Monday, February 27, 2012

My road to I just need that sticker!

Yesterday, Sunday February 26, 2012 I ran my first marathon with a great friend Erin Neely. It has always been a goal of mine to run 26.2 miles. It all started back in November 2009, I ran my first half-marathon in San Antonio, and Cameron, his brother Caleb, and roommate John all ran their first marathon. As I waited for them to finish, I couldn't help but get really emotional as I watched people finish the race. I saw person after person crossing the finish line, hands up in the air, with such a happy look on their face, and I thought, "Someday I want to do a marathon". When I saw Cameron and Caleb finish I was so excited for them, and it was then that I decided to make this a goal for myself.

Now to introduce you to my training partner, Erin and I met back in 2008 during a mission trip to the Amazon River that we both went on through our church, and we became instant friends. We were both living in Dallas, working as nurses at Parkland Hospital, and would go on frequent runs together on Katy Trail, a popular running trail in Dallas. In July, Erin and her husband Brandon moved from Amarillo, TX to Waco so Brandon could pursue his calling to become a lawyer at the Baylor Law School. I was excited to have Erin in Waco! We started hanging out and trying to run, but lets face it, July and August in Texas are not ideal running conditions. Sometime in early September we started talking about running more and toyed with the idea of running a marathon. Both of us had this as a goal, but more of a long term goal. But why not now? When we really thought about it, this was actually perfect timing for us both, neither of us have kids, we were both new to Waco, still young, and our lives weren’t busy with other commitments. Having a training partner is one of the most important elements to training (for us at least) and here we were both willing and able to do it. Erin had the Hal Higdon Marathon book and we began to flip through it and found a beginner running plan that seemed do-able which consisted of an 18 week training schedule. This was it! We were on the path to become marathoners!

I remember the first week of our training; our long run consisted of a 6 mile run. And we thought that was hard. Oh it seemed so impossible to us at the beginning.

But as each week went by, I started to get stronger and began to actually enjoy running. We decided to do the Fort Worth Cowtown Marathon in February since it was local, and our husbands and family could come support us. We started training in September which put us 24 weeks from the marathon. We figured a little extra time to
train couldn't hurt us.

About 4-5 weeks before the marathon, after Erin and I ran 18 miles, she began to have foot pain. She was forced to take a couple weeks off of running and began to ride the bike, leaving me to run the last 4 training weeks by myself. Lucky for me, I have an amazing husband who ran the 22 mile training run with me. This was by far the hardest run I did. It was a windy day, we ran lots of hills, and my legs just felt horrible from mile 19 on. I did finish the run, but couldn't imagine running a full 26.2 miles. After this run I began to taper back on miles. And in fact, I took off 8 days from running while Cameron and I spent a week in Colorado. I snowboarded for 2 days and skied for 1 day. I had taken a couple pretty hard falls on the snowboard leaving me with some back and neck pain that didn't go away in the 10 days before the marathon. Just a suggestion: if you are thinking about running a marathon, do not go snowboarding 12 days before the marathon. I found my body was just tired and hated me. So I was pretty worried about how I was going to feel by marathon day.

Surprisingly, I had a great marathon! God was present with me and prayers were felt. I kept with my plan to stop and walk through every water station to make sure I stayed hydrated and there was plenty of sugar to keep me fueled. My family was there to support me and it really helped to see familiar faces cheering us on! Cameron and Brandon booked it along the course and we saw them 5 times during the race, and of course at the finish line. I have always heard about this infamous “wall” that people tend to hit while running a marathon. Praise the Lord, I didn’t experience it. My adrenaline was high and kept me excited throughout the race. My legs felt strong, and although they were achy, I didn't experience any intense pains. I actually enjoyed the marathon, maybe because it was mostly flat, and because Fort Worth is a pretty place to run. A couple times I almost started to cry while I was running. I was really doing it! I can be pretty emotional. Erin and I started this process together, endured the training together, and got to run the whole race together. It couldn’t have been more perfect. We crossed the finish line at 4:02:08, with our hands in the air and a happy look our faces. We almost broke a 4 hour marathon on our first try! Well, this super motivated (or naive) girl is already signed up for a second marathon on April 28th, the Country Music Marathon in Nashville, TN. I think my goal is going to be to get under a 4 hour marathon, because 4 hours of running is just too long.

Today is the day after the marathon and let me tell you my quadriceps are ridiculously sore, in fact at times, they are screaming at me. However I am a marathoner and it was all worth it! Why was it worth it you ask? Because I did it! Running a marathon is one of those things that just seems impossible, even though it is not. I put my body and mind to the ultimate test, I did what I once thought to be impossible for me. I am more aware of all the possibilities that lay ahead of me that are achievable if I just put my mind to it. And I have the medal to prove it :)

Erin and I the day before the race:

Action picture during the marathon:
Us after the marathon:

Me and my coach/husband/biggest fan:

I definately have to give props to my husband. He has by far been my biggest supporter and encourager. So many days when I didn't feel like running he was always there to tell me, "Don't me lazy, be sexy". Funny as that sounds, it usually did the trick. Cameron endured early mornings and many long runs with me, even though he wasn't training for this marathon. He introduced me to my first ice bath (which is even more miserable then the long run itself) and would then get in them after me. He would give me a massage when I was sore and achy. He even had shirts made for Erin and I to wear during the marathon. I couldn't be more thankful for you Cameron! You help me set and reach new goals that I would never think possible. Thank you for pushing me to be the best I can be!

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