Sunday, October 13, 2013

One week later...

WARNING: This will get long :)

Last week I ran my very first FULL marathon with my older brother Andrew. I still can't believe I ran 26.2 miles, but I did, and it will be a day I will NEVER forget.

Race weekend began with my family coming into town to support me. Andrew trained in secret and actually came to RUN with me. The support of my family means so much to me. My mom flew into town from Michigan, my little brother drove in from Brookfield, and my sister and her family drove down from Fargo. After teaching on Saturday and picking up my race packet, we all went to the Team World Vision Dinner. It was great to chat with my family, and I loved hearing stories from other TWV runners. I was recognized for being one of the top 25 fundraisers; without my family and friends, that would NOT have been possible. Together we raised enough money to provide clean water for 40 people! The entire team raised almost $200,000. It was an honor to represent Team World Vision for my first marathon. I tell you...that Bradley Hofbauer. He can convince anyone to do hard things as an act of serving God and His people. You were right, Bradley. I can do hard things :)

After dinner, my brother and I jetted off to the Marquette Hotel for the night. Thanks to my brother, we got to stay less than a mile away from the starting line, so we simply had to walk over the morning of rather than deal with traffic and parking. This was SUCH a blessing. At that point, we had NO idea what the weather was going to be like. We sprawled out multiple outfits in case of rain, and we pinned our bibs on the parts of our outfit we knew we would wear. We forced ourselves to drink last minute gatorade and water, and we prepared to sleep.

I was able to fall asleep right away, but unfortunately I woke up at 12:30, and I tossed and turned the rest of the night. My brother did the same. Thankfully I had gotten a good night's sleep the night before because I knew this would happen. At 4:30 I got up to drink more water, and then I checked the weather. My fervent prayers from the night before were answered, and it wasn't predicted to rain until closer to the end of the race. We later got moving and were out the door a little before seven.

My Team World Vision picture was at 7:15, and after we made a beeline for the bathrooms :)

 At this point we met up with Chad, but then lost him. We had planned to run with him the whole race, but we never found him after our bathroom break :(

After our first bathroom break, me made our way to the corrals to bag check our things. Both Andrew and I had on warmer clothes, but we didn't ditch them until right before the starting line. My brother's homemade Tear Away Pants...Genius. We knew there would be time after the official start before we actually got to start (we were in corral 2 but dropped back to 3 to start slower), so we hit up the good ol' porta potties one more time before we officially entered the starting gates. Before I knew it, we were off. We were starting our FIRST marathon!

Because of the crowded streets, we were super slow at the start. I wanted this, though, because I was super afraid the excitement of the race would make me start super fast. About two minutes in, we had the pleasure of seeing Doug Scalia. I shouted a hello and continued on. Slowly around mile three were able to pick up our pace and make up any lost time. I was super surprised at how crowded it was. We still had to be careful not to run into anyone! Despite that, though, running around the lakes is incredible and beautiful! To be honest though, I didn't get to really soak in the scenery as much as I wanted to.

About mile 4 (I think), I saw my first set of spectators...Jen Claussen, Jen Perovich, and Gwen Poore were cheering loudly with a huge sign. I literally jumped and leaped at the sight of them. Andrew quickly told me he didn't recommend the leaping later on in the race :) A few short miles later, we saw our family. It was super crazy busy, both on the side of the road and in the middle of the road because the race is HUGE. It was difficult to locate spectators if they didn't have a sign. Thankfully Jeff stood out ahead, and once we spotted him, we could spot the rest of the family crew! Le'Dean, Christopher, my mom, Brandon, and the boys were cheering super loudly. I really wanted to go give them a high five, but the running pack was still super crowded.

At mile 10, I saw Holly Johnson. I was still giddy at this point; as Holly put it, "I was downright cheerful!" I was running a marathon!!!

That changed about a mile later when I started cramping. I was getting these weird shooting pains in my Achilles tendon, and my quads were sore. This is when the doubts started creeping in. If I was hurting at mile 11/12, how in the world was I going to make it to 26? Thankfully, two things squashed that feeling for at least a little while. First, we saw the Scalia Family around mile 13. Their cheers and smiling faces made me forget about the pain for a bit. At mile 14, Gwen, Jen, and Jen helped encourage me again, but I was still doubting my abilities because the pain in my calf/heel was getting intense. Then at mile 16 we saw our family again. Andrew and I planned ahead and had them waiting with necessities for us! We quickly went off to the side. I grabbed a water bottle from Brandon, bent down to hug my kiddos, and almost fell over! Stopping for more than a few seconds was NOT an option apparently. So, while my brother changed I continued down the course by walking briskly. This ended up being a blessing in disguise because while I walked, my cramps in my Achilles worked themselves out for the most part. A few moments later, my brother caught up with me and on we went. At this point I also grabbed a banana from a stranger on the course who was nice enough to be passing them out. Seriously, she was an angel from God.

Mile 16 brought on the TEAM WORLD VISION tent. This was by far the loudest cheering section on the course. The tent was full, and people were rooting me on like rock stars. It was a much needed pick-me up.  Not too much farther was Holly Johnson. She even got a smile out of Andrew at this point. On Camera even :)

About a mile or two later my friend Mel met up with me. She ran a few hundred feet with me and told me how great I looked. A lie for sure, but I took it to heart! Mile 19 brought back Gwen, Jen, and Jen. Once again, a much needed pick me up! Each time I saw someone I knew, a smile would automatically come to my face, and the infamous thumbs up would appear :)

Somewhere between mile 19 and 20, Ms. Holly Oberg showed up with her kiddos. I was starting to fade at this point, and I was running out of water in my camelback. Thankfully, I figured this would happen, so I gave Holly a small water to give to me a few days before the race. I really wanted to stop and hug her, but my legs would NOT let me. I grabbed the water bottle and was off. Again, this water bottle was one of the few reasons I think I made it through Summit Ave without dying. I can't thank Holly enough for asking me ahead of time what she could do for me. LIFESAVER!

Right before we hit Mile 20, Andrew told me I would have to leave him once we passed the Mile 20 marker. This was NOT what I wanted to hear. I was freaking out about running the last 6 miles by myself, and I really wanted to finish with my brother. It didn't take long for me to make the decision to stay and walk. He made it a bit past mile 20, but then he fell back, so I joined him. Unfortunately, my body did NOT agree with this decision. My hip killed when I walked fast, but if I walked too slow my quads started to cramp. I asked Andrew if he could start running again, but he still needed to walk. I was in agony trying to decide what to do. At this point, Chad caught up with us, and my brother told me to take off with Chad. My legs thanked him, but my heart was sad. I kept running with Chad for a couple of miles, but once again, I was back on my own when Chad had to stop and get water. My legs were not stopping or tolerating a crossover to the side of the road. Literally a couple minutes later I saw Angie, Chad's wife. A few minutes after seeing Angie, I met up with Scott. He and I trained together on most of our long runs, so it was a HUGE sigh of relief to find a familiar face. At this point I was dying. For the longest time, I mentally prepared myself that if I could make it to mile 20, I would be able to finish. I figured that even if I walked the last 6 miles, I would still have plenty in time to finish before the final 6 hour sweeper. Well, that thought was out the window when I realized walking for more than 30 seconds brought on cramps. I became delirious and full of stomach issues at this point and left Scott because I had to keep running.

I started to make little goals at this point...make it to that tree...make it to that little kid with his hand out. Then it was make it to the rejuvenation station with Kacey and Boz. When I saw what I hoped was their tent, a little pep was put back in my step, and a huge smile with thumbs up appeared and soon as I spotted Boz with the microphone. A little over 2 miles left. You would think it would be easy to just do two more miles, but easy it was not. 30 seconds after seeing Boz and Kacey, I began to struggle. More doubts. More stomach issues. More pain. But then I saw Holly Johnson at mile 24. Seeing her got me through another small section of Summit. Then I saw Tom and Carole. Seeing them in the rain and knowing they drove up to see me just for a few seconds got me through another portion.

Then I saw Amy and Linda from work. I had literally started to contemplate sitting down on the side of the road at this point and began to jobble...a combination of a hobble and a jog. Seeing them was like a miracle. It put a smile to my face and kept me going for a bit.

This continued to happen over and over. I would get discouraged, and then seconds later someone would pick me up. Around 25.7 or so I saw Becca. She gave me the umph to keep going for long enough to get me to where I could see the finish line. At that point, I just focused in on that banner and pushed through. The funny things is that I never saw the Cathedral. I was so focused on putting one step in front of the other that I never realized I had passed it. I just needed to finish. Seeing the Scalia Family seconds before I crossed was an added bonus. Four hours, 24 minutes, and 37 seconds later, I crossed the finish line. Four hours and 24 minutes later, I was a marathoner. That is all that mattered at that point.

Unfortunately, the minute I crossed the finish line, my body began to shut down. I took a few steps and then threw up on the side of the road. I walked to my mother and nearly broke down in tears as I waited for my brother to finish. I needed to have him back by my side again. Thankfully, I didn't have to wait too long to hear his name announced. We did it. We ran and finished the Twin Cities Marathon.

For the rest of the day, my body was not happy, and I had a very hard time eating and drinking. I was showing obvious signs of fatigue and dehydration, but I wasn't having an easy time filling my body with nutrients. Thankfully I had planned ahead and had a sub ready for Monday because there was NO WAY I was going to be able to teach.

On Tuesday, I could barely walk, and I never thought it was possible to be as sore as I was, but my stomach and other issues are back to normal. I went back to school, and I had fun basking in the glory of answering everyone's questions. Sunday will be a day I will never forget.

I am a marathoner. My brother is a marathoner. Let's just reflect upon that statement for a moment.

I'll say it again. I am a marathoner :)

One week later, and I am officially ready to tackle next year's marathon. I already know what I want to do differently and how I plan to try and improve the experience. That's my personality. I tried denying it for a few days, but it didn't last long. I get to wear this necklace for the rest of my life regardless (THANKS, Le'Dean and Mom), but I will run another one. It's inevitable.

One more thing...did I mention I ran 26.2 miles?

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