I can't believe it's all over. Finished.
The week leading up to the race was less than ideal. My running buddy Karoline had a house full of sick kids and then towards the end of the week (just days before our race) she got sick too. We spent a lot of the week wondering if she would be well enough to run. We picked up race packets on Saturday morning and as exciting as it was to pick up our Marathon bibs there was still a little bit of frustration and sadness since Karoline was still sick and we were unsure if she would be able to run in the morning. The rest of Saturday was spent resting and relaxing.
Race morning we got in the car and drove over to Huntington Beach. Karoline was feeling a little better and we were going to run the race together as planned. I was worried about her health. I ran my first half marathon with a severe case of bronchitis and I know that it's not a pleasurable experience. But the sad thing is that when you put so much time into training you just don't want to throw in the towel at the very end...you want to finish what you started sick or not.
As we drove to Huntington Beach we started to get ourselves pumped up. We hit Beach Blvd. and we were stuck in major race day traffic jam. As frustrating as that was we decided to just eat our breakfast in the car while we waited. When we reached the parking lots we spent over 45 minutes trying to find a parking spot. Needless to say we were running out of time very quickly. We finally found a parking spot at 6:20 a.m. the waves started at 6:30 a.m.! We hopped out of the car and started lightly jogging to the start line and then we heard the National Anthem and realized that we were about two miles away from the start line...we started to sprint. We made it to the start line out of breath just as our wave was sent off to start the race. It was a really bad start to the race. We didn't even have time for a pre-race potty break!!
We paced a little slower than our predicted marathon pace but all in all we were feeling pretty good despite the crazy start and Karoline being sick. The first 14 miles went by nice and smooth.
We practiced taking in nutrition every four miles in the future I would push nutrition every six miles (to break up the race in bigger chunks). The turn around on Pacific Coast Highway was a little tough since we were running straight into the sun I felt like I squinted that whole portion of the race. The turn onto the bike/beach path took forever to get to. We kept thinking we should have hit it but it was almost a mile and half further than we thought it was which just bummed us out.
When we got on the bike/beach path it was hot. No shade but we were trucking along but then around mile 21 the pace group I had been trying to stay ahead of passed us and I just broke down and started crying. I was so upset. I had to walk to calm down. Karoline was the sweetest friend and knows that I get crazy and make "secret goals" that absolutely crush me if I feel like I'm not going to meet. She talked me off the ledge and reminded me that our goal was not for a specific time it was to FINISH and that was the goal we needed to meet. I was so thankful that she felt well enough to run that day because it would have been hard to pull myself together without her voice of reason. At this point we were completely out of water and decided to walk through all the water stops.
From mile 21-24.5 (until I could see the 25 mile marker) it took all of me to keep going. That was an ugly, ugly part of the race. But when I could see the 25 mile marker I felt so excited and couldn't believe that it was over! Chin up and get this bad boy done was all I needed to do.
Right before we turned back on Pacific Coast Highway a guy told us that we were almost there and Karoline almost bit his head off ( so funny!!) . She told him people have been telling us that for miles and he smiled and patted her arm and said "Really I promise it's right around the corner". And he was so right because we turned the corner and there it was. I was in tears I could not believe it was so close and to make things even better my hubby and kiddos were right there cheering us on at the finish.
We finished our first marathon with an official time of 4:58.
I am so extremely proud of both of us for pushing through and finishing this marathon especially with the insane start we had. In my mind I will always consider my first marathon mileage to be more along the lines of a 28.2 race since we tacked on the 2 mile sprint at the start.
Oh man the walk back to the car was KILLER. Two miles seemed more like six.
I've spent most of the week decompressing over the race. I have celebrated and I have cried. I have been nursing my muscles and race wounds (blisters, chaffing, etc) back to good health. The first couple days of soreness were intense sorta like I got hit by a truck. By Wednesday I felt a million times better and the soreness has virtually gone away.
I thought this little saying was super funny before the marathon but now I feel it's so true.