I awoke at 5:30am with what felt like a ton of bricks in my stomach. I was nervous within seconds of opening my eyes, but there was no turning back. I trained for months to get to where I was and throwing it away and going back to bed was NOT an option.
Peter drove me to the starting point in Clear Spring, MD, just at Dam #5. The sun was not up at this point, so I was not able to take a picture of the awesome view. So I will send you what it typically looks like when there's actual sunlight.
I was partially frozen, dealing with a chilly 35 degrees...at most. I was thankful to have opted for gloves, but even still, my hands were ice, which made moving my fingers next to impossible. I tried to ignore it, knowing that once the sun was above the trees, they would warm up, but it was not easy. Fortunately, frozen hands were the biggest problem I had in the beginning.
My first stop was 7 miles in at Williamsport, MD's Cushwa Basin. This is typically where I began my 19-20 mile long runs. It is also my hometown. :o)
My icy fingers picked at my mixture of Nature Valley Granola Bars and Peanut M&Ms. Both which have never failed me on a run. I ate only a 3rd of what I had and did not linger for long. I resumed running within 5 minutes.
I stuck to a strict 12 minute pace, even when I felt like I could have sped up. I kept reminding myself that I have never run a full marathon and I had no idea what I would feel like at mile 20. I have hit the wall before and did not want to hit it again, even if that meant going at a dreadfully slow pace.
Anyway, I started feeling pain early. On top of having cold hands and toes, my ankles started to bother me around mile 12. I had a feeling that it was going to be an issue that would only increase along the way. But I tried to shrug it off. Every other part of my body felt fine and I was still feeling energetic. My ankles were not going to stop me now. Especially when I would be seeing my fiance and best friend in just 9 miles.
I took my next break at mile 14.
|Lock 43 in Williamsport, MD, just after the Potomac Fish & Game Club|
I finally had full use of my hands at this point. The sun warmed me up enough and eliminated at least one discomfort.
I took this break as a chance to stretch and eat another 3rd of my snacks. I also called Peter and texted Ashley to let them know that I was an hour away from where we were to meet up. My pace boosted briefly just so I could see them a little sooner.
When I did catch sight of them from a distance, I nearly cried out of happiness.
|At McMahon's Mill, 19 miles in.|
I ate my final serving of granola and M&Ms, gave Peter some items I no longer needed on my journey, and continued the last 7 miles with Ashley.
At this time, on top of the ankle pain that was becoming more noticeable with each step, my hips also began to cry out in pain. Thank God Ashley was there to help distract me. We had plenty to talk about. Though, there was a point around mile 23, where I asked to stop and stretch. I tried to work at my ankles a bit, get them loosened up, but my attempt proved worthless. They were still unhappy with me. So we popped a few Skittles to give us a boost (I also popped a couple of pain pills), admired the view, and continued forward.
|Dam #4 in Sharpsburg, MD|
I had about 3 miles left and all I could think about were my end rewards: Pizza, sleep, shots, and 26.2 car stickers. Ashley was also encouraging, letting me know how awesome I was doing. She was doing pretty awesome herself, running her longest distance to date, which was 7.5 miles.
Once I saw a break in the trees, just a mile away from finishing, I knew I was going to make it. I was even more thrilled when I saw my fiance and Ashley's husband, Ben waiting for us at the end.
|Just minutes before completion.|
I finished the run in ONLY 5 hours and 6 minutes. That's a Boston Marathon qualifying time, right?
It was definitely not a fabulous time, but my goal was just to finish. Simple. Also, I never hit the wall on this adventure, which was more than I could have asked for. I give most of the credit to Ashley on that one. Without her, I think my mind would have focused on the pain that I was experiencing, but she kept me on target and focused on the prize.
|Stuffed crust pizza|
|Seasonal Jager shots|
I truly could not have asked for a better outcome and look forward to my first official marathon in March! I know I can do it now! :o)
Now for my well-deserved zero week!!! No serious running until next Sunday! Woo! Have a great week guys!
Have you ever run a marathon unofficially?
How do you fight through pain on a long run?
Do you rely on the encouragement from friends to get through a difficult run?
What rewards do you give yourself for completing one of your goals?
Tell me about your first marathon!!!