Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Marathon in Pictures Part II

The day before I flew out to Chattanooga, I was having a really bad day. I was SO nervous about the race and so I was just an emotional mess. One of the things that I was struggling with the most was knowing that I wouldn't have anyone there to cheer me on. Yes, I would have my girlfriends, but they would have their husbands and children and I remember how hard it was for me not to have anyone at my half marathon either (it was scheduled to rain all day and it was a couple hours away so I told Cory not to come..which I really regretted, especially because it didn't rain). My mom had told me how much she'd wished she could be there and so had my mother-in-law, sister, Grandma, etc.. But still, nobody was going to be there. I called Cory as I stood at the starting line and he gave me this beautiful pep talk and told me how proud he was of me. So, I decided to just make him feel part of the race by texting him the miles as I went along (I'd even considered doing Face time with him, but since there was no wifi I couldn't). It started off great. We were running through downtown Nashville so there was a lot to see and there were live bands every mile or so. I knew that there would be quite a few hills from mile 2-5 but then I thought it would flatten out. But, the hills never ended. After we split off from the half-marathoners, around mile 12, I started struggling. I knew that I still had at least two more hours to run and the sun was getting hotter, shade was non-existant, and the hills just kept on coming and coming. I was feeling frustrated with myself and I so I decided to walk up a hill. Well, if you've ever ran long distance before, you probably know how bad of an idea this was. Once you mentally allow yourself to walk, it is SO hard to get back in the running groove. I was so mad at myself for walking and I was SO thirsty, the fuel stations were just not coming quick enough, AND I had to go to the bathroom SO BAD!! I finally stopped to go to the bathroom and told my friends to just go ahead. Then over the next couple miles that followed I mentally had to fight my way back into my groove. At about mile 16, I was feeling great again. I had always been really nervous for miles 20-26 because 20 is the farthest you go in training, and I also knew that those last six miles was the real test of mental toughness. Once I hit mile 20, I texted Cory "20!!!" as I ran up YET ANOTHER hill. As I came over the crest of the hill, I heard screaming and cheering. I looked up and saw Cory, Katelund, and Cloey. I seriously thought I was hallucinating. I couldn't believe what my eyes were telling me and I was so confused as to why they were standing in front of me. After my brain finally processed the fact that they truly were there, I started sobbing. I ran into Cory's arms crying "You came, I can't believe you came!!!" It was not only the best surprise of my life, it was also one of the greatest moments in my life. I will NEVER ever forget that moment. I can't even talk or write about it without the tears swelling up in my eyes. They gave me so words of encouragement and then told me that they would meet me at the finish line. As I ran off, I just continued crying and crying for the next mile. Yes, I was in complete and utter pain, but the tears were tears of joy. Although the next six miles were definitely the hardest physically, they were actually the easiest for me mentally because I knew that the people that I loved more than anything in the world were waiting for me at the finish line (except Makayala and Hailey of course, but they were being loved and cared for by my sweet sister Andrea who had been in on the surprise). At mile 24, I had a huge blister pop up on my toe. The pain was excruciating but I knew I just had to focus on putting one foot in front of the other and think about crossing that finish line. My legs were burning, my muscles were cramping, and every part of my body told me to just stop right there. But every part of my heart told me to keep going. I'm pretty sure that my prayers were answered at this point, because I'm pretty sure that my Grandpa was running beside me pushing me onward. I felt so good as I realized that in the next mile I would accomplish one of the biggest goals of my life. As I ran past the sign for mile 26, I saw Cory and the girls, they ran out to me and for the next .1 1/2 miles they ran with me. Katelund was holding my hand on one side, Cloey on the other, and then Cory was holding Katelund's hand. It was an incredible moment, and just what I needed to push myself up YET ANOTHER hill to get to the finish line. Once I came up to the last little .5 stretch to the finish line, they made Cory and the girls stay to the side as I crossed the finish line....the moment of my dreams. As I walked through to get my medal and they wrapped cold icy towels around my neck, I felt as if I was in a dream. I couldn't believe it was finally over. I finished in 4 hours and 45 minutes (15 minutes longer than I wanted, but I guess it just leaves me with room to improve for my next one, right?) It was an amazing moment, one I'll NEVER forget!!!
One of things that happens to marathon runners is black toes, that will eventually fall off. Pretty gross, right? Oh no!!! I just noticed that I have hair on my big toe in this picture. That may be even grosser. :)
Cory decided to surprise me on Thursday, which didn't leave him very much time to get the plans in motion. He was originally going to come alone and bring his bike to ride next to me the last six miles (something that a friend had done for my brother-in-law Vaughn). But, once he told the girls his plans, they told him that they really wanted to go as well, even though they would be driving 20 hours in a 36 hour period. Cory said they were like angels the whole way. They even stayed up with Cory at 3 am when they got to the hotel to make tshirts and a poster. Then they didn't even complain for a second when he woke them up 3 hours later to go downtown and find parking, and then when they sat for at least 3 hours in black shirts in the hot sun waiting for me to pass mile 20. Cory said that they were SO EXCITED to surprise me and they were so cute about cheering for everyone that passed by. He said the girls would say, "I don't think you can do it, I know you can."
My sweet girls passed out on the long ride home. I was originally planning on driving back to Chattanooga, going to church in our ward there, staying with Jenae, and then flying out Sunday. But, there was just NO WAY I was going to let Cory turn around (after having slept only 3 hours the night before and sitting out in the hot sun all day) and drive another 10 hours home. So I decided to just go home with them so that I could help drive and let Cory sleep. I am SO GLAD that I decided to go with him, but I was really sad that I didn't get to see some of my dear friends in Chattanooga. I guess I'll just have to go visit another time.
This is the blood blister that I got on my toe at mile 24. This picture was actually taken two days after, so it is not nearly as swollen as it was on Saturday. It is still SO painful, even to the touch. But, totally worth it!! :)


Matthew and Shanna said...

Wow! That is so neat that Cory came to surprise you!! That is the coolest thing ever. I bet that was the perfect motivation to keep running!

Dan and Anne said...

That is so awesome! you are totally amazing. I am running my first full marathon in September. I have run a bunch of half marathons, but this is my first full. I am really nervous. You are a total inspiration.

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