Last December I ran my first marathon. I also had the opportunity to share this experience with my best friend, Jarrah, who ran her first half marathon that day. I couldn't put into words the mix of emotions I endured during those 26.2 miles, until now.
Months of training finally came down to this day. Since it was my first marathon I didn't know what to expect. I had no game strategy other than to keep running and hoping to cross the finish line alive. So I played it safe and ran at a slower, comfortable pace. Something I semi-regret because although I did run pain free for most of the race, my finish time wasn't that great.
I usually run with music but the cheers from the awesome spectators were too loud to pass on. Around mile 6 I read a poster that said, "Embrace your pace." Simple yet comforting words for an anxious first-time marathoner. It was exactly what I needed to believe.
Before the race started, Jarrah and I chatted with another runner about how excited we were for the race. He said that in a marathon, a runner is really running two races. A 20 miles race and a 6.2 mile race. He said the last 6 miles were pure mental hell and he couldn't be farther from the truth. Up until mile 20, I hasn't felt as mentally drained. By this time I've been running for more than 4 hours. I was finally reaching my breaking point. Soon I lost my pace group and slowed down even more.
Around mile 25 I began to cry. This came from a mixed of, "God, I'm almost done!" and "Wait! Nobody's waiting for me at the finish line!?" I really thought my family was waiting for me at the finish line but due to the weather and other circumstances, they couldn't make it. I had to snap out of it quick. One can't just run and cry at the same time, without struggling to breathe. I had to suck it up and push hard because I could hear the loud cheers from the crowds. The finish line was coming up.
The most frustrating part of those last 2 minutes was that I could hear the crowd but couldn't see the finish line. Talk about a major tease. But finally I was done.
I crossed the finish line like a rock star. I seriously held that pose for some good 30 seconds LOL. The thought of finally being able to walked seemed so relaxing but it was quite the opposite, at least for me. Walking after running a marathon was the worst pain I experience during that race. I could barely take a couple of steps after reaching the finish line. I was dying to find a bench, a sidewalk, anything I would sit down and rest. I finally did but then I walked around some more before I caught the train back home. I chatted with another runner on the train the whole way home. I didn't get his name but it was nice to finally talk to somebody after talking to myself for the last 6 hours.
I'm not gonna lie, marathons are just not for me. I think I'll stick to half-marathons and maybe run the full Dallas Marathon in December to close out the year. I do look forward to improving on my time and just enjoying this running journey the Lord has blessed me with.