Race weekend started off with the Space Coast Marathon Expo. It was crazy. Lines that looped around and around with lots of people. Luckily the line for my bib number only had one person, so I didn't have to wait too long. Getting the marathon bib made things so real!
At the expo, I spotted Marcia in line. It was so nice to see a familiar face among the craziness.
The night was uneventful...we had a good group dinner at an Italian place for some carb loading. Thanks to LeeAnn for organizing dinner. Afterwards, it was time for an early bedtime.
And then before I knew it, race day was upon me and the alarm was blaring at 3:30....aaahhhhh! Getting to the race was easy because LeeAnn and I got on the first shuttle (4am). When we arrived at the start, I hung out with LeeAnn, some other awesome runners from PBRC (Pacebook Running Club) and then I got to chat with Krissy until our start time of 6:30 arrived. I loved chatting with Krissy because it made the time go by fast and kept my mind off the fact that I was about to run a full marathon. Eek!
Eventually the starting time was upon us and we made our way to the start. The countdown began and I was off! I decided to hang with the 5:45 pace group (they were doing a 1:1 interval) and that worked great for the first 6 miles or so. Then I realized I needed to slow down. I was going out too fast, too soon. So, I dipped back and just did my own thing. The course was two out and backs, which I liked. We ran right along the water, with some small rolling hills, and lots of beautiful trees. It really was a nice route!
At mile 13 or so, the marathon runners came upon the finish for the half-marathoners. This was hard because the crowd was cheering and there was so much excitement for them....it seemed like the race should be over. But not for me....that was the half way point. The next few miles flew by. I started to chat with another runner and that really helped pass the time. I was grateful to have someone to talk to. I also started to spot familiar faces. I saw Krissy again, then Jeff Galloway, Carissa, and Kristin along the route. I loved being able to cheer them and other runners on.
Then I came upon a beer sign. Say what?!?! One of the houses was giving out little cups of Blue Moon and OF COURSE I stopped and got some. Then there was a house cooking breakfast and handing out lots of goodies. I stopped for some oranges and they were so refreshing.
The turn around to mile 20 seemed to take forever. After this, I was venturing into uncharted territory...going farther than ever before. I was still feeling good at this point. Then mile 22 came and I was just over it. I was tired, things were starting to hurt, the wind had really picked up, and there was a light drizzle of raining starting. I just wasn't in the mood anymore. Around mile 23, I stopped in the medical tent and got some advil. This helped tremendously...by mile 24 I was back in action, but I knew my time goal of under 6 hours was gone.
The last couple miles were so much better...nothing was really hurting and I knew I could finish. At mile 26, I made the turn to the finish and what I saw made it all worth it. It was my husband, standing with a sign. I got all emotional (like ugly cry emotional), but I knew I had to pull it together because I was almost there. So I sucked it up and hauled ass to the finish. Hearing people scream my name and cheer for me was overwhelming. I did it....I finished my first full marathon with a smile on my face.
I'm still a little bummed I didn't meet the time goal I wanted in my head. I came in at 6:10:43. I know that's a super slow time for some people, but for me it was a miracle...being able to do something that I never thought was possible. A marathon was NEVER in the cards for me. And just like that I realized that if you can dream it, you can do it!