Last month I checked off one of the biggest items on my list of life goals. It was one of the most daunting goals and one in which I was really reaching for the stars because I never imagined I would be able to run a marathon.
I began training 16 weeks prior to race day. Training was mostly good, with a few rocky weeks of running injuries, and my goal finish time in turn increased. But I felt prepared, that I had done just about everything I could to be able to run 6.2 miles further than my longest training run of 20 miles (which, by the way, seemed impossible after I finished that 20 miler).
Then I went home to prepare and resume carbo-loading which was in fact my absolute favorite part of marathon training.
I texted photos of my outfit to my cheer team so they would be able to spot me along the way. Then, it was time to turn in early so I could get up at 3:45 am for my pre-race breakfast.
I arrived at the bus pick-up at 5:30 am.
The bus was crowded and I asked a girl if I could sit next to her. We started chatting and she asked if I lived locally. I told her I used to but now I live in Hawaii. What I did not expect was for her to say, “Me too!” I was pleasantly surprised to make a new friend on the way to the marathon start.
When we arrived in Folsom, I stayed on the relatively warm bus for a while, but decided I better get in on the restroom lines. I stepped off the bus and was greeted with a chilly breeze. I stood in line for the port-a-potty for about 30 minutes, watched the sunrise, ate a snack, and then it was time to go!
All of the sudden the national anthem was being sung and I realized I needed to get out my iPod and put my sweats in the donation pile. It was difficult to hear what they were announcing and I couldn’t find any of the pacers or my corral, but the gun went off and everyone was going, so I just started running. I was beginning my first marathon!
I could finally feel my feet again at mile 2.5 and discarded my gloves on the side of the road. I was surprised at how many people (males in particular) were stopping really anywhere on the side of the road to relieve themselves, but I just averted my eyes and kept chugging along. I felt great. The weather was perfect, I was super excited and I was looking forward to seeing my friends and family that had come out to cheer me on.
Around mile 8 I saw the first familiar faces. I waved to the parents of one of my best childhood friends as they cheered for me and snapped some photos. It was amazing how much of a bounce it put in my stride to see friends that had stood in the cold and waited for me to pass to give me encouragement.
Winding through Old Fair Oaks I looked forward to seeing my parents at mile 10 and got ready to throw my headband to my mom. These are some of the photos they were able to capture while they waited for me to arrive:
At the halfway point I began experiencing some knee pain which was unfortunate, but I prayed and God took it way. Then it would come back, and I prayed some more. Fortunately, right around mile 14 were my aunt, uncle and cousin in Carmichael cheering me and pushing me on. Then, I went through the aid station covered by my alma mater and saw one of my favorite teachers from junior high.
I was really looking forward to seeing my parents and mother-in-law at mile 18, but when I passed through they weren’t there. I was so thankful to spot my mom’s bright pink sweater at mile 19! This is a video my mother-in-law took of me passing by.
The mile markers began appearing further and further apart, but I was determined. My pace slowed a little but I never stopped running. My husband (who wasn’t able to be there) was watching my little dot tracking me on his computer screen and said he couldn’t believe I held my pace so well and was about to finish. I was reaching the capitol park and the crowd on each side of the road was thickening.
This guy cheered me up and my pace quickened.
I saw the finish line and all of the sudden I felt like I was sprinting, giving every last ounce of energy into this amazing moment. I spotted my family, my aunt and mother-in-law and I couldn’t take the huge grin off my face. I crossed the finish line.
My mom captured my finish in slow-mo and my uncle was there to give me a high five.
I met up with my cheer team and all I kept saying was, “I can’t believe I did it.” I finished! And I beat my goal of 4:45 and finished in 4:43:35.
It is an indescribable feeling what I felt when I crossed the finish line and realized one of the biggest accomplishments of my life.
Some statistics from the 32nd California International Marathon:
Boston Qualifiers: 1283
Streakers (32-Time Finishers): 12
U.S. Olympic Trials Qualifiers: 30