Monday, November 29, 2010

Finished: First Marathon

We did it! Since we weren't able to run the St. George Marathon like we wanted because I got strep. We found a substitute race to complete our goal. The Mesquite Marathon was held a little over a week ago and was such an amazing experience. My sister in law ran with us and although we took a long time to finish- we did it.  To go from not really running at all a year ago to finishing all 26.2 miles was such a journey.

We started out last January with a 5k training program then moved right on to the full marathon training schedule.  We used the Jeff Galloway method which is a run/walk system for injury free running. I am so grateful for it. If we hadn't have stumbled on his site, I don't think I would have even tried the marathon.  It's still HARD. But being able to take scheduled 1 minute walk breaks throughout the run really helps mentally and physically. If you've ever wanted to try running but were afraid you should definitely check out the Galloway Method. It's awesome.

The Mesquite Marathon course took us through 3 states. We started out in great weather. A little overcast and just the right temp for distance running in my opinion. Cool but not freezing. About 5 or 6 miles into the run, it started to really get windy and started to rain. The rain stopped about 10 minutes later but the wind stayed with us the entire time. Right into our faces. We checked out the reports after and discovered that winds were an average of 35 miles an hour with gusts up to 50 miles an hour. No wonder it felt like we were being blown away! We were!

We were having a blast up until about mile 13. Talking and laughing and having a great time. Then we rounded the curve in the road and hit our first major hill. Wow! Unbelievably hard. I kept singing over and over the Mindy Gledhill lyrics from Whole Wide World: 

"I'm gonna run right up this hill
Summer sky or winter chill
If I gotta take a break I will
But I'm gonna run right up this hill"

From then on, the talking and laughing was greatly subdued. We were exhausted with the wind and the extra effort it put on us.  But we kept going. We ran through some beautiful scenery along old Highway 91. Stopping at the aid stations for Gatorade and water and running gels- yuck I don't like gels but they help a ton.

We all brought bottles of peppermint essential oil in our bags and doused it on our legs every chance we had. I love peppermint oil for running. Wow. It made such a difference. Zings your legs and joints back to life. We also had the aid station people say we were the best smelling runners :) We had rolling hills and some big climbs for about the next 7 miles. Ugh. That was hard.

Finally, we round the corner into Mesquite and get excited that we are getting close. We are one the main street that takes us right to the finish. But then, Just Kidding, the course takes twists and turns all through some Mesquite neighborhoods. The last 6 miles of this race were SO HARD! I think just mentally having to wind around and backtrack was horrible. Note to race planners- don't do that! Start us farther up to get in the miles in! When I saw that city I just wanted to be done.

The last mile of the race was so emotional. My Brother-in-law met us with his family to cheer us on. That made such a difference seeing them. This is when the tears started. And a lot of prayer. Crossing that finish line and knowing we did it was so amazing.

I keep running the course over and over in my head but it feels like a dream. I also keep thinking of all the life lessons that I learned from training for and running this marathon. If you ever want to live a metaphor for life, run a marathon.

Some of my life lessons:

•It's okay to start small- The first run of just one mile that was so hard lead up to a full marathon.
•Preparation and the day to day mundane are so important to the final race- Sometimes I want to just skip to the main event and forget that it's all the little things that make it happen.
•Stop along the way- The aid station volunteers were so cheerful and encouraging. Just having them every so often was great. I think we all need time at aid stations in real life too. Little breaks to stop and refresh and renew.
•Think positive and try hard things- Telling myself I could do it was probably the most important thing I did.
•Surround yourself with good company that inspire you to go further- Running with my husband and sister-in-law was so great. I didn't want to let them down and they kept up the positive pressure to keep  going.
•Handle the Hills- you can't go around them or skip them. You have to go right up them. But they became easier when I remembered what people had told me about running hills: lean forward, don't look too far ahead, and take small steps.  When I did this, before long I was at the top. I think the same is true with trials in life. Head straight into them. Don't freak yourself out by looking too far forward at how long you have to go and the small step forward adds up and before you know it- you'll be done.

There are a lot more and I'm sure everyone can draw their own personal parallels. What an adventure! I guess the question is will I do this again? YES! And so can you.

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