After 18 weeks of training the marathon was here! When I started training I imagined myself crossing the finish line in tiny spandex shorts and a sport bra, because I would be so fit from all the running. This is not quite what happened but I am beyond stoked and proud none the less!
Saturday Marathon Eve
The day before THE DAY. I woke up anxious. It was the first Saturday that I did not have some sort of a run in 4 months. KC and I took Sadie for a walk, and KC being the caring husband he is went out and got me an iced coffee.
We took my new car up to Biddeford, ME where the race “expo” was. I put expo in quotations because it was more of bib pick up and a couple of booths to buy running gear. Because the Coast to Coast Marathon has a half marathon too, I timed bib pick up to be well after that race was over.
We got lost on the UNE campus and I felt myself getting more an more anxious, but eventually we found it and I got my bib, pins and shirt. I also ordered a windbreaker because I wanted something that said “Finisher 26.2” that I could potentially wear when not running so normal people would be impressed/ intimidated by me.
We went out to lunch and I got a quesadilla and a beer because they say to do nothing differently before race day. And pre- long run Meg always drinks and eats Mexican food.
The rest of the day was spent stretching and lounging on the couch. I made fish tacos for dinner courtesy of blue apron.
I laid out all my running gear, gathered my fuels and my bib.
I debated taking a melatonin as I wanted to sleep but also did not want to be groggy. Ultimately i voted yes, and jumped into bed before 10 PM and fell asleep pretty quickly.
Sunday Marathon Day
I woke up at 5 AM. I felt anxious, excited, sick and energetic all at once. I began drinking fluids immediately, took Sadie out with KC and hurried him along. We left the house a few minutes later than I wanted and I freaked out a bit.
I insisted on driving 1. Because I am obsessed with my new car 2. Because I wanted to go at my pace and not KC’s- a chronic problem hence why we don’t run together.
We stopped at Dunks for iced coffee for me and tater tots for KC. I ate a protein bar as I drove but truly felt like I was going to puke. I took small tiny bites and washed it down with my french vanilla iced coffee.
We arrived at the high school with plenty of time for me to warm up, stretch and pee 3 times. Nervous bladder is a thing! I really thought I was going to be sick, but after jogging around stretching and chatting with KC, I began to relax some.
It was time to line up. I kissed KC good-bye and thanked him for all of his support and for being there. It felt kind of trite to be honest, but I truly meant it.
I found the 4.5 hour sign and stood near them. They announced to take off your hats for the national anthem. I looked up at the flag and almost cried. If you know me, I rarely cry. If I am crying I am probably over tired or just hit a squirrel with my car. But I was just so overwhelmed. Thinking of running through snow at 5:30 AM in the dark, thinking of KC walking the dog for me so I could squeeze in a long run before work, picturing my parents driving up so they could see me run, knowing all the hard work, sacrifice, sweat and support that brought me here, today to run a friggin marathon was just crazy.
I held it together like a true Irish-Catholic woman, and did not cry. Before I could completely gather myself together, we were off!
I started my new Mindy Kaling book, but was too distracted by the crowd cheering, I paused it. I stayed right behind the 4.5 hour pacer with the sign. I noticed there were about half a dozen people sticking with this dude. A friendlier person than I began chatting with Robert (the pacer) and the other runners. This was wonderful and distracting. Robert had run so many marathons he was unsure of what number this was for him. He was from some southern state and had a lovely accent. Most of the other runners were running their first marathon which was a relief to me. We chatted about fueling, training, running mistakes, where we were from etc. 7 miles went by very quickly. I felt amazing and we were on target to run a sub 4.5 hour marathon.
My wonderful parents, brother and his thoughtful girlfriend made signs that greeted me around this time as we passed through downtown Kennebunk. Their signs were clever and adorable. KC was there too, of course holding a sign Colleen had made. This energized me!
The course had “rolling hills” aka was hilly. The weather was varied too. It started off chilly and windy along the coast, then became hot when more inland, then chilly and windy as we went back towards the coast, then hot again…
I was feeling good, posed for some pics when I saw the photog, joked with my new running BFFLs about coffee and running. I could see me breaking away from them around mile 20 and running a 4 hour marathon.
I saw my family again around the half way mark, feeling a bit tired, but who would not be, I just ran a half marathon for god sakes?! I waved and felt rejuvenated from their cheers and clever signs and kept plugging along. I saw a sign that says “If Trump can run, so can you” and LOLed.
Around mile 14, our trusty pacer needed a pee break, so he hopped off the course to use a port-a-potty and gave one of my new crew the sign to keep pace. I was sure we would never see Robert again. We were going up a hill and I felt like shit. I was thinking what a terrible idea it was to run a marathon. Then Robert caught up to us. How the fuck? This impressed me to no end. I decided that I wanted to be Robert and was able to bury my pain.
I kept running, this stretch was hot and hilly. All of a sudden a car was beeping and wooooo-ing and I heard “RUN BETTY” from a low bellowing voice. It was my friends Jill and Laura. They also had amazing signs with inside jokes from high school (hence the Betty). They pulled over up ahead and cheered for me some more giving me the much needed boost around mile 16.
Mile 17/18 is where everything went terribly downhill, figuratively. Because literally we were going uphill. I lost my 4.30 group. I took my first walk break to drink some water and adjust my running belt. I could see them up ahead and wanted to catch up with them but the gap kept growing. I started running again and was so thankful fro the random strangers who cheered for me, some even reading my name off my bib.
My parents, bro and KC were there at some point maybe around mile 20? I swapped my half drank gatorade for a fresh one and kept plugging along. I ran/ walked a lot during this stretch. More running than walking, but more walking than I intended. A girl from the 4.30 group caught me at one point and asked me how I was and I said “Good.” which was a lie but I had no energy to say anything else. I asked her how she was and she said “I’m not doing too great actually.” and I knodded in agreement and said “oh yeah, me either.” The fluctuating temperatures caused my muscles to become tense and tight making running up and down hills really challenging.
I stopped at every water and snack stops thanking every volunteer I could make eye contact with. The stops all had fun themes like Mario Bros. and 80’s. I remember a woman from the 80’s one looking at me with slight concern telling me I looked awesome. I could tell by her expression that she was lying, but I really appreciated it.
The last stop had M&Ms at it and was at mile 25.6. I was so excited for this snack stop all race. I knew if I made it here, I would finish the race. When I grabbed the little cup of M&Ms I almost cried (again). I was going to run a marathon. I took a shot of M&Ms and a swig of what I thought was water but was actually lemon-lime Gatorade. I was too pumped to throw up. I started to run and vowed to run through the end.
There was a slight incline on the last road before turning into the parking lot for the last stretch. I picked up the pace a bit. I passed the girl who had found me earlier and touched her arm and said “WE DID IT!” (We could see the finish line so I felt like it was a safe bet. I saw my work-wife and her son Indy with a sign, KC’s mom and sister, then I saw KC and again almost cried. I hear my mom but did not see my parents and bro some how. I crossed the finish line hugged the woman who gave me my medal, and was wrapped in a foil blanket like all the people I had seen cross the finish at the Boston Marathon.
I was a marathoner.
I could not believe it. It was done. And I felt fine. I greeted my family and friends and thanked them all for coming. We moved to the beer tent where I got my two beers, which I shared with KC and my brother. We sat and chatted about the race. I was so unbelievably happy. The ultimate runner’s high.
We headed to Portsmouth for lunch. KC drove and I changed in the car. We luckily got VIP parking as I was definitely tight and sore at this point. I sported my “Everything Hurts and I’m Dying” t-shirt and we headed into the Portsmouth Brewery for lunch. I grabbed a beer with a higher alcohol content than needed… We eventually got a table and ordered nachos. They tasted delicious but as I waited for my pulled chicken sandwich my stomach began to turn. I ended up taking most of it home.
At home I attempted stretching and hydrating. My stomach felt sick and I ended up getting a bit sick. I watched something on netflix as I iced and elevated. I made poor KC go down the street for french onion soup, a side of mashed potatoes and garlic bread. This tasted good and was perfect.
I was in bed by 9 PM.
Did you know my husband is amazing? Because he is. The man bought me $100 gift card to my favorite local coffee place to commemorate the ocassion. He also walked the dog for me because I was worried my atrophied muscles and her zealous for chipmunks would cause me great injury.
I went and got the best/ worst massage of my life. Best because she was AMAZING. Worst because my muscles were so tight and sore.
After I met up with work-wife and her little one for a Mexican feast. My stomach was finally feeling better and I was HANGRY. I ate more guacamole than is decent and a steak quesadilla.
- Running a marathon is really challenging
- It is also unbelievably rewarding, overwhelming and emotional
- I have an amazing support system of family and friends- I am truly blessed and lucky
- There should be more 20 mile races, seems much more reasonable and round
- I will probably run another one within this calendar year