It all started around 5am this morning. I actually woke up before the alarm went off. I slept okay last night, it wasn't the best night of sleep I've ever had either. Nerves definitely got to me a little bit.
I had the standard bagel with PB and banana, some coffee, and some water.
I actually only got down one half plus a little of the the other half of the bagel plus PB and banana. It's just hard for me to eat much that early in the morning, not to mention I've been over the whole bread/PB/banana combo for weeks now after eating it prior to every training run. I did have a couple bites of a Snickers Marathon bar right before race time later though.
I got my gear on, and attempted to photograph myself.
Obviously taking pictures of myself didn't work out that great...
I met up with my parents and Michelle in the hotel lobby around 6:25am so my parents could drive us to the start. We arrived in Charleston and found the general area of the start but in talking to other racers realized no one knew where the actual start line was. FAIL. Finally we found someone knowledge that gave us the start line cross streets, so we headed there. Upon arrival, the intersection was completely empty. No porto potties, no start line, no music...- zip! We mingled with other racers wondering what the deal was. By this time it was about 7am and the race started at 8am! Finally a little truck with "Set Up Events" or something to that effect pulled up and a dude got out. He proceeded to jump into the street and tape down a starting line. We looked on in disbelief that this was to be where our race would start from!
At this point Michelle, my parents, and I decided to head back in the other direction in search of a bathroom. We found a little bakery/cafe and used theirs. My parents got some coffees so we could hang out in there for a little while until going back to the start line.
Awww, how cute are my parents?!
After two bathroom breaks and some conversation, we parted ways and my parents went to get some breakfast and do some other things. Michelle and I headed to the start.
We stretched, tried to stay warm, and then joined the growing crowd at the start. There were no corrals and they started the full and half marathons together. We ended up starting with the 4:30 pace group, but lost them after about 1/2 a mile as we were going slower and with the crowds there was no good way to get back with them once we were seperated. We both warmed up quickly and Michelle ditched her outter long-sleeved shirt in the first 2 miles. I took my gloves off.
The first part of the race went through downtown (historic) Charleston. We went by Battery Park and then wound around til we ended up on King Street, one of the main drags where lots of stores, restaurants, and hotels are located. It was pretty and scenic, and there were quite a few spectators in this area cheering. I didn't wear my headphones so I could take it all in.
After a few miles we left downtown and headed into a slightly more sketchy area. A lot of the race route was like this as we headed to North Charleston. I decided to put my music on and even sang some Katy Perry and old school rap (Humpty Dance) to Michelle, which cracked us both up.
I took my first GU around mile 5.
Around mile 7, I was pretty warm and decided to ditch my fleece and gloves on the side of the road. The jacket I threw out was one I've had about 10 years and had "loved all the fur off of" as I like to say (old stuffed animal reference). We've been through a lot together, but I rarely wear it anymore and I figured my first marathon was as good as send off as any to my old jacket.
I had another GU around mile 10, keeping with my strategy to have one about every 5 miles. Also around mile 10, Michelle and I made the decision to stop at a porto potty and do our business. She also wanted to remove her turtleneck tech shirt from under her regular tech shirt. We did pretty good moving through that stop and probably only lost a couple minutes, but it was well worth it since I really had to pee.
Sidenote, pretty much all of North Charleston had the faint smell of porto potty. Ick.
At about mile 12-13, I noticed that we were on the street where I'd gotten pizza with my parents the night before on East Montague.
I figured we were getting close to this traffic circle that was supposed to be a meet-up spot with my parents. I called from Michelle's phone to tell them we were close. We briefly saw my parents right at about mile 13 as they were arriving but since none of us were prepared, we kept going. The route looped us up and back about 4 miles, so we said we'd catch them on the way back.
During this time we looped by some cute houses in a new development that looked kind of like Rainbow Row, and a fancy modern looking school. I also had my third GU.
After our loop, we finally saw them back at the original spot which was just after mile 17 for us. At this point, we decided to stop to see them for a couple minutes. I had some packets of Biofreeze that I'd gotten from Greenapple at my last appointment (um, best descision ever), and spent a minute slathering it all over my lower back and knees. Yes, I'm that girl with my hands down my pants. I had reached the point of no shame! Actually, there may be pictures of me with said hands down pants, but we were struggling with my parents' camera later and those may or may not be able to be extracted. If I do get them, there may be a later post with them...haha.
My mom had brought us orange slices and some Gatorade so we had some of that and thanked my parents, before heading back out on the road. That brief stop really upped my spirits and I found myself singing some Lady Gaga to Michelle, which again cracked us up.
I had another GU around mile 20, and then somewhere in the neighborhood of 20-21 miles, I all the sudden got the worst charley horse/cramp in my left calf muscle ever! It was kind of crippling, and I had to pull over to try and stretch it, but it didn't really help. I walked a little, then stopped again to put some Biofreeze on my calves. Michelle (did I mention this was her 8th marathon?) mentioned she thought it was a sign of dehydration when that happens and that I needed water at the next water stop. She was right. As soon as I got to the water stop at the next mile marker, I had both water and Gatorade. That coupled with the Biofreeze pretty much fixed the problem and I was good to go.
After that minor set back we resumed our normal pace. Aside from downtown Charleston we saw the prettiest scenery of the race route around this point.
I think the area was called Navy Park, and it was right on the water. We passed a group of African drummers and I remarked that it reminded me of "Coming To America". A little ways after the park we struck up a conversation with some guys we were running near and realized they were the 4:45 pace group! I told them I was going to try and hang with them for the rest of the course.
The last stretch of the marathon was an out and back through this federal area that seemed to go on FOREVER. I thought we'd never turn around and head back the way we'd come, but we finally did. The back half went quicker and before I knew it we were at mile 25 and the pacer said that we were close and pointed to a crane that was in the general area of the finish. I was feeling pretty good and pretty excited to be about a mile from victory. The pacers seemed to speed up and/or Michelle and I lost some speed in the last mile. We ended up crossing with a clock time of 4:47, holding hands, and smiling!!
Our chip time should be slightly lower since we didn't cross right when the gun went off, but I think we're still right around 4 hours and 47 minutes for our finish time.
I'm totally pleased with that, as my only real time goal was to hopefully be under 5 hours.
I headed to the area to get my official race picture taken and got a little choked up at this point as the gravity of what had just happened hit me. I had just run a MARATHON, had a pretty great time doing it, and finished under goal time. Wow....
We found our parents and took some pictures.
Not the most flattering shot ever, but I was totally stuffing my face with bagel, banana, and Myoplex at this point.
I'm SO GLAD my parents were there to see it happen and have their support. It meant the world to me :)
We headed to the tent area for more refreshments.
The racers got free shrimp and grits, but I had one bite and decided that was not something my stomach wanted.
We didn't stay that long after the finish before deciding to head back to the hotel. My parents made sure I was ok and headed out to drive back to Hilton Head.
I finally got a hold of Greg (he missed the first call I made to him when he was doing laundry in Houston) and recapped the experience for him. He made a comment about hanging my medal hanger for me and I glanced at my medal. It was then I noticed something. Something VERY important. My medal said "half marathon" on it!!! WHAT?????????????????????
I immediatley hurried Greg off the phone and called Michelle to ask if she had received the right medal. Hers said Marathon. I started to have a meltdown and she calmed me down and offered to drive me back to the race area to exchange my medal. That really sucked because I was ready to take a shower and relax and really didn't want to go out again for a while. But I'm glad she talked to me into it. I didn't run 26.2 miles for a half marathon medal. I have three of those (which I'm totally proud of).
I wanted my FULL MARATHON medal!!
We got back to the race area and found two guys with boxes walking near the finish line. I approached and showed them my bib and medal and explained what had gone wrong. They immediately handed me my Marathon medal and we realized that they were two of the race organizers. They asked how my race had gone and if I'd enjoyed it. I told them it was great and I'd had fun and reached my goal.
Here is the medal I worked so hard for:
The half marathon medal looked similar but with "half marathon" at the top, and was slightly smaller.
While out to exchange my medal, Michelle and I stopped at a Panera and I got some black bean soup, a whole grain roll, an iced tea, and a bear claw (for later).
It totally hit the spot, as I still felt like I needed to get in more calories.
I finally got my hot shower and a couple hours to relax. Michelle and I are heading into Charleston for a post-race celebratory meal tonight. I plan on eating ANYTHING I WANT! :)
Thanks so much to you guys for your encouragement, comments, Tweets, and well wishes. I promise you that I definitely thought of you guys when I needed to summon the strength to go on today. I really don't think I could have done it without your support. It's truly awesome :)