Wow, I can’t believe that it has been over a month since I ran the Dallas Marathon, and that I still haven’t written my recap! Usually I am so prompt, but with this one, I have been procrastinating. However I procrastinate no more….here it is!
When I signed up for Dallas after the NYC fiasco, I was excited. I also had a good feeling about it. I had ran the race before, and felt that I knew what to expect. All I needed to do for this race was stay healthy and injury free. Obviously I had to keep up my running as well, but I knew that wouldn’t be a problem!
Staying injury free prior to the race was not an issue, but staying healthy was. I got sick the week before the race with horrible respiratory crap, and with my asthma it was a nightmare situation. I tried everything I could to stay positive for the race and not let the illness affect me. I took drugs from the Dr., got a ton of sleep, took time off work and tried about every home remedy possible. I knew my breathing on race day wouldn’t be perfect, but I did know it would be manageable (after all, I have had asthma my entire life, so I know what it is like to race with it).
We left for Dallas on Friday afternoon, and arrived early evening. Everything about the trip was going well, and we were able to go out and have an awesome dinner in a fun area! Friday night I went to sleep early and slept like a rock, waking up on Saturday feeling happy and refreshed!
Saturday morning, Ramsey and I met his friends Brian and Allison and headed to the expo. I was SO excited to meet Allison in real life, since we had been instagram and twitter friends for quite awhile. Allison and Brian were running their first half Marathon (A) and first full marathon (B), so they were the perfect people to hang with all day! We went to the expo, and then to lunch at an adorable little restaurant. After lunch, Ramsey and I headed back to the hotel for a little relaxation.
Following doctors orders, I brought my nebulizer to the marathon with me. I was so mad that I had to bring that damn thing, but I was going to do whatever it took to not let my breathing get in the way of a PR worthy marathon! I took the nebulizer before dinner, and immediately felt better (breathing wise). Once we were back from dinner, I took it again and attempted to settle in for bed.
Boy, was that one awful nights sleep. I was a nervous wreck. I was so wound up to the point that I was having a full out anxiety attack and thought I was going to pass out (hard to do while laying down, but I got really close). I remember laying there thinking that all I wanted to do was go to my parents hotel room and have my Mom hug me and tell me it was going to be OK (Moms are so good at that, especially my Mom).
During this panic attack, I was thinking about the past 21 weeks of training, and how badly I wanted to have a good race. Then I couldn’t help but let my breathing issues and the heat (it was supposed to be low 60′s to 70′s) come into my mind. The fact was, I was so scared that I was going to have an ashtma attack while running and die (seriously). I couldn’t stop envisioning myself falling down on the course and ending up in a med tent. It was AWFUL! I pride myself on not being a “mental runner”, but that night, I was going mental. I don’t know what came over me that made me such a mess, but whatever it was needed to go away.
After a while of this I began playing the “how much sleep could I possibly get game”. You know that game…the one where you stare at the clock and start subtracting the hours. Yeah, I was playing it for a few hours. I think about the 4 hour mark I finally fell asleep.
When I woke up Sunday, I was feeling nervous, but ok. I got dressed, ate a banana, took my medicine, and headed out the door. I was happy and excited to face the race, but was most excited to cross the finish line. My parents were there to hug me goodbye, and my wonderful boyfriend was too. I am pretty sure I couldn’t have mentally made it through the weekend without those three people. They were amazing!
On the shuttle to the start, I made friends with a super sweet girl named Bobbie. Bobbie was running the half, and had also been signed up to run the NYC marathon!! After we figured this out, we had a little connection and stuck together until the race started.
When the race gun went off, I knew it was a little hot and kind of humid, but I was going to ignore that. I was there to run my 26.2 miles, and hopefully run it under 3:32! I was NOT willing to let my asthma and the weather control my race. I was going to do the best I possibly could!
Around mile 3, I was already dripping with sweat. I remember thinking, “this is not good”. I was also slipping on the pavement because the humidity made the roads slippery. 3 miles in, and the race felt harder than it should. I knew that it most likely wasn’t going to be my PR day, but that didn’t mean it still couldn’t be my day.
When I reached the 10k, I started to panic a tad. My legs hurt already and my breathing was too labored. Up until the 10k I was running my race I needed for a PR, but then I decided it was time to slow down. My mind started racing and my heart was pounding. I remember thinking, “Holy crap. I am hurting this bad and I am 6 miles in. How in the HELL am I going to run 20 more miles!!!”. Also the realization that I would not PR and that I had many miles to go was a hard pill to swallow. A big part of me wanted to stop and quit. But a bigger part of me wanted to FINISH.
The first half of this race was by far the hardest half marathon I have ever run. It included a number of pep talks, water cups thrown on my body and muscle cramps in my legs. But once I got over the 13.1 mark and realized I was over halfway through, my attitude changed. It was like passing the halfway mark flipped a switch in my brain. I would not be defeated by this race as I had been in Chicago last May. I would run 26.2 miles, and be really proud of myself while doing so.
The theme of the first half of this race might have been defeat, but the theme for the second half would be triumph.
At mile 18, I saw my cheer squad. I was SO excited to see them, I about stopped so I could jump on them and hug them. I needed to see their smiles, and feel their love. My Mom jogged next to me and I said to her, “Mom, today isn’t my day to PR”. And she so sweetly said, “I know it isn’t honey, but is ok! You are doing amazing!”. When I saw my Dad, he gave me a big high five, and I told him that I was hot, but I was doing ok.
Next up to run by me was my boyfriend. I told him as well that it would not be my PR day, but that I was really ok with it. I wanted them to know that my attitude was really positive and that I would be happy with whatever I did, as long as I crossed that finish line.
I am actually very thankful that they got lost (whoops!) and didn’t see me the first half of the race. Had I seen them in my panic mode I know I would’ve cried and made them all worry about me. Seeing them at mile 18 was perfect, because I could let them know I was happy with whatever came of my day, and my asthma would not be killing me – yay!
When I hit mile 20, I knew that my heart would finish that race for me. My legs burned so bad, but I was able to keep a solid 8:20ish pace going. I continued to remind myself that I was running this marathon because I LOVED running, and that I was running this marathon for ME! My time didn’t matter anymore and it does not define me as a runner. What defined me as a runner was having the strength and courage to keep on going when I felt so bad, and had so many obstacles thrown my way.
At mile 24, Kelly Clarkson’s ‘Stronger’ came on my ipod. Immediately, I had tears in my eyes. As cheesy as it is, this song got me through a really hard time in my life last spring. I would listen to it blaring and sing it with my running girlfriends on our morning runs. In a way it felt like they were there with me, running alongside me cheering. Hearing it during mile 24 made me so happy, and reminded me of how strong I have become – emotionally and physically – over the last 6 months.
In my head I was thinking, “how many people running this race were on a nebulizer last night?? And how many of these people had to stop and take their inhaler 3 times during the race?? And how many had the LONGEST training EVER because their original race was canceled?!? I bet not many!!!” I wanted to scream out, “I AM STRONGER!!!!” because that was exactly how I felt, but I refrained in order to avoid looks from spectators
Before I knew it, the finish line of the race was approaching, and I was so excited!!! Then I saw my cheering squad and got all sorts of emotional again. They were standing there cheering, and I felt an insane amount of joy running through my body. People have seen my photos of the finish and said, “awww you look so happy in this picture!” and I quickly tell them that it was because I was so happy! I wish I could bottle up that feeling I had at that moment and give it to people who need a little extra umph to get through something hard.
Crossing the finish line felt amazing. I couldn’t do my usual sprint due to my shortness of breath, but I finished as strong as I could (and of course with my arms thrown up in the air).
I quickly walked to find water cups (shame on you Dallas for not having water bottles for the runners), and then heard my name being called. Ramsey had run over to the finish to find me and we had such a sweet little moment holding hands through the fence. If only I had the energy to crawl over that thing so I could get a big hug!
Upon entering the after race complex, I ran into my new friend Allison (mentioned above), who was on cloud 9 after finishing her first half marathon (GO ALLISON!). She was so proud of herself, and I loved hearing her race story. Seeing her happiness and runners high after her first half marathon reminded again why I run – because I love it.
I finally met up with my boyfriend and parents and we exchanged big hugs. For some reason I felt like I needed to apologize to them for not running the race I wanted to, which is so silly. They told me that no matter what time I run, they will always be proud of me – and that is why I have the most amazing support system ever. I did want them to know that although my day didn’t turn out as I had wanted it to, I was still really really happy and so so proud of myself. Another marathon medal was earned!
When I got back to the hotel and checked my phone, I was overwhelmed by all the love and support waiting for me. I can’t get over how many people congratulated me on a finish and checked on me to see how I was doing. All of that love and support never goes unnoticed or unrecognized in my eyes, so thank you VERY much for everything!
The rest of the day was for traveling home, drinking beer and eating a ton of food (my favorite post race ritual). Overall, I was in a great mood and my spirits were high, which surprised me. Had you told me a month before the race that I would not PR or hit my goal, I probably would’ve punched you and then cried. But that day, I was perfectly content. As I said earlier, my marathon time will not define me as a runner, but my spirit and determination in the sport will.
Thank you again for all the love and support these past few months! I owe you all big time!
Splits (and pace)
5k: 24:22 (7:52)
10K: 49:20 (7:57)
Half: 1:47:26 (8:12)
20 Mile: 2:49:22 (8:28)
26.2: 3:43:08 (8:31)