Anyone get the “Friends” reference in my post title? While the marathon is so individual, it is you vs. the distance 100% and it is a very intimate journey between a runner, and his/her body and mind- I recognize that the encouragement of my friends has A LOT to do with the fact I got to that start line on yesterday. Well, this post is dedicated to all my friends that supported me through out this journey in the last 4 months of training and especially the incredible ones that where there for me yesterday! I love you all so very much! I would NEVER have crossed that finish line without you guys
Saturday night I actually slept a whole lot better than I had predicted. I slept from 8:00-10:00 (got up and ate pizza and crackers), then slept from 11:45- 4:50 am. When I got up I got dressed in my marathon gear and then make sure I had all my things for the day packed and ready to go. I had made a list of stuff I wanted to pack the night before, it looked like this:
- Body Glide
- Gloves and Hat
- Throw away hoodie (to dump on the side of the road)
- Breakfast #1
- Breakfast #2
- Baby wipes
- Clothes for after the race
- Flip flops
Once I checked that everything was ready to go, Adam and I headed to pick up Karen for the ride to the start line in Lowell, Ma. While on the ride up, I ate my first breakfast of vanilla greek yogurt with walnuts and a pear.
Once we arrived at where we would be starting, I started to get really nervous. I had a lot of doubt with how I would handle this huge distance with my injuries, low iron and now this UTI. I was doubting my training as well, “Had I done enough?” “Did I do my 20 miler too far away from the race?” “Was it wise to skip my 12 miler to let my foot rest and heal up a bit?”. At 7am I forced down my second breakfast two whole wheat waffles with Barney butter and 1/2 of a banana.
I wasn’t hungry, but I knew I needed the fuel so I ate it anyways. It was a smart move looking back. Before heading to the start line (while kind of freaking out) we took a pre-race photo.
Dan, Olivia, Karen and I
At the start line I ran into my friend Jessica, we had planned on running together. Seeing her brought a calm and confidence over me. At that moment I made two deals with myself:
- Because the UTI causes me to have to pee a lot, not matter what I would allow myself to stop along the way and use the bathroom when I needed it.
- I would allow the nerves, fear and doubt to happen until that gun went off. Once the race started those thoughts had to leave my head and I needed to be completely committed!
As the Nation Anthem was being sung, I was getting nervous but so excited. I knew I was really capable of this and that it was going to finish it. When the gun went off, the negative thoughts and fear immediately went away. Jessica and I made a deal to start off really, really slowly. I knew that my first 3 miles HAD to be my slowest so that I could finish strong.
Jessica and I at the start.
We held tight to our slow pacing for those miles. It was hard to not get caught in the moment and run fast, we were running 11:30 min/miles. It was hard to keep my pace slow, but I knew that it needed to happen. Once I saw the first mile marker, I immediately had to pee. I was annoyed, but knew I had to listen to my body and respond to the infection. So I told myself I was stopping at the first water stop to go. Luckily each water stop also had a porta-potty. The first water stop came at 1.88 miles and I stopped. I waited in line for 6 an a half minutes. As the time ticked by, I got more and more antsy and annoyed that I was wasting time. Luckily, my friend Jess had to go too, so I didn’t feel like I was holding her up at all. While in line, I ditched the hoodie and the gloves that I started off with.
The next 8 miles seriously FLEW by. I was so surprised as how fast they went and how good I felt. I stopped at mile 8 for another pee break, where I waiting in line and it took a while. I was trying not to let the pee breaks frustrate me or the UTI pain get to me. Jess and I talked the whole way and I was so grateful and happy to be running. I could NOT believe how good I was feeling and honestly, it scared me a little. I was almost waiting for the other shoe to drop. At mile ten I came around a bend and saw my group of friends and Adam waiting for me and cheering.
At mile 10 Adam jumped in and ran with us. Seeing Adam made me so excited and I think he was a little shocked to see me in such high spirits and feeling so good. He ran with Jess and I from miles 10-13.
Miles 13-16 was my fastest 5k the whole race. I felt strong, really strong. I had to pee around mile 14 though and the porta-potties were so far away. The pain for having to pee got to just be a lot for me. I actually screamed at one point, “Where the f**k is the porta-potty?! COME ON!!!”. Once I came upon one I was so happy to be able to go. But I had a hard time getting my running tights back up. I was swollen and sweaty and the tights were not going up. I was worried that I may have to ask Kristen to help me. I finally got them up and we kept right on truckin’.
At sweet 16, I met up with the even sweeter Maureen
Maureen made the time and miles fly by. We just chatted away and it was so awesome. Around mile 18 the emotions started kicking it. I will say those last 8 miles were very emotional for me. I felt so great and that made me emotional. I knew I was going to really make this happen and that made me emotional. I realized how lucky I was that I had friends to cared enough to get up early and run legs of this marathon with me to support me and that made me emotional. There were a few periods between miles 16-18 that I had some tears. The car with my friends seemed to have been caught in traffic and Lisa was supposed to be taking over at mile 19. Maureen was willing to run until the end with me, but I knew it was not ideal for her. Her offering to do that made me feel that much more lucky and so inspired by her commitment to get me through. But, all of a sudden mile 19 rolled around and there was Lisa I don’t know what happened, but there were miracle workers in that car and they did not let me down.
Let me begin my section about miles 19-22 by stating that the night before my marathon was Lisa’s surprise 30th birthday party! This girl had her surprise party, got up the next day to be out the door and organize all my friends to run with me and drove around from spot to spot. Not only that, but she had an awful cold and still got out there and did 3 miles with me. I am so very thankful.
My miles with Lisa were great!!! She talked to me a lot about her party and I wanted to know all the details. We talked a lot about what I was feeling and how I was feeling. I was continuously in shock over how good I felt. While with Lisa I reflected on how far I had come from the days of being a sedentary, unhealthy smoker to running a marathon- a transformation I had made in just under 3 years. This obviously made me emotional and at time I let a few tears loose. Lisa consistently told how strong I looked and how amazing this thing I was doing was and I reminded me just how great it really was. While mile 20 came, I waited to feel “the wall”, I was mentally prepared to hit and and knock it over. But, it never came. I just kept right on going and putting one foot in front of the other. I stopped at mile 20-ish to pee for the 4th time.
As I rounded mile 22, I saw those familiar green t-shirts followed by the familiar screams and cheers. I saw my friend Belle jumping up and down and found out my friend Dan had already finished. I was so proud of him and ready to feel that pride myself. Adam jumped in to finish up with me and I was excited to see him. I was excited to run with him and also excited because running with him meant I was almost done!!!
I felt great and still so energized 22-23.5 I could not believe it. At 23.5 I was feeling saturated by the pain a little bit. My legs were hurting, the injuries on my feet were really coming through and the urinary track pain was present and strong. I wouldn’t call it a wall per se, but the pain was starting to consume me a little. I just talked it out with Adam and I found a way to get my mind out of my body. I was told several times that the last 10k is a mind game and those word could not be more true. Your mind has to be strong to get your body through those last miles. At mile 23.7 I peed for the 5th time. I was starting to get annoyed when I realized I had “wasted” 27 minutes of my race in line or inside an gosh darn porta-pottie. But, I quickly changes my perspective and told myself it was out of my control, but the anger and frustration I felt about it WAS in my control and I willed it to go away. It did! At mile 24, I prayed. I prayed to God to just help me overcome the pain and get me to that finish line. There were tears- tears of joy, tears of pain, tears of thanksgiving, and tears of reverence for what my body was about to accomplish.
There was something about seeing that mile 25 marker that made all the pain ignorable and a sense of joy and happiness came over me. I was 1 mile away from completing my first marathon. I had proven to myself that I was 100% unstoppable. I was about to have a life long dream come true and I could not even begin to explain what that felt like. About a half a mile away from the finish I heard someone yell, “Oh My God. is that Ali.” I looked up and saw my friend Stacey and her boyfriend. Stacey had run the half marathon (and PR’ed CONGRATS, STACE!!!!) and she stuck around for hours to see me finish. She immediately began to cry when she saw me and she yelled, “You look so good kiddo. Go finish! I am so proud of you.” I started to cry a little there too. At that point Adam backed off and let me just go. He did not want to cross the finish line with me. He felt I earned to be alone. All of a sudden, my pace picked up. I dug so deep- deeper than I knew I could dig and I booked it.
Turning the bend to where the finish line was in sight I saw Dan with his mental cheering for me. Then immedialty I saw my dad and my friends Kristie, Kevin and Melissa and I picked it up a little more. This is the face of utter determination:
Once that word “FINISH” was in my sights my legs just moved.
I crossed the finish line in 4:53: 17. Not bad for having to stop and wait in bathroom lines 5 separate times! There is a video of my finish and I will try to get it up in my next post so you can see it. But I was told I screamed ,”Yes! Thank you God! I did it!!!!” That sounds about right. The feeling, that moment my foot hit the timing pad is so hard to describe, but is one of the best feelings I have ever had in my life. I had EVERY reason not to make it to the start line, let alone that finish line. I am so elated.
My commitment to my training allowed me to feel like this when I finished:
The rest of the day was spent celebrating.
Dan and I
Me with my metal and victory shirt that read “I can run 26.2 miles What’s your Superpower?” After the race we hit Lowell Beerworks for a little food and celebration! I sipped a pumpkin beer throughout the meal- CARBS
Dan and I split an order of fried pickles -SALT!
I had a burger for the first time in about 5 years- PROTEIN! The food looked so overwhelming to me so I just eat the actual patty with the cheese and left the bun and the fries. I wasn’t completely uninterested. I think right after a long run food is not all that appealing to me. That is sort of always the case.
I had a few more celebratory beers last night What an amazing day!!!
Looks like Adam and Belle are happy this is all over and they get to have their spouses back
Today I am feeling pretty sore. I actually had my first physical therapy appointment this morning. It was spent stretching, icing and talking about my injuries and my goals. I will be going twice a week for 8 weeks. I am happy to be cutting waaaaaaaay back on my mileage and allowing my feet to heal. I ate whatever I wanted whenever I wanted today and I was not in the mood for photographing or dealing with it. I just wanted low stress and recovery. Highlight of my post-marathon day- I bumped into Shawn Thorton is my local coffee shop and chatted with him about my marathon. He remarked that I was walking funny and then congratulated me. Yeah- that really happened.
I will be back tomorrow with a “Things I Learned From Running My First Marathon” post and I am also planning on having one of my friends/spectators do a post about what it was like from thier point of view.
Thanks for all your support over the last few months, it had a huge part in everything that happened yesterday! Thanks for reading! Hugs!!!!