Read all about the expo & the best surprise ever here!
It's long. It's my first marathon. Get over it. Just look at the pretty pictures if you want the summation of the adventure!
|As if I could forget?|
Thankfully, I slept better than I had all week on Saturday night. Our alarm was set for 3:50 am, and despite waking up about 2:15 (darn hydration plan!), I slept the whole way through. I was wide awake by 3:40, laid in bed, stared at the ceiling, wondering how it was race day already. Once everyone was up and moving, it was real - this is it! Race morning! Out the door by 4:35, stopped at the institution known as Manna Donuts for coffee, bagels, and yes, donuts. Since Tina was planning on seeing me and Kasey off, and her hotel was on the way to the start line, instead of making her figure out the shuttle nonsense, we picked her up on the way - at her hotel by 5:20, and to parking (we found a lot where they didn't make us pay!?) and on the bus and at the start line just about 6 am. Kasey and I were off at 6:34 after the porto stop and a few photos. In hindsight, I think I'm really glad we didn't give ourselves too much time once we were at the start - I think that would have freaked me out more.
|Early morning - almost go time!|
And then it was go time! 6:34 came faster than I could have imagined - and we were off! Kasey told me she'd need to pace herself and she'd do her own thing. I didn't like leaving her, but I knew that she really needed to do her own thing to ensure she felt okay the whole way through and would finish. Michael and I trucked forward.
I had planned (and agonized) with my parents about where exactly I wanted them, needed them, throughout the course - for mental motivation and then for extra snackage. Both my dad and Doug knew to text me and tell me where exactly they were so I could look ahead - it's times like these I find it vital to run with my phone! The plan was Mile 4, and therefore Mile 9ish (there's a figure-8 through the parks where the course almost meets up with itself again) and Mile 16ish and the finish.
Doug was just before the downhill leading into the latter half of Mile 8, who turned and signaled to my parents at the bottom of the hill! My mom had made posters for me and had a gigantic electronic bell! Just before Mile 9 or so, the half marathoners started showing up - I knew any minute I'd see Katy Beth flying down the road. The marathoners turn north just before Mile 10, and I must've missed the KB overlap by seconds. I was bummed I didn't see her, as that was about the point that I needed a little more camaraderie and motivation. Michael and I ... still trucked on. The marathon course double-backed twice basically up towards Bolsa Chica State Park - the first 'arm' going up PCH and the second going up the pedestrian walkway on the beach. Up until Mile 13 or so, we were decently ahead of the 4:40 pacers (unbelievable, in hindsight).
Doug and my parents had fought their way back towards the start (I'm told this was beyond chaotic), and Doug had jumped out of the car to get to me at Mile 16 in time for a half-peanut butter sandwich. I took half of that, held on to it for a few seconds, and handed it back. I couldn't even fathom eating anything, though in theory it had sounded like a great idea. I was just grateful he was there - I was starting to hurt for sure. He walked with us for a few minutes, met Michael and then it was tummy time - yeah... I got moving again! Miles 17 on were a mix of walking, jogging, and running short sprints to specific markers. I was hurting - my knee was holding up great, it was the ball of my foot that hurt most and my hips. (I run with poor form. I know this. So when I do pay attention and correct, my hips hate me!).
|Mile 23 and smiling - not dead!|
The half and full courses meeting up again for the last two, maybe two and a half miles. About Mile 25 1/2, Heather was running alongside me! She told me that Michael had texted her that we were both on par to finish at 11:45 am, and to keep an eye out for me - and she managed to find us! (The courses were still separated by a series of cones). She told me I was so close, I was almost there and I would make it. I had nothing left... I was gassed. (HP later said that when she saw me, she was not the Runner Megan she knew)... my races usually end with a great sprint to the finish, and here I was, only wanting to walk at Mile 26.1 Seriously. I had nothing left.
I didn't get to say bye to Michael - he took off not long after. Michael, I know I said it before, but I owe you the biggest thank you for pushing me, encouraging me, distracting me, and getting me to my finish! It was fun catching up, but I'm so grateful I had somebody all along the way. And thanks for taking your worst marathon time ever for me.
|Parents and me. :)|
At this point, I hadn't even looked at my watch, but I knew the clock had read just about 5:03-something when I crossed. I knew, that if I in fact made it sub-5, it would be the squeak of all squeaking by. Heather, Katy Beth and Tina went towards the tents to see if they could figure out where Kasey was, and would at the same time check all their times. I was still laying on the grass when they broke the news...
I started kicking, mostly in joy, but it probably looked like a temper tantrum. I'm not sure if it was tears or laughing or more of that surrealness, but I covered my face and started a mix of the two. I did it! I made my goal! I made both goals! Un-freaking-believable. After a quick breakdown, Doug and I made our way to the finish line and fence, as Kasey was going to be finishing any minute. Not a few minutes longer and she was there - with her sister at her side, Kase was about to finish! We did it! We did it! Katy Beth had another great sub-2, Tina PRd the half by almost 15 minutes, and HP too! Kasey and I finished standing upright! Incredible morning.
I can look at these photos over and over and still not believe that was me - after my longest run at 17 miles, after 9 days out with a chest cold, after the nerves and the antsy and the disbelief that I was doing this for the better part of 26 miles, 385 yards... I guess that is me. I'm a marathoner. I have a medal hanging from my bathroom mirror to prove it, I have a DailyMile record that says I ran 26.22 miles on Sunday, and a finishing time that proves that I did, in fact, cross that line.
|We all did it! Katy Beth, Tina, and HP in their halfs and me and Kase in our full!|
I'm a marathoner!
And all I can think is... "What's next!?"
Have you ever ran a race that just felt unbelievably surreal? What made it feel 'real' to you in the end?