This was the inaugural River City Marathon, 25k, Marathon Relay, and 5k event. Pretty great to have a hometown event like this one. Best part, the event benefits St. Jude Children's Hospital.
The plan was for my friends and I to all meet up at 6:30am before the race at 7am. This meant we had to leave the house at about 6:00am. I woke up at 3:38am and thought, "The alarm will be going off at 4:15. I can sleep until then." But of course I really just laid there until the alarm went off. Then I was up and moving and before long it was 5:55... and Fred was in the shower. Hmmmm...
Finally we were on the way and my nerves were not doing well. Which is ridiculous. It's not like I'm trying to place or anything. So why am I such a wreck before a race? Weird. Anyway, I was irritated* that we were running behind but Fred was awesome and dropped me off where my friends were meeting and went to park the car. (*irritated is code for: pissed off to a psychotic degree but biting my tongue because even in this state I'm able to recognize my own lack of rationale... sometimes.)
We took pictures as a group and wished each other luck. There were four of us running the 25k, 4 girls running their first marathon, 1 running her second marathon, and several running the marathon relay. Then there was Danyelle who just showed up to to support us all and be the BEST. Cheerleader. Ever! The best thing about having a local marathon event like this is the fact that I knew so many people who were running. It really made it special.
|Debi, Me, Heidi, Eunji - the 25k-ers and then three people|
in the background who I don't know. Not sure what they
are doing either. Dancing lessons maybe?
We all met up at the starting area. Fred included. He was registered for the 25k but work has been crazy busy and he's been working a lot of hours which left little to zero time for training. He decided to run the first leg (about 6.5 miles) and then be my 'water boy' for the rest of the race.
The first part wound through downtown Peoria. There were water stations every 1-2 miles, which was nice because, did I mention it was supposed to get up to 88 degrees??? Yeah, delightful. It was really cool running through the relay exchanges and seeing all my friends who were cheering while waiting to run their leg of the relay.
Then there was the hill. The course ran up Main Street which is a bit of a hill but thankfully it's the only big hill of the course. Most people were walking up. I knew if I started walking it would just take longer and I just wanted to get it done. That hill sucked. No, really. Halfway up there was a guy taking pictures and someone yelled, "Cameras ahead! Pretend you're running!" I would have laughed at this if I thought I could spare the extra breath without getting intimate with the pavement.
Finally I was at the top of the hill. Now, right here, I'm going to get off topic for a quick second or longer to explain something about my iPod. See, I load music onto it and add to my existing playlist which is in no particular order. I don't care what song I start off to or which one I hear in the middle, yada yada... but it never ceases to amaze me how the right song always seems to play when I need it. Sometimes it's that extra push I need when my energy seems to fade, sometimes I'm in my happy pace and it's the perfect song to keep me feeling like I can run forever, and sometimes it's just situation appropriate. Well, in this case it was situation appropriate and even made me laugh a little. Only on the inside though because of that whole I-just-ran-up-a-big-hill-and-can't-breathe thing. Once I was coherent enough to realize what song was playing, it was already to the chorus of 'Catch My Breath' by Kelly Clarkson. Yes, this was very appropriate.
That's when my friend Debi ran up next to me. This was a wonderful surprise. I really love running a race with a friend, especially a long race. It just makes it go by faster, it makes it fun. Also, it worked out great because for the rest of the race when one of us was struggling, the other was there to keep pushing, to be supportive, and to make sure we finished. Thankfully, there wasn't really a time when we both were really struggling or we may have ended the race with margaritas at one of the bars along the course...
There was a section of the course that was severely lacking in water stations. Had the 25k route been marked I could tell which miles it was but only the marathon route was marked and poorly at that. We never saw a mile marker until mile ten. It was sometime after mile 10 and before14 where there was only one water station. This sucked. This was the most boring and hot part of the course. Direct sunlight on one of the main roads, no mile markers and no water stations. Definitely the worst stretch of the whole course for me. Thankfully, Fred met me at the one water station, right before mile 12, and brought water for me to fill my hand held bottle. Then we didn't see anymore water for a long time. Luckily, there were people sitting out on their lawns passing out Gatorade to runners who needed it. I loved seeing that kind of support in our community.
We finally were heading down Main Street hill. The finish line was waiting just at the bottom and to the left. It was a great feeling to know we were so close to completing the 25k. Which was good because I'd already bought the bumper magnet for my car. In the last stretch I turned to Debi and said something brilliantly profound. Actually, I have no idea what I said and she might not either but she grunted a response so I assumed she knew it was time to kick it into gear and finish strong. So that's what we did. We got a final boost of energy and flew across the finish line together.
Our friends, Heidi and Eunji had already finished the 25k and were waiting for us there with our husbands. Debi and I got our medals and gave each other a hug. I know everyone says this, but I really don't think I could have done it without her. For me, running has never been about being faster than someone else. It's just about what I can do and how I can have fun while doing it. Without Debi there, I would have been doubting myself the whole second half of the course and it wouldn't have been fun.
After I changed into some comfy flip-flops, I stood with Danyelle and some other wonderful friends to cheer for all of the finishers as they completed the race. I LOVED this part. If you have never stayed at a race to cheer until the very last person crosses the finish line, I highly recommend you try it sometime. We were waiting to cheer all of our friends who were running the marathon and marathon relay. We ended up staying the entire time as some of our friends were the last relay team to finish. Almost everyone else was gone except for our small group and a few others. We cheered the last marathoner across the finish line and the last relay teams. It felt good to be there for them but it was also incredibly motivating to see perseverance in action.
Here's the part where I get a little mushy and give a very sincere 'thank you' to all of my friends who helped me train by running long runs with me, to my parents for watching my kiddos during said training runs and the race, to my wonderful husband who supports me in everything while also refraining from strangling me when my crazy starts showing, and to God for giving me the ability and the belief that I can do this crazy stuff.
As far as plans for a full marathon... yeah, not anytime soon. I'm really thinking of sticking to half marathons from here on out. But, like giving birth, the pain will soon fade and someone will talk me into thinking it's a good idea to do something a little crazy.
Peace, Love, Happiness!