Monday, September 23, 2013

One of the hardest things I have EVER done!

I started to write up my Fox Valley Marathon recap last night, but between exhaustion and the kids I decided to "sleep on it" and finish it this morning. I was still kind of in a daze after everything yesterday, so I'm glad I made that decision.

My day started off pretty well. I didn't get a great night's sleep (too many dreams about oversleeping), but I still felt pretty rested. I got up, showered, dressed, and ate my bagel and banana before doing a last-minute sweep to make sure I had everything together. It was a beautiful, cool morning - perfect for marathon day, with a beautiful sunrise.
What a great way to start out the morning!
It took a little bit of driving around to find a parking spot, but luckily I was only four or five blocks away from the Race Village. I dropped off my gear bag, hit the porta-potty (where I met a blind runner and one of his about inspirational!), and met up with my family as I made my way to the back of the pack. It was great getting hugs and well wishes from them!

The wave start was slowly helping us make our way to the starting line. I was with probably the last group to start. This year Dave and Craig, the best race directors EVER, had talked about having a "back of the pack" person...someone who would run the marathon at a 13:45 pace, and let the aid stations know that they were technically the end. This was also for those who were worried about being the only person out there. I'm a slow runner, so I said I'd do it....then it hit me that I'd be running TWO marathons this year, three weeks apart! I did get some fabulous advice from my friend Aldona on this sign she posted for me along the race course:
This was such a great surprise on the course!
Time to run!
After all the training this summer, I felt like I was really ready to tackle my first marathon. Oh, how naive I can be! Everything started off well enough, although I did have to slow down after the first mile because I was actually running faster than the pace I needed to keep. I had thought that I would run until we got to an aid station, and then walk. That plan worked great until about mile 14...then I started adding in some fast walking. I kept that up for the next 4 or 5 miles, and then I bonked - big time. My legs, hips and feet were done running. I munched on my Fig Newton and took some Gatorade chews, and that gave me a little pick up until mile 23ish.

It hit me then that I wasn't going to finish in the 6 hour time limit....I was crushed. I knew there were still some runners behind me, but I felt like I had failed at my job as the "back of the pack" person. I sent my wonderful friend Christine a text to let her know I wasn't going to make it under 6 hours...that it would probably be at least 6:10 for a finish time. I knew she'd be there, along with my other friends, family, and my FVM "family". She replied, said "I'll be here waiting for you!" and I said I was going to need a big hug when I got done. I was in tears - not from pain, but because I really thought I could do this in 6 hours. I had actually been training a bit faster than a 13:45 pace, but it wasn't in the cards for me yesterday.

Once I passed Prairie Street, I could see the finish line. It was only another 0.3 miles to go, and I was determined to run that last bit as well as I could. There were still some spectators there (you have NO idea how much that meant to me!), and as soon as I rounded the corner heading on to the Illinois Street Bridge I could hear Bob Hackett welcoming me back. Then my brother, Thomas, and Nathan ran out with me to run me in to the finish. I saw so many of my friends there waiting for me, and I just hung on to Christine and sobbed for a bit. Carrie gave me my medal, and I got more hugs from Pat, Jeanne, and I swear Colleen although it was kind of a blur at that point...haha! My family also came around the finish area for more hugs, and then Pat made sure I got my "space blanket" and food/water/Gatorade. Erin made sure I had my Endurance medal for running a FVM race a second year in a row, and I got to see my friends Sara and Catherine after they finished.

Luckily I took today off of work, and I'm planning to go for a nice walk at some point...gotta keep the muscles moving. I allowed myself to throw a little pity party for one this morning, but now I'm trying to get over that. Because in the end, the thing that really should matter to me is that I finished my first marathon. And I still got some cool bling ;-)


  1. Congratulations! It may not have been exactly what you hoped but you FINISHED!! And in the end, that's all that matters :)

    1. Thanks Bobbi! At least now I know I can do it!

  2. You started on a journey and you finished it, that is what makes it incredible. You are an inspiration to all the slow runners who are afraid of doing a marathon because they can't finish in a 4-5 hour timeframe. You are now prepared for your next marathon so just enjoy it.

  3. Hi Carolyn!
    Congratulations! Whoo Hoo! Done! Finished! Awesome work! I saw that sign, too. I thought it was ingenious! You have Great friends & family!
    I ate dinner with you the night before. That was a ton of fun. It was so nice to meet you and your husband. Thank you so much for hosting!! I finished, too....4:58:48, or something like that. I dunno, but 'under 5'...hahahaha!
    Have a wonderful recovery and I hope to see you for the next one! I would really like that endurance medal....

    1. Thanks Laura! It was wonderful meeting you at dinner, and congrats on your marathon!!! That endurance medal is pretty cool, isn't it?!

  4. You did it! You should be so proud! It is tough working out for a solid 6 hours.

    1. Thanks Melinda! The great thing is that I learned that I can do the distance...I just need to make sure I fuel better next time.

  5. Just another long run in a string of many, only difference was that this one was supported. You did it! Proud of you for taking on a feat with your feet and persevering through! As for the time...while disappointing only to now have a goal to keep improving on it! Just start running!!!