Next we visited a childhood friend of Jimmy's, Christian. She invited us to her lovely home for a short visit. Christian is a runner too, and she is currently training for the Nashville Half Marathon. I first met Christian when she ran the Florence Half Marathon with us last fall. Christian graciously drove the course and figured out the best place to meet us with refreshments--mile 22. She planned to bring us ice cold bottled water and orange slices.
After that fun visit we headed over to some more friends of Jimmy's from many years ago--Kelly and Danny. At Kelly's and Danny's we met up with Lynn and Kelly again, as well as Amber and Yonea (our other running buddies) and Yonea's daughter, Mary. Kelly's and Danny's daughter Taylor, her friend Blake, and Kelly's parents all joined us for a delicious pasta, salad, and bread dinner. It was the perfect pre-marathon meal. Kelly also provided a fabulous dessert buffet! I enjoyed chocolate peanut butter cheesecake.
After dinner we all headed to our hotel rooms to try to get some rest. I hardly slept at all! I tossed and turned all night until the alarm finally went off at 5:00 AM. We all got dressed, pinned on our numbers, tried to eat a little bit of breakfast (I was just too nervous to eat!), and then headed over to the race start. We met Kelly and Lynn there around 6:20, and surprise, surprise!
Our marathon Koach, Mr. Kenneth was there!
Koach decided to drive up to our marathon to run his Boston Marathon 17 mile training run and offer us some encouragement before we began. We were thrilled to see him!
Me, Koach, and Lynn
Do we look nervous?
Lynn and Kelly
Me and Jimmy
Julie (ran the 5K), Me, Jimmy, and Olivia (ran the half marathon with Yonea to keep her company)
Before we knew it, it was almost 7:00 AM, time to begin the race. It was surreal. All of that training, all of those long, long runs, finally put to the test.
The siren sounded (or the gun shot, or the man said "Go", I can't remember which) and we were OFF!
The first 15 miles were pretty uneventful. We were running our normal training pace, around a 10:30 or so, but it did seem to require more effort than usual to keep this pace. It was more difficult than it was back home to talk to Lynn while running. We both agreed that the HEAT definitely made the difference. The starting temperature was 74 degrees, and I am extremely unhappy to report that it steadily climbed to 87 by the finish. Fortunately the wind was blowing frequently, even gusting at times, and that really was a blessing. I think that wind kept us from having a heat stroke! At the halfway point of 13.1 miles, our time was 2 hours, 28 minutes. We were on track to finish in under 5 hours (our original goal).
We each took a packet of gu at miles 4, 8, and 12, along with water and gatorade at miles 2,4,6,8,10, and 12. By mile 14 I was feeling full and yukky....I decided to not take anymore gu for several miles. Lynn and Kelly had set out Powerade and Gatorade Pre-game fuel packs at miles 15, 17, 19, and 21. So we were getting fluids at every mile beginning at mile 14. We knew we needed the fluids, but we were both beginning to feel sickly. It was the heat. That sun was glaring down on us! The clouds were nonexistent, and the occasional trees that offered shade were very few and very far between.
Shortly after mile 16, Lynn wilted. I cannot tell you how brutal that sun was! She was dizzy and feeling very, very bad. We slowed down, we walked, we stopped. She had experienced dizziness one time before, last summer during an 8 mile run in the heat. I asked her how she got over it that time, and she replied that she stopped at a gas station, hung out in the ice cold walk-in drink cooler for a while, ate a candy bar, and drank a cold Gatorade. Well, I assessed the situation, and quickly realized we had nothing like that at all in our resources! Panic! We slowly made our way to our next drink stop at mile 17 with me running on the sunnier side, to try to give her any relief from the sun. She felt a little better, and then the dizziness would return. I didn't think things could get worse....
And then I fell!
This is an open course (which means they don't close the racing roads to traffic), and cars were coming in both directions. I turned to see where Kelly was pointing to where he had hidden the Powerade, and then twisted my ankle while stepping off the side of the road. I fell, catching myself with both hands and one knee. It hurt! My knee was bleeding, I began crying, Lynn was already on the verge of crying, and we just both completely fell apart. A car, whose riders had seen me fall, stopped and offered me an ice cold wet sponge. I cleaned my knee, leg, and hands, and we were on our way.
From mile 17 to 18, things gradually improved. Lynn slowly got to feeling better, and I kept up a continual pep talk. We pulled ourselves together! We had another mini breakdown while talking to the nice Chi Omega girls at the water stop at mile 18. We shared with them how badly Lynn felt, and they noticed that I had fallen. We just rested there a minute or two, pulled ourselves together again, and continued on. 8 more miles.
We now realized that finishing our first marathon in under 5 hours was not going to happen, and we were in survival mode. It was so hot!
Between miles 18 and 22, the running was ok. Not great, not excruciating, but ok. We walked frequently, and ate a lot of oranges. I never was able to take another gu, and by the end of the race I was convinced that I would never eat another gu or orange or drink any kind or sports drink ever again! I knew that Christian would be at mile 22 with that cold water, and Lynn and I both looked forward to seeing her.
Here we are, approaching mile 22 where Christian is. I told Lynn to SMILE, fake a smile, because Christian had a camera!
That car did not run over us!
We stopped briefly to pose for a picture for Christian.
I know we look happy and normal, but let me tell you, it all fell apart again shortly after this picture.
Mile 23, mile 24. Awful. We had only run up to 22 miles in our training, and so we were in unchartered territory. Some of this part of the run was mental, but most of it was THE HEAT! It was hot. I no longer had the energy to hold my water bottle, so I tossed it. We began to get delirious! When we are running here at home, we frequently comment on the different pretty (and sometimes not so pretty) yards and home decor that we see. It's a fun distraction for us. So I tried to distract us by talking about the yards and the colors of shutters that we were passing. It didn't work. We were beyond miserable. We couldn't decide which hurt worse--to run or to walk. So we just alternated, either walking or running to a certain landmark. ("Let's run to that blue house. Let's walk until that curve in the road." Etc.)
It was hot!
We were losing our minds!
We discussed which was harder--childbirth? or these last few miles?
And then a zippy little convertible sports car whizzed past and the driver yelled at us! It was Kelly (our hostess) and Jimmy! With drinks! (Which I was too icky to even drink). Jimmy got out to run the last 2 miles with us. Poor thing, he had had a miserable race himself, and really wasn't in any shape to run (or really hobble and walk) the last two miles with us, but he did. I was so glad to see him!
Those last two miles were really a blur, but I think Lynn must have gotten her second wind or either she was just desperate to finish, but I could not keep up with her! I stayed a few feet behind her and could not catch up. Finally, we were on the campus of Union University, where the race began and mercifully ended. It was about 3 tenths of a mile before we would see the spectators (or really just people that we knew), so we told Jimmy that we wanted to walk until we could see everyone (or they could see us!), and then we would run the rest of the way in.
Here we are running now that we are approaching the finish line!
Faking smiles for the cameras!
Our dear friends and family were cheering us on!
Taking our pictures!
My girls (with Koach's help) had made us a fantastic banner that everyone had signed!
Can you see it to the right--it's a coke (how fitting) banner.
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
The Finish Line!
5 hours, 15 minutes
We were done! We survived! We both broke down and sobbed! We made it!
I just sat down on the pavement and took off my shoes. I have never been so hot in my entire life. 5 hours, 15 minutes in the baking sun.
I have a sunburn, a skinned knee, and muscles that are sore beyond belief!!
But, I am very, very proud!
Here we are with our precious shirts that Olivia and Julie made us.
Lynn, Kelly, Jimmy, and I all had a post-race massage (wonderful), and then we devoured our post-race meal. I had a bacon cheeseburger, fries, coke, and a chocolate milkshake. Yummy!
I still can't believe that I ran a marathon. And it is kind of like childbirth---when it's all over, you forget (most) of the pain. Well, I can still remember it, but it wasn't so bad that I am saying that I will NEVER do another marathon.