Saturday my mom made an early Thanksgiving dinner (thanks, mom!) allowing me to finish my carb load with stuffing and sweet potatoes. After dinner, Alek and I drove to our hotel in Philadelphia and went to sleep around 9 pm. On the drive down I started to feel really anxious. I knew I could finish, but what if the experience was so rough that I'd never want to run again? How sore would I really be afterwards? Would I even be able to run the whole thing?
After some restless sleep on Saturday night, I was up at 4am on Sunday for breakfast. I had a bagel, a banana, some gatorade and coffee. At 6, we headed down to the start area. At 7:20, my corral was off! I was feeling great. Around mile 5, the crowds were thick and random people were calling out "Come on Wendy, you've got this!" It was all so overwhelming, at several points during the race I started to tear up. These people who I didn't know were cheering for ME!
At the halfway mark I was still feeling quite good. I saw that my parents and Rebecca had made it and I paused for a moment for hugs. Shortly after I passed Alek with his "Run ALL the miles" sign. The sign is an instant smile bringer.
After mile 14, I made a restroom stop. The line alone made me lose roughly 5 minutes but these things can't be helped. After the break, I kept going - still feeling good. But I knew the worst was ahead of me. Around the 17th mile I started to feel exhausted but I knew I could push through. I had a banana and after about 20 minutes I regained enough energy to get me through to mile 22.
Around mile 22 my back started to cramp. I'd never experienced back cramps in my long runs and I couldn't run through it. I slowed down, had some water and a gel and after a bit it was ok. I started to run again, but had already been passed by the 5 hour pacing group. I knew that I likely wouldn't finish in less than 5 hours. By mile 24, I was a little teary-eyed at the thought of being unable to finish in less than 5 hours. I told myself that I would never run another marathon. After a few minutes I was able to push on in a run again knowing that less than 2 miles remained. There was one final water station just after the 25th mile. I stopped there for some gatorade so that I would have energy for the final stretch!
The final stretch!
I passed my family and Alek again. I knew I had it. They were at mile 26. Then I made it! I crossed the finish line. Despite needing to do "marathon walk" just like all of the other runners, I decided that this is something I'll try again. After all, I need to run a marathon in less than 5 hours!
Finish line photos!
I ate my way through the rest of Sunday, ending the day with a celebration dinner with my whole family, including my older sister Jess and her family. It was a great finish to a wonderful but challenging day!