing me (literally, Drew had a hand on my back and was actually pushing me).
Miles 17-23 were rough. Several times I thought to myself, "This is the most miserable thing I have ever done in my life." There were times when I wanted to cry, hit someone, puke, jump in the river, or just lay down on the side of the road (doesn't this make you want to go run a marathon?!). But I had just hit a wall - a really big wall - and Drew was amazing in helping me get through it. He stopped when I stopped, he slowed down when I needed to, he gave me food and water even when I didn't think I needed it, and he told me every few minutes that I was going a great job. Drew, I would have never finished without you - seriously, I would have happily jumped in the back of someone's truck and taken the easy road home if you hadn't encouraged me the entire way!
There were so many other people that came out (in the rain!) and encouraged us throughout the race: Alan, our #1 fan of course; Drew's coworkers cheering at mile 11 and 25; Josh at mile 18 with a sign that said "Freight Train Carter" and a dry towel for me to wipe my face with; all 3 of my roommates yelling louder than anyone and giving much needed high fives at mile 20; the Dudleys at mile 24 giving us water and bananas for our final push to the finish line. Drew and I finished strong with a time of 4:18:15. One of the best signs I saw during the race said, "Pain is temporary, pride is forever." My body was definitely hurting, but at the same time I felt so good. Several people asked me yesterday if I wanted to run another marathon... ask me again in a few weeks and I just might say yes.
early morning run in the rain
obviously early in the race - I'm still smiling
drenched to the core, but trying to push through the pain
smiling to keep from crying - getting so close to the finish
we did it!