I usually down-play my accomplishments. This morning, though, I will freely admit I did an awesome thing: I ran the Eugene Marathon. This was my first full marathon. And it was amazing, and exhausting, and painful. I’m lucky, though, because I had some fantastic people supporting me.
My parents both came, my aunt and cousin and her kids, and one of my absolute best friends, Emily, came. My family was waiting for me at about the final quarter-mile. I could hear them before I could see them (we’re a loud bunch). As soon as I caught sight of them, my energy swelled, and I kicked into overdrive. I came down Finisher’s Alley, onto Hayward Field, and across the finish line cooking about as hot as I could go. It felt great.
Emily, though, turned out some awesome support. She was waiting at about mile 18 with this sign:
So awesome. My bib said Jedi on it, so this was quite appropriate. She wasn’t done, though. Around mile 23, when things were really feeling awful, she was at the edge of the path with this sign:
Honestly, I read the sign and didn’t immediately see my name, then when I saw my name I looked up and finally saw it was Emily. My heart swelled. The sign didn’t really sink in until after I’d passed. And I cried for a couple seconds. I was exhausted. Every part of me hurt. And Emily reminded me that she believed I had the heart to carry through. She’s amazing.
After I crossed the finish line, I was corralled into the Tracktown Festival. It’s a large area with great things to drink and eat (chocolate milk and pancakes!). They have an ice station and a stretching station and free massages. That’s where I rallied with the people that came to support me. There were hugs and pictures and it just felt incredible. From there, we went to some of my favorite places in Eugene to celebrate–Off the Waffle, Voodoo Donuts, and Falling Sky.
My official time was 4:07:41, which was slower than I wanted. It’s still a great time for a first marathon, really. I learned a lot, and I think that was the point. I knew going in that I hadn’t been training well enough. I just wasn’t doing longer distances often enough. Next time, I’ll train better. I also stopped ingesting calories and nutrients after about mile 8. Then, around mile 18 my energy started to bottom out. “Duh,” I thought, and immediately grabbed one of the Clif Gel packs I had been handed miles back. Next time I’ll make sure to continue to replenish my energy throughout the race. I now know what it feels like to run 26 miles. I also know what it feels like to run a half-marathon at 8:30 minute miles and how it feels to just slow way down after mile 17. This is all valuable.
I will definitely be doing another marathon (maybe Big Sur, Holly?). And I still plan to do ultras at some point. Because the most important thing I learned today is I can do it.