Everyone who has done one, has their own unique story about their first marathon. This is mine, no frills, the real deal, exactly how it all went down.
Warning: This is gonna be long….
Let’s start from the beginning. With the 7 HOUR drive from Atlanta to Savannah. FYI: It is NOT supposed to take that long. Nicole and I thought it would be best to head out early to ensure we had plenty of time to pick up our packets. Expo ended at 7pm on Friday evening. We were thinking “This will be great, leave at 11:45 get there around 4:30 enjoy the expo, maybe cruise around Savannah and then leisurely make our way over to dinner to “carb up”. A relaxed approach b/c we don’t want to be freakin out on time unsure if we are going to make it anywhere! But of course, before we even hit Macon a MINOR and I mean MINOR “construction zone” if that is EVEN what they want to call it, began our first hour long set back as we creeped along the interstate. “Seriously?! It’s like the middle of the day, who does construction at THIS time?!?!” Then to further annoy us we come to see they have an entire lane closed for TWO worker trucks. TWO! What were they doing??? I have know earthly clue but it wasn’t productive and it wasn’t enough to warrant shutting a lane down and causing that much traffic. And side note: we must not forget our poor three daughters in the back that are starving for lunch. Because obviously you start this kind of construction when we are wanting to exit to get our kids a stinkin HAPPY MEAL! You can just see how “relaxed” I was at this point. 🙂
When we finally made it through that and fed our poor starving children, took a few deep breaths and started calculating our time, we were still doing okay. That was before we got into Savannah, took a little detour that cost us another 30 minutes and then got onto the big bridge to see it was backed up all the way from the convention center to the very beginning where we were getting on. About 2 miles of hundred and hundreds of cars all going to the same place. At this point it was passed 6:00. I was totally bummed thinking about how rushed we were and that we wont get to spend any time looking at the cool expo stuff. Sigh.
We successfully picked up our packets and tees and I even bought some new ear buds and a long sleeve shirt. As I’m standing in line checking out looking at all the cool stuff I realize, I had forgotten my fuel belt. I had been training with it, planning to run with it. It holds my gels and gives me access to water when I need it. Did I really forget something so important!!!! Yes I sure did. Should I buy another one???? Well I paid 10 dollars for mine, a sweet deal at TJmaxx and for the exact same one they wanted 35 dollars! Umm no thank you. But what the heck was I gonna do? I decided to delay my moment of panic and save that for later. Let’s just get out of here and get dinner.
FORTUNATELY my parents had already headed to Carrabas long before us to get a table because the wait was over an hour and it was 7:30. I’m already thinking about my pillow! Dinner went well, my pasta Carrabba as usual was fantastic.
After we left dinner we went to CVS to pick up some last minute items. Now it’s off to the hotel. Not my hotel. I spent the night with Nicole, which logistically made way more sense. But I was nervous with where we were staying, alone, just us two gals, no Jason or Scott to protect us and no mommy and daddy. Thank heaven for ambien. But before I took one of those I of course went into melt down mode. “We were so rushed, and I don’t have my fuel belt, and how will I sleep” wah wah wah. Take your ambien and get over it. First I called my mom, and then I went to sleep.
Morning time! And I was REALLY nervous. I only knew this by what my tummy was doing and I did NOT like what it was doing. I could only manage to eat a marathon bar, not ideal for when you are going to run a marathon! I think they want you to eat it during your run??? other wise I have no clue why it’s called that. Once I got dressed in my spiffy outfit. I tried to figure out what I was going to do with out my fuel belt. I pinned my gels inside my shorts but that wasn’t going to work so I stuck them in my top. I was gonna be okay! Let’s do this!
Off to the shuttles, which took way longer than I think it was supposed too.
Finally we made it!!! Run to the porta potties for one last pit stop and than I see something on my shirt….. what is this and where did it come from??? As I investigate the situation I realize my GELS were leaking inside my bra- through my tank- through my long sleeve shirt- to my outer layer. That’s a lot of gel. (By the way, a gel is a packet that has carbs, caffeine, sugars and things that give you a boost when you are doing really long runs. It really helps keep you fueled.) I wasn’t that concerned about the gel all over my “girls” but more concerned that I had to throw away 3 out of my 5 gels. I knew they would have some “stations” along the course but I wasn’t sure where or what kind. Anyway, I didn’t have time to panic because we were literally walking toward the start line. I was able to grab a mini water bottle to hold which made me feel better about atleast having some water on me at all times.
The start of the race was good. I was feeling great. There were a LOT of particpants so there was quite a bit of weaving. But I was taking it easy, getting into a slower pace because I didn’t want to speed off and have nothing left after 20 miles, the furthest I had gone. I had two gels on me and usually take my first at 3 miles. I was getting nervous because at 6 miles I still hadn’t seen any gels at the water stations. On my 7 there were some people with muscle milk passing bottles of chocolate milk out and I was so worried my body would need SOMETHING I grabbed one of those and swigged it a few times. Actually was really good and helped me make it to the gel station. Finally at 8 they had them and I grabbed two. At mile 12 the half marathoners split off which really cleared the congestion out. At this point though my watch was calculating over a mile of what the markers were saying. This was not going to be good for me mentally. Took a pit stop at 12 and then headed onto the over pass which led to the interstate and also brought wind. Eww. I was definitely not loving that. We finally took our exit and went back through some neighborhoods and a park. At mile 17 I was again on my last gel and again freaking out wondering if they would give more. I knew I would need another one to finish. I began having a lot of doubt about this whole thing so I walked as I took my gel and got ahold of my thoughts. Once it kicked in I felt great, tuned into my music and got in the mode. “I whip my hair back and forth, I whip my hair back in forth. I’ma get more shine in a little bit soon as I hit the stage applause I’m hearing it.” 😉 It’s funny the music that gets you pumped running, lol. Lovin the Willow Smith, I’m confident, at mile 20. I came to another gel station and I was excited to count down with 6.2 to go. But every time I looked at my watch it was well over where I was REALLY at. I didn’t know what the deal was, I thought it was accurate, it always had been. I thought “My body can’t do more then 26.2” My watch was saying 24.5 and I was just hitting 23! And then we were back on the dreaded interstate with more wind. You think, “Only 3 to go” but 3 feels like 30 when you have already run 23. I started to walk and run and walk and run. I was defeated mentally but I wanted to be done so I’d run. Then I started to feel it,….. when I picked up my pace my body was saying “Yoooouuuu need to go to the bathroom.” Like number 2!!! I have never done that on a run. And wasn’t about to start lol. So I pressed on, run for a bit, walk for a bit. The wind STUNK. I could tell it was wearing on a lot of runners and ones that did not look like amateurs like myself. I started thinking, “What was I thinking?! Why would anyone want to run for 5 hours! I will NEVER do this again.” Not great thoughts when you aren’t even done yet. Mile 25 came and then I see someone familiar…. it was my mommy! She caught me in a walking moment and I was so disappointed. It finally set in that I actually was walking and that was not what I envisioned. But it was exactly what I needed because she cheered me on, and started to jog with me.
I got to 26 and there was the rest of my wonderful family. Nicole calling my name, Jason taking pictures, the girls, my dad, and the rest of the Grahams.
I picked up speed and crossed the finish line. I was so glad to be DONE.
The stinky thing of it all is I wasn’t really excited when I finished. I was definitely glad it was over. But I was kind of down because the experience was not as I’d hoped. I didn’t love it like I wanted too. And I definitely did not want to ever do another marathon again. It’s hard for a perfectionist to complete something imperfectly.
Also, BIG MAD PROPS to my cousin Nicole who finished her first 1/2 marathon in 2 hours 14 minutes. You rock!!!! So proud of her!
Course now a few days later I’m already re-evaluating those comments. It will definitely be awhile till the next full. It’s a huge commitment and takes a lot of time and energy. But with one under my belt I definitely will be more prepared for the next.