Well, it’s official – I ran my first marathon. That’s a sentence I never anticipated being able to say. Me? A Marathon? Never. 5 years ago, it didn’t seem like something I could ever do. Frankly, it wasn’t even something that I wanted to do. But I did it. And it’s possibly the best thing I have ever done in my life. (Side Note: While I am not usually a sentimental person, this race brought up a lot of emotions for me, so be prepared for some serious emo-ness in this post).
In the weeks leading up to the Half Moon Bay International Marathon, I was feeling extremely nervous. My training had been pretty inconsistent with my insane schedule, and I wasn’t feeling 100% prepared. The ladies of DoEpicRuns.com headed up to NorCal the day before the race. We dropped off our things at the hotel and headed to packet pick up. The drive along the coast was RIDICULOUS. Seriously – this was maybe the most epic drive I’ve ever taken.
After packet pickup, we headed into San Francisco to eat at the Boudin Bakery, also known as carbo-loading heaven. We each ate a solid loaf to our faces and it was magical.
After seeing the sights in San Fran, it was time to head back to our hotel for even more carbs (eat all the pasta), a rowdy game of Heads Up and sleep.
Wake up was at 4am. I actually slept fantastic the night before, so I woke up excited and only slightly nervous. We grabbed some bagels and Gatorades for the car ride and set out for Half Moon Bay. We kept things light in the car, singing along to the radio and trying not to think about the fact that we were about to RUN 26.2 MILES. I decided to write an inspirational saying on my arm to push me when things got tough. Thanks, Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Taking off from that starting line was pretty intimidating. I decided not to focus on how many miles I was about to run and just commit to the fact that this is what I was doing for the foreseeable future and just to roll with it. Lauren, Erin and I started off together but we lost Lauren (also known as speed demon) around mile 2.
The course itself was BEAUTIFUL. We were right along the coast and the scenery was incredible. We ran along the beach and through the Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay (where, should anyone ever make an honest woman out of me, I will definitely be getting married), looped through residential neighborhoods and woods that were straight up Narnia status. Usually, I listen to music when I run, but I kept my headphones off for the first 16 miles because I was too busy marveling at everything around me.
Physically, I felt much better than I anticipated that I would. If there’s any advice I can give a first time marathoner, it’s FUEL, FUEL, FUEL – I ingested enough carbs to feed a small country in the weeks leading up to the race, and I made sure to down a bit of Gatorade at every aid station. I also starting eating Shot Bloks around mile 14, which definitely gave me a boost when things got real later on in the race.
We caught up with Lauren around mile 15, who was struggling with a knee injury. The three of us stuck together for a bit before breaking out on our own. I put in my headphones and buckled down for the last 10 miles.
I’m not going to lie – it started to get hard around mile 17. Luckily, I had asked my friends and family to text me right around this time of the race to give me the inspiration to keep going. I am so grateful for all the words of love and encouragement I received from the people I love most – it literally pushed me through when I thought I couldn’t do it anymore. My personal favorite was from my friend Cody. He knows me too well:
The last miles were hard, but it was a time for me to reflect on how far I’ve come. There was a time in my life that I didn’t know if I would live to see 26, and here I was RUNNING 26 miles. I got pretty overwhelmed and started crying a bit around mile 23. I stopped for a bathroom break and to splash some water on my face, and Erin caught up with me. We ran the last 3 miles together, and our little “running club” had truly come full circle.
Crossing that finish line was one of the greatest moment of my life. I was overwhelmed with emotion, gratitude and tiredness. I completely broke down when I was done. And just when I had pulled myself together, Lauren crossed the finish line and the three of us broke down all over again.
All in all, the marathon was the most epic run we’ve ever done. It was the most challenging, the most amazing and made me feel the most badass. I would have NEVER been able to do this without Erin and Lauren – they have pushed me to be a better runner, a better friend and a better person, and experiencing this with them was truly a gift. I am sure I will do another marathon, but not anytime soon – I am taking a bit of a breather for the holiday season before hitting it hard in 2014.