In the spring, I decided on the 2010 Rock-n-Roll Savannah Marathon for the beautiful city I had never visited, flat course, and the support of family and friends that would be able to attend. After my first fitness assessment, I started training with Thad. I remember the first day of training, receiving my packet of paces and workouts, but I will never forget the moment my stomach dropped seeing my goal finish time: 3:48.22. I felt nervous yet wanted to give it my all. The training was difficult with good and bad runs, but having my Garmin watch and the support of Thad I continually pressed through the tough and defeating times. After several 20 mile runs, I began to visualize and believe I really could finish all 26.2 miles, and probably run every step. After several months my training did become a little overwhelming emotionally and physically, and after consoling Thad and other running friends, I decided to move my goal to 4 hours.
The morning of the marathon I remember several vivid memories: a supportive long hug from my husband, Ryan, praying with the Sole Sisters, and wearing a thin trash bag in the cool morning walking to the start line. My friends and I were in different corrals, so once at the start we said our good-lucks and split different ways. This is when I realized it was now or never and only I had the strength to complete this race. As the time progressed, corrals began their race, and we slowly moved up. When it was our turn to start, I remember glancing around at the fans, and seeing my husband looking onto the mass of people lined up to run. It was seeing him that gave me a burst of encouragement and energy before stepping across that starting line. I had a good strong first 11 miles. I was banking time, to get under 4 hours I would need to run 9:09 min/mile, and my range was 8:36-9:03. I was enjoying seeing all the spectators, including my husband, mom, and dad. Within the first two miles, I found it hilarious that there were lines of male runners along the tree line, using the restroom. I guess they didn’t make it through the lines of port-a-johns on time! There were also funny costumes along the way, and a new band at every mile. After the first 6 miles, I started to feel pain in my toes, especially the middle toe on each foot. Being an athlete, I knew it wasn’t anything to worry about and to just keep running.
After the half marathon mark in 1:55.48. I knew I had this race “in the bag” it was just a matter of digging deep and keep on running. I ran with an iPod shuffle, and plugged it in at this point. This was a way I was mentally going to break up the race, and could zone in the last half when it got tough. With each several miles, I was hydrating with water and Gu gels. Despite my strong will, and perseverance, I could feel pressure in my toes grow with each mile. My pace slowed down and between miles 16-23 my mile splits were between 9-9:38 min/mile. Being a high school math teacher, I was calculating how much time I had banked, and if I were to complete it under 4 hours how fast I would have to run the remaining miles. However, in my ‘equation’ I couldn’t account for the human factor and the pain I was feeling. I debated walking, and that wasn’t an option. I debated stopping at a medical tent, but going through the scenarios of what could be wrong with my toes, I didn’t think they could do much for me, and therefore wasn’t an option. I remember reaching mile 23, and we approached an on ramp to a 2 mile stretch on the highway. My mom started running beside me up the on ramp, and I started to tear up, while still running, explaining how I wanted to stop and how much my toes hurt. She got choked up, but reassured me how strong I was, how much she looked up to me, and how I was going to be able to finish the race! That encouragement got me another mile, I then caved in. I walked a few minutes up to the water stop, and was thinking about the ever growing pain in my feet.
That mile ended up with a time of 12 min/mile, including the walking. At the water station I looked behind and saw fellow running friends Arthur and Claudette, coming up. This was my final encouragement. I continued to run with them, explaining the pain I was having, and they helped me think about other things in order to just keep running. With a half mile left, my friends said I needed to pick up the pace if I was going to make it under 4 hours. I turned to them, and said I can’t go any faster. I kept my same pace…at this point it was 9:30 min/mile. I crossed that finish line, with a smile on my face, and a time of 4:01.44. I knew I gave it my all, and was amazed at the accomplishment of finishing a full marathon! So glad my husband, mom, and dad were there to watch and support me! As far as my toes, I had huge black/blue bruises with blisters underneath, and ended up losing my toe nails weeks later. It was a sacrifice I was willing to make and one day I hope to go back a second time, hence the blog name "My first marathon", and I hopefully will break that 4 hour mark!