Kate and I on race morning - smiling at 3:30 am! And ready for the race! (notice the bright sequined letters across my shirt - so that people could cheer me on during the race!)
We brought our Team Hero with us and wore his photo on our backs. Team Brandan helped us to make through the marathon! Not sure I could have done it without the help of our support staff and fabulous coaches - and the encouragement of Brandan and his family!
Erika and I tried to get tough and fierce as we waited at the start area - mentally preparing for the challenge ahead! (yes, it was pitch black outside because it was 4:45 in the morning!)
I hate to sound like a running snot, but I have to say that I am so disappointed in myself and my finish for this race. I ran a 4:42 in San Francisco last year and was really hoping that with more training and a supposedly easier course that I would break 4:30. However, at mile 8 that quickly became a distant dream. I analyzed my whole race with my coach and I have no idea where things went wrong.
I did everything just as I was trained - I rested, I tapered, I ate well, I abstained from caffeine and alcohol. On race morning I was well rested and well fueled. I felt good! I went out conservatively, but competitively and felt good through mile 7.5. At mile 8 my fuel tank felt like it was on empty. My body felt fine! Mentally - I was ready! But there was nothing left to fuel my journey. Soon after the half way point, my body started hurting - in places and ways that it never had before. I was sluggish, and my knee quickly began to ache. By mile 15 I was walking - something I NEVER did in my first marathon. Something I had NEVER done in training runs. I had run several 20-21 mile training runs with no issues, no problems and I had felt fine. Why was it that today, when it mattered, I felt sluggish and weak? I walked - a lot. More than I would ever like to admit, but I honestly thought that was the only way I would finish. Each 1/2 mile passed slowly by and I became incredibly discouraged. At one point, I started to tear up realizing that for one of a very few times in my life, I would not reach my goal - even after 3 1/2 months of successful and adequate preparation. (of course, tearing up made me feel like I couldn't breathe and that I might hyperventilate)
So I sucked it up and realized that I was out there representing the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society mission, not myself. The fact that so many cancer survivors were out on the course with signs of appreciation and saying thank you to all the Team Purple participants made me realize that running a marathon is tough, but nothing compared to chemotherapy treatments. If they could smile and perservere through their journey, then I could do the same. And I took the advice of our keynote speaker John Bingham and began cheering on fellow participants encouraging those who would pass me. It was difficult, but it really helped me feel like a bigger part of the race by encouraging all of the other runners. It was a great experience and it really felt like a team environment as we encouraged each other on and struggled together to reach the finish line.