I already blogged about the morning of the marathon. Last I left off blogging, I was excited to start the race. I was with the Fleet Feet family and ready to run. I was looking forward to seeing both friends and family along the course, and I trusted my training - I knew I could do it. Now, I'm going to write about the marathon itself. Be warned, this blog is going to be full of photos!
The race started off. The guys and Dana went on ahead, and the rest of us stuck to our plan to keep each other from going out too fast. We were chatting and taking in the atmosphere and, of course, running. Within the first couple of miles, Jennifer needed to stretch her calf out and dropped back, and Sandy, Laura, Rebecca and I continued on. Around Mile 3, I had my first sighting of my awesome family! There was Jon, Caleb, and Zoe cheering for us! It was great to see them, and it gave me renewed excitement for all that was too come. I was feeling good, and my family would be there again.
We continued on, keeping a steady pace. We were wearing our Fleet Feet Louisville Distance Project shirts, and we had several inquiries about the program. One runner, Zoe, joined us for about half the race. She is a Louisville runner who had been training solo, and it was her first marathon. In this pic, you can see me and Sandy in our FF shirts (and in my incredibly awesome custom Ponya) with Laura hidden to my left, and just behind us is Zoe.
As we ran, Rebecca kept us talking and enjoying the race. She had questions about our lives so we could get to know more about each other as we ran. We saw a group of Fleet Feeters who had driven up from Louisville to cheer on the LDP runners.
Around Mile 10, I got quiet. My stomach was feeling a little iffy. I was staying with the group, but I had dropped back just a little and wasn't participating in the conversation. It was this point that the enormity of what lay ahead of me sank in a little bit. But, I wasn't giving up, and I wasn't easing up. I kept right on running and focusing on running a little at a time.
Then, I heard the shouts of "Mommy!" and saw a very welcome sight! There was my family holding a Super Jill sign and cheering for me! I immediately teared up. I was doing it - and they were there supporting me! Sandy was next to me when we saw them, and she teared up as well. We also started running faster, and Laura reminded us we still had half a marathon to run. That moment lifted my spirits a lot.
We continued running. I felt lighter. My tummy was tolerating my nutrition and hydration. I had worked so hard to find what worked for me, and I was still running and had good energy.
By Mile 15, it was starting to hit that I had been running with no bathroom stops and no walking. The uneasiness in my tummy from earlier had passed. I had a new confidence. I could do this. I could finish this race without stopping. Then, around Mile 16, we heard the Fleet Feet crew cheering again. I saw Cristin, who I had trained with in the past and who had run with me for my 5k, 10k, and half marathon PRs during the Spring season, leave the group to join me. We welcomed her joining us, but it also felt good that I wasn't in need of the distraction - I was doing great, and I talked a little bit with her about how I was running steady and still going strong. You can see here that she took her job as Run Crew seriously, and I was really enjoying my race!
Shortly after Cristin joined us (which she said was at the only hill in Indy, although Laura, Sandy, and I don't remember there being any hills), Laura and Sandy decided they needed to stop at the bathroom. I was doing great - my stomach was doing pretty well and I had not walked at all at that point, so I decided to keep on going, as did Rebecca.
We were still going strong. Our pace had slowed down a little bit, but we were continuing on and in good moods. Cristin picked up where Rebecca had left off, except instead of questions for us, she just talked to us as we kept moving forward. She was fresh and there for moral support, so she kept the spectators entertained - she'd run over to the sides and high five and she'd run ahead and tell people to cheer for Jill and Rebecca. At one point, she found a woman with a megaphone and convinced her to chase me for about 1/10 of a mile while yelling "encouragement" at me through the megaphone (the highlight of Cristin's running career).
The further we went, the more I was determined that I was going to finish this marathon without walking or stopping. I had enough water in my hydration vest, I had enough fuel, my tummy was doing well. It was hard - there was some headwind and my pace slowed down as we hit mile 22 or so - but I was doing it. I would remind myself of my mantra - this feels hard because it IS hard, and I AM doing it. Cristin kept chatting, Rebecca kept running, and I knew I could do it.
Miles 23-25 were my slowest. I kept saying, "I may be going slow, but I'm still going. I haven't stopped yet, and I'm going to finish." I was determined. I was going slower, but I was still feeling good. But once I hit mile 25, I started speeding up. This was it! I was going to finish my first marathon. I remember Cristin saying to me, "So this is what we're doing?" I had hardly noticed I was speeding up - the adrenaline was going. Mile 26 was 36 seconds faster than Mile 25!
Then, I hit 26 miles on my watch and could see the 26 mile marker about 0.10 mile ahead. Cristin had already gone off the route. Without thinking about it, I started to push my pace. I took a moment to wave to the camera as I headed towards the finish.
As I started to round the corner, I was picking up speed. Suddenly, I wasn't aware of much else besides my body - my legs pushing hard, my breath, my feet hitting the pavement, my arms pumping. I wasn't fully aware that I had left Rebecca behind. I was just running, and running hard.
I could see the finish line ahead. I was going hard and passing other runners who were exhausted and just trying to finish. The crowd started to notice my kick, and people started to cheer. I thought I heard Jon and glanced that way. He thought I saw him, but I didn't - I didn't see anything but the finish line. I could hear the cheering, I could see the finish line, and I could feel my body. I remember thinking that I had kicked too soon and wouldn't be able to make, but I couldn't stop - I was so close! I just had to keep pushing and get through that finish line, and then I would be done. That last 0.3 of a mile was an 8:41 pace. My overall pace was about 11:00 pace - so I definitely had kicked it up despite having been running for 4 hours 50 minutes nonstop. Some of the Fleet Feet family was at the finish, and Amanda took this great picture of me. It's one of my favorite race photos ever - it captures the strength and speed I put into that final stretch.
The emotions to be running that hard, to have been running that long, and to have finished. My goal had been to finish. My "if everything goes right, don't dare speak it aloud" goal was to finish in under 5 hours. I never thought to set the goal of running the entire time. I had exceeded my goals and expectations! I had become a Marathoner!
After getting my medal and getting my breath back, the first people I saw were my husband and kids. WE had done it! I had become a marathoner with their love and support and patience! I gave them hugs, thanked Cristin and told her I did it, and then it was time to take finisher photos. First up was a solo photo:
Right behind me was Rebecca. She and I ran the entire race together until that final kick I had. While I was racing my heart out at the end, she was soaking up that final stretch waving at the crowd, knowing she had just PRed.
Within minutes, we were surrounded by our run crew! We had all finished within 10 minutes of each other! It was amazing seeing Laura, Sandy, Dana, and Jennifer join us before we could even leave the area! We had all done it!
Before we went to join our families and the Fleet Feet crew, I had to get one more picture with the woman who I had spent so many hours on training runs with. Jill and JWill - we had done it! Through the season of ups and downs - the good runs and the bad runs - we had encouraged each other and supported each other and had fun together - and now we were both marathoners. We had just finished 26.2 miles! And we both had exceeded our goals!
Next, it was on to celebrating! The pizza did not interest me at all. What did was the pink milk that Solomon, who had been my three Fleet Feet coach for my half marathon training seasons prior to that season, had brought just for me since I don't eat/drink chocolate. My feet started to cramp, but I had planned ahead and had brought some Sword for recovery. I quickly mixed some up, and wow, did it taste good. More importantly, my cramping stopped, and I had no more issues! I was starting to get cold and changed my shirt into a 26.2 Finisher shirt :) Otherwise, I was tired, but I felt great. I had a really major blister on my little toe but no other aches or pains.
Soon, Cristin came by for a congratulatory hug. It was so wonderful having a good friend there keeping me entertained and going. She was like my running doula. I could have done it without it, but she was a rock that made it easier.
As my body relaxed, I continued to get cold. I had bought an Indy Monumental finisher pullover for just this occasion. I also had my Indy Monumental hat that I got at the finish to wear. I just sat there, enjoying the moment and being with my family. It was so awesome to have them there celebrating with me! It wasn't until this point that I realized my kids had on the most awesome shirts! Cristin's parents had made them Mama is a Runner shirts!
I came away from this experience stronger, prouder, and also with more hardware :) I earned the Indy Monumental marathon medal as well as the Indython Ultra medal, which was for running the Half Marathon at Fort Ben and Indy Monumental Marathon.
Before we headed back to the hotel, I stopped and got my first marathon medal engraved with a time I was very proud to have earned!
Back at the hotel, I finally had a moment to take in the poster my kids and husband had made and proudly displayed for me. I was, once again, overwhelmed by the moment and that WE had done it. I also couldn't believe Jon managed to get the kids around to 3 places on the course and the finish line!
I continue to think about my first marathon. What an accomplishment! I cried when I opened my mail more than a month later and found this ornament from my good friend Lisa who I texted with throughout the seasons - me supporting her in her first half marathon training and her supporting me in my first marathon training. She had followed me that day and was so proud of what I accomplished!
It's hard to capture the beauty of this necklace with both my kids' birthstones that Jennifer (JWill) gave me at our end-of-season celebration party with the Fleet Feet Family. If it wasn't clear before, it was definitely clear now - Mama is a Runner!