I did it! I ran 26.2 miles and I am on cloud nine! I was going to post this earlier, but I didn’t want to until I could put my emotions into words and quite frankly, i’m not sure I will even do this post justice right now.
My weekend was a complete roller coaster and I wouldn’t want it any other way. On Friday, I took my last run of the 18 week training program and my heart felt heavy. I could not believe that the last 4.5 months of training and prepping for the big day was coming to an end. After I stretched out after the 2 miles and took a shower, I moped in my bittersweet feelings. When evening came around it was time to make my way down to the expo to pick up my bib number and goodie bag, so my boyfriend and I maneuvered our way around Detroit and my excitement went through the roof. As we walked around the expo and probably spent more money than I needed, I completely forgot about all of my nerves which was awesome! I treated myself and bought 26.2 sweatshirts and pullovers because it’s my first marathon so why not?! After we walked through everything, we left to go grab some dinner and call it a night because I knew I wasn’t going to get much sleep the night of the race. On Saturday I really just stayed off of my feet as much as possible, drank a bunch of water, and ate healthy carbs. Once 6’clock hit, I started packing my bags for the race and laying out all of my gear for the following morning. The plan was to go to bed at 8 which would give me 8 hours of sleep before I had to wake up at 4, however I was too anxious so I didn’t get to sleep until 10:30. I slept straight through the night until 3 and when I woke up I was to excited to sleep for another hour. That’s when it hit me, I was actually going to run a marathon.
As soon as I woke up I started downing water and ate my huge bowl of oatmeal. I was so nervous. After I got dressed and bundled up, my parents, my boyfriend, and I headed out the door at 5am. It was 34 degrees and cold. Once we arrived in Detroit we went into Cobo where the expo was held to use the restroom and warm-up. At 6:30 we decided to walk over to the starting line and I was still trying to wrap my head around 26.2 miles. When I found my coral, I hopped over the gate and it was almost showtime! There were so many people lined up down the street and the city was filled with so much energy. I just kept looking around and taking everything in, it was absolutely incredible. Once 7 o’clock hit, they started releasing us by waves and at that point there was no turning back.
We headed down the streets of Detroit with no sign of the sun yet and I had to keep reminding myself to slow down and keep a steady pace. My absolute favorite part was crossing the ambassador bridge, heading over to Canada. The sun was just starting to come up and the view of Detroit and the river and Canada was breathtaking. I wanted to stop so badly to take pictures, however that wasn’t going to be ideal for me. Once into Canada we ran along the river and people cheered us on the entire way. Another really cool part was the tunnel back into Detroit because the Detroit Marathon is the only race with an underwater mile! It was really hard to breath though because there wasn’t good ventilation down there and the air just felt dirty. I had my awesome support crew waiting for me right outside the tunnel at mile 8 to give my coat and gloves to because it was starting to heat up. Next thing I knew I was at mile 16 and it was the last time I would see my crew before the finish line. The first 20 miles flew by! I think being in a new environment and constantly being cheered on by complete strangers took my mind off of the milage.
Then I entered new territory; 6.2 miles of new milage, an extra 50 minutes added onto 3 hours that my feet were used to. I wouldn’t say I hit a wall because I have this theory that the wall only exists if you believe in a wall. However, it was the hardest 6.2 miles I have ever ran in my life. Not only were my feet starting to get achy, time started to go by so slowly and I found myself looking at my watch every mile. I just kept telling myself to keep going and that it was too late to give up now. I tried distracting myself by looking at all of the new scenery, but it could only distract me for 30 seconds at a time. Honestly, miles 21-24 are a total blur. Once I hit 25 I refocused and this boost of energy came out of no where. When I hit 25.5 miles I saw this unpleasant hill ahead of me and luckily I had a pacer near me because he just kept encouraging everyone and I flew up the hill. I turned down Fort street and caught a glimpse of the finish line and that was all I needed to finish. I cannot explain the rush of emotions I had coming up to that line. I could not believe I had just ran 26.2 miles and I was all smiles as I ran through the cheering crowds. Once I crossed the finish, I stopped running and realized it was more painful to walk than run. I was given my medal and congratulated by everyone for finishing my first marathon -such an awesome feeling. I grabbed some water, chocolate milk, and tons of other goodies before I found my parents and I started to chow down. I even laid on the ground with my feet straight up in the air just to give them a break. When we made our way to the after party, I immediately found the massage tent and basked in my accomplishment as I was being pampered. After tons of pictures, I waddled back to the car and changed before we headed home. The morning could not have been more perfect.
So here I am day 4 since 26.2 miles and I’m about to take my first run since the big day. Three rest days were completely needed and I feel so much better now. I put my medal on all the time at home because it is so cool and it’s better than any necklace I own. This journey was amazing and however much I complained about giving up my weekends during training, I will be running another marathon most definitely.