After hours and hours and miles and miles on the road in preparation for what would be my first marathon, considering that the dang snow cancelled out the one that was supposed to be the premiere one back in February 2010, I was having faith in my conditioning, believing in myself and I was readying to start.
After multiple calls, texts and Facebooks of good luck and encouragement from my friends, who wouldn't be amped to go. The weather was a fantastic asset that day, crisp morning, overcast somewhat and after having run in snow last year Saturday's forecast was picture perfect.
Staying at the Hilton was a huge asset. It was in walking distance of the start and finish line, huge plus. When we had checked in on Friday, I noticed immediately that there was only a coffee pot that which I would use to warm the water for my oatmeal. I joked about being able to survive in the wilderness at my craftiness to be able to utilize the coffee pot water to make my breakfast the next day. Of course it was all a joke after having seen a blurb from, Sarah Palin's Alaska where Kate Gossling was whining about being in the wilderness and being hungry! Any way all jokes aside, give me the Hilton any day, I opt for comfort, no tents for this old girl.
I always take our alarm clock from home because it is a huge fear that I will oversleep and miss the start of my race. so I set the clock for 5 am and hit the sack around 9 on Friday night after having had wonderful pre-racemeal of shrimp tacos, yummo! Lori, Cindy and I decided to meet at the Christmas tree in the lobby of the Hilton and walk to the start together, we had our plan. Belly full, number attached to my nifty gel holder belt, gels attached, socks out, 2XUs out, protein shake chilling in the cooler, coffee ready, now time for bed. I slept like a log, which was totally unexpected.
Alarm went off, no snoozing today, started coffee, removed bag of coffee, heated water for oatmeal, everything was falling together nicely. Hot epsoms salt bath, vaseline up and the dress. Now wait! Then pee one last time, it's here.
The energy of the crowd is important. We walked to get to the beginning looking at dogs that were dressed, people in costumes who were running the race, and just on lookers anxious to get this started. I get a smack on the butt from Nik, and I told him that he had to say good game if he was going to do that well he did. We lined up together but a conversation had been had that we would not run as a group, we would run individually, each our own race. Adrenaline is pumping. Time to start.
Charlotte is a hilly challenging course. I was heading into the unknown. I had heard horror stories of hitting the wall at around 20 miles. In fact I had run into that said wall during a training run back in the summer, not really a nice place, digging deep is necessary, hydration is imperative.
I had my game plan - run the whole thing, all of it, all 26.2 miles. I had mastered the smash and grab drinking at my last half, my gels secured so that i could just pull them out of my belt, rip the top off with my teeth and down it. It was doable. I had decided that I had to break this race down into segments. Five miles every forty-five minutes for four sets and then a 10 k was all I would have left. That would put me right at four hours for my first full marathon.
The crowd was dense for the first few miles, a little more spaced out as time went on. I kept checking my garmin to make sure I was on target and I was. I always imagine that I am alone out there when I run, so that I can focus. Eyes focused five feet in front of me, the miles peel away, stomach is cooperating. Crowd's energy was just pulling me along. Wow that was fast I'm already at the turn off point at the half- marathon finish where the blinking sign says "half-marathon turn right, full marathon straight ahead." Well just let me say the crowd thinned by about 3000 people so that is where that 22 miler on my own helped, it was the mental aspect, not the physical at this point. Miles 13 thru 16 were the hardest because in my mind all I was thinking was I could be finished, now I have this to do again, another 13.1 miles.
After 16miles, I settled back down into my run, I was pretending I was pedaling my bike, regained focus and here comes the entertainment, both from me and the crowd. I had this mantra on repeat in my mind..."you are a marine, pain is weakness leaving the body." I am no more a marine than a martian but Saturday I was, in my mind any way and the realization that I only had a 10.2 mile run left which was totally doable. Miles 17passed, Mile 18 a drumline was playing which was awesome, 19 no wall, 20 no wall and right on target 3 hours flat, 20 and 1/2 a wall was constructed by some fraternity so that we could run through it while they all did the Cha Cha slide. Mile 21 - Eye of the Tiger was blarring at which time I shadow boxed while running followed by a sign that read "you have now entered the belly of the beast. Mile 22, Geisha on stilts, a beer table with cases of Budlight and drunk guys then a crew of guys with Bloody Mary's, Mile 23, a juggling Santa, a sign that said today you're my hero, a guy that said number 332, you're doing awesome, just keep running you're almost there. Mile 24, a cop that said only 2.2 miles to go. After that I don't remember much except hearing the crowd, wondering when I would hit the wall, being ecstatic that my stomach had cooperated and finally I see it, FINISH. I am deaf by now, focused, a little sad that it was over, and I still had some gas left, and some how my legs were still working. I went for it and finished at a good pace, focused and happy, in pain but not as bad as I had anticipated. 4:10:15 official chip time and my game plan had worked, I ran the whole thing.
Cindy had finished at 2:06:03, her first half. Lori finished at 4:35. We all had a great run.