...cause I did it! I did the full 20! Cue up the Rocky theme! Put the spotlight on me! I really did it!! I didn't wuss out. I didn't quit. I did the ENTIRE DISTANCE. The full 20 miles. That's a REALLLLLLY long way to go. Oof. Okay...so I had to walk all of it to avoid hurting my back/hip even more. But I did it! Since I knew I'd end up walking the vast majority of it, I showed up an hour early to get the first 4 miles done. Very wise decision. I felt accomplished before the training even started. So I get out there and it's cold. Bitterly cold. Colder than it was during the turkey trot last month.
You know it's cold when...there are mini icebergs bobbing up and down in lake Michigan...when you have "snotcicles" hanging off your nose by mile 6...when you can feel the blood in your hands come to freezing hault...man it was freezing. Different parts of my body took turns being numb...my first my hands...then my thighs...then my butt...then my arms. Rinse and repeat.
So here's a lil' breakdown...
Miles 1-4...gee, it sure is cold out here. I can't wait to get home and get my some tea! It'll be fabulous. I'll warm up. Get all cozy on the couch and just chill...perfect way to spend a cold day.
TNT meet up...all-city training for both the winter AND spring teams...boy were there a ton of people out there! It was really great to see everyone pulling together to get through the day's run. Jordan's mom gave the mission moment and told us about how her daughter (a patient honoree) was doing....and after a few announcements, we were on our way!
Miles 5-9....I can't feel my fingers. I think stopping for our team update really did me in. I should've kept moving. It's SO COLD! The wind coming from off the lake is insane. So I'm trucking along...and I turn the bend to hit our first water stop....and WHO do I see? Coach Darren dressed up as SANTA! It was hilarious!!! One of the coaches from the south team had an elf hat on, too. It was just what I needed. So I fueled up, and kept on moving (cause if I didn't, I might have turned into a barbcicle).
Miles 11-15...The stretch along the Belmont marina isn't so bad. There were lots of runners and I was able to make a pit stop in St. Joe's hospital. They're known for welcoming runners and the receptionist asked if I wanted tea or hot chocolate to warm up with. I ended up sitting by the heater for a second and shook out my legs before heading back into the cold. I hit Coach Jamie's water stop during this leg...I've had 2 gu's by this point and my stomach is being a little...well, weird. I'm glad to say that it at least complied with me for the vast majority of the day. So I kept running. My turn around point, since I had gone 4 miles earlier, was the 8-mile marker on the Lake Shore Drive bridge just past Navy Pier (those who hadn't come early had to run AROUND the Shedd Aquarium—which is quite the intimidating distance!). So I run there...turn around and head back home.
Mile 15...running back in front of the Drake. Feeling good, overall. Just cold. Very cold.
Mile 16...meet back with Jamie. From here on out is foreign territory for me. I have no idea what to expect after 16 miles. NO CLUE. So I stop and talk with her about the strategy for the final four miles. In my mind things will go perfectly okay. She makes me eat 2 chocolate cookies. Not a fan of chocolate cookies, so I try to deny them...but she won't have it. Surprisingly, they taste incredible at this point. She makes me pocket an additional 2 and sends me off. Coach Kristin from the West team walks with me for a quarter mile or so. It's nice having someone to talk with...helps you focus less on the pain and more on just getting through the moment.
Mile 17...legs are slowly becoming lead. I feel as if I'm moving at the speed of a lil' ole lady with a walker...you know, the kind with the tennis balls stuck on the bottom. I finally begin to understand the phrase "Your marathon begins at mile 18" – that is where the true test comes in. It feels like my body is starting to shut down...DO NOT FAIL ME NOW! That's all I keep telling myself. And then, out of no where...the Doors "Break On Through to the Other Side" comes on my iPod. Out of the 1500 songs stuck on there, that's the one that pulls up on random. So in my mind, I'm telling myself to just keep moving and going at it until you get through to the other side of the wall. Ignore the pain...don't listen to your angry feet....just keep going. So I pull a cookie from my pocket, woof it down and continue to put one foot in front of the other.
Miles 18-19...OH.MY.GOD. are you kidding me?!? THIS is what this feels like? I'm not so sure this is a bright idea any more. This is quite obnoxious actually. My body is throbbing! Am I supposed to feel all funky and border-line delirious? I keep telling myself that I can do it...just keep moving... but really, I just want to hail a cab for the final 2 miles back to our starting point. It's at that time that Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" comes on my iPod...so I have to sing along. More like...scream along...near tears...i'm just ready for this day to be done with. DON'T STOP...BELIEVIN'...HOLD ONTO THIS FEEEEEEEEEEEEELING (hmm...not sure I want to hold onto this feeling of PAIN)..and with that, she comes out of the distance...what is that? Is that an angel? Am I dying? Nah...Coach Sarah, in her bright white jacket, is running toward me...she looks all hazy cause I'm seriously teary-eyed....GOD BLESS HER! She always seems to appear when you need her most. Oh man, I hope she didn't hear my weak Journey rendition!!! I wouldn't want to subject her to that. So we walk together for close to a half mile. I love how talking to someone gets your mind off the things you want to focus on. We talked about how I was going to reward myself for the 20-miler (a shower and a nap, of course!) And before I know it, she's giving me the BEST.PEP.TALK.EVER...how I'm so optimistic about everything (uh...not at this moment, but go on, coach!)...and how out of all of her "kids" she's the most confident about me finishing (really? Cause those cabs are looking mighty fine right now)....and after lots of warm fuzzies, and the promise of hot chocolate served by Santa at the finish line, she sends me on my way. Alone. To finish what I've started.
Mile 20...I'm slightly re-energized from Coach Sarah's rockstar comments...but still feel as if I am totally dragging. I chow down on my last and final cookie from Coach Jamie and use every fiber of my being to get me back to where I started. ...where my nice car will be waiting for me to warm up in...where hot chocolate and donuts and coffee are calling my name...where I can put an end to this temporary insanity. As I turn the final bend to the open soccer fields...I can see it all sitting there in the distance waiting for me...and on my iPod, 311 comes on..."Feels so Good" ....you know, the song about throwing all that bad shit back in someone's face and it feels so good...or in my case, it's me telling off that 20-miler in sub-zero temperatures. And while I was in a good deal of aches and pains...it surprisingly felt GREAT. I push through the last bit of soreness and make myself run the final 50 yards. The first time I ran all day. WOW. It felt good.
Santa greeted me with a hug and offered me some of their fabulous fixins. I couldn't eat a bite. Suddenly donuts and hot chocolate and coffee didn't sound so appetizing. I sorta wanted to hide behind a snow bank and just yak up all that GU I had consumed. Once I stopped running it all sort of caught back up with me. The soreness, the emotions, the frustration of not running intervals the whole time. I wanted to cry, but I fought the tears.
With that...I crawled into my car and started the drive home. I wanted to call everyone I knew. My marathon maniac godfather...my mom...josh...and of course, all those who told me there was no way I'd ever do a marathon (you know, to prove 'em wrong). I've gone 20 miles...what's another 6.2...right?!?! :)
By the time I got home, I could barely walk. I stretched out and crawled into a warm shower. All I could do was sit on the bottom of the tub and sob as the water poured over me. And it felt good. I'm not sure if I was crying because I hurt...or because I had just accomplished something that 4 months ago I started dreading...or perhaps a combination of the two? But the release felt good. I kept thinking to myself "why am I crying?!? What will I be like after I cross the finish line in phoenix?!" ...I'm excited to find out.
By the time I dried off and got dressed, Mike was back home. He promptly tucked me into the couch for a lazy, well-deserved afternoon of rest, relaxation, recovery, and movies. I did it. I did the full 20-miles. And I called about a half dozen people and left each a voicemail proudly stating the fact that I nailed my longest run before the marathon.
So even after all that... I CANNOT WAIT FOR PHOENIX!! I am so excited. :) Yes, I know it'll hurt. And I'm well aware of how sore and tired I'll be after the fact. But I'm going to get one of those medals. And once I do, it's never coming off.