As I'm sure you all know by now from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or actually seeing me in person - I did it! I crossed the finish line after 26.2 miles (or 26.6 as the Garmin said of the girl who finished beside us) of pain, exhaustion, questionable insanity, lots of sweat and a few tears.
Race weekend began Saturday when Kyle and I got up early to head to Columbus to go to the race expo, see a wedding venue (probably THE venue! eek!), go to his sister Carrie's halloween party in the afternoon followed by a dinner at Spaghetti Warehouse with my family and some friends in the evening. I thought planning such a busy day would help keep my nerves at bay and make me tired enough to fall asleep as soon as I hit the pillow that night. Boy was I wrong about that last one, but it was a really fun day anyway.
The expo was fantastic! Previously I felt the 2011 expo was very crowded, too many vendors stuffed in one place and a maze to get back to the actual packet pickup area. This year I give nothing but praises for how organized the expo was, just enough vendors to find what you needed or wanted last minute, clear directions to packet pickup which was on the balcony level of the space and ease of parking. The packets were all upstairs and we met up with our friends Christina and Brian who were there to pick up her race pack as well. (She did the half! Yay Christina!) We did a little shopping together then I went up to pick my packet and race shirt. We went early Saturday morning around 10 so there wasn't too much of a crowd and I didn't have to wait for anything, just walked right up! I noticed when I got my packet there was a "Happy Birthday!" sticker by my information sticker and thought that was nice. I felt the packet had something else in there too but I thought it was just the timing device on the bib until I opened the envelope to find a "It's My Birthday!" button to wear for the race! How cool! I was tickled pink by this gesture and I immediately put on my button to wear around for the rest of the day. Another race director at one of the booths saw it as we were walking out and took a picture to use for her own race and thought it was a great gesture as well.
We went to tour the wedding venue after that and we were both very pleased with what we saw and are going to check out one more place when we are up next week in Columbus before we leave for our cruise. I'm excited to set a date and move forward with the planning process!
Carrie's halloween party was at 2 o'clock and although it was raining and cold we had a good time mostly inside since the weather wasn't cooperating. I was Snow White and Kyle went as Ron Burgundy from Anchorman. My costume is perfect for our cruise and my dream is for just one little girl to ask for my autograph! After halloween fun we headed to dinner for carb loading and last minute well wishes from my family. My good friend Bianca came all the way from Indianapolis to see me and catch a quick glimpse of me at the halfway point of the race before she had to head back but it was so nice of her to come and to see her! She was with our other friend Laura who was there to see her dad and sister also participate in the half marathon. Jenn and Nate came as well as my cousins Toby, David, his wife Jordan and their cute little girl Chloe, my Aunt Susan, Uncle Ron, step-dad Paul, brother Nick, and my Grandma Thompson. Needless to say I felt very loved and special for so many people to want to come wish me well and have a great meal!
After dinner we went to our hotel and I specifically booked a nice place so I knew I'd have a very comfortable bed to sleep on pre-race. Well, I was right about the comfy bed - probably the best bed I've ever attempted to sleep on in my life! But the sleeping was pretty much non-existant. I worked night shift Monday, Tuesday and Thursday nights, got woken up earlier than I needed to be each of those days and only slept 9AM-1PM on Friday and had gotten up early Saturday to go to the expo. I thought the combination of these plus the busy day would guarantee a great nights sleep but I was so wrong. My heart was pounding out of my chest, I couldn't shut my brain off and I was just plain nervous. The last time I looked at the clock was 11:15 and I woke up in 45 minute increments until 4:45 and since my alarm was set for 5AM I just got up. The night before with Kyle's help I wrote all the names of the families I would be running for on my forearms, one for each mile. The only exception was my dad who got the first and last miles. It was probably the most emotional part of the whole thing. Thinking of these people who have made their way into my lives because of Huntington's disease or are associated in some way made me feel sad because I had so many that I was easily able to list but also because there are so many more that I ran out of miles to list names. I kept saying their names over and over in my head to where they were memorized before the end. In total I raised almost $1200 for the Central Ohio chapter of the Huntington's Disease Society of America and I'm very proud of that and thank everyone who donated for their support!
Race morning began at 4:45AM and I checked all my social media and woke to an array of birthday wishes and lots of luck from all over. I showered and had my clothes and gear all ready to go the night before so I could just throw everything on. I knew my Garmin battery would die before the end but I mostly just used it for a timer for eating my sport beans for some fuel after the first hour and every 45 minutes after. I put my race shirt on, clipped my bib, ate my bagel and laced my shoes and off we went. Kyle was my early morning chauffer and we picked up Kendra (@freckledfacedrunner) across the street at the mall parking lot to take her down so she could be close to the start line. It was FREEZING! The thermometer read 37 degrees in the car and I wished I had brought an old sweatshirt to wear to throw off at the start to use while we waited to get going. We got to the starting area very quickly since we didn't have to worry about parking and so that left us in the cold longer than we'd planned but there were lots of other people, buildings, and port-a-potty's to hide in until it was time to get in our corrals. I met a few people who recognized me from my Training Lindsay Facebook and Instagram accounts who said "hi!" to me and I was just thrilled! I got a lot of "Happy birthday!"'s and was amped up from the get go despite my sleep situation. I brought two of my Advocare Slam energy drinks that I usually drink one of before I start running and one after a few hours but didn't take one at the start because I was so hyped up. I ate a vanilla Honey Stinger wafter and got in my spot in corral D. I found the 5:30 pace group I was hoping to stay with through the race and put me at a 12:36 minute/mile. The pace leader was running her 262nd marathon that day (HOLY CRAP) and was energetic and I felt good about keeping up for a long while with them.
Before I knew it 7:25 was showing on my clock and I heard the national anthem being sung. There was a live band at the start so everyone was excited and dancing the in corrals while taking pictures. Christina and I were both in that last corral and she was planning on walking the half marathon so she went to find the pace group she wanted to walk with and we separated just before the corrals started moving up. The Columbus Marathon did a great job of keeping everyone excited and giving everyone a good start experience by having a countdown for each corral at the start line with fireworks for everyone as well! I don't love fireworks but I knew they were coming so I was okay. And just like that... I was running a marathon.
Kyle did a great job of organizing my "fans" around the city. He and Christina's boyfriend Brian would be a mile 9, then we went around a park and came back north to hit mile 12 a block from where they had been standing so they were there as well. I knew I would see Bianca and Laura at the half way point, Carrie was going to meet me at 15 to finish with me, my step-mom Jody, Mamaw and brother Tyler would be at the 'Shoe (Ohio State's football stadium for those who aren't Columbus savvy!), and my friends Ashley and Amanda would be somewhere at the end and I knew they had signs which was awesome. The first few miles were a breeze. When I looked down at mile 2 I noticed my Garmin was 0.3 miles ahead of where it said I was by the mile marker but I didn't really care at that point (until later when I wanted those 0.3 to be OVER). When I crossed the 10K mats I knew I was around my pace I wanted to be and was feeling great. I lost the pace group less than half a mile in because she sped off with her stick of balloons and darted and weaved through the crowd. I met up with another girl I saw at that pace group sign later at the end and she said that first mile her Garmin had them at like 10:42 so there was no way I was going to crash and burn that early on and I just did my thing. I knew also that if I was only running the half that I could have run faster and been fine through the first 13.1 but I knew I needed to just keep a consistent pace and finish. I was glad to see Kyle and Brian, got through to 12 and saw them again with a big smile on my face.
24 of the miles were dedicated to patients at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, home of the first nursing job I ever had. Mile 19 was the mile for the patient champions of last year and mile 12 was the "Angel Mile" for those kids who had already finished their race. I know I'm a pediatric nurse in an intensive care setting and we lose some patients but seeing those parents holding signs with pictures of their precious babies and cheering for ME, for all of us out there, just really got to me. That was my first good cry of the race as I ran by and high fived all of those parents, grandparents, and siblings representing their angels.
I finished the slight up hill to mile 13 and it was there that I saw the finish line as the half marathoners made the turn and were done. I so, so badly wanted to turn right there. I was feeling very tired at that point and didn't know if I was going to be able to do what I had just done again. I crossed the half point in 2:51:18 at a 13:26 minute/mile pace. My PR for the half is 2:43 so knowing I had to take it a bit easier I felt okay with that time. I had to keep going up High Street for another 3 miles before I turned to a new street and it just seemed like forever. I started run/walking after I crossed the half point and I was eating my sport beans as I was planning but I was just pooped. I was SO glad to see Carrie at mile 15 and I felt better until about mile 18 shortly after we got through Ohio Stadium. It was really cool to run down the tunnel and through the end zone but that also meant I had to run UP a ramp to get out of there. Not my favorite thing at that moment. I thought my family would be in the stadium but I didn't see them and was sad. We came around the back side of the stadium to go back to the roadway to keep going and there they were! I got hugs and cheers and all was good for another half mile then I was completely exhausted again. My pace kept slowing and my body was not used to walking so much and taking the long strides needed to maintain a somewhat decent walking pace. My hip flexors and quads today are KILLING me because of all the walking I wasn't used to. Carrie suggested I eat some more and all I had was more beans and I did not want more beans. She offered to run up to Giant Eagle close by to get me some oranges and I told her not to, that at mile 23.5 I knew there was food. She was furiously texting and I accused her of telling everyone how badly I was doing (not that the race tracker wasn't posting it for me or anything... haha) and my hunger/angry/low blood sugar was making me very short tempered and I was beyond ready to call it quits. I told her if she went to get oranges that she'd never find me and it was a lost cause. I probably would have sat down in someone's front yard and just quit. I tried to get a guy with a bike to give me a ride and it wasn't successful. We turned a corner around mile 22 and there was Kyle and his parents cheering for me and with oranges in hand - tricky Carrie! Here came the water works again and I gave hugs and got kisses and kept on trucking with oranges furiously going down my throat. I felt IMMENSELY better after that and the pep in my walking step returned to get me through to the end. At that point I knew there were still lots of people behind us that we saw as we were doubling back from the stadium but I was not pleased when I got passed by the man who's shirt said he had just turned 70, the guy who's shirt said he finished second to last in the 2012 race and "look at me now" (good for him! I can't be mad at that), and then the 6 hour pace group and shortly before the end the 6:30 pace group too. Ugh. Oh well. I knew then I'd finish and really that's all I wanted was that giant, amazing medal. We met up with a girl who was walking too that I saw with the 5:30 pace group and she had done the whole thing alone and had started walking around the same time I had. I can't imagine doing it all alone, I wouldn't have made it. We chatted a bit and were excited to see the "Half a mile to go!" sign after what seemed like eternity. One girl around us said "did we miss the 24 mile marker... everything looks like a mirage in the desert" and it really did. At mile 25 I saw Ashley and Amanda with awesome signs and I ran over to hug them and thank them for waiting for me! I got a picture at the mile marker and I was getting excited to finish this thing.
We turned the corner and saw the finish line and gathered everything I had left inside me to run down that stretch and cross that finish line. I finished my first marathon in 6 hours, 36 minutes and 43 seconds and my average pace per mile was 15:08. Not the 12:36 minute/mile I was planning on or even in the 13 minute/mile range but hey.. I finished a MARATHON. I'm not even mad about it.
I stared at my medal, met up with Kyle, his parents and Ashley and Amanda had made it to the finish as well. Lots of hugs and pictures were taken and I got my goodie bag and we made the hike to the car. I had NEVER been so happy to sit down in my life. I took a quick shower at Carrie's and met up with my step-mom, Mamaw and brother for a steak late lunch/dinner at Longhorn. So much to be celebrated and I was still in shock at actually having done it.
I don't know if I'll ever do it again but I'll say this - if you want your life to change in every possible way, train for a marathon. It's more than the weight I've lost, the miles I've run, and the medal. I know I can honestly do ANYTHING I set my mind to, I can conquer even my biggest fears. I can be rid of my insecurities and doubts. We are capable of so much more than we give ourselves credit. This started out as a crazy idea a year ago during a night out with my girlfriends drinking to celebrate my birthday. Now I'm a whole different person, inside and out, and I've accomplished more in the last 10 months personally, professionally and physically than I ever thought possible. I have the job I dreamed of, I'm on the path to the future career I want as a Nurse Anesthetist, I'm changing my body in every way possible, and I have put it to the test by completing a marathon. 26.2 miles on foot. Every minute of all of those miles were moments I'll never forget. The reasons for doing it on my arms, the money I was able to fundraise to donate to the cause most near and dear to my heart, and my own personal pride I will wear on my heart for the rest of my life.
I say it in every post, and I won't quit. THANK YOU all so very, very much for allowing me to be a part of your lives, for caring about me and this journey of a lifetime that has only just begun, and for being the greatest support I could ever have hoped for. I mean it.
I'm going to spend the next two weeks letting my body recover from 30 weeks of training, enjoy our vacation and come back and start November with Insanity and the new year will start sprint triathlon training. I'm looking at training plans and am already getting excited for this next set of adventures. I'm not done yet :)
Also, before all of that, I want to remind you all that on November 17th I'll be doing the Hot Chocolate 5K in Columbus as a race ambassador and I would love for you to join me! Use the code "CBUSMUG10" when you register for extra goodies in your bag! Come out and show me your stuff! I know you have it in you and I KNOW there are lots of you out there now that have been thinking of doing a 5K (or heck, sign up for the 15K and show me up!) and I'd love if you came out and did it with me!
Today I celebrated all of my victories and birthday with a 90 minute massage, Chipotle, and some of Kyle's mom's homemade chocolate cookies. I think 26 is going to be even better than 25, if that is even possible. Bring on love, marriage, honeymoons, wedding dresses, and the best version of myself that I've ever known!