My First (Omigod-I-can’t-Believe-I’m-Saying-This) Marathon
My notes: This is long. Like, really, really long - sorry about that, I wanted it to be short, but obs that didn’t happen. I also found it really hard to write this, and I don’t like this post at all, but as time is ticking on, it seems to be getting harder, thus I figured I had to get something down…
“You ran the marathon on Sunday?” asked my cab driver. “ Yup, I did,” I replied.
“Wow! What was your time?”
My eyes darted around as I shyly responded, “Thanks, it was 5 hours 42 minutes.”
“My goodness! That’s fantastic. Congratulations. That’s just incredible… you should be very proud.”
I thanked him for his kind words, stepped out of the cab and felt tears forming in my eyes with sincere thanks. Up until that point I had finished a marathon in a time that embarrassed me. I was so embarrassed, in fact, that I couldn’t bring myself to tell people my time (including you, and including the people at the Nike store who would engrave my medal for free… hence I didn’t get mine engraved).
I’m so thankful for that cab driver, because he snapped me out of my post-marathon-mini-depression and suddenly it hit me, omigod guys, I ran a freaking marathon! I went from point A, to point B, and covered the 42.2 k (26.2 miles) and had a hell of an experience.
But let me first start at the beginning.
On October 9th I was in bed by 9 pm, and, as predicted, not even a marathon could keep me (lover of all things sleep) awake, as I literally passed out when my head hit the pillow. I was woken on Sunday, October 10th, 2010 at 6am by five alarms (no lie: cell, alarm, Garmin watch, mom calling, hotel calling).
I popped out of bed, got naked, and body glided every inch of my body, which proved vital later on in the day. I pulled my pink socks up,and slid into my bright, pink outfit, simply following a routine and not thinking much about the whole, omigod-I-am-about-to-run-a-marathon-in-an-hour thing.
Walking towards the start line at 6:30 am is something I’ll never forget. The sun was barely up, but the city was already humming with the sound of excited runners. I looked down each road I crossed, and as far down as I could see, hordes of runners were walking towards Millennium Park. It was magical (and that’s not for lack of a better word, as this is what it was, magical).
As I arrived at Millennium Park, my nerves had caught up with me. Do I need the washroom? No, no I don’t, wait… do I? Shoot, I think Id o. No, wait… I don’t. O.k where should I go now? Omigod, I do need the washroom… where on earth is it? No, no I don’t… And then I heard,
And who did I run into? but the ever so lovely Miss. Theodora of Losing Weight in the City fame. The blog gods were looking out for me that morning, as my nerves instantly disappeared as we chatted about, “can you believe we’re about to run a marathon!?” our washroom dilemmas (turns out, I did need to go. Oh and, Dear Imodium, I love you. Love E), and which pace group to start in.
We ended up squeezing our way into the 11 minutes a mile section and then played the waiting game. The gun went off at precisely 7:30 am and we crossed the start line together at 7:53 am. We ran in silence together as we took everything in.
This whole summer I trained for the marathon (the Canadian way, eh!) doing ten and ones. Which meant I would run for 10 minutes, walk for 1, run for 10, and so on. (Apparently there’s proof you will finish in the same time as someone who runs the race constantly. Not sure if it’s true, but they do that everywhere in Canada - they even have 10/1 pace bunnies at races.)
I missed my first two “1 minute walks” because I wasn’t tired at all,and wanted to run with Theodora, but around the 2 mile mark I said au revoir to her as I was nervous to make a rookie mistake by trying something new on my marathon.
I was now alone and rocking the run. To say I had a smile ear to ear, would not be an under exaggeration. I was in awe of myself and my surroundings, and was fully invested in each moment.
The mile markers flew past, and I was feeling great. I thanked each person who cheered me on with a big smile, head nod and wave. Suddenly I saw 12 miles, and was stunned I was not only nearly half way, but I also was coming up to the first of the 3 spots where my parents would be cheering me on. I rounded the corner and saw the massive sign with my name on it and sprinted towards them. I hugged my mom, high fived my dad, and went on my way with tears in my eyes.
And then I crossed the half way marker of the marathon and looked down at my Garmin watch: 2 hours, 35 minutes.
That was the moment, right there, when I saw 2:35, that I lost all faith in myself. Sad, no? Yes. If I could do it over, I would never have looked at my overall time, I would have just glanced at the pace.
I was so discouraged from seeing that 2:35 that, despite still feeling good, I lost track of my ten and ones and ran when I wanted, and walked when I wanted to (d-a-n-g-e-r-o-u-s). As you’ve probably noted, the second half then took me 3 hours and 7 minutes.
This is a testament to how The Marathon truly is a mind game because I was still feeling good. However, with that being said, I did make then a conscious decision not to hate myself on the second half of the run, but instead to take it all in.
And take it all in, I did.
I waved to the crowds, ate my gels, took photos (I had a disposable ran through the water hoses, high fived young children, mouthed words of appreciation to elderly folk, and went to the washroom.
In the second half, I had to move off the course three times for ambulances to go by, and I saw three people collapse(!). One man collapsed just ahead of me, and as he had no one around I ran over to him to make sure he was OK. He wasn’t (this was super scary) and so I sprinted (because apparently I had tons of energy) towards the first aid people to get help. They were amazing and all sorts of awesome. I wished him luck, and bid him farewell and headed on to the 30 k (18 mile) markers.
It was hot and sunny out, but I didn’t know the exact details until I saw 33 degrees (91.5 F) flash up on a screen. UMM WHAT? Whoa.
I continued on trying to huddle in the tiny bits of shade with the rest of the runners, still smiling and really enjoying my snail-pace run. I rounded the corner just before mile 24 and saw Chicago in the distance which got me really, really excited. As I ran through the Nike sponsored area, I heard, “In a mere 2 miles you will have completed the 33rd Chicago Marathon. You’re going to do it! This is it!” and thus I pretty much just lost it. Cue tears of joy, and lip trembles.
At miles 25 and on I was feeling great, like I could fly, and as I ran past all the walkers on the final stretch I saw my parents again which gave me the final boost I needed to run up the hill, round the corner and cross the finish line.
Sadly, there are no words yet invented, that could describe the feeling of pure joy that encompassed my body when I stepped across that finish line. Hence, I’ll create one. Crossing the finish line was superfansticredible. My whole body was engulfed by this pure, one hundred percent real emotion of success. In that moment I wasn’t defined by anything, but the applause of the screaming fans.
The volunteer who gave me my medal, congratulated me, and then hugged me, which once again resulted in me crying into his shoulder (poor guy). I then grabbed my beer (which I couldn’t bring myself to actually drink- sad), took my official “marathon finisher” photo, and went to find my parents.
I can’t quite express the emotions that went through me that afternoon and even the next day. It was a mixture of happiness and disappointment as I had missed my goal time by nearly an hour.
However, after the cab incident I realized how utterly ridiculous I was being, because this was my first marathon, and I finished! Me! E, of loves-to-eat-and-sit fame finished a marathon!
Running a marathon was never a life goal of mine simply because I never imagined I could do it, but to date it’s been one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done and it has changed my confidence and self-esteem more than I thought possible.
While I was sitting on the plane on the way home, I realized that everyone wins the marathon. Whether they’re slow or fast, walk or run, it is the ultimate independent challenge of the human body and mind, and will change each person in their own, unique way. It was a spectacular event in my life, and as time passes, and it still sinks in, it is just getting better and better.
My Stats: Note how freaking slow the last 10k is. I should also point out I didn’t hurt in the slightest after this run, or even the next day. I actually think I could have gone for another run on the Monday. Sad… obviously I didn’t push myself that much. Next time I will.