Start line: The announcers blew a fuse and the mics went dead about 1 minute before the start. We were all awaiting a count down when all of a sudden a loud cannon fired. In the blink of an eye the race was under way!
Mile 1-4 was kind of a blur... It usually is when I am running a longer race. It is during this time that I am trying to get my pace settled in and smooth out the breathing. I do remember lots of people on the streets saying, "looking good." My only thought to them was, "Duh, we just started...check me out at mile 23!"
Mile 5 I was very humbled. I past by one of the crank chair participants. Those men and women are amazing athletes. They complete the entire race from a bike/chair that is propelled by cranking pedals with the hands. I cannot imagine how difficult this is, yet they make it look so easy.
Mile 6 I had my first family sighting. It is so good to have fans to cheer you on. It gives your brain something to look forward to each mile because you never know where and when they will be waiting to cheer.
Mile 7 I was headed towards the Grand Strand, and I passed a friend of mine who was back at mile 5.5. It was neat to actually see someone else I knew running during the middle of the race.
Mile 8 started on the main drag at Myrtle Beach known as the Grand Strand. It was so cool to be able to run right down the middle of that street. Lord knows I have driven up and down it a 1,000 times. It was a whole new perspective.
Mile 10- I felt a nasty blister forming on the front arch of my left foot. I immediately began kicking myself for not getting the new shoes I needed 3 weeks prior to run. I just got busy and didn't do it.
Mile 11- Some lady yelled out that she liked my red shoes. It got my mind off the blister.
Mile 12 The dreaded split... This is the moment that has been the hardest for me in all 3 marathons. It is the split where all those running the half marathon turn to go to the finish and you realize you are not even half way through. There is a huge mental battle that takes place with me right there. To make it even worse, the volunteers at this point always say... "You're half way there. Keep going! What made this spot special though was that this was family sighting number 2!!! They must have know I would need them there!
Mile 13.1 Half way point... Time was 1:30:40. I was feeling good, but knew that I had to focus to to get to the finish. I still had a ways to go.
Mile 15 Some lady had a poster that said "Chuck Norris never ran a marathon!" I loved it! If you ever go to a marathon, make a sign. They really do entertain us while we are running.
Mile 16-19 I started to hear a group of feet behind me. At this point in the race it's not normal to hear a group. Runners have usually spread out by this point. I knew that this must be the 3:05 pace group. I originally signed up to run with this group but didn't. Sure enough, it was them. I held my own with them until mile 19ish, but just couldn't hang. It was here that I started to really fight that mental battle... Had I gone out too fast? Could I make it the last 7.2 miles without falling on my face? The worries quickly faded though as I saw my mom and Chuck jumping up and down in the street. Family sighting number 3 was perfectly timed! I finally took off my gloves and toboggan and hurled them their way as they cheered me on.
Mile 20 it was starting to get warm. Temperatures had to be in the 60's and the sun was warming me up pretty good. As I approached the water station, I yelled to to the first volunteer to throw the water in my face. His face lit up with excitement. He seemed more than happy to oblige; He, and every other volunteer in that tunnel of workers. When I emerged from that station I was SOAKED!!!!!! I panicked a bit that the water weighted shirt was gonna slow me down so I immediately pulled it off. I rung it out really good and decided to keep it off for a bit. Most people do not run a marathon shirtless, but I figured it was the best thing to do in the moment.
Mile 22 I heard a familiar sound. It was church praise band set up along the route encouraging runners as the forged ahead. They were singing the song Everlasting God. We have sung it many times at church. I had a moment as I ran by there. At mile 22 you are starting to just be slap worn out and with me, emotions abound. I burst into tears for at least the next half mile. It was a good soul cleansing cry though. No worries.
Mile 23 I got rejuvenated and had a little spurt of energy. I managed to get my shirt back on. I passed a couple of runners that I remember had passed me when the 3:05 pace group went by. I felt pretty good about that and tried to start pushing.
Mile 24 I realized there was not a lot left to push. I wanted to so badly. I tried...but the legs just wouldn't go.
Mile 25-26 I was able to hold a respectable 8:30ish pace as I entered the last stretch. During this time you start to pass other finished racers along the sides. They are proudly wearing their medals and eating bananas and doughnuts. They are walking back to their cars, cheering you on, basking in their finish of the half marathon, and you simply want to smack that doughnut out of their hands. While you appreciate their cheers, you are just ready to be done!
26.1-26.2 I entered the finish corral and made the last turn. The finish line was in sight, and so was family. This was the first of the 3 marathons that I actually saw them as I finished. I ran over to the boundary and high fived my my mom. The clock said 3:10:45. I knew I had to hurry to keep it in the 3:10 time. Somehow... I did, 3:10:53!
As I have at every finish, I found the medal passer outter and told her that I had been looking for her for 26.2 miles. Even though I am sure they heard it a bazillion times, they laughed at me like I was the first one to say it. I quickly found the Krispy Kreme doughnuts and inhaled one, along with 2 pints of chocolate milk, 2 bottles of water, an orange, and a bagel.
We took some photos. Then, just as quickly as we started, it was over and the Waffle House and the All-Star Special was before me as I settled into the euphoric afterglow that follows a wonderfully awesome, painfully grueling 26.2 miles! I can hardly wait til the next one!