Friday, February 20, 2009

Well, I finally ran an under four hour marathon! I've only been trying since 2001 and finally completed that goal on Feb 15th 2009. Now, I'm going to warn you because this is going to end up sounding like an acceptance speech because I'm going to thank so many people, but honestly, I REALLY could not have done it alone.

First of all, getting my butt in gear a few months ago was hard. I had to really stick with some tough runs on the weekdays and long runs on the weekends. In past years, I hadn't really pushed myself during the week like I should have and I think that helped this year. Beth, Martin, and Kathy were able to run most long runs with me while Dustin was out to sea and their constant enthusiasm and encouragement were what pulled me through 17, 18, 19, and 20 mile runs. That, and the fact that I had to run fast to keep up with their speedy legs so I woulnd't get lost!

Beth and I started to get excited about "dressing up" for the marathon in the weeks leading up to it. We went shopping a few times to find the perfect outfits. We finally found some shirts and proceeded to form our complete outfit around that with necklaces, hair bows for our pigtails, hats, high socks with pink and red hearts on them, letters to spell out our names, who we were running for and that "cancer sux." Then, we couldn't pass up the bright pink skirt we found on the sale rack (even though we already planned to wear our white skirts). Hmmmmmm, who could possibly where this? I know! Dustin! He was out to sea and he couldn't argue with us, so I bought it!

I really have no idea how I found such a supportive husband, but I truly am thankful for him. He honestly will do anything to make me happy and seeing him in that skirt kept a smile on my face from the first time I convinced him to put it on and run around the house, to that finish line photo! He was wearing his shirt he wore last year that said, "Dustin in Pink" on the front and "For Gramma" on the back. This year, the addition in white letters on the pink skirt was "SKIRT-NOT MY IDEA" He sure got a lot of attention for his ensemble, but deep down, he really loved it. It was hilarious to see him keep pulling the skirt up because it was falling down cause he's so skinny.

We saw so many people we knew that morning from past running groups and from the Hammerhead Triathlon Club. We were even on the local news with guess who getting all the talk time......yes, Dustin. He did talk about his grandma and it was very sweet.

For some reason, as we started the race and passed Tim and Donna, we were running kind of quick over the JTB bridge (maybe it was cause the weather looked like it was going to dump rain on us, but never even drizzled the whole day). When we got to mile 5, we were averaging under 8 minute miles-way too fast. We saw my parents at the entrance to the beach and then we saw them again and again and again....they were everywhere, they just kept hopping in their car and driving up, getting out, cheering, and repeating that! I really have no idea how I got such supportive parents as well, because all it took was one plea to them to wear our shark hats and they sported them all day!

We ran 2.5 miles on the sandy beach and we were SO glad to get that part over with. Beth, Dustin, and Catherine and I ducked behind two guys at the end of the beach to try to draft off of them and Dustin tried to block the wind from slowing me down (awwww, sweet!) I was still feeling great until about mile 11 (warning-yuckiness ahead), when I puked in my mouth! I tried to not let anyone know I was starting to feel bad and just kept running, but slowed down a bit.

Kathy Hunken was out on the course on her bike here and there, running around picking up our stuff we threw at her and refilling water bottles and cheering her butt off. She biked and ran a lot of miles that day and we are so thankful for her! We expect a lot out of her since she's a fellow St. Louisan who we met here. JC was also out there in a few places cheering us on, motivating me to keep smiling cause that's what I always tell her as she's running her 5 minute miles!

We saw so many other people on the sidelines and they really helped us along. We were slowing down, but still keeping a decent pace. Aaron Shady passed us, Millie Tanner passed us, Roberta Coltman passed us.....all great runners, but still, mentally having all these people start to pass us and my quads not wanting to stay with them was very challenging. I would have loved to keep up with those three, but couldn't. I was forced to walk a few times, but inside my head, was the voice of Kellie Smirnoff, saying "YOUARESOGONNABREAKFOURHOURSYOUCANDOIT!!!!" in her quick enthusiastic chant she had for me right before we started. Dustin and Beth were also trying to help with words of encouragement. Catherine was hanging on with us in a silent determination (this was her first marathon and she was kicking butt staying with us almost the whole time).

As we went past mile 20 where the Hammerhead Water stop was, it was so great to see familiar faces, but I was faking smiles, that is for sure. Then, we saw all our old Team in Training friends and ran by to give them all fives (again, fake smiles!)

Then, we saw our peeps from the new running store, Jacksonville Running Company. I begged Jo to run with me for a short time. Josh refilled water bottles with gatorade for us which we really needed cause there was some gross drink out on the course that wasn't good. They ran along with us telling me I could do it in under four hours, but I was majorly questioning myself by that time. I told Jo that it was my quads tightening up, that they'd never done that before and it sucked! She started massaging them AS we ran! It was hilarious but it felt good!

I could NOT let all these people who helped me down and run even a second over four hours. Dustin suggested that I put my headphones in and that helped, the Fort Minor song, 50% Pain pumped me up a lot and Maroon 5, It's getting harder and harder to breathe was coming true! I had to take the headphones out when I saw Alicia and her three kids alongside the street! I couldn't believe she brought them out there to cheer and I so needed that then. I put the headphones back on to hear, "Move, Bitch, get out the way, get out the way bitch, get out the way" which is a funny song anyway, but when your husband is just ahead of you in a skirt, it becomes hilarious! Again, faking a smile to myself and telling myself that I could do this. Dustin and Beth kept encouraging me and there were so many people out there on the course the last 6 miles, but I don't remember very much and I don't remember what anyone said to me.

I just kept thinking that I couldn't be opening up the door to our party later that day and telling people that I didn't meet my goal. I wanted to have champagne in my hand celebrating! Somehow, we pushed through the last few miles on JTB and then we saw Kathy running back to get us over the bridge and it was so great to see her! As we turned onto San Pablo road, we could see the finish and I still wasn't sure we would make it! Dustin, Beth and I got closer and closer, saw my parents on the sidelines cheering and we held hands to cross the finish line in 3:58:15! Thank goodness! After crying and hugging them, there were so many others, Lisa and Samantha, and Martin at the finish to hug. I truly could not have done it without Dustin and Beth pulling me along at the finish, so thanks guys! I think the first thing I said was, "That sucked!" But, man, was it worth it to come in under 4 hours. Now I can be done with marathons.....maybe, unless they start with a 2.4 miles swim and 112 mile bike. :)

I also got so many good luck emails, phone calls (the best was right before we were falling asleep on Sat night, Jeff and Kendra called to wish us luck!), texts, and so many congratulatory emails, phone calls, texts, and facebook comments that I felt VERY loved and supported that day! It was great to have my parents there to share it and it was great to have good friends at the party afterwards. We were also celebrating that the Hammerheads made it to 3000 run miles in February thanks to the marathon and half marathon. We were "racing" 59 other clubs around the nation and we won, thanks to our efforts to enter everyone's miles in when we came home from the marathon. It was a very successful day.