Monday, October 15, 2012

Last...but not Least: My Marathon Story

I did it! I finished my marathon! I can slap my 26.2 sticker on my van! Was it worth it? Absolutely! Will I run another marathon? No thank you. Here's my story...
I signed up for the early start at 7 AM because during my training I was averaging 14 minutes per mile. Official start time was 8 AM and the barricades would be torn down at 2 PM. So I figured I needed the hour cushion. Saturday I went to the expo to pick up my packet. I saw all these really fit people picking up their packets and then there was me. I am not fit. But I was happy to be a part of this group. I bought my 26.2 sticker to put on my van because I am going to finish this thing, no matter what! I asked the registration workers what time I should show up and they said, it didn't really matter because it's electronic and the race starts when I cross the start and ends when I cross the finish. I thought...O..K.
I couldn't sleep all night. I was so anxious. I needed to get some sleep, but I was too worried and excited and just hyped up. All those relaxation techniques I'd read about in the marathon training book were not working. So I prayed and finally fell asleep. I'm up at 5:30 AM. We agreed that Guillo would just carry the boys to the van in their pajamas and they would drop me off, then he'd take them back home, dress them, feed them, and come back to cheer me on throughout the race. So we didn't leave the house until 6:45. All the roads were blocked off and I was late to the starting time. I showed up and the runners were already running. So I had to make a mad dash to the starting point and ask if I can still start the race even though they already left. Thankfully they let me. I started at 7:05 AM.
By myself. Which in retrospect was okay. I trained all by myself. So why shouldn't I start that way? Besides, God was with me. I was gonna be fine.
The first 4 miles were easy and went really fast. I was super pumped up. D-day was here. It would all be over soon, or so I thought. At 13.1 miles I was still feeling pretty good. Seeing my husband and the boys was awesome! I was still excited.
Just after mile 16, I almost got lost. I was at an intersection and no one was there to tell me which way to go. I asked some runners who were walking and had just finished the marathon and they couldn't remember, but told me that left was mile 24. Well that's not the right way. So I went forward when the person in front of me had turned left. I had to call Guillo, who I had just passed, and ask him to look at the map and make sure I was going the right way. I was and then he caught up with me at mile 17.
After that, Guillo and the boys were by my the van. Later, Guillo would tell me that he had planned to stick with me in the end. He knew that I had only gone as far as 18 miles in my training, so he wanted to be there for me at the end. Isn't that just the sweetest? He's the best husband in the whole world!
At mile 19, I started to suspect that I was the last one, or at least one of the last few people. All the water stops were closing down. Which was disturbing, because I would not be able to last without some Gatorade. I eventually had to ask Guillo to bring me some.
Mile 20 went right in front of our friend's house. I had seen the map of the course, but I actually didn't look at it too much, as evidence from my almost getting lost, so I didn't even know I'd be running by their house. Guillo drove ahead of me and asked them to come out and cheer me on. That was pretty neat. It was support when I needed it.
And then I saw the workers tearing down the mile markers. I was starting to think negative thoughts. "How humiliating. I can't believe I'm last. Very last? Really?" But then I had to just start thinking, "It doesn't matter. I'm finishing!" And I kept thinking that over and over.
At mile 23, I asked Guillo, "Will it ever end?" And he said "You can do it! You're almost there!"
It was surreal. The sound of the road blocks and mile markers being torn down right after I passed each one was intimidating. But I'm very thankful to the workers for not tearing them down before I reached them. They were great. The officers working the intersections were so supportive. "You can do it ma'am!" You're almost there!"
After mile 24, Guillo couldn't follow me anymore. They had taken the road blocks down and moved me to the sidewalk. A PF worker followed me in a golf cart and kept supporting me. "Look! You can see the Hyatt. You're almost there!" he said.
At this point I was half walking and limping. I probably looked like Igor. But, I was moving forward and I was grateful to not be flat on my face. I pass marker 26. Only .2 miles left! "Over the bridge and you're home!" the golf cart man said. I started to pick my pace up to try to mimic a jog. I see my husband and boys at the finish line. I see two of our friends there, too. I see a woman waving a shirt and medal. I SEE THE END! Then my boys run towards me. They each take my hand and run with me to the finish line. It was SO precious. It was the best feeling and the highlight of the whole marathon! I started to cry. My husband was crying (he told me later). I crossed the finish line holding my sons' hands at 2:36 PM. It took me 7:31:37. They give me my medal with a pin on it that says, "Dead Last Finish is greater than Did Not Finish which trumps Did Not Start."  A worker beings me fruit and a whole pizza and cold Gatorade. They immediately start to tear down the finish line. And I am just surprised that I am still standing up. Seriously...can I sit down? My friend opens our van, which Guillo had pulled up right the the finish line, and I finally sit and eat my fruit and thank God it is over and I have finished. I was last. Dead last. But I finished. That was my goal. 806 people registered for the marathon, but only 723 finished. I am not an athlete. I am not an elite runner. I am not even a well trained runner. I am a 38-year-old mother of two preschoolers who loves salty foods and indulges in Oreo cookies and loves to watch movies. And I finished a marathon. I jogged, walked and limped through 26.2 miles. And I am happy. I am grateful. I am blessed to have been able to do it. I can tell my sons that perseverance is worth it. Comparing your achievements to another person's is meaningless. Being grateful for what you have accomplished, no matter how long it took you to do it, is a great feeling and something that no one can take away from you.
So, will I run another marathon? No. But I'm happy I did it. Will I stop running? No! Next year, I'm signing up for the half marathon and Lord willing, I'll be doing a whole lot of 5Ks in between. :)

My boys running with me to the finish line.
"I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13
My wonderful husband and me at the finish line.
To see the results of the marathon, go to the Prairie Fire Marathon website at Click on marathon results and go to the last page to see my name.