Fast forward through the 16 intensive weeks of marathon training, arranging people to watch my kids while I run 3+ hour runs, the feeling of being CONSTANTLY hungry (or rungry as some call it), and that ever present butterflies in your stomach because pretty soon your little body is going to be out on that course running 26.2 miles!!!!!!
Race day morning: Cheri and I stayed with my aunt in Floyds Knobs (right outside of Louisville). We woke up around 4:00 (3:00 our time) so we could eat, drink, and go to the "bathroom" in plenty of time. We were a walking ball of nerves. I tried to take a warm bath and broke my aunt's coffee cup :(. We left a tad bit later than we wanted to, but knew we would be fine. Drive there was perfect; parked in a great place; had trouble finding the starting line though!!! We arrived at the starting line porta potty area and stood in line for FOREVER! In fact we stood there so long, the gun went off and the race STARTED! Talk about freaking out!!!! Since neither one of us is speedy Gonzalez, we were just fine. We hugged and I ran off with my 4:15 pace group.
Miles 1-7: These were good miles. We spent a lot of time weaving in and out of people in the first few miles, and I really focused on staying with my group. Pace group personalities began to show, and I realized that there were some pretty obnoxious. My plan was to run, not chat so I thought it would at least be entertaining.
Mile 8: We entered Church Hill Downs! This was a really neat experience. I have never been, so to actually be out in the center was too cool. It was a little smelly though! Finally the half marathon runners split and left us, which was great! It was so crowded.
Miles 9-11: Good miles. No complaint. Kept with group.
Miles 12-15: Iroquois Park...need I say more? Cheri and I had driven it the day before, but you cannot get a good sense of the elevation in a car. I was sooooo thankful that I was with the pace group during this part. The course went up and "incline", level out, descend, up, up again, descend, level out, up, level, descend....well you get the picture- torture on my legs. They could never recover. There was a guy standing on the side of the road yelling to us that we couldn't complain, we had paid for this! I had to chuckle; he was right!
Miles 16-19: Things were good during these miles too. I never felt like I was working too hard. And I was getting REALLY excited to meet up with my family at mile 20! I called my mom at mile 18 or 19 and told her I was coming up and got chocked up with emotion!
Mile 20: Wave to my family. LOVED seeing them on the side with posters, smiles, and cheers!!!! Kevin jumped in with me at mile 20. LOVED that too.
Mile 21-23: Good miles. I enjoyed having Kevin beside me. We stayed a little bit ahead of the pace group just because I was running off adrenaline of seeing my family and having Kevin with me. But this would change...
Miles 24-26.2: The dreaded CALF CRAMPS began. It started as a twinge. I kinda yelped and missed a step. Kevin asked what was wrong, I told him but we kept on rolling. Then the actual muscle began to lock up. I would run and then BAM! It hit me out of no where. I would stumble, scream, and then recover. I did this for the next two miles. Needless to say the pace group went on and I felt ridiculous. I couldn't help but scream out because it was just instant lock up pain! I was actually afraid of going down! We made it to the finish chute when all of a sudden it hit me and I did start to go...right there in front of THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE I screamed, cried, and fell. Kevin came started to massage my calf and pull me up when everyone started to chant, "Jennifer, go Jennifer!" etc. (Kevin had a bandanna on with my name.) I was overcome with emotion and gratitude to these people I had never met, but yet had such confidence and belief in me. Kevin and I ran across the finish line holding hands with tears streaming down my face.
I had done it, but I hadn't done it alone. Oh no! Every step I took was because someone had made a sacrifice so I could be out there on that course. My parents and in laws took time out to watch the boys, supported me, listened to my ramblings; my dad spent hours studying the course map so he could get everyone to mile 20 per my request; my mom listened to my running stories/ramblings every single time I called her; my co-workers supported me and texted me throughout the ENTIRE race (this meant soooo much to me); my running partner Cheri- my confidant of all things running (and non-running), this would have been a MUCH harder journey without her by my side; my neighbors watched the boys while I ran; my husband supported me, spent time with the boys while I ran, ran 6.2 miles and never let me think that I wouldn't cross that finish line!!! I am so thankful of the body, determination, and perserverance God has given me so that I was able to accomplish this goal.
I truly have the BEST mom, dad, hubby, kids, and extended family that a girl could have.
The funny thing is that while we were training for this, Cheri and I kept saying how dumb we were, and how much we hated it. But the minute after we crossed that finish line, we were ready to sign up for another one! And we did! BG26.2 here in BG in November, and the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon series in Washington, D.C. in March. I'm so ready to start up this adventure again...I just hope everyone else is too! :)