Last weekend was easily one of the best weekends of my life and will probably have a permanent spot on my “Top 5 Life Moments” list. It was great even before the race. I met my mom in Jacksonville on Friday night and we spent Saturday eating and attending the expo (Food, running, shopping and mother-daughter catch up time? Does it get any better?). If I wasn’t already excited to run a marathon for breast cancer, the expo sure did the trick. Between the excitement of all the runners, checking out my SWAG bag and meeting Donna Deegan (The “Donna” in 26.2 with Donna) and Joan Benoit, marathoner extraordinaire, (who both signed my race bib BTW), I was ready to just put on my sneakers right there and get on with the damn thing.
(Sidenote: my mom’s name is Toni and sometimes a lot of times we call her Tone. Tone is the Joan Benoit of mothers. Be jealous.)
But there was one more thing that needed to be done before marathon time:
After dinner, the nerves started setting in. We went back to the hotel and I spent the next 2 hours (this is not an exaggeration) pacing around the room, lining up my supplies for the morning, trying on my race outfit, and determining whether to pin my bib to my shirt or clip it on my belt while Tone, the one with the working brain, studied the race map and determined the ideal spot for optimal spectator performance. When I had finally solved my race bib debacle (I went for the shirt) and Tone had determined her plan (see me at mile 9 and 17 and wear red and pink to optimally stand out in the crowd. The woman will even clash for me- told you she was awesome) it was time for bed.
I was so exhausted from my day that I fell magically asleep and dreamed about running as soon as my head hit the fluffy pillow. FALSE. Instead, I spent about 6 hours wide awake, thinking about the next day, and finally giving up and texting my friends about the Villanova game (which we lost, boo) and looking up Runner’s World articles about pacing on my Blackberry. I may have gotten a combined total of 1 hour of sleep before my alarm buzzed at 4:45 in the morning.
I jumped for joy dragged myself out of bed and put the three functioning brain cells I had to work while I got dressed, grabbed my banana and Peanut Butter Cliff Bar, and headed downstairs to get on a race shuttle.
This is what a runner looks like at 5 in the morning before her first marathon when it’s 38 degrees out:
Side note: how adorable is the race logo in the background that the hotel put on the door for the weekend?! Probably the only reason I’m managing a smile. That, or the coffee I’m clutching for dear life.
Despite my secret hope that the bus I was on would break down and we could call it a day and go to brunch, we arrived at the start around 6, leaving me approximately an hour and a half alone with my thoughts. I walked around, grabbed more coffee from a nearby tent, and talked to a runner who ran last year about the hill at mile 25 (her words of wisdom? “It sucks”) Glad I asked. Oh! I also ran into a guy at the start who was from Philadelphia and was sitting in the row in front of me on the plane ride here. As my roommate Heather would say (or unfortunately sing) “It’s a small world afterall!!!”
Just as the sun was coming up, the announcers had all the runners make their way to the start. Finally, after months of training, planning, and anticipation, it was time to do this!
Maybe it was Donna’s pep talk, or her words on the importance of the cause and why she started The National Marathon to Fight Breast Cancer, but suddenly, I wasn’t nervous any more. I thought back to October and the reasons I hit “register” on my computer screen: because I loved running and cared so much about this cause. I thought back to those moments before time goals and doubts had entered my mind when I wanted nothing more than to run a marathon. In those last moments before the start, I made a promise to myself that I would cross that finish line and that I would embrace every moment along the way. Sarcasm and witty word cross-outs aside, these were my honest thoughts, corny as they may be.
About a minute after the official start, I had crossed the starting line and was running in my first marathon! Was it everything I hoped it would be? Did I get to that hill at the end and decide to call it a day and drive to the finish? Did I win the marathon? Well, I hate to leave you hanging (really, I do) but you’ll just have to wait to find out! Unfortunately (fortunately?) I have a life outside blogging and it’s calling my name.