I think being so incredibly busy really helped me not *completely* freak out - I had my moments, but for the most part I didn't have time to dwell on what I was preparing for. But I'm a little bit amazed that I did it. I ran a marathon.
I've been running for just 3 years, of those I missed nearly 1 year to injury. I have a crazy schedule between homeschool and volunteer work. I'm generally lazy and eat too many sweets - which contributes to me being 15 pounds overweight. But I did it. I don't say all that to make anyone feel bad. If anything it's to encourage anyone who doubts they can do it. Seriously, if I can do it, YOU can!
Alright, enough of that. Here's how it went...
The day started really early - 3am. The first buses were leaving Shepherd U at 5:30 and my friend, Eddy, was picking me up at 4:45. We walked up to the bus stop and our friend Larry from our running club was already there.
It turns out Larry planned to run the same pace I did and he agreed to let me tag along. He is known for running an even pace - be it an 8 m/m or an 11 m/m, he can dial in and maintain his pace. I - on the other hand - am *not* known for running an even pace so running with him was a real Godsend.
We got to the start and met more folks from our running club, checked our bags and hung out until the start. With a "Ready, Set, Go!" we were on our way. I didn't carry my phone so I don't have any pictures but you'll have to trust me when I tell you that sunrise at Harpers Ferry is quite lovely.
Just after mile 4, we crossed the footbridge from Harpers Ferry, WV to the tow path in MD. The bridge was wet which made me wonder if it had rained. We got close to the spiral staircase where it was slippery and realized it was frost. Brrrr!
The temptation with this race is to hit the tow path and turn it on. That would be a really bad thing to do for someone like me because you get off the tow path at mile 15ish and begin the really steep climb to the battlefield. Thankfully I was running with Larry, a nice relaxed pace, and I felt great. We chatted with fellow runners, got a chuckle out of a really crabby older runner and generally enjoyed the ride.
We got to Millers Sawmill Rd and began the climb up. Still feeling good but I decided to walk the steeper parts of the hills in this section because I knew what was coming, and honestly my walk pace was about the same as my run pace on some of these!
The volunteers for this race are wonderful and cheered us on like rockstars. The aid stations were spaced well, and I was happy that I decided not to carry water. We walked through each aid station and walked for a bit past the one at mile 20ish.
Mentally I knew if I could make it to the elementary school, I was set because most of the course is downhill from there. What I didn't count on was that my knees would start aching like crazy around mile 21 and my feet - oh my feet - they were talking by mile 22 and were done by 24.
not sure what that hill at mile 10ish is. the tow path is pretty flat
When I ran the Harpers Ferry Half in May, I got cramps in my feet. First time that had happened and I haven't had trouble like that since (that I can remember). Mile 24ish my feet started cramping hard. I would walk a bit, run a bit and pray.
I almost started to cry out of frustration and pain so I stopped, took a breath and said outloud "Pull yourself together. You can do this." So I did. Funny how that works.
I got to the bridge just after mile 25 and decided I was running to the finish come hell or high water. I heard some strange grunting sound and realized it was me! Each time my right foot hit the ground I made this awful sound, but I didn't slow down.
Because of road construction we had to wind through the campus a bit, and there was one last uphill. Really short, but steep and I got an awful cramp in the side of my right leg and my foot again. After that I couldn't feel my right foot (and it actually still hurts a little), but I kept my arms moving so my feet had no choice but to go.
I got to the top of the hill and couldn't figure out where to go. Thankfully someone was standing there, "follow the arrows!" Oh you mean those giant white arrows in the middle of the road?? doh!
The kids run was taking place next to the stadium entrance and there were people everywhere. My brain was addled so I was very grateful they had 2 lines of volunteers marking the way. Then I saw Bill and heard someone else yell name. At that point I couldn't feel my legs and ran as hard as I could focusing on my arms.
When I stopped my feet hurt so bad, I really did think I was going to cry. I wanted to wait for Larry who was just a couple of minutes behind me, but I had to keep moving or just melt into a puddle - and I had to pee.
I think I was in a state of shock...not physically...I was fine physically other than my feet. It just all seemed so surreal and a bit anticlimactic.
I hobbled around to find Bill and the kids, got something to drink, and we made our way to the Oktoberfest. On our way I saw Abbi and her husband. It was great finally meeting her in person after corresponding via email and blog for so long.
After hanging out with friends from the Steeplechasers for a bit, we headed home. I took a shower and went to bed and Bill took the kids to football. I guess he was right afterall.
Finish Time: 4:41:12.6
Age Rank: 16/35 F-40 to 49
And I am nothing if not a good sport, particularly when it comes to unflattering photos. So I present to you....my unofficial finishline photo (at least I hope there was another photographer)
many thanks, I think, to Jacqueline of Charming and Quaint Photography
I realize she can only photograph what she sees so don't consider this picture a reflection of her skill as a photog. I like to think of it as a portrait of determination...yea, that's it, determination is all over my face. ;)