So nothing too dramatic about waking up yesterday morning, I woke up on time and was of course freaked out. However I had everything laid out on a silver platter, so there was no stress as far as getting ready. I was so nervous that breakfast was hard to choke down, but I had a smoothie made with coconut water/banana/strawberries and a Cliff bar. Getting down to the starting line was fine, and there was no drama. Eric hugged me, wished me luck, and left me to my own devices in my corral.
To quote Ron Burgundy, I was in a total glass cage of emotion at the starting line. I cried when they did a moment of silence for those who were died or injured in the Boston Marathon bombings. (Hearing over 15k people go silent at once is eerie and beautiful). I cried when we all sang the Star Spangled Banner together. I cried when they played "Sweet Caroline" as we all lined up, to show solidarity with Boston.
Here we are in our corral, patiently waiting to start. And of course, I was patiently waiting and boo hooing.
So as I suspected, I was much faster in the beginning than I have been in training. The miles were flying by and I was feeling great. There were tons of spectators, bands and performers on the course, which was giving all of us amazing energy. I can't say enough nice things about the support from the crowd, the volunteers and the random spectators who came out to cheer us on. The people at the aid stations were so kind and helpful (one guy even gave me the score to the Saints game when it was in the 3rd quarter...they were winning, natch! 5-0 baby!!) People were coming out of their houses and ringing bells, blasting music for us from their porches, and even sending their kids out to cheer our names and offer us food. At one house, the owners came out and were offering us cups of beer, which I politely declined though I thought it was sweet and funny. Portlanders are freaking amazing people.
Around mile 10 I ran into one of my coworkers, and we ran together for a bit. I was actually very happy to have the company, and I think running with her pushed me a little more than I would have been otherwise. We didn't even talk that much, but her presence was so appreciated because I was definitely starting to feel lonely. (Thanks again Libbie!!)
So, I was doing pretty good until about mile 14, and then my hips started to go dodgy on me. And of course, my damn calves started cramping. It was a pretty rough freaking go from miles 15-20, and I kept having to pull over to stretch. I was never so happy to see the St. John's Bridge at mile 17. It's so beautiful and the day was so beautiful that it was a nice distraction. You can't tell from the picture I took, but the day was so clear that you could see Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Ranier and Mt. Hood all in a row. It was a breathtaking moment that took my mind off of the pain for a bit.
When we were coming off the bridge a very hilarious woman ran past me and she tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Start running! There is a camera ahead so we can't look lame!" Indeed, there was a photographer up ahead, so I kicked it into gear. Once we passed him she said, "Keep running girl, cause there's a big ass hill ahead, and that's when we can walk." It just sort of cracked me up, and I definitely needed a laugh, let me tell you!
Once I was off the bridge, I started having a pain I'd never had before in my right leg. It was a sharp, stabbing pain right where the leg bone and ankle connect, and was going down over the top of my foot. Pulling over to stretch and massage it almost seemed to make it worse, and I started getting totally freaked out. It's like, is this a blood clot, is it a stress fracture, what the hell is this? Whenever I touched the spot, it felt roughly like I was touching a lit match to a sunburn. The next three miles were really hard. I was in an incredible amount of pain, the sun was beating down on me and I felt so alone. I started tearing up and cried for probably about half a mile, but sucked it up before we got to the next aid station so that they didn't think I was crazy.
At that point we were in a neighborhood, and as I said, the homeowners in the neighborhoods were amazing. Lots of cheering, encouragement and funny little signs all over the place. I had to stop and take a picture of this one around mile 21, because it was exactly what I was thinking.
It's like, ain't that the motherfrigging truth.
I managed to have a surge of running for about a mile on a downhill part, even though it just about killed my leg. My friend Dave and his wife Carrie met me at mile 23.5, and I was so happy to see them. It was at a point where I really needed to see someone I knew and to talk to someone, because I was in a pretty bad state mentally. I stopped for a minute to talk to them both, and they both gave me a ton of encouragement and some hugs. Carrie was like, "You are so close, you are almost done!!" I felt boosted by their pep talk and continued on my way. I honestly don't know what I would have done if they hadn't been there, even having that 1-2 minute interaction with them did a ton for me mentally.
At mile 24.5 I ran into my coach for the Nike race, and she could tell immediately I was not doing well. I started telling her about my leg and she was like, do you have a shooting pain that goes into the top of your foot. I was like, yeah actually I do. She said it was tendonitis of the blah blah, I honestly can't remember what tendon she said. She handed me a mini Stick to roll out that spot, and then sprayed me down with some kind of Bio Freeze stuff. It honestly didn't help that much, but it was a relief to know that it wasn't something more serious I guess. She walked with me for a bit and gave me some pointers on how to treat it. Again, and I am not normally like this when I run, but it was so helpful just to have someone to talk with. I was just feeling achingly lonely and mentally drained.
When I hit mile 25, I wanted to have a mental breakdown. It's the ultimate "so close, yet so far away" adage. I was emotional that I was one mile away from being a marathoner, I was in pain unlike anything I have ever felt, and I was having to dig deep to keep putting one foot in front of the other. When I rounded the corner to run towards the finish line, I started running again, even though it was the most painful thing I've ever felt to do so. I looked up and saw Eric, my aunt and uncle standing there screaming my name and I began tearing up. When I ran across the finish line and the guy said, "Mary Layton, you did it, you are finished!" I totally lost it. I put my hands over my face and burst into tears. The announcer must have seen my reaction because he said "Aww, you did it, you made it!"
So, there is a bit of controversy about what my actual time was. My Garmin says that I did the marathon in 6 hours and 43 minutes. When I go on the Portland Marathon site, it says that my time was 7 hours. 17 minutes is a pretty big difference, so I'm not sure what happened or which is right. I mean the distance on my Garmin is correct, but whatever is on the Portland Marathon site is what's going to go in the record book. I didn't look at my phone to see what the time was when I crossed the finish line, since that would kind of settle it once and for all. All I'll say is that my Garmin has always been in synch with my race times for the last few years, so I'm not sure why it wasn't this time.
I have never gotten a medal for anything in my life, but I'd say that having a marathon medal as my first is pretty damn awesome.
I also got a rose (City of Roses and all) and a Douglas fir tree seedling, which is pretty cool. Through it all I was crying like a maniac, and I'm sure I just looked insane. I grabbed an orange slice and some doughnut holes, even though I was sick of sweets. My stomach was a wreck after eating nothing but Gu, Cliff bars, gummi bears and electrolyte drink for roughly 7 hours, and for the first time in history, I didn't even want a beer after the race. That my friends, is unheard of. I've never declined a post race beer. My stomach was just too messed up.
I exited the finisher's shoot and saw my family standing there. Eric grabbed me first, and I collapsed into his arms and sobbed. I was so happy to see him, and so happy to be done. My uncle sneakily took a couple shots of our embrace, but I am really glad he did. It was a pretty awesome moment in my life.
We went home and I took a much needed shower and an ice bath, and then Eric went and got pizza and champagne to celebrate. Afterwards I laid on the couch, then gave up the ghost and went to bed at 8. My right leg is completely screwed up, and I have this scary red mark on there now that I'm hoping is a bruise from me rolling on it with The Stick. Thank God I have the next 2 days off of work, because 1) I can barely walk, and 2) I need the emotional break!
I'll leave you with a picture of my finisher's shirt. It's beautiful and awesome, and I couldn't be prouder to have it.
I will write another post tomorrow with some more thoughts and feelings on the marathon once I've had some time to process it, as well as a preview of what's next for me.