Well hello there! I see you guys were intrigued by Part I of my race report and the cliffhanger at the end! I'm a little bit sneaky, eh? So without further ado, I present to you the remainder of this (really long) race report from my first marathon last Saturday.
The Race: Miles 14-21
After I made my first short walk break at 13.5, I knew that more walk breaks were in my immediate future. I hate, hate, HATE to walk during training runs, much less races, and I had already let myself down by taking this first short one. Everyone around me seemed to be taking walk breaks and when I wasn't getting too much further ahead of them I thought, why not? No one was around spectating/cheering/pushing me to keep going. It was just me and the moo cows and about 10 other racers (most of which were considerably older than me) meandering through the sparse farm land of NC.
I know I said that stopping at 13 was my "first big mistake of the race" but actually, I think my first mistake was eating those Sport Beans before I even started! My stomach had been cramping up the entire run, not debilitating cramps, but cramps that just annoyed me and made it that much easier to stop when I was getting spent.
So from about mile 13.5 on it was a walk/run kind of race for me. I don't know why, I have run plenty of runs further than 13 and never walked a second, but for some reason in this long & lonely race I was allowing myself to stop. It was a good run up until that point, I was feeling strong, I was making my way past other racers--all while sticking within my target pace. But after mile 13 my pace started to suffer and for some weird reason, it was okay with me.
I don't know what mile it was, but it had to be around mile 17ish when we were making our way out of the country and started to wind through a neighborhood. It was really strange because here we were, this small trickle of marathon runners, coming through this average looking neighborhood with no fan fare, no course markers (don't get me started on this), and I was wondering what the people who lived there were thinking. They were mowing their lawns, blowing the excess grass into the street, going about their Saturday as if this huge race didn't even exist. I would have given anything at that point to be mowing a lawn.
So it was sometime on this never ending road through this neighborhood when it started to spit light rain again. Welcome rain that was my only saving grace at that moment. Then, something strange happened.
I felt something hit the back of my leg. Hmm, that was weird feeling. I turn around and what do I see?
A TAMPON. A Tampax Super completely free from it's wrapper, AND its applicator.
Marinate on that for a second.
At first I had the horrific thought that MY tampon had fallen out (if that is even possible. Sorry for the TMI there). But I quickly realized after reaching around to feel for my extra pal in my back pocket, and this little guy had become so soaked in sweat/rain that the paper wrapper had basically disintegrated and somehow, SOMEHOW the tampon itself had wriggled out of it's applicator and broken free onto the streets of this suburban neighborhood.
Of course there were runners directly behind me. Of course they were looking at me quite strangely. But I avoided their curious/scared glances and kept on truckin. At least this would keep me amused in my thoughts for a few miles. Note to self: make sure to only carry tampons in plastic wrappers on super long runs or in races. Got it.
After that little incident, we started to (finally) make our way back into town. I was hoping that there would be some spectators to help me out because I was beat. I had made a deal with myself that I could walk through every water station from mile 16 on. This worked out pretty well although a few times, I had to walk between stations (they came about every 2 miles).
My stomach was still giving me fits but I was trying to ignore that. My left foot hurt pretty bad and my right calf was starting to get really tight. My socks were rubbing weirdly against the bottoms of my feet and I was just so ready to be done. How I made it to meet up with my family at mile 21 I don't know.
The Race: Miles 21-26.2
At around mile 20ish there was a water station at the bottom of what I thought was the worst hill of the course. I stopped and drank my water + Gatorade (excuse me, G), walked for a bit up the hill, and then started running again. As soon as I got to the top of the hill I could see my people there waiting for me. It was like an oasis in the desert!
They were hooting and hollering and yelling for the cops to stop the traffic and it was JUST what I needed.
(Please watch this, my Nana yelling at the cops is priceless)
Before the race I had asked Eric if he would run the end of it with me. He said he could do that. Then, the morning of the race he was like, "Yeah, I don't think so Kristin, I don't really run." I am sure I said something smarty pants like any older sister would do. Something like, "Well fine then! I hate you too ass whipe." You know, something nice.
So when I came through the intersection where they were waiting I didn't expect to have a running partner. Especially since Eric was in his khaki shorts and heavy leather belt. But as I ran by screaming, "This freaking suuuucccckkkss!" he hopped right in and said, "I'm gonna run with you!" I was elated, overjoyed. Perhaps saved.
So I took off my headphones and gladly started chatting. "Yeah we just ate at Biscuitville and I had a biscuit and a Mtn. Dew so I'm ready to go!" He said. I knew that would come back to haunt him in a mile or so.
I was telling him about the fat girls who were beating the pants off me, the miles and miles of desolation in the country, of seeing the winner run past us and then seeing the guy who was in second about a mile back. I started chatting - between huge gulps of air - about how I felt like crap and my feet hurt. I told him that I would want to stop but not to let me.
So we kept running and chatting and it was nice not only to catch up with my brother but also to have someone to motivate me. He kept telling me that I had run so far and it was okay I was going slow, that all I had was a few more miles and we would done, that I could do it. It was great. Although I was a little bit embarrassed about how slow I was going, I couldn't help it! I had never run with Eric before and I knew he wanted to go faster (especially since he doesn't ever run). I looked at my Garmin and realized that a sub 5 hour finish was the only thing I could hope for, and it was within reach. But as the last miles started to tick by I told myself that I didn't care about my time anymore, I just wanted to finish. So I didn't look at it again.
We kept running by all these cops who would tell us, "You're doing great! Only one more hill!" and then there would be at least 4 more hills. But it was just comical at that point.
Eric's biscuit started to come up. I told him I burped peanut butter for at least 5 miles at the beginning.
We got to mile 25ish and were on the home stretch. We could see the building downtown where the finish line was, and there was this one long road between us and it.
"Ok that guy up ahead is a douchebag because he just stopped," Eric said on one of the last hills. "We can beat him." Then later, "Actually, let's try to beat all 4 of those people ahead of us. Then you will be motivated to finish strong."
"Whatever...want to be done" I mumbled. But I was trying as hard as I could. We kept picking up the pace and one by one we started passing. We were almost there as we rounded out a left turn into the downtown area. We passed one more. I could hear the music from the finish line. We were to a corner where we were about to turn onto our final street and I saw the 26 mile marker, with my dad jumping up and down on the corner yelling for us and telling us we had only 2 more blocks to go. We turned on the heat and passed the last person. I started sprinting and he followed.
"Wait a minute, wait, what are you doing! This is too fast!" He was whimpering.
We turned into the finish and he ran off to the sidelines letting me run through the finish line on my own. It was probably one of the happiest moments of my life. I heard my family and Matt yelling for me and I looked to my left and saw my best friend Meredith waving to me. She had wanted to run this with me but couldn't due to injury, and it meant so much to me that she had driven all the way there just to see me finish.
I ran through the timing mat and collected my medal. They handed me a wet towel and I got some water. I stopped and tried to catch my breath and walked over to where everyone was gathering. I stopped my Garmin and looked at my time, 5:01:XX. That was okay by me.
Many sweaty hugs were shared, tears were shed, and I was just so utterly happy that I had finished. Eric was a bit disheveled and exhausted ("I think that was the furthest I have ever run...hmpfh" he told me afterward) but I hugged him and thanked him for being the sole reason I made it across the line as quickly as I did.
Sure, I was a little but disappointed in my time. Sure, I felt like I could have pushed myself a little bit harder. But in the end I was just so proud of myself for running a freaking marathon, that all of my doubts about my performance were overshadowed. It was a great feeling. I knew then that I would have to do it again, there was no doubt in my mind. I wanted a rematch with myself!
Then I did what any good southern girl would do after a race, grab a big fat glass of sweet tea and relax :)