Anyone who has run a marathon knows that you not only feel triumphant about running a consecutive 26.2 miles, but it makes you feel triumphant over other things in your life that have beat you down. After completing my first marathon this past Sunday I feel like I have accomplished so much more than the distance. I kicked postpartum depression in the face. I have also told my two traumatic births to Ef off. I am strong and proved to myself that I am definitely stronger than anything that has brought me down in the past. Take that.
It was a perfect day for the Personal Marathon or the Sketchy Marathon as it has been lovingly nick-named. A friend of ours sketched us out a map of the course along the Illinois Prairie Path. We had a few awesome friends volunteer to man our aid stations. I ordered medals and crafted bibs. And a few of us made sure each aid station was stocked with water, Gatorade, cups, food items and trash. We met up at 6:00 am ready to start. Some friends were there to run some miles with us, new friends joined us throughout and 6 of us ran from start to finish. It was a pretty seamless event. Parking was plentiful and effortless and the volunteer help was above and beyond. I can’t imagine running a better race.
At the start a friend’s husband played music, took pictures and followed us for the first 3 miles continuing to blast music and take pictures while were we all feeling alive and fresh. Friends dropped out when they were finished with their daily mileage and new friends would drop in throughout our race. It was nice to always have fresh minds and bodies join us for several miles here and there. Our awesome volunteers were also there at just about every aid station with not only hydration and fuel at the ready, but their amazing encouragement, support and spirit. And I never would have expected that I would be so happy to see a can of Pringles and some grapes at mile 17!
When we reached 20 miles the 6 of us were on our own for the last 10K. This was uncharted territory for me since the longest training run I completed was one 20 miler. I always heard people say at 20 miles is when the marathon really begins. At this point my upper legs and glutes were starting to notify me that I had given them a pretty decent workout already. I knew that if I kept moving I would definitely conquer this distance. Stopping would be more painful.
After having some time to reflect on the race I realized that I never hit “The Wall.” With the help of my pack I was able to keep the pace steady and doable for the entire race. At the last aid station, 2.25 miles from the finish, we all pulled out our music and stayed within ourselves until the finish. Something in me allowed me to give a little extra and bust out a little more speed. I pulled out ahead and finish just a few steps before the others. (Does that mean I won my first marathon?) I turned around hugged my friend and shed a few tears. I did it! I finished my first marathon and I did it well. I kicked so much ass in the process too, my own included.
Family and friends greeted us at the finish line where we received our medals and took a few more pictures. I’ll never forget this day. I’ll never forget each and every person that I ran with that day and I’ll never forget all the people who helped us make it happen and supported us throughout the race.
I see this happening again. Believe the hype people. Best marathon experience ever!