Okay, so I didn't get a good night's sleep, but I managed a few hours, and just reminded myself of the article Pam read that said hardly anyone gets a good night sleep the night before a marathon -- many are travelling, too excited or too nervous to sleep. I had a good night the night before, and that had to pull me through the day.
We popped out of bed ready to get ready!!! We immediately went to our large picture window and saw not one rain drop on the ground! We had dodged a bullet. The weather forecasters were w-r-o-n-g. We were going to have a rain-free day; we just knew it!
We toasted bagels and lightly spread peanut butter on them (the healthy kind for Julie - the yummy kind for me). Got out the Glide, got dressed, and visited the bathroom... Julie got her pre-texts ready to send at different mile markers, and we had fun editing what she would report.
Just as we were getting worried about Pam & Elizabeth showing up, there was a knock on our door. There were there and ready to roll!!! (well E was ready...Pam, still not so much!)
Still no rain coming from the skies -- so cocky were Pam & Elizabeth that they left the plastic ponchos in Tom's car. Julie and I left ours in the room, and we all headed downstairs to walk to the Start! EXCITED!!!
Stepping off the elevator, we notice people fussing with plastic ponchos -- putting them on, as if there is RAIN outside...and a short walk toward the front doors confirmed it for us. We walked outside, and the rain was coming down fairly steadily. We had about a half mile walk to the start of the race. Julie and I ran back upstairs to grab our ponchos, and Elizabeth & Pam got plastic garbage bags from the hotel staff. Off we walked, all covered up, following the throngs of runners to the start (hoping that whoever was in the front knew where they were going). :)
As we made our way slowly to the start, we tried to figure out how to get to our corral (or pig pen as they called them that day). Before we could get to the right place the race started, so we just walked in where there was an opening and headed toward the start.
Elizabeth was NOT going to let me and Pam hold back a second or two so as to finish with a better time. She insisted we all lock arms and go thru the start together. Off we went! It seemed a slow start because there were just so many people. I felt like we couldn't run our pace as we threaded our way around walkers and runners that were slower than we were. But still, off we went, filled with excitement (or dread, in Pam's case).
Over the bridge in to Kentucky while the rain steadily fell on us. After running with the ponchos for about a half mile, we all, one by one, got rid of them -- easier to run without them, and we were going to get wet so might as well just embrace the rain.
There were some brave souls cheering us on in the rain, and a few bands that played in the shelter of awnings and between buildings. They were great fun to listen to!
The rain slowed down eventually, but I'm not exactly sure when. I don't remember it bothering me, so it must have been pretty early on.
We approached mile 5 looking for Jeff & John as well as Julie's kids Liam & Caitrin. We noticed Jeff & John on the left side of the road. What a welcome sight! We gave them high 5's and big smiles and went on our way.
At about the 5.05 mark, who do we see again, but Jeff! He tore down the street to greet us a second time. He is a nut.
The Mile 5 fluid station appeared and Julie found her kids. Liam gave her a big hug and twirl while Caitrin reminded her that she doesn't like Gatorade! What a fun stop for her, and seeing everyone definitely pump us all up as we headed up toward the major hill of the race. It's never as bad as we think it's going to be, and gets easier each time. Pam was feeling good, Elizabeth was going strong, and Julie and I were running up the hill excited to reach the overlook. We got there and once again enjoyed the beautiful view of the river, bridges and Kentucky. It's prettier on a dry, sunny day, but it was still nice...and nice to have the major hill out of the way.
The next few miles were fun -- lots of twists and turns, and I knew we had friends to find around mile 8 so that gave us something to look forward to.
Judy from IHN was right where she said she would be -- outside St. Ursula church in her bright pink outfit. I screamed her name and she excitedly cheered us on while we waved to her. Her smiling face was such a welcome sight.
Next we were on the lookout for Mary Reckman. Mary told us she'd be the one screaming and jumping up and down, and she did not disappoint. When I saw her and called out her name, that is exactly what she did. We ran over for hugs and thanked her for being so supportive.
Off we went, knowing the next time we'd see friends or family wouldn't be until around mile 16 in Mariemont. So we had to find something else to keep us going.
Pam started to feel tired and a little sick around the 9-mile mark, so we walked for a bit. Back to running, and around mile 10 we get a great surprise --Jeff & John make a surprise appearance! Needed it, needed it, needed it! We had been walking on and off, but were happy to be running when we saw them!
The next miles were tough. Poor Pam felt worse. We tried doing the 10/1 method, but it didn't help. She finally found a bathroom to use (thank you to those lovely people in Mariemont who let her use their home!) Hoping that would be all she needed, we started running again, but she still felt bad. We changed to the 5/1 method, but she couldn't keep up with that either. I can't imagine trying to run while feeling so sick to my stomach.
We spent the next few miles running and walking. We were greeted by the Parish clan at mile 15 -- always a welcome, smiling sight! Then we saw Jeff & John at mile 16 -- where they handed us Chocolate Buttercreams -- not really what we were looking forward to, but why not! They went well with the beer we were given around mile 11! (maybe THAT's why Pam got sick...???)
Despite Pam feeling so bad, miles 9-16 were so much fun. The crowds in O'Byronville, Hyde Park and Mariemont are the best! High Five's, screams of encouragement, fun and creative signs, bands playing, fluid stations competing to be the best (voted on by the runners). It was all just amazing. Just like my first marathon, I was smiling almost the entire time!
Things got worse for Pam, and after much deliberation and encouragement from Pam, Julie & I left her and Elizabeth -- feeling guilty and also somewhat relieved. We told them what we were going to do, and Pam was happy to see us go and actually thanked us. We took off and ran...using all the pent up energy we had from the last several miles. We ran 10-minute miles for the next several miles. It felt great. Lots of room to run and lots of energy to use up. The next thing we knew we were on the short stretch of Columbia, sharing the road with cars! Leaving Columbia, around mile 20, I think we had used up all of our 10-minute mile energy! But we still felt good and continued to run at a good pace. We even forgot to "hit the wall" at mile 20. :)
Eastern Avenue began...so we knew the stretch ahead of us was going to be long.
Between miles 20 and 21.5, we were excited to be close to finished, but felt our bodies start to complain a little. Stories were hard to tell or even to listen to. We started to hear lots of noise up ahead -- it was the 21.7 party zone. I was pretty sure we'd find Jeff & John there cheering us on, and sure enough, we did! Always, always, a happy sight! So nice to see them and to know that the next time we saw them we'd be near the Finish Line!
The next few miles hurt (although in retrospect, I can't recall the pain...I just know that I wanted it to be over with!). We walked through some water stations -- extending the walking time with each one. Adding leg stretches to the end of our walks. Every mile marker we hit we talked about what that run was like for us during the week -- okay, just our regular 6-miler, okay just to Loveland, okay, just as far as we ran to our car after Elizabeth got hurt -- oh no! That seemed FAR!! Once we hit 24 we didn't stop we saw the light at the end of the tunnel and didn't stop again. We were too tired to talk or even listen to each other, but we kept up a good pace (confirmed by the spectator who shouted, "Great Pace, Ladies!"
After we passed Mile 25, it seemed like it would go so quickly...then, what seemed like a while later, we passed 25.2...still another mile! But unbeknownst to us, we must have picked up the pace, because we ran that final mile in 10 min 21 seconds! After going about a half mile Julie said, Oh Patrice, we still have far to go. I lied and told her that I thought it was only another 2 or 3 tenths -- In reality, I had NO IDEA! Somewhere along this last mile, the course went UP HILL. Really? Was that necessary??? :) We looked down and forged ahead. Soon the "Finish Swine" was in sight, and we also saw Jeff and John cheering us on from the sidelines! Welcome sights, both! The crowds at this point were AMAZING. Screaming and cheering us on. It was awesome!
Julie decided to sprint the last little bit -- didn't even give me a warning -- just took off like a bat out of hell, bound and determined to beat me...which she did, by a second! Her first marathon was a success! And so was my second marathon. All along I hoped to beat my time of 4:54:57, but after all the stopping we did in the middle of the race, I didn't think that was possible. I thought we might come in under 5 hours, but just barely. As it turned out, I ran it in 4:54:17, and Julie right in front of me at 4:54:16. Happy, Happy, Happy!!!!
The best part was how great I felt afterwards. I didn't have near the soreness of my first marathon. I could sit for a while and then stand up with no pain at all. My only problem was blisters on the bottoms of my feet, which hurt while we ran, but healed up quickly.
I am ready to do another!
Pam & Elizabeth ended up finishing strong as well. Pam finally got over her stomach problems, and they ran strong the last miles of the race -- meeting up with a cute young runner who asked if he could pace with them. They helped him finish and they all looked great!