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I don’t know if it’s actually hit me, yet, but I ran my first marathon!
There’s something magical about being surrounded by 12,000 of your best friends, doing something you all enjoy doing, for several hours.
For my 2015 goals, running a marathon was not originally part of them. In February, I registered for the Twin Cities Medtronic Marathon as a charity runner for Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, their inaugural year of having a charity endurance team. (Original post here)
I had some troubles mentally training (post here), as well as some ‘fun’ physical discovers along the way (multiple posts here, here, here, and more), so when I woke up race day and prepared for what was about to go down, I made sure I was in the moment and just absorbed the amazingness I was surrounded by.
I was fortunate to have a race crew, comprised of my running buddy, her husband (also my friend), and her mom. These three are always cheering me on, and they were amazing as usual. What I asked of my race crew was to be at 4 spots along the course to hand me new bottles of electrolytes or a baggy of sandwiches bites, or just take stuff from me. They all had signs, which I wish I had taken photos of, and I just seemed every time I saw them. Knowing I would see their faces at least once an hour truly kept me going, it was really tempting to just stop and tell them of everything I witnessed the previous hour!
October 4, 2015 is a day I will likely not forget. The temperature forecasted for start line was 30-ish degrees cooler than when I would be crossing the finish line. I layered my sweats over my race outfit, which consisted of a Brooks Equilibrium Long Sleeve under my Children’s Team Singlet, Nike DriFit Shorts (similar to these), procompression.com golf running socks, headsweats.com custom visor for millcityrunning.com (similar one here), and Nike LunarGlide 5’s (the updated 7’s are also awesome found here).
I have JayBird Bluejay wireless headphones, and wore a Halo headband in the morning, and swapped it out with the HeadSweats visor after the half-marathon mark to keep my head dry-ish, and keep the sun away from my eyes. I wore Smith sunglasses that I’ve had for 5+ years, and LOVE them so much I own two of the exact pair. They don’t make that style anymore, but here’s a similar pair.
I bag dropped my sweat pants along with my post-race necesetices, but kept my fleece lined sweatshirt on. I knew I’d see my friends around mile 5 and could handle having it wrapped around my waist after I took it off at mile 2, and when you are standing in downtown Minneapolis on a cold fall morning the wind is WHIPPING and you need your skin covered.
I was not running alone, but I was not running with someone. I crossed the start line with my boyfriend, and then he was off. Since he’s 1 minute/mile faster than me, we agreed earlier in training that we run our paces and just meet at the end. So, that’s what we did.
There were spectators lined up at the start, and there would be some along the entire route. Former Supreme Court judge and Minnesota Viking Allen Page played his sousaphone near mile 3, which he does every year as his home is just around the corner. He is a marathoner, as well. (more info on him here) I had heard about this, but without knowing exactly where he would be I randomly ran on the right side of the road (a descending hill, btw), saw him, and gave him a high five!!!! AS he was playing his sousaphone (it’s like a tuba)! SO COOL!!!
There were a lot of people with signs, and you could tell who were dedicated groupie/cheerleaders because you would see them multiple times. It was really exciting to see these strangers over and over, knowing they would have a friendly face to cheer everyone on even though they were specifically there for a certain person/group. Then there were the people who were there for the party, and if you’ve never seen a mimosa bar at a marathon, you need to come to Twin Cities Marathon! From the get-go, you have mimosa bars, kegs, fire pits, and all of the food you can think of. People have coffee mugs, some even have coffee, and most of them are offering all of this to the passing runners even though the block party of their neighbors are who will actually help consume.
There are kind strangers along the whole course with tubes of vaseline and tissue paper for clean up, bowls of sliced oranges, bowls of salty food, bowls of jolly ranchers, some people even setup their own water stations.
Local and national businesses manned aid/water stations, had cheer zones, and it was common to hear music being played on outdoor speakers. Little kids lined the streets for glove/mitten lined high-fives, police officers were clapping/cheering at their posts, cheerleaders and bands were showing their support, and it felt as if the world was supporting this event in their warmest Minnesota fall gear.
From the start line, all I could do was smile. I love to run, especially surrounded with my best friends of runners, but I don’t race. After my first year of being in races, I learned the joy of running in a race is just BEING there instead of how fast you can go. Sure, I was keeping an eye on my pace to make sure I wasn’t going too fast, and had a time goal in mind should I feel great enough to push it, but it wasn’t a priority.
But that changed at mile 16, when I swapped out my empty water bottles from my fuel belt for full ones. I had NEVER trained doing this action, and it was clear that I should have because HOLY PAIN. The weight was so significant I called my girlfriend within 5 minutes and told her I needed them to come grab all of this back. I held onto one bottle filled with my electrolytes remembering where the water stops were, and knowing I wouldn’t need as much water as I just attempted to carry. I started to feel less pain until mile 20, which is where the wall for me began. It’s 3-miles uphill beginning here, and I never ran further than 16 miles in training, so I had a feeling it would happen at some point. I walk/ran depending on what hurt, and told myself I had done an amazing job already and my goal from the beginning was to cross the finish line. I stopped once to loosen my shoes, and stopped two more times to stretch my IT band behind my hip. A few times I side stepped to move my legs in different directions knowing how tight my muscles were, and boy was that an eye opening feeling. If I had better balance at that point, I may have tried finishing the thing doing that.
When I got to mile 24, I saw Brady, the person solely responsible for convincing me to run a marathon for Children’s, and when we made eye contact I shook my head no as tears ran down my cheeks. I walked to her, she walked and talked with me for 1/4 mile, and we agreed I could finish because the tough part was already over. I ran 1/2 mile, than walked 1/4 mile, and kept doing that until I was coming down the final hill. I saw the capital, a sight I have seen for the last 4 years running in the events of this weekend. This was my first time seeing it as a marathon finish line, but emotions weren’t what everyone thought they would be. I was happy, but that was it. Everyone said I would be crying, but I wasn’t. I was just happy it was almost over.
When I got to mile 26, I happened to start walking right next to another woman who looked to be in the same pain as me. I asked her if she could run, and she shook her head no. She asked me if I would run with her, and I said yes. We talked our way through walking a little, this was her first marathon as well, she was from a city in northern Minnesota, we were a year apart in age, and then we agreed that once we hit the beginning of the bridge we were going to be running across that finish line together.
We did it. We ran our first marathon. We crossed the finish line running. We were still upright.
I headed to the Emergency tent to get looked at, and never saw her again. I messaged my people once I was looked at that I was headed to them, and ready to go home.
There was about 1 mile to walk back to the bar, and I knew my legs needed it to stretch so boyfriend agreed it was okay to do that and we said goodbye to our friends. Along our walk, we passed a red carpet setup for what looked like a charity event later that day, so I took a selfie infront of the photo op screen.
We also came across an Official badge for the marathon that I saw laying on the ground, and I brought it home.
I was in pain, but felt amazing. I just completed a REALLY long race, and all I wanted to do was lay down and eat a cookie.
I never want to run another marathon again… but I am glad I did this one.