I'm very pleased to announce that both my mother and I are now officially marathon finishers! I loved the experience and am looking forward to many more (though not in the immediate future) marathons to come! My mom is very pleased to mark "Marathon" off her list and have it not return there, thankyouverymuch. Neither of us had any real pain or "hit the wall," even though we're sore and exhausted.
In the weeks and days leading up to the race, I've been surprisingly nonchalant about the whole thing. In fact, I slept okay last night and wasn't even nervous this morning....UNTIL we arrived in downtown Des Moines this morning at 7:00 in the dark and I was freezing under two layers of race clothes, a sweatshirt, gloves, ear warmers, and my winter coat. We ducked inside a building to use the restroom (amazingly, I avoided all porta-potties today, which is an accomplishment within itself) and when we emerged, I could not find my $3 purple ear warmers which caused me to instantly burst into spontaneous, out-of-proportion freaking-out...which I think was my little way of displaying my pre-race nerves. I was distraught over those darn ear warmers and fretted around for a good five minutes while my family offered hats and concerned (over my sanity, not the ear warmers) looks and searched my layers.
Luckily, when we stepped outside into the slightly warmer and lighter exterior, I reached in my coat pocket for my gloves and I discovered my lost treasure! Suddenly, all was right with the world again and I was ready for the marathon!
My mom and I decided to line up and stay a little ahead of the 5:00 pacer. That worked out beautifully for the first half of the race and we frolicked along through the chilly air at a nice, relaxed pace. My family ran from the diner along the course where they were having brunch to cheer for us as we went past at mile 10 and 12.
We started feeling it in our legs and feet after mile 15 and Mom slowed down a little. We stayed together almost to mile 19, but at that point, she gave me the blessing to go on. After taking my remaining gel packs and jelly beans from her (She graciously carried my food in her oversized pockets almost the whole race...I'm not quite sure why I didn't really consider this detail when planning my race outfit. I had some gel packs shoved in the side of my shorts and had to put one in my sports bra in the end), I turned on the iPod and hit the road!
The next 5 miles were fantastic. This brought me back to my training mode: just me, my iPod, and the thoughts rolling around in my head. I felt great, really picked up the speed, and passed dozens and dozens of people. When I approached, then left behind the 4:45 pace group, I knew I was on a roll. I got a little choked up at mile 20, smiled ridiculously big at mile 21, 22, and 23, and went by 24 without even really seeing it. My mind and my body had just kind of glazed over at about mile 20 and I just kept running.
At mile 25, I got a little choked up again (overly emotional much?) and that last mile was not as speedy. In fact, it was pretty rough and for the first time, my knees and ankles started complaining. I considered walking a little bit (up until then, I just had walked at water stops), but I'm pretty sure I didn't. I honestly can't remember since my brain was pretty much mush at that point. I think I just slowed down a little because I was shocked (and yes, emotional) when I very quickly saw the 26 mile marker ahead.
I could barely see the finish banner at the end of the block after the mile marker, but I didn't take my eyes off it for the rest of the race. I tried to gradually speed up and after I hit 26, I really pushed it. I was aware that I probably looked like a total freak staring at the finish banner and making strange noises as I sprinted that tenth of a mile, but I did remember to smile and throw up my arms as I hit the finish line. I could hear my family cheering and I felt all the ridiculously happy and excited euphoria that you're supposed to feel after your first 26.2! I was thrilled with my time, 4:41, and I'm really hoping that my chip time will be a minute or two faster. (It was a very slow and crowded race start...we were shuffling towards the start line for a looong time.)
My mom finished in 5:12 and was happy enough with that time. Our goal from the beginning was to finish and we both did! I feel very proud that I was able to accomplish something I've dreamed of and trained for for a long time, and even more proud that my mom was able to do so with me. How many marathoners have marathoner moms, too?
I'm finally able to check off one of my running goals for this year!