Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Is this real? Did I really run a marathon??

I really can't believe I didn't blog more of my Marathon journey...epic fail.

But, I have to at least document it here now that it's done, right? Warning, if you like every single detail of a marathon, keep reading. It's kind of a long one, but I want to remember it all. In case you want the short version, here's a slideshow of all the pics my hubby took. There are random pictures floating around of us, from various friends...but these are the ones on my camera :)

It was such an amazing day. AMAZING.

Honestly, in the month leading up to it, I was secretly wishing I had an injury to get me out of it. BAD. I did NOT want to do it. OVER it. Over the Saturdays away from my family, with long runs in the 80 degree temps, even when we started at 6:30 am. I was just OVER it. My sweet friend Megan told me, that was exactly where I should be at the peak of training, that's how you know you worked hard and were ready for your body to rest up and taper. She was absolutely right. Tapering was great...I never even felt that crazy "how can I possibly be prepared for a marathon when I haven't really RUN in 3 weeks, for real?". I totally enjoyed every short run. 12 miles? Great. 8? Even better...4, 3, 2? HECK YES. I didn't even care if I wasn't prepared for the BIG race. I was so glad to be tapering. We ended our training with a really awesome 20 mile run. The PNW fall arrived, and it was so much cooler, and 10 of those miles were even rainy. It felt SO good to me, and I realized, I just do so much better when it's cooler out. I'd take rain any day over heat. Ending on a high, I felt more energized and ready for the Portland Marathon.

Selene and I both had such busy weeks leading up to the race, that we were pretty distracted from the Race. When friday came, we were able to carve out some time to spend the day soaking up the Marathon experience! We had lunch downtown, hit the expo, go totally sucked into some Expo purchases...and had a blast hanging out together.

Race Day came, we were pumped! We arrived about 6am downtown, easily parked and walked to our corral. We were so glad we didn't have to check anything, the line was CRAZY. My sister in law Rachel came to cheer us on at the start (True Love to come down there in the craziness at 6:30am!!). Selene's mom came too, and it was so nice to see familiar faces in the crowd as we crossed the start line.

As soon as we crossed the start line, I instantly had to pee. I realized around 5pm on Saturday, that I'd done a terrible job of hydrating myself and went into a H20 frenzy. I peed before the race, but we stopped twice before mile 10 to hit the potties! ridiculous. I felt bad, Selene was very gracious! We didn't have a specific time goal in mind, but knew where our pace had consistently been during training. We both felt we'd be a little disappointed if we didn't get in under 5 hours. Our main goal was finishing and enjoying the ride.

So around mile 3...we stopped to pee. 3 minutes from stop til we were running again. Around mile 4 we saw our first cheerleaders...Selene's mom and brother, Jordan. We were so excited to see people smiling and telling us they were proud of us! Just a short bit later, we saw some friends, Megan, Lisa and Audrey totally cheering us on! We felt like champs...seriously...they made us feel like we'd just won the marathon with their grins and hugs. It pumped us up and made us teary as we passed them. 2 miles later, we saw Selene's family at Mile 6, followed by mine around mile 7. I was surprised to see my friend Jen who I hadn't seen since she moved back from Michigan this summer mixed in with my fam! It was so awesome to feel so loved.Somewhere in there, we also saw a running friend Stacy, cheering for us, who we met on one of our training runs in the rain.

It started to rain a bit around that point. We were heading into an out and back...around mile 9 I saw my friend from Spokane, who I hadn't seen in 10 years. We were looking for eachother, and after Selene and I hit the turnaround, shortly after we saw Sarah and her running buddy Christie. We hugged a quick sweaty, rainy hug, and kept going. , AGAIN, I had to pee bad. So, we stopped again, this time it took 4-5 minutes to get through the line...but I will say, Portland had TONS of port-o's, and lots of them had no lines at all. Finally, I felt like my bladder was really empty. We turned up the stretch of industrial area of Portland, and saw my friend Jess and her baby, who high fived us! Then we saw our families again, and AGAIN our awesome friends who we'd seen around mile 4. It kind of felt like we were in a parade, and we were the homecoming queens :)

I think around Mile 12 we saw another group of my amazing girlfriends...all runners. Heidi, Jess (a different one), Meredith, Julie, and Ashley. I totally choked up as soon as I saw them ahead, jumping up and down, waving signs and blowing crazy noisemakers! They were a spectacle, and I loved it. I felt so loved. I knew they knew what a big deal this day was awesome. Meredith was crying (as expected) and I loved her hug SO MUCH. (Is it weird that I hugged all the people I saw along the way? I'm a hugger, what can I say.) We trudged ahead in the rain, and ate our snacks (Honey Stinger Waffles, which were such a good half way munchie! Easy to chew, tasted good, filled our bellies...pretzels...we could barely choke down.)

Side note: we had always trained with our Amphipod fuel belts, which we both really like. We totally planned on taking them on race day. THEN we got sucked into the RooSport magnetic pockets at the expo. We decided to stash our fuel (Gu Chomp) in there, and ditch our belts...totally in vain. They are not flattering in the least. We decided to take our chances on race course aid stations being reliable for liquids. It worked fine for me. Except, I'd planned on grabbing a refill of my GuChomps at mile 19 from Matt, but I got distracted and forgot. Thankfully, they were handing out gummy bears at mile 20 and I took and handful to nibble the rest of the way.

Back to mile 13. We decided around this point, since it was  a little rainy and boring scenery, we'd turn on our music for a bit until we saw Selene's sister Ashley, who was going to run a bit and tell us a story for a mile or two, up the hill leading up to St. Johns Bridge. So, we did, for a few miles. (we rarely ran out of things to talk about during training runs. We'd avoid talking all week, so we'd have plenty to catch up on during our long runs.) Around mile 15, a friend of Selene's caught up to us (also running the race) and it was great to have some new conversation for a few miles. Leah hung back just as Ashley joined us. Unfortunately, there were MAJOR bib inspections happening at the base of the hill and Ashley looked much to dry and happy to have blended in with the rest of us wet and sweaty runners. She got the boot by the volunteers, and told us she'd meet up with us on the other side of the bridge. Selene smartly suggested that we take the hill nice and easy. So, we turned our ipods back on and focused on the hill. Once on the bridge and it flattened out, we turned to each other with looks that said, "that wasn't as bad as I thought it would be". We enjoyed the beautiful view of the bridge and the Willamette river. We got annoyed that a certain power walker was STILL ahead of us! We'd get an edge on her, and then take our mini walk break, and she'd get ahead of us. THE ENTIRE RACE.

Immediately over the bridge, we saw Selene's hubby and one of her boys. Channing was holding the BEST sign. It said, "Mom, you've got this! My head was in the 99th percentile!"  (only a mom would appreciate the meaning behind it...if you can push out that giant head during birth, a marathon is a piece of cake!) It was awesome. We saw Ashley again, and she joined us for a few miles, finishing her story, and a few other random ones to entertain us. It was so nice to mentally check out and listen to someone talk for awhile. Thanks, Ash!

At mile 19ish, We again saw my amazing friends, Mere, Julie, Ashley, Heidi and Jess (and Heidi's daughter, Ellie!). I was amazed and humbled that my generous friends would spend the morning in the rain, trekking all over portland to cheer for US.

We saw my family again, my daughter begged me to hold her. She was totally confused why every time she saw me, I ran away from her. :) My boys were so sweet and cheerful, honking their horns. My mom kept telling me how proud she was of me. My hubby looked a little emotional at this point,but has not since confessed to being emotional :)  From here, there was a few miles of downhill, which was GREAT timing. We were getting tired. We skipped our usual walk break on the downhill and just took advantage of the easy running. (we'd been running a mile, walking 45 seconds, and walking through aid stations to this point). We decided to just plow through. We had our music on for most of this time, which was nice. Around mile 23 we were neck and neck with the 5 hour pace group. We REALLY wanted to finish ahead of them at this point. So, we sort of zoned in on getting ahead of them. We weaved our way through them and managed to stay just ahead of them. Around this point, Selene said, "there's that DAMN walker again!" ahead of us. We finally passed her and left her behind for good. I couldn't believe someone was walking as fast as we were running. Not that we were FAST, because we certainly are not, but REALLY? Walking as fast as we're running? hard on the ego. Around mile 24 we saw, Lisa, Megan, Audrey, Nicole and Jess again. It was SUCH good timing to see them. I was feeling strong still, but starting to feel like the end was NEVER coming. They gave us the boost we needed to power to the finish. At mile 25, I unplugged from my ipod, wanting to soak in all the cheers, the spectators, total strangers cheering us on. I knew this may be the ONLY marathon I finish. I didn't want to miss it. We saw Mere, Julie, Heidi, Ashley and the other Jess one last time in the final stretch to the finish. I saw them ahead, and knew it was them. I couldn't believe it. We were finishing a MARATHON. I was overcome with emotion as we passed by. KNOWING we had done it. KNOWING those girls felt it as deeply as I did. Selenes family shouted over the top of the fence as we rounded the final corner. I think I had held my breath since I saw the girls...afraid if I breathed I'd loose it. Selene and I held hands as we crossed the finish, and I was SO happy we finished every last step together. The called out our names as we ran in under the FINISH banner. We stood there, feeling surreal that we just ran 26.2 miles. We were crowned with our mylar blankets and medals. We were pushed along through the food, finisher shirts, a daze. It didn't feel at all real. I thought I'd want to lay down and die, but I didn't. I felt ok! I could still walk, breath, and see straight. I never felt like I hit the "wall" like I had during some of our training runs. I was prepared to feel it and push through, but it never came. It all felt consistent to me. Seeing our fans every 2 miles, totally made the hours tick by smoothly. I really felt amazing and happy and strong. It was weird.

We found Selene's family, snapped a few more photos, and I moved on to find my family. My girl friends were there to meet me too, which I couldn't believe. They spent ALL morning chasing me around town, and THEN fought the crowds to congratulate me at the end! I was seriously so humbled and felt so deeply loved. One of the best days of my life. Selene and I are both so thankful to our amazing husbands and Grammy's, who made this possible for us, by taking our kids EVERY saturday morning, and multiple weeknights and early mornings so we could run. It was a family effort for this day to come. I was so thankful to my mom, mother in law and honorary mom, Jackie, for coming and helping Matt with our kids, and cheering us on all morning in the rain. It was so awesome.

I went home to my mom's, took my ice bath, and ate like a Queen. I took a VERY long nap. Monday, my amazing Sister Friend, Nicole, took my kids to play at her house, so I could literally sit on my couch ALL day. My friend Lindsay brought me a VENTI Salted Carmel Mocha. mmm. My book club friends (and cheerleaders) celebrated me again by asking me to wear my medal and eating chocolate cake in my honor. It feels better than a birthday. It just keeps going.

I am so thankful. Thankful I have life. I can run. That together, Selene and I raised about $1500 toward the Ethiopia sports court. Thankful to have shared this mountain top experience with a best friend.

God is so good, to not only allow us to train, and finish, but make it such a rich experience! We are so blessed.


Momto2CuteBoyz said...

What a great recount, Eryn! I remember feeling those things during mine. When you see that finish, it is very emotional. Amazing to start to process what you've just done. ...and you did it! ...and you did it well!! Congratulations again. It truly is an accomplishment! ...and a checkmark on the bucket list! ;-)

Amy said...

I loved reading every detail and found myself teary at moments (Meredith is rubbing off on me!). Though I do not desire to run a marathon, it would be awesome to accomplish this amazing feat with a bestie or a hubby! Way to go, Eryn! You are inspiring! Congratulations!

Meredith said...

Here I am, as expected, CRYING!! My friend, my heart is full as I read this. I'm so very very proud of you!! You did it!!

Julie D. said...

I'm so proud of you, eryn!!! You trained smart, raced smart, and finished STRONG. You are amazing. btw, those race walkers kill me. During the Eugene women's half there was literally a woman WALKING at a 7:30 minute/mile pace in front of me the whole way. I had no idea someone could walk that fast. It was crazy. Loved your report. Congrats, again!!