I finished my first marathon and am SO HAPPY that I did. The first half of the race was OK after which things started to go wrong when my legs (quads) started to get tight. So I decided to slow down at that point...
By mile 18, my quads were cramping terribly. I did not know what the word agony meant until that experience. At that point, all I could do was run slowly and stretch every mile/mile and a half. I still do not understand why it happened... I was making sure to drink water the night before the race and during the race, I made it a point to walk through each of the water stops and drink water and gatorade. Weird.
Anyway, my running/stretching routine got me through each mile (I was taking this one mile at a time... no thinking about the 26.2 mark that I had to reach!!) By mile 23, I was in the "zone" as I like to call it... I had little realisation of the pain even though I still stretched every now and then. By mile 25, I was running without stopping any more... at mile 26, I dare say, I picked up speed and started passing the other people around me, went up the first little hill while increasing my pace and when I got to the second hill, I decided to slow down a bit to save some energy for the finish line dash. When I made it up the second hill, I saw the finish line and BOY DID I LET LOOSE!
I was sprinting (or at least it felt like it to me...) I cannot even describe the things I was feeling at that point.. pain, happiness, feeling of accomplishment, joy, the adrenaline rush.... I surged through the finish line (I did not look up at the cameras though... I kept looking straight ahead) and I kept running like a Robot and I had to FORCE myself to stop when I saw the volunteer ahead giving out the mylar blankets. I got the blanket, another person took off the chip from my shoe and then FINALLY the medal. I really couldn't even walk now.. Somehow, I controlled myself and finished the other formalities of and got my marathon photo taken and headed off to the chutes. I tell you all one thing... I am there for next years marathon. I cannot wait.
A special thanks to Neal Saxe and family for putting up with me and waiting for me until I finished. I was an hour off target at least and they all waited so generously. Neal, congrats on your sub 4 hour time. Michelle, I am so proud of your finishing the race in spite of all the odds mounted against you. My official finish time was 5:52:54. Next year, I hope for a sub 5 hour race. Let's see.