On April 26th I toed the start line of my first full marathon. I can only imagine that at some point on this blog I mentioned being completely uninterested in EVER running a full marathon (come to find out - EVERYONE says that it seems). To quote one of my favorite movies (Varsity Blues...don't judge), "things change, Mox." Ok, let's go back....you (H) may be wondering how I came to the decision to tackle 26.2 miles...
In May of 2013, after a ton of training, I FINALLY ran a sub-2 hour half marathon. This has been a goal of mine since my first half marathon in 2011. Once I ran a 1:59:xx and felt GOOD afterward - I decided it was time to step it up a notch and run a full marathon. Many of my running friends had run their own marathons or had plans to soon...so it was my turn, I guess. On national running day last year - I signed up for the Nashville Country Music Marathon. I was equally terrified and excited. Unfortunately, I had tuck away all of those emotions because the race wasn't for another 10 months. I had lots of time to feel all of the feelings.
Fast forward to the end of December when training (finally) started. The only bumps I encountered in training was the weather. We had one hell of a winter. Lots of snow. Lots of ice. And lots of cold ass temperatures. It wasn't ideal, for sure, but I suppose it could have been worse. Thankfully, I had a training partner (Jenny) so I didn't have to log all the long miles in snow, ice, wind, and freezing temps by myself. Aside from some really trying conditions as far as the weather goes - our training went really well. I can't even describe how much I enjoyed the training. I thought I wasn't one for structure, but training for the sub-2 half last may and then the full over the winter made me think otherwise...errrrm because (spoiler alert) following a true training plan actually WORKS.
So after 18 weeks of training it was time to rock it out. I flew to Nashville on Friday and met up with some of my favorite ladies in the world. Many of my friends were running the half...and for the majority of them - it was their first. We were all a big ball of nerves. A few of us hit up the expo together that afternoon...which was a total mad house so we didn't spend a ton of time there. Friday night we kept it low key and just brought in pizza to the hotel. Pizza is typically my dinner the night before a race so this worked out well.
After food, laughs, and pictures it was time for me to find my way to my Jenny's room so we could discuss our plans for the morning. You know you're in crazy marathon mode when you get a call from said training partner and she says. "when you stop by my room I'm probably going to have you write inspirational things on my legs and arms." Uhhhh, WUT? Hahaha. I talked her out of writing too much on herself with sharpie mostly because I thought it would rub off by morning. We both wrote a couple of things on our hands and then I wrote one of her favorite quotes on her forearm. My hand said "work bitch" and something else on the insides of a couple of fingers. I can't remember what it said so obviously it didn't help much. Ha. After we planned out where we would meet, fine tuned our race day outfits, discussed fueling, and wrote on ourselves I made my way to my hotel room to lay out my race day stuff and go to bed.
Sidenote: no one tells you that when you are about to run a marathon that there's a good chance that you're going to get all kinds of love and support from friends and family. Leading up to Nashville I got cards in the mail, tank tops from friends, other gifts from friends, tons of text messages, lots of phone calls, and encouraging facebook posts. It was seriously awesome and I was completely blown away by it all.
Back to the race recap:
Saturday morning my alarm went off at 4:30 which is outrageous, but then I remembered that I run at 5:30 a couple of days a week so it wasn't that early. Surprisingly I slept pretty well the night before except for a trip to the bathroom around 2 or 3 in the morning. My roommates weren't running the race so I had all of my race day gear in the bathroom so I could shut the door and not bother them. Thankfully, I've done many races at this point so getting ready for a race is a breeze for me. I definitely have a set routine so that makes it easy on me. After getting ready I met up with some friends in their room so we could head down to the shuttle bus that would take us to the start. Our original plan was to catch the 5:45 bus (or somewhere around that time), but at the last minute they decided to take a later shuttle of 6:15ish. I didn't think much of this and just used the extra time to foam roll, eat, and hydrate.
Another sidenote: one of my good friends, Katie, took a moment in the hotel room to pray for/with me which made me cry like a big dork. Sharing that moment with her was one of my favorites of the day...she'll make another "appearance" later for another super special moment of the marathon. And a sidenote to that sidenote: Katie ran her first half marathon that day and totally rocked it. Talk about a proud moment for me to hear about that.
Ok, so, the plan was to hit the 6:15 shuttle. We get down to the line and it's SUPER long. Thankfully it moved pretty quickly so it didn't take too long to get on the shuttle. We met a woman in front of us in line who is actually from St. Louis. She had run a couple of marathons prior to Nasvhille so it was night to get some words of wisdom from her. We get on the shuttle where we continue to eat and hydrate. Oddly enough, my nerves were never out of control like that typically are for races. I have a severe case of race-brain all.the.time...except for this time. I was very calm and level headed. It was a nice change of pace. Things got a little nerve-wracking when traffic getting to the race was super crazy so we were constantly checking the time to see if we were even going to make it on time. I kept reminding myself that this is a wave start and my particular corral wouldn't start for a good 30 minutes after the first wave. That didn't completely ease my mind, but it helped. My biggest concern at that point was finding Jenny (my training partner). When we finally made it to the drop-off point it was about 10 minutes before the race started. Thankfully I heard from Jenny who was already in our corral and ended up being at a really easy place for me to jump in with her.