Here are a few stories that some first time marathoners want to share. All are very inspiring and show the struggle of the journey but also the elation of the destination – crossing the 26.2 mile finish line.
I am a Marathoner. After 18 months of running, including 7 months of Marathon training, I completed the Chevron Marathon on January 15th, 2017. This dream has been in the making since I was a teenager.
If you live in Cypress, and want to get serious about running what do you do? No you don’t stay at a Holiday Inn ☺. You join Cypress Running Club. I joined CRC in January 2016, the best decision I’ve made in decades (outside of marrying my husband).
My Chevron journey started in 2016 with NME5k (Jen’s group) because I wanted to get back to the basics. I had completed the LAPorte Bridge Half (November ‘15 in 3:36:49); and Aramco (January ’16 in 3:21:11 ). But I had yet to run 3 miles without stopping. Actually I hadn’t run 10 minutes without stopping. In chatting with Jen, I told her that I wanted to run a Marathon. If she had any disbelief she honestly hid it. But no one at CRC would be surprised with what happened next.
I met Mark Peterson. He was helping Jen with the NME5k on my first day. Eventually , he joined me at the back of the pack, introduced himself and said he would help me finish the Marathon if that was my goal. So, I joined Mileage Builders and started running with Mark and the team. When the season started, I got into the 5:00 am routine, three days a week. There I met Janet Kendall, and she became my friend and running buddy for the next few months. It was a challenge crawling of out of bed early three times a week. I wanted to pull the covers back over my head. But no one completes a Marathon sleeping-in. After months of training, I believed I was ready. One the morning of January 15, 2017, I lined up in corral E.
I had trained in humid conditions all year. But I don’t think anything prepared me for the humid conditions on race day. Mark and several of my CRC running mates were confident we would finish. From the get-go my approach was to stick with my training and not get out too fast. I maintained a steady but slower pace through mile 9, knowing that miles 10 and 11 were where I usually struggled. Through mile 13, I was doing ok, even though I felt beaten down by the heat. At Mile 14, we saw a runner down who had collapsed at the side of he road. That reinforced Mark’s coaching that you have to run smart for the weather conditions. Mile 15 was difficult. My feet were starting to feel like lead. I lost my salt tablets. But I didn’t miss water and Gatorade at every station stop. I don’t remember miles
16 and 17 but I had to have run those miles, because I was still on the course. And there were runners behind me.
Mark stayed with me and encouraged me along the way. It was great having him there. But eventually my pace slowed dramatically and I started falling back. I honestly don’t remember the exact mile marker; It might have been mile 18 when I spotted a CRC shirt on a guy who was built like an Amazon. I remember wanting to catch-up to him. I have no idea what I said to him. But I was totally shocked when he said, “Come on we can do this together. I will help bring you in. Let’s do a 2/2 interval.” That was my introduction to Michael Caeg. And that’s what we did. Michael was running with an injury and he encouraged me to keep going. I could hear him shouting encouragement as I moved ahead. But he was the kick of adrenaline I needed.
At some point I felt a cramp in my right hamstring. I thought it was a hamstring pull. Though when I stretched it felt better. So I took short stretch breaks. By mile 22, I hadn’t just hit a wall, I was in a vortex that felt like I was just being sucked up a mountain that kept getting harder and harder to climb through. I saw the 6:00hr pace group go by. And knew I couldn’t keep up with them. But I was determined to finish the course on my feet on my terms.
I had worked too hard to not receive a medal. Plus, what I had to look forward to was seeing CRC’rs at mile 21. But when I got to mile 21 no one was there. I wanted to kick myself that I was so far behind that everyone had given up on me. Other than the ru
nners who were struggling with me, the only spectators were the race-course workers at the water stops. I just recited my 400th repetition of my life verse “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” – Philipians 4:13 and kept going.
As I approached mile 22, I had to do a double-take, because I spotted lots of orange in the distance. There were about 20 people shouting and cheering, all CRC. To them I might have looked like I was standing but in my mind’s-eye I was running hard again. They hadn’t given up on me. They had waited. I had to finish this now for sure, I thought. And what happened next is just an example of CRC at its finest, and one of the main reasons I wanted to write up my experience.
Danielle Robbins, who was on the sidelines cheering for everyone, joined me at mile 22. I had asked her the night before to keep my refill of hydration. It was probably the most humbling experience of my life when she asked, “Do you want me to run with you for the next couple of miles? Whatever you want I would be happy to do”. Step aside pride, I thought. I said, “Yes, please run with me”.
So between miles 22 and 26, I fought (with Danielle’s help) the battle to keep ahead of the sweep bus and the police asking us to stay ahead of them else we will be removed from the course. I think I asked Danielle a thousand times, “How far ahead are we from the police and the sweep van?”
Getting to the finish was difficult, yet exhilarating. I was weak and exhausted. Yet I was strong.
I finished the course in 6hrs 19minutes. I met my goal of finishing on my feet. I had completed 26.2 miles. I collected three medals that weekend. On Saturday January 14, 2017 I had run the ABB 5k with my son. The Marathon earned me a third medal for doing a double over the weekend.
How can my week get any better? I had achieved what felt like a life goal.
On Wednesday January 18, 2017, I had a follow-up with my Primary care doctor, to go over results of my blood work from the prior week. She was impressed. She took me off all the medications I had been taking to control high cholesterol, diabetes, and high blood pressure. (Actually she was a bit cautious and asked that I still take one quarter of the two tablets I had been taking for high blood pressure).
What a remarkable year this has been. There is no way I could have written a better script for myself. I accomplished more in one year than I could ever have imagined.
The recovery has been easier than I imagined, a testament to my training. Yes, I was sore. I took many Epsom salt baths. I stretched. I drank a lot of fluids. I didn’t run a Marathon. I gave birth to a Marathon. Everywhere ached. I chafed where I didn’t know one could chaf. I didn’t run until Saturday, 6 days later. I didn’t feel ready before. But I am starting my training now for the Woodlands Half. (Yes I am one of those people who has to have a race to motivate me to train).
Would I do this again, knowing what I know and what I’ve been through?
Resoundingly YES. I’ve signed up for Bank of America Chicago in October, 2017! I plan to run Chevron Houston in 2018. Once, twice, guess 3 times a Marathon for this lady for starters (… yes I’m a Lionel Richie fan).
A Tough Mother Runner’s Marathon Journey
It started with the lingering thought, “Could you do this all over again?” As I completed my final half marathon of the 2015 season, the St. Paddy’s day half, because I was pregnant for the first time and was extremely nervous about over exerting myself. When she arrived in November, I started to build my running endurance again, slowly and steadily. That January, as I scrolled through facebook looking at pictures and reading about how amazing my fellow CRC friend Tiffany Munger felt upon completing the Chevron full, I got butterflies in my stomach. I knew that I needed to try to do this. My mind was flooded with fear and doubt. How could I find time to run so much? How could my body handle such impact, especially after just having a baby? I’ve never run that far, I can’t fathom it. What if I can’t? But, what IF I succeed? After Mark Peterson assured me that he could get me across the finish line, and Jo Ann De Paul encouraged me to take the leap of faith, I signed up with a goal beyond my wildest dreams, determined to set an example for my new baby girl! A fellow CRC running Mommy, Lisnory Runlys helped me set my pace on a Saturday 10k, where I also chanced to meet a sweet lady, Rebeca Farnum, who told me she too was training for her first full for her upcoming 40th birthday. These were my run angels who provided the tools I needed to put my dream into motion.
Due to the demands of teaching pre-k, and having a new baby, my training was mostly solo. I did my short runs during the week at the gym on a dreadmill (where there was childcare) and my long runs at the park (2 clean restrooms!) while Grandma enjoyed extra cuddle time. I enlisted in body pump personal training sessions twice a week to build muscle after pulling my hip out of place during a run. I had started training like I hadn’t been growing a tiny human for the past several months, and by body let me know that wasn’t going to work. I was going to have to be patient, and trust the process.
Training wasn’t easy, but I didn’t expect it to be. I’ve never met a marathoner that said it tickled. After my first long run, I thought I’d fractured my foot. Luckily it was just a “growing pain”, after my first 20 miler, I felt like I’d been hit with buckshot, but I’d come too far to quit, that was never an option in my mind. I would repeat two phrases to myself when a run became uncomfortable, 1. God, thank you for giving me just enough to get through this mile (and I’d repeat it again and again until I was finished.) 2. God, let’s do this! Show me what this body can do!
The day of the race was less than ideal. There was humidity, rain, heat, and wind to endure. I needed to trust my training. Thankfully, I had found a runny buddy in Rebecca Farnum to keep my pace steady. At mile 8, when 2/3 of the line went left, I set my sight on the right and drew a deep breath. It was time to dig deep and do it. Run 26.2 miles. At the end of mile 19 I flashed her a smile and a thumbs up and decided to push on at my heart’s pace until I crossed the finish line. Once I got to mile 25 I felt goosebumps and a lump in my throat. I swallowed hard to push back tears of gratitude and pride. I was about to do something that I wasn’t sure I could. The emotions are so much more than the 26.2, it’s the 100’s of miles you ran in preparation, willing your mind, body, and heart to do something that you cannot do alone!
Once that medal was placed my on my neck, I felt like I could fly! I was a marathoner, a tough running mother marathoner! I was astounded to discover the following day, that I wasn’t running alone. I was pregnant with my second child, God definitely showed be what my body can do far beyond my goals and expectations!
For anyone who’s curious about running a full, do it. Feel the fear, and do it anyway. Does it hurt? Yes. Is it difficult? Yes. Is it worth it? Absolutely!