This weekend was one of the best weekends of my life, and I cannot wait to share it with you. This blog post will be a little long, but I hope you enjoy!
Let’s get started.
Friday evening Stacy, Diana, my Mom and I arrived in Dallas. We got settled in our hotel and then headed down to the bar to enjoy a beer (consider it last minute carbo-loading).
VIP in our Suite!
After the drink, we went through our many clothing options for the race. We knew it might rain, but we wanted to be prepared for everything. Next up was sleep, which we knew was very important! After I scolded the girls for chatting too much, we went to bed and had sweet dreams about the days to come.
We could have opened a running store.
Saturday morning we got up and went for an early morning jog around downtown. Our goal was to run for 20 minutes, and enjoy the new scenery. The weather was pretty annoying – warm, humid and WINDY. My hat actually blew off my head a couple times, which I knew was a bad sign for the next day! We were able to enjoy downtown Dallas though, and see part of the Christmas parade!
Following the run, it was Expo time! We got to the Expo and I was like a little kid in a candy shop. It was just so much fun! I cannot even explain how exciting it was to pick up my packet from the “Marathon” line. I felt pretty cool! And I felt even cooler when the workers all screamed out and cheered that it was going to be my first marathon (first timers wore a different bib color)!
My first marathon expo in my cute new running top!
The best investment from the Expo was some KT tape. I hadn’t ever tried it, but my Mom thought it would be a great idea seeing that I had been having some major leg pain the last couple weeks. They got me taped up and sent me on my way. I felt better immediatley!
Very colorful KT tape.
After the expo, Diana, my Mom and I headed to the Northpark Mall for last minute shopping. I needed a new hat and Diana was looking for a jacket. We found a hat, but no jacket. Then we headed back to the hotel.
Saturday night was intended for carbo-loading. We had dinner at an Italian place, then walked back to the hotel. Of course it started pouring down rain on the walk back, but we all toughed it out.
Dallas, you are pretty.
We made it back to the hotel and the obsessing really began. What the heck were we going to wear?! At this time, the rain chances had gone up to 100%. I would be running my first marathon in the rain, and there was no way around it. I was trying on every potential outfit and throwing water on them. I needed to see how things reacted. The running skirt was out, it stuck to my legs as soon as it got wet. A couple other shirts were out because they held in the water. I then decided what my outfit would be: Lulu capri pants and my purple Lulu long sleeve top.
Ta-Da!! By the way that purple top was never in the running to wear, but I am glad I packed it!
One thing had still not been figured out, and that was how the heck we were going to stay semi-dry for the first few miles. Then Stacy had probably one of the top 5 best ideas of her life…she said, “Do you think we could make our expo bags into vests?”. We all looked at the bag and collectively said, “I think we need to give it a try”. I then cut holes for arms and a hole for the neck. Next thing to do was try it on for size. It was a tight bit, but we got it on. Then Diana and Stacy got theirs on as well.
We got them on!!!
We colored them up, added our race numbers and our names, and the saying, “It’s in the bag”.
It's in the bag baby!
It was then time for bed. We needed to rest up for our big day. Little did I know that it would end up being one of the best days of my life.
Sunday – Morning
5:30 am and the alarm woke us up. The big day was here, and of course it was pouring down rain outside. Looks like mother nature wouldn’t be on our side today, but we knew that the last 5 1/2 months of training would be. We got dressed, put on our rain gear and headed down to the lobby.
My Mom snapped a few photos and gave us last minute hugs and words of encouragement. We put on our ponchos, and headed out to face the rainy day.
Now check out those vests! Thank you, Stacy!!!
Rain, we are ready for you!
Totally was not my idea of the perfect marathon outift.
We arrived at the race around 7am, an hour prior to the start. One last bathroom break was in order, as well as some stretching. Around 7:45am we headed to the start. Stacy and I got in our coral and saw Diana off to hers. We said our goodbyes and wished each other luck. The biggest race of my life was about to begin. Bring it on.
Sunday – Race Time
At 8:05am, Stacy and I crossed the starting line. We hit our watches and got in the zone.
The first 3 miles were miles of dodging. I have decided that I am an expert dodger though, and can work my way through any crowd. We ran our first two miles slow: 8:49 and 8:37. The third mile was fast, right at 8:02. Our pace goal was about an 8:15, but we did not want to get too greedy in the beginning. I was insistent that we take advantage of the downhills, and it seemed that we kept hitting them.
Miles 4 and 5 were miles made of rain. It started raining hard. So hard that the only option was to laugh. I kept saying to Stacy, “Are you freaking kidding me?”. Although it was raining we still ran a good pace. 8:11 and 7:49. We were feeling great.
Miles 6 and 7 were the miles of mansions. We ran through some of the most amazing houses, and I couldn’t stop looking! Maybe that is why mile 6 was an 8:16. Mile 7 I was starting to get over the awe of the homes and hit a nice 8:01 mile.
Mile 8 was the mile of the river. Why? Because we ran through a freaking RIVER. Dallas had been in a drought, and you could tell. There was standing water everywhere, including in the streets. We were dodging water puddles left and right. I really put my good jumping skills to test! Mile 8 was a solid 8:04.
Mile 9 was mile of the tummy. My tummy hurt, but I was not going to admit it. I still don’t want to talk about it, because the race really was perfect. Mile 9 was an 8:25.
Miles 10 and 11 were miles of the “groove”. It was still raining, but Stacy and were trucking along at a solid pace. We were happy and enjoying ourselves and we got in a 7 minute groove. We ran 7:54 and 7:48.
Mile 12 was the mile of the lake. This is when we really started to get to know White Rock Lake. This is also when Stacy and I started to part ways and seperate. Mile 12 was an 8:01.
Miles 13 and 14 were the miles of seperation anxiety. I started to get sad that Stacy and I were no longer running together, and that we most likely wouldn’t finish this race together. I started thinking, “Who am I going to talk to for the rest of the race? Who will encourage me?”. Miles 13 and 14 were 7:54 and 8:02.
Mile 15 was the mile of the GLOVES! I gave my mom an extra pair of gloves just in case I needed them. We actually practiced signals where I would point to my hands if I needed the new pair. Well, I needed the new pair! My hands were wet and FREEZING. I spotted my Mom in her big yellow rain jacket (aka the Crab Catcher/Deadliest Catch) and started waving my hands. Well, she didn’t see me. She actually didn’t see me until I was standing right in front of her screaming, “GLOVES!!!”. I ended up pulling the gloves right off her hands and threw my wet soggy gloves back. Thanks Mom! Mile 15 was a 7:54.
Miles 16, 17, 18 and 19 were miles of new friends. I ran these miles with three other girls that were all about my age. We chatted, and everyone had the same goal: a 3:35. 3:35 would qualify us for Boston. Which was always my super top secret goal. These girls were great, and got my through my seperation anxiety. These miles clocked in at an 8:02, 7:58, 7:49 and 7:54.
Mile 20 was the mile of “All by myself” (sing that…). I felt alone, but great. We were out of the lake and on to the city streets. Everyone says that the race starts to hit you at mile 20…well I was not willing to experience that “hit” today. Mile 20 was 8:00.
Miles 21, 22 and 23 were the miles of hills. Now let’s get this straight, I thought this course was SO easy. There wasn’t a hill I couldn’t handle and hadn’t run on in almost every training run. These were the biggest hills I would encounter though, and they were approrpriatley named the “Dolly Parton Hills” by the race. These miles were 7:58, 8:31 and 8:24.
Mile 24 was the mile of the bag. Remember the bag we made into a homemade vest? Yep, I was still wearing that thing at mile 24. I kept pushing off my time to take it off. I just couldn’t part ways with it. I decided that mile 24 would be my time to lose the bag. I ripped it off like the incredible Hulk and kept on running. Funny thing is that Stacy saw my bag laying on the ground a few minutes later. This was her que to remove her bag as well, and she ripped hers off. Mile 24 was a 7:59.
Mile 25 was the mile of rain. Ok, so technically they were all miles of rain, but this was hard rain. I kept thinking, “why did I take my bag off?!”. I got through the mile though and ran a 7:57.
Mile 26 was the mile of finishing. I kept thinking, “Ali, you are almost done. You can do this, and you will do this race fast. You are so tough and you will finish. You are almost there”. Mile 26 was a 7:48. Not too shabby.
Mile 26.2 was where I hit the finish, and accomplished something amazing. Mile 26.2 I crossed the finish line. And I crossed that finish line in 3:32:12 according to my watch. Holy crap. I just ran my first marathon, and I qualified for the Boston Marathon.
Here is my proof.
Sunday – Post Race
As soon as I crossed the finish line, I was overcome with emotions. Yes, I cried. I couldn’t believe it. Then I pulled myself together. I would not be celebrating until I saw Stacy cross that finish line. Then I saw her! I hobbled over to her and we hugged and screamed! We shared our times and together yelled, “Oh my God!!!!!” while jumping for joy! Stacy ran a 3:37. She beat her PR by 7 minutes, and also qualified for Boston (again). We both couldn’t believe what we had accomplished!
After we celebrated for a minute, it was time to get warm. Those foil blanket things were not doing the trick. We headed in a building and took a post-race photo. Then got our finisher shirt and hit the snack line. After that we went to the family meeting area where my Mom and Stacy’s family were waiting. We found them and before we could really cheer for ourselves we had to get dry. My Mom had dry clothes and we headed behind a curtain to change.
At this point, my Mom thought that Stacy and I ran a 3:36 and finished together. When she said this I was quick to correct her. “Mom, I ran a 3:32! I qualified for Boston!!!!!!”. She jumped up and down and we all cheered! Stacy shared her amazing time as well and said, “Nana, we are going to BOSTON!!!!”. It was so exciting and such a priceless moment. I am so glad she didn’t know my real time and that I got to share that with her. Then I got to call my Dad and tell him too. He was just as excited and surprised as my Mom was. That news was the best I had ever shared, and I felt so accomplished and happy.
Sharing my news with Zack, and oh so cold!
We knew Diana would be finishing soon and we would all be reunited. I am not sure if you recall, but Diana just ran her first marathon 5 weeks prior (RnRSTL). This marathon would be for fun, and she wasn’t focused on her time so much. We were all reunited and she told us she ran a 4:09. She was happy and upbeat, as she always is. She also had a good race and felt great, aside from being so cold and wet.
We had to rush back to the hotel and get ready for a flight home. We couldn’t stop talking about the race and how excited we were. We are all on a runners high and nothing was going to bring us down. I was amazed at all the support waiting for me on my phone when I checked it back in the room. I had numerous messages of good luck and well wishes for the race. I couldn’t wait to read them all and respond, after we got out of room!
We had a few moments of downtime and took time for pictures in the hotel lobby before the flight home.
26.2, we go all the way!!!
Accountability Partner. Wouldn't have gotten out of bed all those mornings without you!
Love you "sister"!
The best Mom in the world. Thank you for being my biggest cheerleader all these years.
We got to the airport, had dinner and a beer, and headed home. What a great day.
Post Race Thoughts
Yesterday was probably one of the best days of my life. At this time, I am having trouble coming up with any day that was better than yesterday was. I don’t think I have ever felt so happy or proud. I enjoyed every moment of that race, and never had a thought of doubt go through my head. I get emotional thinking about this and still can’t believe that I conquered a marathon. I did something that so many people dream about, and I did it pretty fast. I also achieved another dream and goal, which was qualifying for Boston.
I had the time of my life yesterday, and will forever cherish the memories I made during the race.
Thank you so much to everyone who supported me and encouraged me. Your words meant so much more than you realize, and I cannot wait to return the favor someday.