It’s the day after running my 2nd marathon overall and in 2013, and to say that I’m sore would be an understatement. I’m especially feeling it in my thighs today. Getting up from a seated position after sitting for awhile or going down stairs are the worst parts. But, I know within a day or two, the soreness will be gone and all that will remain are good memories.
Marathon weekend began on Saturday, when I headed over to meet one of my running friends who I would be carpooling over to Cocoa with and also sharing a hotel with that night. We arrived at the Expo which was at Kennedy Space Center around lunchtime and got parked pretty easily. Walking inside, it was a bit confusing. You had to get a comp pass to get past the turnstiles so that you could enter the building inside of the Space Center where the expo was taking place. Once we got the ticket, we went through security and got in the long line that was for packet pickup.
Once inside, it appeared disorganized to me. I wasn’t sure where to go for my packet. I had my bib number, but there wasn’t really a line per say. It was more like a crowd of fellow runners on either side of some tables. Once I figured out the marathon bib pickup, I somehow made my way up to the table and got my bib and bag check stuff. We would have to then check our d-tag to ensure it worked at another table nearby, then head into the area where the vendors were. The vendor room was also where we picked up our shirts. The room where the vendors were setup was very crowded and getting around it wasn’t the easiest thing. I think that they just needed a bigger space for the expo. I eventually got my shirt and checked out the few vendors that were in the room. Ended up leaving without spending one dollar which was good and bad because I had hoped to find some race-specific items like a car magnet.
After the expo, we headed out of Kennedy Space Center and went in search of our hotel. It took us longer than it should have because neither one of us were really familiar with the area. But, we found the Best Western and I checked us into our room. We unloaded our bags into the hotel room and then went out to get Barb (my roomie) a sandwich. I was going to go to dinner with a couple other running friends, but she just wanted a sandwich. About 45 minutes later, we were back in the hotel room. I had some time before the others picked me up for dinner, so I started to get my race morning gear ready to go.
My friends picked me up a little while later and we headed to Olive Garden. A good place to carb load pre-race! I had spaghetti with tomato sauce and some bread sticks. We had a nice conversation about running and such and left feeling full, but definitely satisfied. The girls dropped me back off at my hotel where I showered and got the rest of my stuff set out and ready to go for the morning. The first shuttle bus was scheduled to leave at 4:15am, so we put on the TV and after watching a bit of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, we headed to bed and tried to sleep.
We had the alarms set for 3:15am, but we both were awake before 3am. I got up and got myself dressed and ready to go. I then put my stuff in her car and before long, we were getting on the bus that would take us to the runners village/race starting area. That ride only took about 10 minutes, so I had about two hours to kill before the marathon even started. The half started at 6am, while the full marathoners started at 6:30am. Fortunately there were a number of my fellow running friends to hang with until we had to head to the corral.
At 6:30am, the full marathon blasted off! I couldn’t see the big screen where they show a shuttle launch, this year it was Columbia of course since that’s the medal for 2013. I opted to start the race with the 6:15 Galloway pace group. I was honestly hoping for a 6:30 or thereabouts time for this marathon since I had done my first marathon in 6:42, so anything better was great for me.
I felt pretty good for the first 10k of the race or so. By mile 8 though, I was feeling it. And, my legs were already not so happy with me. Not a good sign considering that I wasn’t even at the halfway point yet! I lost the pace group around this time since I made a port-o-let stop, but I kept pushing onward. I put on my iPod and kept moving. When I made it to the halfway point, it passed the finish area and crowds of spectators were cheering excitingly. I was grimacing, but when I heard some people call out my name and yell encouragement, I couldn’t help but smile through the pain.
After another stop around mile 15 at a construction site port-a-let, I felt somewhat better. Though, I began having some pain in my right knee on the side of it. It was kind of like a sharp pain when I ran. I was hoping to see a medical tent, thinking maybe I could get some biofreeze, but I never saw anything but the regular water/gatorade/gu stations. I happened to have a pain reliever in my belt, so I took that after eating some of my bonk breaker bar. A mile or so later, the knee issue subsided.
I saw a lot of friends along the second half of the course. Some of which I was passing because they were unfortunately injured, or just taking extra walk breaks. I had my iPod on a shuffle and whenever I saw a familiar face, I paused whatever song was on to see how they were doing, or high five the ones that were passing me on my left (they were ahead, heading to the finish). It’s nice to pass people I knew were originally ahead of me, but I never like to see friends hurt or struggling. A part of me always wants to slow down and help them out in some way, They were all so amazing though, and encouraged me to keep going, and telling me I was looking strong which really made me feel good. I had those friends on my mind as I did continue on.
I prayed a lot on the course as I was alone for most of the race and because I was flat out hurting. I knew by the second half that I went out too fast at the start. I felt that if I had stayed with the 6:30 group from the beginning that I would be dealing with less leg tightness. Of course, I don’t truly know that. I was still doing well despite how I was feeling. I was ahead of the 6:30 pacer and while it was a struggle to keep my intervals going (I was doing a 30sec run to a 45sec walk), I was not about to give up.
By the time I hit mile 20, I was just anxious to get this race done. Somehow, I found a burst of energy in those klat 5-6 miles and I ran as hard as I could during the running intervals. I had some runners that I was passing asking how I was looking so strong. My only explanation was that I wanted to finish! I was using every ounce of energy and will that I had along with my faith to get to that finish line. I was not giving up, and I was going to fight to the end.
Hitting mile 26, the crowds cheered wildly. I turned the corner to the final .2 and gave it the rest of what was in the tank (which wasn’t much). I pushed myself and crossed that finish line at 6:26:32! I smiled, but I was full of emotion and so spent. After I got my medal, I broke down in tears. I couldn’t keep it in any longer. Everything that I put out not just during the race, but all of my months of training just poured out of me. I gave this race my all, and it was truly the roughest thing that I have done. Yes, it was tougher than my first marathon. I don’t regret for a moment that I did this race. Running marathons changes you. You aren’t the same person that started the race hours before. I don’t think it matters if it’s your first or twentieth 26.2, it’s a distance that challenges you to the very core. I admire each and every person that runs marathons. We are insane, but insanely strong!