Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Marathon Recap!

I have a feeling this is going to be a long one.....just a warning!

We left for Columbus on Saturday afternoon around 11:15am. Despite the multitude of delicious and different restaurants in the city, I asked hubby if he wouldn't mind taking me to Cracker Barrel for lunch. He reluctantly agreed. My mood had been so tense leading up to the race that he wasn't about to ask why! If you know anything about my hubby and I, it is that we love good food! We love going to new places, preferably non-chain type places. Sadly, if you remember, I had made the Cracker Barrel Chicken and Dumplings before my first 16 miler and 20 miler. I don't tend to be too superstitious, but that meal had served me well in the past, so I figured....why not?! We enjoyed a delicous (and child-free) lunch and then headed to the Expo. We got there around 2:00pm. The expo was a bit of a let down, but it was nice to peruse the booths child-free! Hubby had never been to an expo before, so he enjoyed it too. I picked up my t-shirt, poster and bib and we headed to the hotel to check in. It wasn't really until then that it hit me....I was going to run a FULL marathon. Our dinner reservations weren't until 7:00pm, so I tried to take a little nap, but was too anxious. I pulled out my book (Dan Brown's new one) but found that to be even more anxiety-inducing! I painted my fingernails ORANGE (you know, to match my shoes, shirt, and hair ribbon). I thought Tall Mom would be so proud! Dinner at Buca di Beppo was good and fun, as usual. After dinner we called it a night and headed back to the hotel. I laid everything out for the next morning. I opened up my book again and found my heart racing and the pages turning quicker and quicker at 11:00pm. I knew I had to put the book down and just try to sleep! I probably got about 4 or 5 decent hours of sleep.
(BIL, Sister, Mom, Dad, Me and Hubby after dinner)

(my gear all ready to go!)

When the alarm went off at 6:30am, I was READY to get up! We were to meet my sister and Mike in the lobby of the hotel at 7:00am. I gulped down my blueberry Roctane, took my Immodium AD and we were off.
(Me and my sweet $4 Goodwill "throw away" pants that I couldn't part with)

The city was full of life for so early in the morning. Cars and people were pouring into the city from everywhere. We got about 1/4 of a mile from our hotel and I realized I had left my amphipod in the hotel room fridge! Oops! Nice hubby ran back and got it for me! As we got to the starting area, it was jam-packed with runners and spectators. We couldn't get anywhere, so we ended up starting by the 5:30 pace group. We were so far back, we couldn't hear any instructions (didn't even know they were giving any!) or the gun go off. About 12 minutes later, we finally crossed the starting line and we were off. They had a band playing at the start and the streets were lined with spectators. It was so exciting as we scanned the sidelines for family and friends. It was pretty chilly (around 33 degrees) but the sun was just coming up and it looked to be a beautifull day ahead.

Miles 1-5:
This part of the course was essentially flat and lined with people almost the entire stretch. We passed by the Franklin Park Conservatory and headed into an area of town called Bexley. This is home to some of the most gorgeous, old mansions in the state! We went through a couple of the neighborhoods (where the governor was out shaking hands with the runners), and looped around the park and back to the road we initially came down on. Hubby was on his bike, in hopes of catching us every 5 miles or so on the course. I had hoped to take off my sweatshirt and take my first GU around mile 5, when we saw my hubby. He wasn't able to get as far as he (I) had wanted, so we ended up seeing my parents first, around mile 5.5. My Mom had made a sign for us that said "Run Like Two Hot Mamas" and my Dad had a fun horn he was squeezing. I took off my sweatshirt at this point and took my first GU. We took a quick picture and then we were off.

Miles 6-10:
Around mile 6.5, we finally found hubby. He claims we were running faster than anticipated! I was happy to see him, but wasn't ready to take my pants off yet!
(first hubby encounter on the course)
He took off on his bike and planned to meet us again around mile 10. From there, we headed back into the downtown area and into German Village. This area is very quaint and had lots of spectators. We looped around yet another park and into the Brewery District.

Miles 10-15:
By mile 11 we still hadn't seen hubby again and I was getting anxious. I wanted to stay on track with my GUs (but didn't want to make everyone stop 15 billion times) and I was ready to take my pants off! Mike was also in need of some ibuprofen, which hubby had in his bag. I ended up just taking my GU on the run around mile 11. Finally, around mile 12, we saw hubby again. I gave him my pants, took my ibuprofen, gave Mike some ibuprofen, filled my water bottle and we were off! He planned to catch us around mile 15, but I had wised up that these were not concrete plans! It was tough getting around the city on bike! We continued up High Street another 3 miles. I thought this stretch of road would be pretty long, but it actually went by pretty fast. We saw the half-marathoners turn off for their finish on the left. Mentally, I just couldn't look at the finish line, so I kept looking straight ahead and trudged up one of the only real hills on the course. I said to my sister "no turning back now!" and we held our heads high as we continued on the FULL marathon course.
*Our half split was 2:22:53 *

Miles 16-19:
The bulk of this section of the course took us through The Ohio State University campus. Ohio State is not known as a particularly pretty campus, but on this day, it was beautiful and so nostalgic! We ran down 15th Avenue, home to sorority/fraternity row. Sadly, it was SILENT. We all guessed they were still hung over from the night before. We found my parents cheering wildly across the street from my beloved Kappa Delta house. About a half-mile later, we saw hubby again. I remember telling him "I feel good!" and he was off to catch us around mile 20. I took my 3rd GU somewhere around 15 or 16. I just kept thinking of my training book (take your nutrition early and often). I still hadn't had to stop to pee by this point, despite taking in what seemed like lots of water. Miles 17-18 found us out on the West Campus of OSU and was one of the only areas of poorly supported course. By mile 19 though, we had re-entered some neighborhoods and it was nice to see people cheering again! I was hoping to see my friend around here, but she never made it out.

Miles 20-24:

I had decided that at mile 20, I would turn on my iPod for added support. We had lost our friend Mike by this time and I was slowing down. My sister was consistently 10-20 feet ahead of me. I wanted to be mentally psyched up and prepared for this last part of the journey. I was scared for what these next few miles might bring. I think the anticipation was worse than the reality of it! I had the perfect playlist lined up. At mile 20 my sister stopped to use the port-o-potty, I put on my headphones, stretched, took my 4th GU, filled my water bottle and "cleared the slate" mentally. The first song up was "The Final Countdown". I got chills as tears welled up in my eyes. This was it. I was fulfilling a long awaited dream. I felt like I was floating through the air. I couldn't believe how good I felt. The next song up was "Everlasting God". Couldn't have come at a better time. By this time I was running down the street, oblivious to all the spectators, in my own world, mouthing the words to the song. This was my zen moment!! I knew we were heading into a boring portion of the course and I think mentally that brought me down. I started to contemplate walking (besides through the water stations, which we had pretty much been doing the entire time). At mile 23 I took my 5th and final GU and my sister told me "We're not stopping again!" It was starting to hurt to start/stop at this point. I agreed, but knew my legs were getting pretty tight and sore. Around mile 24 we saw hubby (and my BIL). This was the first time I *needed* him for support. He rode along with me for a bit and then finally just got off his bike and walked with me. It was just what I needed to re-charge my legs/mind. I'm not sure I ever really hit the wall, but if I did, this was my moment. They were handing out candy buckeyes and while the thought of them made me want to puke at that point in time, hubby got a couple for post-race. Hubby and BIL then went on to catch us at the finish line.

Miles 25-26:

These last few miles are a blur. I never had the "so close, yet so far away" feeling that I'd experienced in my previous half marathons. They had lined the course with balloon archways and flags. By this point, it was a celebration! I had my iPod blaring by this time and looked over to see my hubby (suprisngly) running next to me. I knew I was close and I felt great. I'll never forget heading up the last little incline and the song "Open The Eyes of My Heart" was on. The sun was shining and it was a beautiful day. Running felt effortless. My parents were right around mile marker 26. We took one last quick picture, turned the corner and ran down the hill to the finish line. The finish line was packed with people. I couldn't see or hear any of them though. I was in my own, happy world. Nothing else mattered and I suddenly wanted time to stop. I wanted to take it all in and remember this moment. I grabbed my sisters hand and we held them high as we crossed the finish line. We had done it and felt GREAT doing it. Our finishing time was 4:56:50.

(Mile 26!!!!)

I really expected to feel completely horrible in the finishing area. We got wrapped in our mylar blankets and had medals placed around our necks. I had to hold back tears at this point! Next up was the photo area. No fake smile needed this time! I was on top of the world. We got our finishers hat and made our way through the food. Water, bagels, bananas, donuts, milk, chips. I took a bottle of water, ate a donut in about 10 seconds flat, grabbed a bottle of milk and bag of chips and made our way out. Luckily, we ran right into hubby and my parents. We exchanged congratulatory hugs, took pictures and realized we needed to head back to the hotel to check out ASAP! Hubby had ditched his bike along the way, so he needed to go back and get his bike. I walked back to the hotel by myself and was in shock. Did I really just finish a marathon? Could it really have been that easy? I mean, if *I* completed a marathon, it's got to be easy, right?! It didn't matter though. Nothing mattered. I had set a goal and accomplished it.

Back at the hotel I made 3 trips to the ice machine to fill up ice buckets for my ice bath (hubby was still getting his bike and putting it in the car). This was crucial to my recovery and I wasn't about to skip it! I settled into the ice bath, turned on my iPod again and this is when the tears came. Tears of joy, of course! The water didn't even seem cold to me anymore as I was transported back to the zen place in my mind! 15 minutes passed quickly, but I was still happy to get out and into some warm water! I showered quickly, got dressed and we checked out of the hotel with about 6 minutes to spare! We met my sister and BIL in the lobby and headed out to a yummy Mexican lunch. Mexican food and ice cream almost always follow my long runs! After lunch we headed home to see the kids. It was good to see them and they were happy to see us! Although I was getting kind of stiff and achy, I really felt pretty good. I couldn't believe it.

And really, if I had one word to describe this experience, it would be unbelievable. To this day, if I hadn't had pictures of myself actually doing it, I don't know that I would have believed it! My muscles on Monday morning told a different story though! They were very much believers in the marathon experience! I still have so much to process and have a feeling of sadness that this whole great event is over. You never get your first time back..... Which leads me to ponder. What should the new name of my blog be?? I'm no longer a marathon virgin.

Stay tuned....and more pictures to come!


Marlene said...

Woohoo! Excellent report! I felt like I weas right there with you.

Congratulations, Marathoner! You ran a great race! Sounds like you had good support, which is amazing, and I love that you finished with your sister.

Morgan said...

I'm overcome with emotion reading this. I know exactly how you feel. I have tears in my eyes and joy in my heart for you right now. Congrats girl! You did it! You are a Marathon Finisher!!!!!!! Isn't it the most amazing feeling in the world?!??!

Faith Ann said...

Congratulations!! I enjoyed reading your recap... it sounds like you had a fantastic day.

Gina said...

You said it perfectly, Nicole!! So proud of you (us) for doing it! I had hopes of how our finish would go and now I can say that it went exactly as I wanted...holding hands and holding back tears. Love you, GG

Mel -Tall Mom on the Run said...

OMG I am soooo BEHIND on blogging I almost missed this race report...I would have CRIED. I seriously need to make reminders for myself.

1. Props on the matching nails....sooooo proud. I am thinking BLACK for my Hallowenn Half??

2. Love that hubby went back to get your bottle. And LOVE LOVE that he rode his bike to see and support you. My hubby runs and plans to meet me, but the bike idea, that is GOOD!

3. Mansions...I would love to run past mansions...it would probably slow me down because I would be in awe.

4. No pee stops or accidents.. LUCKY!! I pray for the day when I can run a race of any length without having the urge to go.. Nervous Mommy bladder.

5. You are so right it does hurt to stop after a certain point... Trying to get going again is TOUGH.

6. Finishers hat? Is it a cool one you will wear again?

7. Doughnut, so funny. I love that you had Mexican food and icecream, I bet it tasted like heaven.

8. Names for the Blog.. Gosh I really need to think on this.. Reading your report a few words jumped out... Finding Zen, An Unbelieveable Run, Taking it all in, that is all I have hmmmm...

9. Cracks me up that you did not want to part with your toss away pants :)

10. Welcome to the club!! HUGS!