Monday, December 5, 2011

The Marathon Marathon

In short, I did it! I ran (aka survived by any means possible) a marathon, and no one can ever take that away from me. I am so happy I did it, and so happy it's over. The day couldn't have been worse for a first marathon (or a third or fourth or nineteenth marathon), but we'll get to that in a second.

After dinner Saturday night, my nerves really reached a climax when I realized that the bad weather wasn't going to pass; the clouds were not going to part and the birds were not going to sing. Dallas was experiencing an unseasonable cold snap (~43 degrees), and there was an 80-90% chance of ran all day Sunday. Ponchos and warm clothes were not just an option but a necessity.

I'll have to do another post on the unbelievable bad luck that comes with being a Still. It's remarkable, really.

Anyways, Sunday morning, bright and early, I donned my bottom layer.

This was my first time wearing these last-minute-purchase arm warmers. Everything else about this ensem is what I've been training in for months and months.
Dee came to our hotel room around 6:45 and we prepared to leave, decked out in our cold weather duds.

Excited, nervous, both of knowing this was not the way our first marathons were supposed to start.
Fortunately we were only a few miles from the race and neither of us needed to do anything other than get in line, so we didn't leave the hotel until 7. By 7:50 we were in our corral, also known as the very end of the line.

Being at the back leaves a lot of time to take pictures and do some last minute freaking out strategizing.
That yellow sign 30 minutes down the way was our starting point.
We discovered wearing our hats over the poncho hood would keep us a little drier...

...and add a little panache to our overall ensembles.
Finally, finally - we got to the start. And then it immediately started raining.

It was really cold. There was wind. And the rain wasn't gentle or indecisive. After all my training, even just getting to five miles felt a lot harder than it should. I paced to conserve energy, but my body was working so hard just to keep me warm that my energy plummeted what seemed like way too early.

Still, I kept reminding myself that this was my first, and that if nothing else, I wanted to enjoy it and soak it all in. We fell in with the 5-hour-finisher group, and I stuck with them until mile 18.

I told myself that the balloons on that 5-hour-finisher sign meant we were at a party, we were having fun. I CHOSE to do this (even if I didn't choose the climate).
This was the last picture I took before weaving my way into the finish line. It took all my energy and resolve and dwindling willpower to keep going; I surprised myself by actually having to FORCE myself to finish. At one point, after my only portapotty stop, my body was so cold that I wasn't even sure if my pants were all the way up, and honestly, I didn't really even care. I just pulled my poncho back over me and kept going.

At mile 18, I had to start taking walk breaks. My spirit was broken and my knees, ankles, toes and balls of my feet hurt so bad. My arm was spasming - something that definitely never happened in training. I called my parents and told them to meet me at mile 20. This gave me a surge of energy that actually backfired because I made it to mile 20 before my parents could get there.

Mile 21, still no parents. I wanted to quit.

Mile 22, still nothing. I really, really just wanted to stop and hold a hot cup of something.

I don't know what compelled spectators to come out in weather like what we were experiencing, but every single time someone yelled, "Way to go, Amy!" or "Looking great, Amy!" or anything of that sort, my eyes welled up. It made me want to start going to races to cheer others on. It was huge.

Coming up on 23, I made out what looked to be the shape of my parents. I lifted a soaking, sleeved hand and waved, and my dad waved back. I started crying and used the remainder of my running energy to shuffle over to them. I cried harder. More than anything, I was just so cold. So, so cold and drenched. Those sleeves were so wet that they were making me colder by the minute. My parents were both talking at once and hugging me and I was totally disoriented. Finally my dad ripped off my water-logged running hat and pulled his huge, warm, dry hat all the way over my head. I could barely see, but I held up three frozen fingers: three more miles. They rotated me in the direction I needed to go, and off I went.

I straight-up speed walked those last three miles. My entire lower body hurt so bad that I tried to walk 10 steps, run 20, but even that didn't work. I knew I wanted to cross the finish line running anyway I could, so I power-walked and just prayed for it to be over.

After what seemed like an eternity, I passed the 26 mile marker. I mustered the last of my energy, fueled by what little pride I had left, and I trotted towards the finish line, keeping my eyes peeled for my parents. Right before the end, I heard my dad yell "Amy! Amy!" I looked over, beamed and pointed at him. I crossed, let a cute boy wrap me in a blanket and made my way to my parents.

I was so weary, delirious, cold and emotional that I walked away without my medal. Damn. But I still don't really even care. The medal is nothing compared to this feeling in my head and heart (plus I'm going to have the medal shipped to me, haha).

2011 Dallas White Rock Marathon-from-Hell Finisher!!

So much pain but so much satisfaction. :)
The big warm hat was my saving grace. I'm pretty sure I would have died if I hadn't seen my parents at mile 23.

What a day! My parents and I celebrated with some Chuy's that night. I drank two Sangrias with my meal.

My heroes! They saved me!
All in all, I wish the circumstances had been different, but I'm so happy the day I've been dreaming of and training for has come and gone, and I made it to the other side in one piece. I think my time was between 5:15 and 5:30. Maybe a sub 5 is in my future, but I accomplished what I wanted for my first marathon: I finished and absorbed every moment and sensation. Praise the Lord!

My cheerleading squad was really glad the whole thing was over. It was apparently a very exhausting responsibility.

Cheerleading. Not for the faint of heart.


  1. Way to go Amy indeed! You did it! You're a marathoner! And one tough woman racing in those conditions. Look at your poor little red legs, so cold! Bless your heart!
    Okay, I teared up when your dad gave you his hat. The love of a father. So sweet!
    Congratulations on completing an amazing feat!!! Now, prop your feet up & enjoy some well earned rest with your cheering squad!

  2. Wow, what an accomplishment! I ran a half in the cold and rain, it was absolutely awful. Isn't it funny how much it sucks during the race, but once you cross the finish line your mood immediately changes and you are the happiest you have ever been? I love that. :)

  3. Wow, how inspiring... What a great FINISH! So happy for you, a fellow recent first timer! Congrats again!!! And you're totally free to wear that medal every where you go for the first week (grocery store, dentist)... It is kind of a rule. :)

  4. Thanks, y'all! It was tough but there's nothing like this feeling! :) In the words of Jay-Z, On to the Next!!!

  5. That's part of the reason why I started my blog. I always end up getting the winter blahs without much to train for. Now with this entire network of other crazies, it makes things a lot easier! :)

  6. Congratulations on finishing! The last few miles are the toughest to get through. Those conditions look tough. Wet and cold!? You're a trooper!

  7. Those sleeves make you look fierce! Oh right... cause you are duh! Congrats girl!