Read more about Kelly’s Marathon experience in Part 1 – The Training.
The week leading up to the marathon was the most nerve racking and anxiety filled week I have ever had! I was so nervous I was going to start too fast and run out of gas causing me to have to walk a lot or pass out in the last mile. Thank heaven for having my 2 little kids to keep me busy that week because every time I would have some down time my nerves and anxiety would take over.
My family lives just south of Houston so we left on Thursday before the race to get to my parents house to get all settled in before the big race. My half Italian mom made homemade eggplant parmesan with pasta. NOTE! If you ever need to carb-load head to my parents house… my mom loves to cook Italian food! Friday night we went out to dinner with my family to carb-load some more at a local Italian restaurant. Being with my whole family always makes me more relaxed. Thursday and Friday were rest days for me… no running except for after my 2 kids.
Saturday morning I hung out at my parents house and visited with a friend and ran a quick mile and a half just to stretch out my legs. After that we took the kids to a birthday party and then dropped them off with my parents so my hubby and I could head into Downtown Houston for the Marathon Expo, dinner with friends and spending the night at a hotel right next to the George R. Brown Convention Center and more conveniently, the finish line! (Picture below is the view from our hotel room. You can see the pretty blue finish line.)
The Marathon Expo was awesome! We walked over from our hotel to the expo to pick up my race bib, shirt and goodies. After I picked up my swag bag of goodies we walked around the expo. I was looking for more running headbands, a hat and my hubby insisted that I get a 26.2 sticker. I insisted he should take a picture with the 0.0 sticker (don’t tell him I posted this picture of him). My hubby also made me sign a giant sign that said, “I run Houston because…” I wrote, “to checkoff my bucket list!” Or maybe it is just because I am crazy! I am glad he was along to help lighten my mood.
After the Expo we went to dinner with one of my best friends that still lives in the Houston area. We went to an Italian restaurant (one more carb-loading session) in Rice Village that we used to eat at with our boyfriends that are now our husbands. After dinner we headed back to the hotel so I could get ready for the race and go to bed. We drove on part of the race course so I could pick out a spot for my hubby to be to switch out my water bottle I run with. I had one last chat with my friend, Nina, and laid out all my clothes and got my water bottles ready for the morning. I could not go to sleep to save my life! I must have tossed and turned for 2 or more hours thinking about the race and checking my phone to make sure I set my alarm clock.
I am pretty sure I managed to get 4 decent hours of sleep before my 5:15am alarm went off. I laid there for a few minutes wanting to pinch myself because I couldn’t believe the big day had finally arrived. It was time to put all my hard work to the test! I got up, got dressed and ate my usual pre-run breakfast consisting of a banana and a English muffin with peanut butter and sipped on some gatorade. I text Nina to make sure she was up and ready to go. Then I said goodbye to my sleeping hubby and headed down to the hotel lobby to meet Nina.
The temperature was in the low 40’s at the start so we were wearing extra layers to throw off right before the race started. I had found an old fleece vest in my closet from probably high school that I wore. We headed over to the start where there were over 27,000+ runners getting to their corrals for the start. The race started at 7am, but we had to be in our corrals by 6:30am. We found where we were going to start and wished each other luck with big hugs. I knew Nina was going to totally rock it and qualify for the 2016 Boston Marathon… because she is speedy like that! I let my nerves get the best of me and started further back than I should have, but it calmed me down at the time. Now that I look back at it I wish I hadn’t.
7am the gun goes off! I was so far back that I didn’t cross the starting line until 7 or 8 minutes after the race clock started. There were just so many runners! I started off great I tried to stay at a slower pace than I am used to to try to conserve my energy, but I was starting to feel so good that I sped up a bit after the first mile or so. I really thought I would be able to keep that pace! The weather was perfect for running. I kept looking at my Garmin watch and kept telling myself I should slow down a bit. I wanted to finish the race in 3 hours and 45 minutes so I tried to keep my pace a little ahead of that. I was feeling good. I saw some friend from high school cheering me on around mile 8 or 9. It was so funny to hear them yelling my maiden name.
We ran through Rice Village on University Drive. It was so beautiful! The whole street was lined with American flags and just about every homeowner was outside lining the street with signs, snacks and drinks. It really was awesome! I saw my favorite sign while running on University Drive. It said, “Spoiler Alert! The Kenyans already won!” It made me laugh! Finally, I made it to mile 12 where my hubby was going to meet me to trade out my water bottle and give me more of my huma chia seed fuel packets. He was on the top of a hill right where he was supposed to be (extra points for the Hubs!). What a relief that was! I shed my long sleeve shirt I had tied around my waste, too. Then about a half a mile from my hubby I saw my baby sister and her boyfriend! I know you aren’t supposed to do this at a race, but my sister jumped on the course and ran over 3 miles with me! It was great having someone that I know run next to me. Even though I could barely talk it help immensely. She was trying to take selfies of us and kept trying to show me on the race app on her phone how I was doing. It was pretty sweet of her, but I could have cared less about that at that point. I just wanted to get though the next mile! At this point in time I started to have a sharp pain on the bottom of my left foot under my big toe. I was trying to turn my foot all different ways to eliminate the pain, but it really slowed me down, but I kept going.
Finally, I saw my kiddos, my hubby and my parents around mile 19. They had made me signs and my 4 year old son even wrote his name on one of them. So sweet! I didn’t even see the signs as I ran by. I just wanted to see my babies! I don’t even think my daughter saw me, but I got to give my son a high-five! Every race I have ever ran I always get so emotional when I see my kids cheering me on.
A little after mile 20 my friend, Jami that I lived with and taught with in the Houston area before I moved to the Valley jumped on the course with me and ran with me until mile 25. Again, I know we weren’t supposed to have people jump on the course with us, but it was such a help. I know I apologized to her a few times because I was moving pretty slow!
I ran the last mile by myself. I just kept telling myself,
[quote]”You can do it,” “You’re almost there,” “You are going to finish.”[/quote]
The last mile was crazy! I must have seen 4 or 5 people collapse from either cramps or dehydration. Ambulances were everywhere. The Downtown Houston streets were lined with tons spectators. People were yelling your name and cheering you on. Apparently, my parents, kids and husband were yelling my name and I ran straight past them and didn’t even look! Oops! As I turned the last curve my baby sister was on top of her 6’5″ football player boyfriend’s shoulders cheering for me and taking pictures. Then the glorious finish line was in sight. I finished my very first marathon in 3 hours and 53 minutes… hurt foot and all!
26.2 MILES DONE!
After you finish you have to walk into the convention center to get your finishers shirt and find your family. As soon as I walked in Nina jumped out of no where to congratulate me on finishing my first marathon. I still to this day don’t know how she still had energy left after running her race in 3 hours and 34 minutes and qualifying for the 2016 Boston marathon. See looked like a ball of energy! I remember thinking boy she has a lot of energy and I just wanted to to sit down and cry because my legs were on FIRE! I made it to the family reunion area, which was on the totally opposite side of the convention center you enter from. I am not sure why they make people who just ran 13.1 miles or 26.2 miles walk all that way afterwards. I would have taken a wheel chair or stroller ride if I could have. I finally saw my family and my friend Jami and her husband. It was so great to see them and I definitely could not have finished it without them cheering me on. When they all got to me they asked me how I felt. I told them I am pretty sure I felt better after giving birth naturally twice than I did that that point in time. I just remember my legs hurting me so bad. Somehow I managed to walk back to the hotel to shower and pack up to leave. We met my family and Jami and her husband for brunch at one of my favorite breakfast places in Houston. I ordered a big blueberry pancake, eggs and bacon. Sounds delicious and I had been planning on going there after the race for weeks, but my digestive system was not ready for all of that. I was disappointed I didn’t have an appetite for my favorite breakfast stop.
All in all I am happy with the end result of my first marathon. It really was the hardest thing I have done in my life. It didn’t turn out as good as I wanted it to, but I can’t complain since my foot started hurting me halfway though. It is still up in the air whether I want to sign up for another one, but I am sure I will at some point. I know I could not have done as well as I did with out the support of my husband, family, friends and running buddies.
Happy running, my friends!