Every emotion you can imagine. That’s what I was feeling and experiencing leading up to race day. I was excited, nervous, and scared out of my mind.
The Day Before Race Day
When Kelsey showed up at our door the Friday before race day, I thought I was going to jump out of my skin. Aaron had to tell me to slow down and stop talking so fast…. Apparently I talk a lot when I get nervous.
The whole ride up to Duluth, I couldn’t focus. I checked the weather about 100 times but it never changed. We were going to be hit with rain and storms. I can’t tell you how nervous this made me. I had trained in the rain some, but never a long run, and 26.2 miles at my peak performance was inconceivable for me. I thought for sure, if I just checked the weather one more time, it might change. It didn’t…
When we arrived in Duluth, we parked at the expo to pick up our race packet. To my surprise, we did not get our T-shirt. Apparently, you have to FINISH for that… One more reason to finish? I was going to wear that t-shirt with pride.
We checked our timing chips and continued to walk around the expo, looking at different vendors. I had decided long ago that I was not going to wear anything new on race day. I was going to wear clothes that were comfortable and shoes that were worn in. I was not leaving anything to chance. However, with the forecasted rain, I decided to break my own rule and buy a running hat. I never had worn one before but did not want to be pelted in the face by rain for 26 miles. of course, I had to buy my hat to match my shoes!
We did not spend too much time at the expo and left the crowd to tour Canal Park. Kelsey had never seen Canal Park so I was excited to share with her one of my favorite places in the world. We walked down the pier, watched the lift bridge and took pictures of the cold lake. Aaron’s tour included pointing out to Kelsey and I that we had run from further than we could even see down the coast of Superior… Thanks for the encouragement Aaron!
We left Canal Park to escape the crowds and find food. We ended up at Pickwicks for a nice pre-race sandwhich. After we drove to a friend of Aaron’s family that was allowing us to stay in their beautiful home for the night. We met the rest of Aaron’s family there and had a wonderful time that night catching up and talking about running and Grandma’s Marathon.
We decided to head to bed early to get as much rest as possible before our 4:30 am alarm…
The next day we woke up for our pre-race breakfast with time to hopefully digest…and avoid any emergency race stops at the porter potty’s.. My breakfast included coffee, Shakeology, oatmeal with an egg, and a banana – my typical pre-race and long run morning breakfast.
We headed off to catch the shuttle. We arrived in time to catch the earliest shuttle, but the bus sat until the last people were there. Because of this, we arrived at the starting line much later than anticipated with no time for the bathroom and just enough time to line up with my pacing group.
It had started sprinkling on our drive up to the Starting Line in Two Harbors, Minnesota, and as soon as we got off the bus it began to Downpour! luckily we had purchased ponchos to use in the starting line. I stood in the starting line nervous, soaked, but completely excited.
The emotions started to hit me as I was standing there stretching. I thought about my journey to this place and all that I had to overcome. I thought about what an accomplishment this would be for me and how it would feel to step across the starting line. I could hardly contain my tears.
Then the gun started. I was with the 8:12 min/mile pacing group. My plan was to stay with this pacing group at least half way through the race. About 4-5 miles in, I was feeling really good and sick of the crowd that was around this pacer group. I decided to run slightly ahead of them to get out of the crowd. Before I knew it, I looked back and couldn’t see my pacing group any more. Luckily I was still feeling good so kept at that pace. This was a mistake for me and I knew it but didn’t know what to do anymore.
I finished the first half marathon at a very good pace and was still feeling good. I reached mile 16 and started feeling tired. At this mile, my parents and sister were waiting for me. I can’t tell you what it meant to me to have them there supporting me. The feeling that I had when I saw them standing in the rain cheering for me was almost too much for me. I felt so lucky to have a family that was so supportive. My sister and sister-in-law ran with me at different points offering me encouragement and support.
Unfortunately, by mile 19, the extra weight in my shoes and my clothes from the rain, and the fast pace caught up with me. My legs started feeling heavy and tired, more than I had ever felt before.
When I hit lemon drop hill at mile 21-22, I was struggling. I was drinking more water, tried an extra GU but felt that nothing, not even my favorite pump up song could help me overcome what I was experiencing.
I began to feel the blisters on my feet from my wet shoes. I tried to think about something else but it was not just in my head, the struggle was real…
I slowed my pace but told myself I could not stop. I knew that if I did I would never get going again so I kept going. I ran, slowly, but I ran.
When I passed 25 miles, I came to a down hill and got very excited to see some relief, however, when I started making my way down the hill, I realized this was more painful than uphill or flat terrain. I grimanced the entire way down.
But I did it. I came to mile 26 and knew I could finish. I saw the finish line, I saw Aaron’s family in the stands and knew I was about to finish the marathon.
I did it. I finished my marathon. I missed my goal to qualify for Boston’s Marathon by 5 minutes. But I did it. In 3:40:15 I did it and I couldn’t be more happy.
It was everything I had to not collapse after I finished and after I stopped, as I suspected, I could barely walk. I pushed myself to my limit. On that day, in the rain, I gave it everything that I had and I am so incredibly happy with that.
Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. I want to recover and give myself time. I want to change my training strategy but I loved training and running a marathon. Most of all I love running. I love running for everything it taught me about life and about myself. There is nothing better than doing what you thought you’d never be able to do. There is nothing better than proving yourself wrong.
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Stay Balanced! <3 Kendra