This past year has been a tough year of running for me. I started really training for the marathon in August but then broke my foot. I kept running on it for a few weeks, refusing to believe I had broken it. Alas, wishes don’t always become a reality. So, for 8 weeks I was in a boot. When I was finally released I determined to catch up with my training (I said determined, not smart!).
The furthest distance I went (walking because my running endurance was shot) was 17 miles. Boy oh boy did I get some horrible blisters. I bought new socks and shoes hoping that would fix the blister issue. My running Coach, Liz, recommended I just do the 1/2 this year. However, elephants are my favorite animal and I decided if I was ever going to do the full (I’ve done 2 1/2’s) the year of the elephant had to be it.
Race morning I was extremely nervous but determined to finish. I had a plan to walk so I didn’t use up my energy too early on and to change my socks at the 1/2 way point to hopefully avoid blisters. After the first loop I realized I was going quite slow so I tried to speed it up some. I kept thinking “just drop to the 1/2…it doesn’t mean you’re weak,” but I wanted to finish the marathon.
After I completed the second lap I sat down to change my socks and saw how large the blisters on my heels and other areas. That deflated me even more, yet I was still determined to finish. My feet were hurting, horribly. My time kept slowing down and my husband was already done. Again, I thought “just take the 1/2”. At this point I had completed the third loop and figured I had gone this far, it’s just one more loop. However, I stopped to give my feet a break and posted that I didn’t want to do it anymore because my feet hurt and I was tired on Facebook but my friends and family were very supportive and motivating so off I went again.
My last loop was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. My blisters popped, which hurt like tar but eventually actually felt better. The water stations had long closed but they left water out, which I appreciated. I got to the turnaround to head back to the finish and the people were gone. I figured they had a long day and weren’t going to wait for the last person anyway. But then I got to the water station after the lake and it was gone. I started to panic that I had missed it. The race was over and I was too late, but I kept trudging along. My garmin died about mile 22.
I was hurting and just wanted to stop. I didn’t want to do the marathon anymore I just wanted to be done! I knew there was another water station just about a mile away that had a ton of water so I’d get some there. When I got there Steve Boone (the race coordinator) was there picking up the water. I about lost it. I just knew it was over at that point. All that work for nothing. I asked Steve if the race was done and he said “The minute I kick someone off the race course is the minute I stop doing this.” Of course, I was a bit emotional and trying not to cry. While he was getting me some water and I was fighting tears he said “No crying, there’s no crying in marathons!” (I beg to differ). I was able to suck it up and keep the tears from falling (too much).
I pushed on and saw my husband at about mile 25. I was never so happy to see him! Even though he was sore from his marathon, he walked out to meet me and walk me back in. He told me Steve, Paula (his wife and another coordinator), and a few volunteers were at the end and had my medal and squeezy elephant waiting for me. I was excited to get an elephant since it was first come first serve and I knew I was last!
When I finally saw the clubhouse again, my stomach jumped. It was probably 5:20…almost closing time for the park. Everyone left cheered me on and even though there wasn’t a finish line any longer (they had cleaned up because they had to leave the park at dusk!) Steve and Paula presented me with the medal and elephant. Words cannot describe how happy I was (even though I was fighting back tears). The finish line may not have been there and I finished after most everyone went home, but I WAS a marathoner! Steve and Paula made me feel special when most of my hope had been drained and my friends, family, and God gave me the strength to keep pushing. My official time is 9:27:05. Slow but not so bad for someone who only made it 17 miles during the short training time they had! Mike’s finish time was 3:44:31, 15 minutes better than his last!