We woke up Saturday morning and the weather forecast was right. It was raining. Jess and I got dressed in our new short sleeved race shirts that her Mom made for us with an Under Armour heat gear white long sleeved shirt underneath. I’m so glad we decided on those long sleeved shirts underneath. They were warm without being hot.
We loaded up on Body Glide and Aquafor’d our feet. The Aquafor was supposed to help prevent blisters when running in wet shoes and wet socks for hours on end. It worked perfectly and my feet were blister free at the end of the race.
Our shirts for this race were awesome. Jessica’s Mom printed them for us and they turned out amazing. I’m so happy we had our names on the back and first marathon. It really helped us get the support we needed from other runners. I remember thinking when Jess was sick and thinking she may not run – we have Sole Sisters on the back of our shirts. I’m going to look pretty stupid running by myself with that. Luckily, she was there by my side and I was saved from looking stupid. In regards to the shirt I mean.
I’m pretty sure you can see the fear on my face in those pictures…
After waking up my Mom to take pictures and charging up Jess’s phone we headed out in our ponchos. I can’t describe how nervous I was at this point. My hands were shaking and I was really just scared. We ran into my sister in the Lobby and we all walked down to the start line area together. It was pretty much chaos. It was muddy and people were running around trying to get into their corrals. Angie left us to go find Brooke and told us we were going to kill it (that’s her go-to running phrase) and I teared up a little. Luckily, both Jess and Angie ignored it.
I think most people waited in dry areas until close to the start time so they wouldn’t have to stand around in the rain. While standing in our corral (18), we tossed our ponchos and eventually tossed our throw away jackets from our last Atlanta Thanksgiving Half. We figured we were going to get wet regardless and knew we needed to have our bibs visible for pictures. While standing in our corral I heard two girls chatting next to us and one said to the other – hey, if this starts to suck then we can bail. First, I was surprised to hear someone say that – I mean you showed up and you’re not going to finish? And second, I looked over at Jessica and said – we’re finishing this no matter what. She agreed and I started to calm down. I knew before the race that I would be okay once we got into the corral and started the run. We waited for our wave and inched forward in line. We kept getting closer and I told Jess I thought this was us – we were starting – it was hard to tell – but all of the sudden we were running. I started my Garmin 220 and that started the Live Track feature that I’d sent to all of our support team so they could track us on the course.
A few seconds after crossing the start I heard Angie and Brooke screaming our names and we waved crazily at them. Pretty soon after that I looked over at Jess and said “Okay, I’m settling in for this. It’s going to be a long run”.
We ran past the Washington Monument and got passed by the guy running with a tambourine and a loud speaker. We ran towards the Lincoln Memorial and over the Arlington Memorial Bridge. We ran that bridge during the Nike Women’s Half and, once again, appreciated the view and cheering on runners coming the other direction.
We ran along the Potomac and reminisced about the Nike Women’s Half. We started to make our way into Rock Creek Park and saw Brooke and Angie around mile 4. They were screaming for us and Brooke was holding the first of many amazing signs. This one had Béla Károlyi (Olympic gymnastics coach) telling us “You Can Do It”. We got some high fives from the girls and ran along on our way. I remember seeing that Angie had her phone out and that it looked like our Live Track was working. I was relieved it was working since my watch has gone into power save mode a few times while waiting in the corral. I knew the Tracker would be a huge help to our support team so I was happy. Since Jess didn’t follow gymnastics like Brooke and I did, I spent the next 5 minutes explaining who he was. So we got the motivation from the sign and a nice little conversation out of it!
We kept running and discussed how if one of us had to make an unplanned (read: not in a porta potty) pit stop then the other person would shield that person and would be free to laugh as long as the other person wasn’t crying. It’s good to have an agreement like that with your running partner.
As we started to ascend the high up mile 5 I realized that we were on the dedicated military mile.
I distinctly remember looking over at Jess and saying “they just keep going”. Seeing all of those pictures lining the course was hard. It truly put a feeling of gratitude in your heart. After the photo posters the course was lined with volunteers holding huge American flags. It was beautiful and really motivating to help us climb the hill. As we got closer to the top of the hill there were spectators all along the course screaming and yelling and encouraging us to be strong. If you’ve ever cheered on a race course and doubted that the people appreciate it – please don’t. I can’t explain how enormously helpful it is to hear the yells and see the signs. We really appreciate it.
We turned the corner and I saw a surprise support team member, my friend Amy, was there screaming my name. I threw up hands up and screamed and kept running. Seeing her after ascending the hill and pushing through those miles was a huge boost. I was so glad she came out to support us.
We kept running through the neighborhoods of Adams Morgan and Columbia Heights. We chatted with other runners about their first marathon. We were told more than once that if we could survive our first marathon in the rain – the next one would be cake! One of the things I love so much about the running community is how supportive we are of one another. We had so much encouragement and tried to pass that along to other runners along the way.
We kept to our plan of fueling every 4 miles. Jess uses Shot Bloks and I use Gu. The Gu with caffeine works well for me and I alternate between Tri Berry and Salted Caramel. The Salted Caramel has more sodium in it which I appreciate. I’m careful to not take too much at once because it gives me stomach issues. Every 4 miles seems to be my sweet spot. We also got water at every stop and walked through the stations. That was part of our plan and was part of our strategy to save energy for the second half.
We started getting closer to the half marathon spilt and people cheering that they were nearly at the finish. Boy that was rough. We weren’t even halfway there yet and people were sprinting for the finish. But I was still feeling good and knew that we’d see my family soon.
Oh and wait until you see what they had waiting for us at Mile 14…
*******Jess has convinced me to start my own blog so I’ll finish out my marathon journey here at JessRunsAtl but come over and follow me at www.RunningIsHard.com!**************