I’m still in disbelief that I actually ran a marathon. In a way, it feels like a dream. My version of pinching myself has been looking at my medal or finisher shirt. I feel like I have to do it every now and then just to make sure it actually happened.
Well, it did happen. And it happened just as I expected and not at all as I expected (if that makes any sense). I’ll do my best to recap the day (and sorry for how long this is).
My alarm went off about 5 a.m. I got up, got dressed and ate some cereal and a banana. I also made sure to keep drinking some water. I headed to my planned parking spot near the finish line and got on the light rail about 6:40 a.m. to head to downtown Minneapolis. As soon as I got off the train I got in a bathroom line. The lines weren’t too bad, but I wanted to make sure I’d have plenty of time to find my corral, etc.
I found corral 2 and just wandered around a bit and waited for the race to start.
Pretty soon, they were playing the national anthem and then corral 1 was off. Corral 2 started walking forward and at 8:06 a.m. we were set free.
Miles 1-2 go through downtown Minneapolis. I tried to control the adrenaline and make sure I wasn’t starting out too fast. I glanced at my Garmin several times and tried to settle in to no faster than a 10 minute mile. That was a little tough given my Garmin was acting up with some of the tall buildings, but I was running a comfortable pace.
Soon, we were out of downtown and headed towards the lakes. I did a lot of training runs around these lakes, so it felt like some familiar territory. I was looking forward to getting to Lake Harriet because my parents were planning to be around mile 7.5. I was a little nervous that I wouldn’t see them, but before long I spotted them on my left side.
I gave them high fives and handed them my arm warmers which I didn’t need anymore. With some added energy after seeing them I continued on. For a lot of the first part of the race I was feeling like I might have to go to the bathroom. Not bad, but it was a nagging feeling. I passed several bathrooms that had long lines and didn’t want to stop. But around mile 9 I spotted a porta potty with only a few people in line and decided I’d feel better if I just stopped. I did.
The first 10 miles flew by. That feels weird to
say type, but they really did. As we made our way towards Lake Nokomis (miles 11-13), my excitement grew because I knew a big group of friends were going to be cheering around mile 12. I was so excited when I spotted them!
I gave more high fives and shouted thank you as they cheered. I didn’t stop when I saw them. I was still feeling really good, but wanted to keep my momentum.
I had lots of friend support in these “middle miles.” I spotted Lara around mile 14.
Hyedi and a few friends were waiting for me with big cheers around mile 15.
By mile 16, my legs were starting to feel fatigued, but nothing I hadn’t dealt with on long training runs. The course started heading up along the river and soon I was at miles 17-18. I was beginning to feel my legs get more tired by this point and then I heard Ashley, Jill and John cheering for me from the side and got a great boost of energy.
Even with that, miles 18-20 were where it started to get tough. My parents were planning to be at mile 20, so I continued to chug along to “the wall.” I saw them and my sister at mile 20 and made a short pit stop to grab a Gu they were holding for me in case I needed it in those last 6 miles. They gave me some words of encouragement and then I headed off — walking. My legs needed a slight break. I hadn’t really taken a break since mile 9 with the bathroom stop because I was doing a good job of running through water stops.
I only walked for about a minute. My pace was starting to slow down a little, but I was feeling determined to conquer this difficult part of the course. Miles 20-23 are mostly uphill. The “Summit Hill” is notorious for TC Marathon runners. I had been warned that this part of the course was the worst. I spotted my friend Katie around mile 21 cheering loudly and used that energy to fight my way up the hill and over to Summit Ave. It was a slow run, but I ran that whole damn hill! My legs were pretty dead and mad at the end, but I was feeling great about not walking on that hill.
As I made my way down Summit, I had a new game plan — run into water stops, grab a cup and then walk for a minute while you drink. My legs were so tired and I just needed the break. It was a little hard to do because I normally never intentionally walk during a race. This race was different. And that’s ok.
The last 4 miles of the course felt like they took FOREVER! This was my payback for the first 10 miles flying by. Finally, I spotted the top of the St. Paul Cathedral over the trees and I knew the finish line was ahead, and downhill! I felt my breath catch in my throat and thought I might start crying, but I pulled myself together because I needed to keep up some steady breathing to finish.
The street opens up and you can see a big American flag, the crowd of people, the state capitol, and the finish line. On my dead legs, I pushed my way over that finish line. I put my hands in the air as I crossed it and exhaled in relief that it was over.
To my surprise, tears didn’t come. Given how emotional I was when I finished my 20 mile long run, I totally expected that I’d break down at the finish. I didn’t. Honestly, I think I was simply too exhausted. I slowly walked down the shoot and volunteers put my medal around my neck, wrapped me in a thermal blanket, and handed me water and food. I had a banana and a bunch of other stuff in my arms when the banana fell to the ground. A guy almost stepped on it, but stopped just in time. I had to bend down and pick it up. OMG did my legs HATE that!
I stayed on my feet while I waited for my family and a friend to find me. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to get back up if I sat down. I was tired and sore, but I still managed a smile and a photo opp with my medal!
My official time was 4:41:02. With an overall goal of just finishing, I’m very happy with that.
I dedicated 18 weeks of training and years of mental preparation to accomplish this goal and it paid off.
I’m a marathoner!