Toes develop blisters in new, exciting places.
Chafing happens in new, exciting places.
Everything you’ve heard about the last six miles of the race is 100% true and NOT exaggerated. At. All.
The power of hearing someone call your name is amazing.
Pace groups ROCK.
Friends and family cheering you on is incredibly moving and inspiring.
Friends who jump in to run the last 5-6 miles: PRICELESS.
Official Race Report:
Short version: I did it. I finished. I’m a marathoner! Scroll to the end for my finishing time.
Long version: Pre-race preparations included a night out to dinner with the running trio of trail chicks – April-Anne, Michelle and me. Plus my friend Tamieka and a couple of cute spouses (Michelle’s and mine). We loaded up on pasta, had a few laughs and enjoyed a relaxing evening together.
My husband surprised me with custom made t-shirts – ORANGE of course – that said “team dianna – greater hartford marathon 2004.” He’s so sweet. And crazy. He gave one to everyone who came to the race to support me! Could he be any cuter?
Race day: We all met at a local bakery at 6:30 a.m. to caravan out to the marathon/half-marathon/5K site. In the car, I took care of all the last minute details: wrote ‘onward’ and ‘after’ on my hand, strapped on my pace band, pinned on my bib (autographed by BILL RODGERS) and pinned a gel to my shorts.
We arrived in Hartford at about 7:15 a.m. and all zipped off in various directions for port-o-lets and registration. Since I raised money for charity, I had access to the “Charity Village” which had it’s own port-o-lets. After waiting in line for 15 minutes and still not being CLOSE to either of the TWO bathrooms, my husband came and got me and brought me over to a police “command unit” that has it’s own bathroom. He has some “connections” and was able to get me in there, believe it or not. Just in time too. I had just enough time to find the 4:00 pace group, tie and re-tie my shoes and then we were off!
The pace leader started his watch at the sound of the starting horn; I started mine when we hit the mat at the start line. There seemed to be about 1 minute (or more) difference. As expected, it took a few miles to even out the pace and we were cruising along, chit-chatting with everyone around us and loving the race. Michelle found me and was able to do about 2 miles with me before our courses split off into different directions.
The pace group was working perfectly and the roads were mostly flat, with a few gentle inclines/declines. We were walking through the water stops and still staying on pace. Weather was near-perfect with cloudy skies and temps in the low 60’s (F). I ate my first gel about an hour into the run, washing it down with my trusty bottle of Gatorade that I was carrying in my hand. I passed by hubbie (who was on his bike!) around mile 8.5 and asked him to meet me on the other side of road after we turned around. At around mile 11 or so he handed me a new Gatorade bottle, a CLIF bar and a gel. I promptly shared the gel with my pace group leader and started to work on the CLIF bar. It was NOT going down easy, but I choked down about half of it before I just gave up on it.
At mile 15, Annalisa was there with Rob…and she was hooting and hollering (in her new orange t-shirt) while waving a sign that said “I [heart] marathoners! Go Dianna!” with a dancing banana to liven things up. She jumped in for about a quarter of a mile, fed me a gel and held my Gatorade bottle for me. Totally pumped me up and had me smiling for at least another mile!
Hubbie pedaled by sometime after that and had us laughing about something or other.
The muscles started to tighten up around mile 18 but it wasn’t too bad – tight left hip and tight right quad. Then our pace leader dashed off the course at mile 19 to use a port-o-let and left me and Dash (some guy in the group) in charge of keeping the pace. ACK!
Right before mile 20, my friend Kristen jumped in with me and I was so grateful to have her there. The EVERYONE was at mile 20, yelling and cheering like crazy. Tamieka made a sign for me that said “Go Sis! wwww.runningchick.blogspot.com”; my parents were there, and handed me my next Gatorade bottle and gel (I handed the CLIF bar back to them); Michelle was there with her family; Hubbie; and April-Anne who ALSO jumped in with me, even after having just run her first HALF-MARATHON. Crazy that girl! She has no idea what an amazing runner she is!!
Kristen and April-Anne got me through those last six miles. The pace leader still hadn’t made it back up to us since his potty break, and I was feeling the strain of the miles. He finally showed back up around mile 20.5 or so – at the TOP of the BIG HILL. And even as I struggled to keep pace with him, I knew I was going to have to slow it down…especially when he said he wasn’t going to walk the water stops anymore. It was tough to watch his yellow shirt get further and further away. But the last portion of this course are where ALL the hills are and I knew it was going to be rough sailing.
Kristen and April-Anne were the best cheerleaders, telling me how awesome I was and that I was doing so great. They took turns holding my Gatorade bottle for me, which was such a relief after having carried it for so long. They didn’t make fun of me for burping. I was feeling pretty sick to my stomach and wasn’t sure if I was going to puke or not. I was too tired to talk, but having them next to me was like having them carry me. I’m not sure I could have made it without them there!
I thought about the RBF while I was struggling – knowing that so many of you were cyber-cheering for me…knowing that some of you are racing this weekend too!
It became so clear to me that EVERYTHING I’d heard about the last six miles was 100% true. It was HARD and it did SUCK. The mental struggle was stereotypical – “I’ll never do this again! I must have been crazy to think that I could do this! I just want it to be over!” And physically, I was sore and tired and my feet were beginning to be very, very unhappy – “I WANT MY FLIP FLOPS!”
As a matter of fact, at one point, I yelled out “This frickin’ sucks! This is so hard!” – and then I heard someone yell out to me and it was my friend Jen on her bicycle! (She proceeded to bike around to as many points as possible in those last few miles, also being a great cheerleader!).
April-Anne bowed out around mile 25 (giving her a total of 18.1 miles for the day – and all time high for her!!). And Kristen ran with me to 26.1 miles.
As I rounded the corner to head into the finishing area, I could feel my chest well up with emotions…so much so that I was having trouble breathing! I smiled at all the cameras and tried to give whatever I had left for a final, pathetic “kick” over the finish line – and heard the announcer call out my name (hooray!). As I slowed to a walk, I was so emotional, I started to hyper-ventilate (first time ever for me). One volunteer was worried enough to ask me if I was OK! It seemed ridiculous…I could breath fine for 26.2 miles, but now, all of a sudden, breathing seemed foreign to me!
I took my water, received my shiny finishers medal – was told that I was a ‘hero’ – and walked to the end of the finish area to be greeting by EVERYONE with hugs and hearty congratulations (even more friends had showed up since I’d run by mile 20). I started to cry a bit, overwhelmed by what I had done, but more overwhelmed by being surrounded by all my favorite people and sharing that moment with them.
I hobbled back to the “party van” with my entourage and we sat, had beers, ate chips and relaxed in the sun until we all slowly drifted our separate ways.
It was a great way to end a great day. And I don’t think I would change a thing about it.
Oh! My time? According to my watch (chip time), I hit the finish in 4:02:10. Bliss.
[A big, huge, mountain sized THANK YOU to Annalisa, Rob, Michelle, John, Maggie, April-Anne, Steve, Andrea, Tamieka, Kristen, Jen, Mom, David, and Jason. I'm the luckiest person in the world to have such wonderful, supportive friends as you! And...I heart the RBF too!]