Day +1: It’s For Real

I keep looking at this and thinking, “Wow, it’s real.”

I finished with 200 people behind me and 10,100 people ahead, but I finished.

The last runner in came in after more than 9 hours. That is the definition of endurance.


Day 0: In The Books

I did it. I’m hurting pretty bad; my knees hate me and no doubt my heel will not let me walk tomorrow, but I did it and I have the medal to prove it. I also have the video to prove it. I stayed pretty calm since then until I realized my parents will get to see me finish my first marathon. Then I lost it completely.

I didn’t take the medals in the shower with me, but I did have to think about it first.

My never ending gratitude goes to my friend Linda Reilly for being my coach, mentor and tour guide for all 26.2 miles through Philadelphia. You are an amazing person and I’m grateful we met.

Me n Linda

This is me, thrilled to find my car where I left it when we parked at 5:00 a.m. For a moment I was scared, thinking it might get towed. Also, I believed parking in Philly is free on Sundays so when I came back to find no ticket? Double thrilled!


And this is Ryan, my hero, without whom I couldn’t have done half as much as I did. The best was seeing his face as I crossed the finish line, his expression saying, “She did it! She really did it!” Either that or “Finally this is over and we can go home!”


Now I retire from running. At least for 2014. I’ve already registered for a 5k next year but all my running for the rest of this year will be on my time, at my leisure. Once I can walk again, it’s going to be spectacular!


Day 1: Go The Distance

I can’t believe I just did my last training before the marathon. Sixteen weeks of training, over. Where the HELL did the time go? I remember my first run at the park in my shiny new OAR singlet, feeling all full of myself, thinking about contacting the local paper so they could follow me and I could raise more money for the charity. I saw my picture in the paper, and people recognizing me in stores.

Okay, that didn’t happen. ūüôā I ran my training in relative obscurity, sometimes with my friend Jack, sometimes with music, sometimes entirely in my own head. But I did every single mile and now it’s over.

I’m afraid I’m going to feel rudderless without the structure of training so I’m sticking to it but modifying it a little as time permits. I can’t take off Fridays to do 20 anymore, but then again, this is also my last race of 2014. My first was a little 5k at the Navy Yards in the cold of February but it was fun and I think I can fit into the shirt now. ūüôā

I’m nervous but I have a plan. I’m laying out all my clothes this afternoon when I get back from the expo—where I can’t wait to get my geek on!—so that come 4:00 tomorrow morning, all I have to do is go to where I left what I need and get my ass out the door. Funny thing is, this morning I gave my alarm clock a training run and set it for 4 a.m. I heard Christmas music whispering from the clock radio and rolled over at 4:41. The volume was too low. Thank GOD I tested it out or I’d be in a world of sh*t tomorrow. (And here I’d thought it absurd to set the alarm for 4 when I didn’t need to be up ’til 7.)

Some of the things I need are already in place. The weather should hold up so I’m thinking I’ll only wear my singlet and pants, with a throwaway sweatshirt over the top that I can toss off around mile 2. By then I’ll be warmed up and feeling good, though we’ll also be heading for Columbus Boulevard, which I hear can be cold, but the starting temps should be in the mid-40’s. I’ll see how I feel.

My friend Linda is at the expo and posted a pic of the medals. Not the big gaudy gold things from last year (the 20th anniversary) but still good;¬†I won’t be refusing it when I cross the finish line. My comment: “WANT!” Her reply: “And you shall have!” I adore that lady.

In my heart I feel good; I feel like I can do it. My head is worried by this because arrogance is dangerous. But I did the training (all of it!) and I have everything I need. I know what I have to do; I have a metric sh*t-ton of support from my¬†Sunday Funday Runday group, my family and friends; I’m prepared and I did the homework. Now is when the rubber meets the road, literally.

Thanks for taking this journey with me. Can’t wait to show you the medal tomorrow.

Day 3: I Bet My Life

I’m hooked on this song. I’m playing it now. If I weren’t running with Linda on Sunday, I’d put this on repeat for 26.2 miles.

Something just hit me like a ton of bricks. I’m not afraid. Really, I’m not. It amazes me but this race, this marathon, it’s just a stepping stone. When this is over, I can and will rebuild the path of my life, because once I do this, I know I can do this. And I will.

This will lead to bigger and better things because from here I will be stronger. I will be braver. I will not be afraid.

I am not afraid. But when this is over, I know I’m going to want more. Sure, it may hurt. So what. I can build on that too.

What more? Only time will tell.

I’m not afraid. Let’s do this.

Day 5: Coming Together

Sometimes it’s amazing how tiny little pieces fall into place at the right time. The marathon-day weather I was so terrified of has been steadily improving since I started checking the 10-day forecasts 5 days ago. Now we’re up to a morning low of 49, midday high of 58. If the rain expected for later in the day holds out, it’ll be perfect. I’ll be fine if the rain just holds out ’til 1:30.

Tonight I ate dinner (alone, because the boys took their plates and ran back to whatever they were doing) and a commercial came on with a brief snippet of a song that caught my attention. Within ten minutes it was downloaded and on my Run playlist. Look for Imagine Dragons, “I Bet My Life.” It’ll knock your socks off.

But the really amazing one happened yesterday. I have a wonderful friend, Linda Reilly, who’s leading Reilly Regiment, our OAR team for the marathon. I’ve talked to her quite a few times (we have so much in common!) and she picked up on my nerves, offering to run the marathon with me. I appreciated the offer but I’d envisioned myself running it alone, head deep into the music on my iPod. Yeah, I can do it alone, but I don’t always HAVE to, and after the fantastic 10k I did with Laura on the 9th, I was tempted to take Linda up on her offer. Having someone there to talk to kept my mind off everything else I might’ve otherwise spent too much time focused on: my heel, nerves, stress, etc.

So then someone else in our running group expressed some concerns about her first marathon, and another chimed in too. I thought, “There’s something to this running with friends thing”, and I asked if they wanted to run it together. If anyone felt strong enough to take off, go for it; feel free. But at least if we started together, we could keep each other relaxed, grounded, steady.

From there I thought of¬†the time my therapist called me a “kindness hog.” She’s right; I’m more than happy to help others, but I don’t like taking help when people offer it to me, even if I really need it. She asked if I liked how it felt to help someone and of course I said yes. Well, her theory was that I was denying someone else the chance to feel that same joy. I¬†had that in mind when I asked Linda if her offer still stood, and even though she could blow through this marathon in 2 hours less time than it’ll take me, she’s going to be right there with me for 26.2 miles. (People, she’s¬†BQ’d for the next TWO YEARS. She’s my very own personal Meb Keflezighi!) And on top of that, she’ll be there to help Jen and Jill too, so not only will Linda be there to help me, but she can help them too. Winners all around!

This isn’t chilling out the nerves, though. Last night I dreamed I was so excited to see Ryan at Eakins Oval (the halfway point) that I turned right instead of left and crossed the finish line for the Half. The officials wouldn’t let me go back to run the rest of the full, and I woke up PISSED. I can’t wait to see what I dream of tonight but I’m told this isn’t uncommon.

I have a pile of clothes waiting for Sunday morning, o’dark thirty. I have two parking lots mapped out. I know where the nearest Wawa is for Ryan to go get hot chocolate and something to eat. I did my third-to-last training run tonight, though I did it on the AMT at the gym to save my heel, which is feeling better but not 100%. Tomorrow I’m supposed to rest but I’m going to the gym again and using some weights. Can’t hurt. Thursday 5 miles, Saturday¬†1-3 miles. Sunday… <exhale>

I’m almost there. I can’t believe 16 weeks of training is almost over. Scared may not be the word to describe how I feel. Anxious. Excited. Nervous. But I also think I’m ready. I mean, I’ve done three 20 milers. I did 3 races in 2 weeks. Just keep moving and I’ll be fine. And now that the weather seems to be cooperating…?

This is going to be amazing. These are the last days for me to call myself a marathoner in training. Sunday night when I look in the mirror before bed, I’ll own a new title: ¬†marathoner.

And yes, I’ll probably be insufferably obnoxious. Deal with it. ūüėÄ

10 days: Grateful Dead

I titled this post Grateful Dead because I keep thinking about what a long strange trip it’s been.

Can’t believe the big day is in 10 days. I try not to say “marathon” too much because a) it scares me down to my soul, and b) I don’t want to overuse the word. Chances are good I’ll have lots of time to do that AFTER it’s over.

I did a 10k this past weekend, and I have another one this weekend. There was once a day when I¬†thought a 6 mile run was rough. Now it’s a pasttime. My plan is to run the race thinking, “Okay, I’ve done 20 mile practice runs before. They’re not easy but I can do them.”¬†Once I get to the 20 mile mark, I just remind myself that hey, I’ve done 10k’s before, and that’s all that’s left.

Mostly I just want to know if I can do it. I want to put myself to the test and see what happens. I think I got what it takes, but the proof is in the pudding.

If the race were tomorrow, I’d be ready. Well, ready except for not being in bed by 8. If I have to get up at 4, I’m hitting the sack early the Saturday before. Not that I’m going to sleep. I remember getting maybe 3 hours of sleep the night before my first 5k. I was scared out of my mind, certain I’d forgotten something, some item or detail or information that would completely ruin the whole thing. I still remember finishing the first mile, seeing how much more I had ahead, and thinking, “I think I’ve greatly overestimated myself.” But when I saw a potential PR ahead of me, I rocketed¬†for the finish line. My feet were sore for two days but I did it.

My Across the Bay ¬†10k medal looks fantastic on my medal rack. (Also known as the curtain rod in my room.) It’s one of my prouder possessions not for my accomplishment but for my friend Laura’s. She wasn’t sure she could run 6 miles. Her longest training run was 3, and her foot still hurt from an old injury, to say nothing of the stress fracture from which she’d only recently healed. We talked most of the way through the 6 miles, occasionally checking in for physical cues, but when we crossed the finish line, hands held high, I could see the pride and joy (and great relief) in her face. I was so thrilled and honored to get to be there for her. I can’t wait ’til we do it again next year!

Sometimes I’m nervous when I think about the race. The latest check of the weather says the day before will be 44 degrees and clear. I have a space blanket from the 10k, and I found some amazing fleece pants that I’ll bring with me, along with a fleece/microfiber/knit blanket that I’ll burrito myself into when it’s over. I seem to have this thing about hypothermia, but I’ve come in from races and even from the gym on cold nights, and my lips are blue. Needless to say, I need to find myself a good¬†pair of gloves.

I told Ryan the other day that I’ve put more thought and planning into this one race than for any book I’ve ever written. On second thought, I’m not entirely sure that’s true. I daydream about stories; I jot notes when they come to me; I listen to music and get ideas. For this race, I’ve read articles, watched videos, sat glued to marathon coverage for hours. And then there’s the training miles. I think it’s over 500, all told, and I haven’t gone short yet.

This race is all for me. It’s taken me a while to learn how to be selfish but when I go out to run this thing, the difference between success and failure is all me and only me. I’m the only one who can impact the end result. And I think I can do it. Now to¬†see.

finish line ATB10k