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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The One About The Dallas Marathon {Part 2}

If you missed part 1 then you can read that here.

I saw my mom again right before mile 14 and she was so encouraging; she told me that I was doing awesome, that I looked great and my splits were awesome and right on target (she was getting text updates on me). Right after I passed her we were headed towards White Rock Lake and as soon as I hit mile 14 I stopped and took a moment to stretch because my left glute was seriously so unhappy, the slippery streets were just so brutal. This was also about the time that the sun decided to come out in full force. So after taking a moment to stretch and give myself a mental game check I headed down the hill towards the White Rock lake pathway. I was actually kind of dreading this part of the race for multiple reasons. I have run around white rock many, many times for other races and after a while it gets kind boring. I also knew that there were going to be fewer spectators in this area so I was mentally preparing for some tough miles, all the while still secretly hoping I would prove myself wrong.

Spoiler alter: the next 5 or 6 miles were probably my worst miles!

Mile 14 to 15 was pretty much just me being thankful that I was half way done and rejoicing in the fact that the humidity had broken but also cursing at the sun for making its appearance. I didn’t stop at the water stop right before mile 15 but eventually I was wishing I had. At mile 15.5 or so I heard the 5 hour pace group come up on me and the pacers seemed to be having a good time but the rest of the group didn’t seem thrilled. I remember looking at a few of the people who were in long sleeves and pants thinking they must be dying! I was so hot at this point and sweating like crazy still. My initial thought when the 5 hour group got to me was for me to hang on to the back of that group as long as I could. I thought that was going to be my saving grace for this awful portion. But they were doing a walk/run combo and I really wasn’t digging how often they were walking and then when they would run they kept a much faster pace than I did so I quickly let my thoughts of hanging on to them disappear. I wasn’t mentally prepared to change my own mindset and join a pace group. As tough as those miles were for me I was still mentally hanging in there and I wanted to just do my own thing rather than have someone else tell me what to do.

Hitting mile 16 was a cool feeling because that meant I only had 10 more miles left! I was also looking forward to hopefully seeing my mom at mile 17 where I thought she was going to be. I took a GU about mile 16.5. I actually was still keeping a decent pace here still despite the fact that I wasn’t enjoying this portion at all. However, once I hit mile 17 I started to lose it a bit.

My mom wasn’t actually at mile 17 which was fine but I was kind of expecting to see her there, there just weren’t many spectators at all around white rock lake and with the sun out it just made for a really boring and tough part of the race. Thankfully I still wasn’t seeing any 12 min miles but they were definitely creeping up into the very high 11 min miles. At mile 18 there was a boy scout troop that was running the water stop and they were so friendly and encouraging. I’m not sure if they were just really encouraging or if I was so happy to be done with white rock lake or what but I was excited because I knew the next portion of the course was downhill. Once I got to the bottom of the hill and turned right I was approaching another water stop that was run by Luke’s Locker and Cliff energy shots. I didn’t take a cliff shot because I have never had one before and I didn’t want anything to bother my stomach on the course. However, I hit a major wall at this point. I was glad to be done with the lake portion but I was so ready to hit mile 20. I walked a lot through mile 19.

Then right as I was approaching mile 20 we had to go up the “Dolly Parton” hills, aka 2 hills that Dallas has lovingly named the Dolly Parton’s because, well I’m sure you can guess why… This is actually a pretty famous part of the race course because it’s always towards the end when you are tired and it’s also known for their water stop with men dressed in ridiculous drag and balloon boobs handing out water. At the top of the first hill there was a guy handing out cups of beer and you better believe I took a cup of beer. (Obviously I forgot my earlier plan of not taking anything to bother my stomach, thankfully I was ok) I’ve never had beer while running before but it was honestly only about 2 sips worth and mentally the thought of just drowning my misery at that moment sounded so good to me. For the record it did nothing for me, haha. Once I reached the top of the second hill I passed the final relay transition point. I was looking for a friend of mine who said she was running the final leg but I never saw her, I knew I had fallen off pace a bit and so I assumed she was already gone. After turning another corner and heading into a neighborhood I stopped to walk and sent my mom a text at that point.

I sent her a text that said “yay for mile 20!! Only 6 more miles to go” I also told her that I was starting to hit a wall and I was falling off the pace a whole lot more than I would have liked and 5 hours was definitely out the window at this point. She replied with, “Who cares about time!!” To which I said, “Oh I don’t care, I just wanted you to know”. Honestly I was still slightly disappointed at that point that I had fallen off pace and I was racking my brain trying to figure out if there was a way I could make up some time. But on the other hand I just told myself that no matter what I’m going to finish this thing and no one cares about my time anyways. I tried to relax and just take everything in stride and told myself that at the end of the day, no matter what the clock says I want to know that I gave it my all, so 6 more miles was no big deal. My mom also told me that she was waiting for me at mile 22 and I knew my dad was going to be at mile 21 so I was actually looking forward to the next few miles.

Miles 20 and 21 were my hardest (and one of my slowest) miles of the day and I walked quite a bit, but I gave myself a pep talk and told myself to get it together because I was almost done. I don’t remember much about those miles though; I think I’ve blocked them out. I do remember taking my last GU at mile 20.5ish.

My dad was waiting for me at the 21 mile marker and I was never so glad to see him; this was really the turning point of the race for me. I was running when I got to him but I stopped and we walked for a little bit. He had water for me and he had a bandana for me to wipe my face with. He also had GU but I had just taken my last one and didn’t need any more at this point. Then he ran with me for probably a quarter of a mile. It was so nice just to have him there for support and for him to run with me, I told him later that that was seriously the biggest mental boost for me. I was really struggling coming off the lake but having him there waiting and then running with me just really kept me going. I also knew I was going to see my mom again and then I just had a few short miles left. I said good bye to dad and told him I’d see him at the finish line in about an hour, and then kept on going.

This portion of the course (Swiss Ave.) was again something I had run through before having run several races in Dallas but it’s a very nice neighborhood with lots of HUGE houses and there is a slight decline to the street we were running on so it was quite literally all downhill from here. I was at mile 21.5 and some girls yelled my name and said hi to me. I waved and said hi but didn’t recognize them…they asked me if I “had seen her yet” and I was so confused. I thought maybe they were talking about my mom since she was up ahead and then I thought maybe it was the dentist that worked with my mom… (I found out later they were the daughters of a girl I used to run with) I was just so confused, it makes me laugh now because I just kept running but couldn’t for the life of me figure out who called my name.

Also right after those girl called my name I see another running friend Lucy sitting with her family in the median, she cheered for me and it was nice to see her. But I was also really confused because I thought Lucy was supposed to be out running the marathon (I actually saw Lucy later at the finish line and talked to her and she told me she wound up DNFing because of the heat, I totally felt for her!).

Then right at the mile 22 marker I see my mom, she’s cheering and videotaping me on her phone which makes me laugh, she showed me the video and I looked like I was about to die, but I looked happy! Thankfully at this point the weather was cooling off and the sun wasn’t quite so harsh and the humidity was long gone and there was some tiny relief in the temps. She told me I only had 4 more miles to go and that I’d see her at the finish line! My pace drastically picks up for the next 3 miles which I was happy with, I had heard that most people have the hardest time with the last 6 miles but honestly for me the last 4-5 miles weren’t as bad as 18-22 for me. Obviously I still had my rough miles but I was just glad that the last miles weren’t as much of a death march as I was anticipating. My Garmin was also significantly off at this point as well. I had noticed early on it being about a tenth or so off and as the race went on it just kind of kept creeping up on being off, at this point I was nearly 3 tenths off or so.

Miles 23 and 24 went by pretty uneventful. I saw my dad again around mile 24, I was surprised to see him but like I said, he’s the best when it comes to race spectating. This was not an interesting part of Dallas at all, it’s in an old run down neighborhood over by Fair Park and the stretch from miles 24-25 is a portion I’ve run before and dreaded…it’s just a long boring stretch of road with barely any spectators and nothing interesting at all to look at.

Mile 25 was actually my slowest mile of the day at 14:25.

Another spoiler alert: there were only 4 miles for the day that I am not entirely happy with my mile splits; I had 2 miles in the 14’s (Mile 21 – 14:05 and 25 – 14:25) and then 2 miles were in the 13’s (20 – 13:46 and 26 – 13:14). I did have 2 miles in the low 12’s (19 -12:12 and 22 – 12:18) but honestly I did expect to see a few low 12’s in there over the course of 26 miles. But when I really stop and think about it if I only have 4 miles out of 26 that I would like to work to improve upon then I think at the end of the day I was very successful, ESPECIALLY given the weather for the day.

Anyways, mile 25, yea that was rough. I was done. My body was tired, my glute(s) were killing me, my feet hurt, I was over it. It was a weird feeling because I was so close to being able to fulfill a lifelong goal but I was also just so freaking tired of being out there and ready to be done that I almost didn’t even care anymore. I walked a lot, obviously, I knew my 5 hour time goal was shot and even though I was still hoping to not be too far off from it I just couldn’t make myself move and actually run. I had to stop and stretch my glutes again and I would run some and then walk some. It was about in here (I think it was closer to mile 25.5) that I saw a girl down on a curb surrounded by paramedics, she looked like she was having a seizure and I honestly wanted to just cry for her. I was obviously emotional already at this point but to know how hard I had worked I knew she had worked just as hard and I felt sad for her to come this far and have medical issues. I reminded myself again that marathons really are no joke and I said a prayer for her and asked that she be ok, I also thanked God that I was healthy and that my body was allowing me to fulfill a dream that I had, it really put that last mile into perspective for me.

 I did text my mom at mile 25 to tell her I had 1 more mile to go! She told me she was waiting at mile 26. I was so excited. I had hoped that I would be able to run the entire last mile but I just didn’t have it in me to run the whole thing. I would run some and then get tired and walk, but then it would hurt just as bad to walk so I’d tell myself to run again. I would pick out points to run to and then pick out a point to walk to and just kept going. The mile seemed to go forever and it didn’t help that my Garmin was so far ahead either. I knew that when I had 3 tenths left that was when I was going to give every last bit that I had left in me. My Garmin was about 4 tenths off at this point so I heard it beep 26  and then waited until it said 26.1 to pick it up and get moving. I could also see we were approaching the crowds. We crossed right over where the Turkey Trot starting line usually is and then about 100 yards past that I see my mom and my good friends Karen and David are with her. I immediately get teary eyed (and even now as I’m typing this and reliving it) thinking about them being out there and supporting me. I didn’t know Karen and David would be there so it was great to see them, with signs and everything! I wave and remember just feeling so fulfilled in that moment.

I turned the last little corner to the finish line and I’m looking all through the crowds hoping to see Alex and the Thomas’s. I do see my dad to my left but I never saw Alex (and for good reason). I couldn’t really sprint in but I gave it all I had and I knew I was close to 5:15 which was my B goal for the day. 

You better believe I raised my arms in victory as I crossed that finish line. And then I stopped my Garmin and saw it said 5:14:14 (official time was 5:14:12). 

I think I was in shock that I was finally done. I wandered, in a daze as the nice lady hung the medal over my neck. I passed up a space blanket because even though the temps had dropped I wasn’t cold at all. I also left the finish area without a picture but in a final thought I found a lady standing to the side and asked her to take one for me. And I immediately Instagramed it, yes I did. I started wandering through the finisher’s area in a daze still.

It seemed like it took forever to wind my way through the barriers and inside to go get my finishers shirt and meet up with my family. I finally make it inside and head up the escalators then I get a text from Alex saying, “great job baby”. I text him back asking where he is and he tells me, “almost to mile 23”. I send him a text back saying, “you’re funny! Seriously, where are you?” (you see he had been joking all weekend that he was going to run the full even though we both knew it would be a bad idea so I thought he was giving me a hard time). Not a minute later I get a text from Mrs. Thomas telling me that they had to go back to their hotel and they were sorry they didn’t get to see me finish and Alex was doing the full marathon. I still at this point thought it was a joke, I thought maybe they were waiting in the family reunion area together and were giving me a hard time, which was making me mad, didn’t Alex know that I just finished a marathon and the last thing I wanted was for him to play a mean joke on me?? So I text Mrs. Thomas back and said, “Please tell me you are joking”. To which she replied, “I’m not joking”.

At this point I was really frustrated and text my mom asking if she had heard from Alex and she said no, so she sent him a text. I grabbed my finishers shirt and instead of grabbing any food or anything to drink I immediately went into the finisher’s area. I wish I had had time to mill around and see people and grab food but at this point I was kind of irritated and worried about Alex still being out there, I couldn’t really think straight.

I immediately found my mom and started crying the minute she hugged me, she knows just how hard I have worked for this goal and I mean really, who is not any more proud of you than your mom is? I was so thankful that she and my dad were able to be there, as well as Karen and David. 

We took a few pictures and then I had to use the restroom. I was glad I actually had to pee given how much sweat I had lost out there, I really tried to drink water or Gatorade at as many stops as I could. However, I was afraid if I sat down I wouldn’t be able to get back up, haha. After all of that we made our way back outside so we could see Alex finish.

I was still irritated at Alex but that quickly passed, I was a marathoner after all, I had finally achieved a HUGE item on my bucket list and while it's one of the hardest things I have ever done it was also one of the most rewarding and fulfilling things. I wish I could describe to you the pure joy that I felt at mile 26; it was absolutely amazing. And it was made even better by my awesome friends and family. I would not change that day for anything! (ok, that's a lie, I would change the weather...but as far as the effort that I put forth, I wouldn't change that one bit!)

That's all for today, I realize that I've pretty much written novels here so I am saving one more post to go over my final marathon thoughts and how I felt about my training and the over all experience. And Alex told me that he is also going to write about his race experience because I, just like all of you are very curious as to what went through his mind that made him decide, "ah what the heck, I'll just run a marathon today!"


Suz and Allan said...

Congratulations again! I can't believe there are only 4 miles that you weren't happy with your time on. That's really impressive. I honestly haven't looked at my splits yet but I need to do that. Who would have thought running a December marathon would be so hot?! I can't believe you saw people in pants and long sleeves that ran the marathon. Your parents both sound like they deserve their own medals for being such wonderful spectators and a great support for you at various spots along the course.

Kim said...

Wow!! Your entire story is awesome. Reading about your dad meeting you at mile 21 and running a little with you made me cry (sorry if that's creepy). Congratulations on running (and finishing!!!) a marathon!

Andrea said...

Congrats!! Awesome story! And totally inspiring me for my first one next year :)

Andrea -

meghan said...

And congrats again! You did fantastic! I can't wait to be at miles 18-22, because I'm sure I'll have those same thoughts. But then I can just remember that I had been warned ahead of time. :) You're a marathoner!! 25 days for me!

armyamy said...

Yeay! Part 2! I love your finish line picture! You look triumphant!

The second half is definitely more of a mind game, made more difficult by the fact that your body is getting more and more tired, but you powered through! Can't congratulate you enough!*

Elizabeth said...

Way to go Lauren! That's so freaking exciting! Enjoy your accomplishment and thanks for sharing the recap with us!