This race was a HUGE milestone in my life, one I will never forget for sure. I was able to create a very very very special memory with my best friend and realize just what I am made of!
I was unusually calm Sunday morning. I felt cool, confident and unafraid. Pulled out of the driveway at 4:45, dark, breezy and cool outside, Chris drove Erika and I to the race following friends of ours, one ultra runner and two other first time Marathoners. We were all able to meet up with our running buddies that were doing the half and I just can't express how awesome it has been having the support and sense of community that this group of runners provides. Exceptional Women, for sure.
So we all gathered by the Porta Potties excited that they were NOT full, had a few laughs, took some pics, checked, and double checked to make sure we had everything before Gear Check. I stepped aside for a moment, put my jacket back on (it was chilly) , ate my banana and just took in my surroundings. Here I was checking out the beautiful Capital Building ready to actually run a MARATHON! Chris wrapped his arms around me and told me he knew he didn't have to tell me to not give up since he knew that wouldn't happen, but to enjoy it and how proud he was of me. I adore that man!
Erika and I committed to run the race together. I needed her previous race experience and her ability to pull me back to assure that I wouldn't burn out, and she needed my strong will, optimism and BIG mouth. :o) It was VERY exciting for me.
The weather was not optimal, in fact it was reported to be the hottest Austin Marathon in race history (you know I got that fact from Erika, LOL), my rib flared up on Friday so badly I could not breathe but thankfully the steroid shot my doctor gave to me Saturday morning helped A TON!! No pain. I felt good. No knee pain, no issues. This was going to be a great race!
Aaaaannnnndddd we were off! Water stops about every mile, we skipped the first two and settled in around mile three to what our strategy would be. Walk through the water stops, enjoy the break and then back at it again. Took our first gel at 40 minutes and that's when I decided I would pray for a friend of our family who is going through some health issues at each 5 mile marker since that would be easy for me to remember to do.
Right after I hit the 5 mile point I realized, YEP I DID IT AGAIN!!! I was FREAKING PEEING MY PANTS AGAIN!!!! WTH is my problem?!?!?!!? I kept feeling a drip drip and asking Erika to look behind to see if she saw anything and she said no, but as the miles went on and when we took our first pee break around 7 or 8ish mile over in the bushes (yeah the bushes...no porta potties we were straight up bold and did what needed to be done, LOL) I realized my shorts were soaked, just lovely....whatever I *DID* take 3 actual pee breaks but still managed to be soaked and smell like urine, it was great. (insert a sarcastic tone and sigh please)
I settled into my run, relaxed and just chatted away trying not to be too embarassed when Erika was screaming to people that it was my first marathon, LOL! To be honest one of my highlights was BART YASSO from Runner's World hearing her say that and giving me two guns and a "YEAH"....TOTALLY COMPLETELY AWESOME! I was PUMPED!!! We were screaming OMG and laughing out loud...it was GREATNESS!
I found myself zoning out at times, looking at what the other people were wearing, smiling at the crowd cheering us on, and then we got into the double digits....this was awesome! THIS is when I usually feel good. I don't remember too much about the hills, yes they were there, but I LOVE the hills so I didn't really focus on them, did what I had to do to get up one and used the downhill to recover and settle back in again. I felt strong. Really strong.
As we climbed up in the mileage, our bodies started to ache and our conversations got a little shorter with more time in between them. It was Erika's IT band and my knees. We stretched at water stations best we could and kept moving forward. Knee pain was nothing new to me so I tried not to focus on it, but trust me IT HURT. The humidity was starting to get to us and I for the first time got to experience that "sloshing" in the stomach I've heard everyone talk about. Thankfully Erika gave me some salt pills and they worked!!!! It was getting rough around 17.5 and we started to count down the mileage until we saw Kimmers!!! The chicky who I started my running journey with committed to come on out and join in to keep us going at the 20 mile mark. Having her do that AND seeing different friends along the race made a HUGE difference to me. It was great!!!!! She came in between the 19 and 20 mile mark and I just wanted to cry I was so happy.She was fresh and ready to go. :o) It renewed my spirit and mind. This was good. I suddenly realized that it was already 21 miles and I hadn't hit a "wall" that I've heard so much talk about but it was TOUGH. I felt myself wince at times when my foot landed on the asphalt. Kim asked at mile 22 why my knees were wobbling and I realized just how bad they were hurting but tuned it right out. Tears were streaming down my face without me realizing I was crying. Then as strange as it sounds, when it occured to me I was crying I began to sob a little. I kept fighting my mind telling myself to knock it off. "Pain is weakness leaving the body. Keep going." I kept looking down at my LiveSTRONG bracelet and am so thankful that the word STRONG was in bold as I repeated to myself over and over...."You ARE strong. You ARE strong." .... "You are NOT a Quitter, you are a Finisher". I was just too close to focus on that pain. I continued saying those same things over and over, shaking my head back and forth trying to get rid of those tears and NOT allow myself to breakdown. I was successful. No breakdown.
Sammi snapped this pic between 23 and 24 miles!Those last few miles were tough. My body hurt. I was hot. I couldn't drink any more of the Gatorade at those last few stops, it was nauseating. But then as we approached that final hill I was recharged, I was READY TO BE A FINISHER!!!!
We turned the corner to see our girls in their purple shirts running out to meet us and run us in. It was absolutely PERFECT!! This was not only a huge moment for me but a moment that will hopefully have an impact on Adrianna as she grows. I told Erika this was it, let's finish this baby strong and go! (after all the girls were running faster than us and were getting too far ahead, LOL!) Passing by all our friends that either stayed after their half marathon or came all the way out just to cheer us on, we were there....we were at the finish line with our girls and heard the announcer say "Here comes Gina and Erika, Marathon Moms" . . . it was pure joy!!! We grabbed each others hands and crossed together getting the exact same time! That sweaty stinky hug was one of the happiest moments of my life!
The race was an absolute SUCCESS!
Total Time: 5 hours, 33 minutes and 9 seconds I will cherish FOREVER!
I am a FINISHER!How I was transformed by this race is an entire separate blog post! :o)
I am SO BLESSED with so much LOVE and SUPPORT!!
I am SO BLESSED with so much LOVE and SUPPORT!!