26.2 Reasons the Marathon is the Highlight of 2016

I’m pretty sure my friends are absolutely done hearing about my marathon.  I’ve used marathon analogies to relate to everything in life for at least 2 weeks post race and I’ve worn my VIP pullover almost every day since. The race is still so fresh in my mind I often wonder when it will become “that one marathon I ran.”

As I lay immobile the evening after the race I recorded these 26.2 details of my first full marathon. So when the race does slip into that distant memory place in my mind I’ll have this to remind me how awesome it was.

1.  Shelley and I trained together running our long runs on Sunday mornings. Many mornings started in the 4 o’clock hour so we could finish our run and get home to get our families off to church.

2. The most we ran in our training was 20 miles. That same day I had to work 2-10pm in the Pharmacy. On my feet. Till 10pm. After running 20 miles. (And I have people call in sick because they have a headache. Give me a break.)

3. Ryan drove us to College Station while my in-laws took all the kids to their ranch. We stayed in 2 different hotels because Shelley booked a Super 8 while I booked a suite at Candlewood Suites. Ryan, like the hero he is, stayed at the Super 8 (where the door didn’t close and they gave him a smoking room) and gave us the comfy suite. He didn’t sleep much that night so after he dropped us off at the race headed to our suite and went back to bed.

4. We were super concerned about the weather. It was super cold and rainy the day before in San Antonio but the forecast only showed a 30% chance during the race. Luckily when we got to College Station it was 15 degrees warmer than it had been back at home. The morning of the race was PERFECT. I honestly could not have asked for better marathon weather. Temperature in the 50°’s and only 2 super short and light showers while we ran.

5. Shelley and I paid for the VIP package which went to charity and offered us VIP bathrooms, Valet parking, and the like. Best $100 spent.

6. Now about those VIP bathrooms. They were the flushable porta-potties with a sink inside. Nice. Well, all except they for whatever reason they didn’t have power that morning. Shelley and I reasoned we didn’t need lights, we just needed to go. We didn’t realize no power meant no water. No water makes flushing really hard. All I’ll say is that it was a slightly traumatizing experience for us both.

7.  Shelley and I aimed for a 10 min/mile pace for the first 13 miles so we could talk while we ran. Not just talk but pray. With 11 children and 2 husbands combined between us we dedicated 1 mile of prayer for each of them. Except for Shelley’s son, Paxton, who we dedicated both mile 13 and 14 in prayer for. We prayed out loud which several runners told us was super motivating for them.

8. The first 16 miles felt great. The scenery wasn’t the most spectacular but it felt great. Miles 17-23 were slightly harder. Thankfully, we were running through the A&M campus at this point – which was so much fun!

9. We stopped for 1 quick self portrait in front of the stadium around mile 18 which was useless because it barely turned out.

10. Ryan first found us for the first time at mile 16, about 2:45 into our race.  He told us later he pulled a muscle trying to run and catch us as we ran by. Poor guy. We didn’t give him much sympathy.

11. Shelley’s armband broke halfway through and she had to carry it the rest of the way.

13. The police monitoring all of the intersections were AMAZING. They were so encouraging as we ran by, which, after standing out there for so many hours watching runner after runner go by is a testament to their own endurance!

14. I loved the Texas A&M campus. I  spent several miles reminiscing my own college days as well as envisioning my children coming here (because 4 of them want to.)

15. At mile 20 a man held a huge sign that read “SUCK IT UP BUTTERCUP.” This was super motivating for me as our pastor recently gave a sermon with the same title encouraging those in Christ to stop being such babies (I think he said it nicer than that though.)

16. I listened to Hillsong United radio on Pandora for the entire time. It was my worship and church that Sunday morning.

17. Miles 23-26 felt impossible. Our pace had slowed down to 10:50/mile and my stomach was in a weird state of gatorade and goo leaving me feeling nauseous. At one point Shelley said, “come on let’s talk about something” and I had to say, “I’m trying everything right now just not to throw up.”

18. After we passed the 25 mile marker I started get texts from Ryan. I tried to look at my phone but couldn’t do anything but look straight ahead to keep from throwing up. But I had an idea what he was saying…GET ACROSS THIS FINISH LINE! He had been giving me updates on our time each time we saw him.

19. Ryan knew my goal was to finish in less than 5 hours. He was tracking my location and my pace as he waited at the finish line and was starting to panic I might not get across the finish line before the clock hit 5 hours. Later he told me how much fun he had that morning as he strategized how to see me, getting there on time, and tracking me. What can I say, the man loves a strategy.

20. When I could hear the man on the microphone talking at the finish line I got a surge of adrenaline. I knew I was close. When I was close enough to see the finish line and the giant clock that read 4:59:01 everything in my body went into overdrive. I was going to cross that line before it turned 5:00:00. Without thinking I left Shelley and bolted across that line on the fumes of energy I had left.

My final time was 4:56 due to the lag before I crossed the start line, which of course never crossed my mind when I saw that 4:59.

21. I must have looked awful (I certainly felt it) because 2 medics immediately came to me to keep me from collapsing. I had 2 thoughts in this moment: (1) wait, I want my medal! and (2) I just want to sit down.

And in case you can’t tell how ecstatic I am to have this medal:

22. They offered beer and margaritas along with a plethora of other food at the finish line. Before the race I was like, YES! I totally want a margarita when I finish. And when I finished I was like, NO WAY can I drink a margarita right now.

23. Instead we got a gigantic loaded up smoothie from Smoothie King to replenish the 3100 calories I burned.

24. I sustained zero injuries during my training and the race. Amazingly, I even left the race with no chaffing, blisters, or destroyed toenails.

25. $300 for running shoes, clothes, compression socks, etc. $200 race registration, $200 hotel rooms, $50 at Smoothie King after all the long runs – all of this is nothing compared to feeling from accomplishing this huge goal of mine before I turn 40.

26. Shelley was the most amazing running partner. She never complained about running at 4am even when her child had her awake since 2am. We pushed each other and encouraged one another relentlessly. I am beyond grateful for her friendship.

26.2. I said to myself for the last 3 miles “I’m never doing this again. Never.”

But….I’m already sort of thinking maybe it would be fun to do it again.


Check out my post on accomplishing BIG DREAMS (this marathon) I wrote for Brave Parenting.