Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Marathon Day




It is really hard to try to capture the day into words.


I will say, Richmond is a lovely course, you get to see a good part of the city! It is not flat, rolling hills...667 feet of elevation gain. Some of course is shady in the beginning miles, but mostly you are running in the sun. You run through beautiful neighborhoods that border the river, go over the Lee Bridge which is a very cool view of the city, and finish with a nice downhill, heading to Brown's Island :)


I never expected to look at marathon day as anything less than magical. I woke up to absolute perfect weather, slept fairly well, laid my things out the night before, yet the morning did not go as smooth as I hoped! Sometimes real life isn't magical.
After returning from vacation, late in the evening due to a delayed flight, I had to go to work the next day. I tried each day to catch up on things piled up at my house, but I never really got there. Thursday and Friday after work, I just wanted to focus on eating and rest, so I ignored the mess downstairs, in hindsight I wish I wouldn’t have done that.
I am person that mostly melts down in clutter. That really threw my mood in the morning as I was trying to get ready. It wasn't a good way to start the day!
I should have been feeling happy and I was thinking, “Crap I have to clean this after I run 26 miles”.  I tried to smile. That became the thing to do throughout the day-SMILE if things aren't working for you. Smile until you feel better.
I grabbed all my stuff and contemplated one more time about wearing my leggings or putting on shorts. My leggings are thin so I decided to roll with it.
My nerves were kicking in all morning and I got maybe five bites of my peanut butter and jelly down, I just couldn’t eat.
I left to pick up run buddy and realized I had no bib. I have no idea why I didn’t grab it with my other stuff. It was right there! I went back home and grabbed it.
Run buddy rode downtown with me so her hubby could sleep and meet her later.  We chatted and both felt okay, until I missed a turn when we got close to where we were supposed to park. The GPS rerouting took ten minutes at least, we had extreme sun glare where you can’t see what is in front of you…it was making me crazy. I soooooo wish I had someone who could have dropped me off.  My hubby was working btw, which is why I drove.  Those extra little snafus started adding up time wise.
Finally, after we parked, we walked briskly to the start line and I tried to eat a few bites of protein bar, but it made me feel funky. Basically, I started empty...not ideal! We arrived at the start line and I realized there aren’t enough porta potties. The lines were insanely long. We are used to the half marathon where endless rows of POP (which starts a few blocks over) are available. We stood in line because we both were busting!! The National Anthem happened while we stood in line. Run buddy got very nervous about missing the start and we decided to run until we hit the first line of porta potties which was about mile 3 on the course.

The waves started rolling and off we went. 7:47 a.m.

Off we went with full bladders LOL 😒 That is not the way to start your first marathon UGH!!! We ran and I smiled...we chatted and wished each other luck. We planned to separate after our POP break to do our own thing. I had to wear my spi belt to hold my all my fuel and a second belt to hold my phone and car key. I was comfortable with both on, but I knew it would take me a bit longer than it would take to her to get myself situated after a porta potty stop.
9:41  9:54  10:59  9:47
I came out and saw run buddy quite a bit ahead of me, and I tried to settle in. Up to this point my effort level didn’t feel tremendous, but my legs were feeling sluggish for sure…
I hoped my quick break would feel like a warm up and I would be ready to roll. Spoiler alert...ummmm, no.
10:20  10:56  9:44  10:47
I didn’t start my timer for intervals until I was 48 minutes into the race, and I was okay with that. I had planned to start the intervals during the second or third mile after things thinned out, but after I used the restroom, I felt relaxed and I just wanted to settle into a rhythm.  
I ate a big clump of honey stinger chews during mile 5. I started fueling because I didn’t have much breakfast in me. All the dj’s on the course rocked, each one was very motivating.
10:18 11:05 11:23 11:25
I had 5 packs of honey stingers shoved in one Ziploc bag, which is why I had to wear a spi belt. 600 calories…I told myself that would be fine nutrition wise and there is stuff on the course, so I really felt at peace about not eating much. I did the majority of training long runs empty and usually feel better that way.

It seemed every time I thought I had my mind under control, negative thoughts tried to creep in. Last week was a freaking cluster and I am sensitive. I try to avoid news because I absorb that crap and it is not good for my spirit. I had several miles I had to battle thinking too much. Smile Karen, smile…
11:04  (half way) 11:12  10:59  11:46
My legs didn't really hurt or feel tight, just heavy. This really floored me because I had pushed through so many runs on completely burnt out legs, I didn't expect this to be an issue. Even exhausted, I had been holding recovery paces about 10:40 during my last few speedwork runs. Isn’t taper supposed to make you feel fabulous?!
I of course have spent hours second guessing myself and the decisions I made, but when I felt some fatigue right after the half way point, I made the decision to just run whatever pace felt comfortable.  I shoved a lot more Honey Stinger chews down and believed they would renew my energy.
I felt a strong twinge of pain in my right foot around the half way point. It subsided, and it was another three miles or so before I felt it again.

Wet wash clothes at mile 14...oh my, I loved my little wet wash cloth so much I carried it until mile 19 LOL Look at my hands you can see my wash cloth and ziploc. I was attached to that little wash rag, I wish I still had it.

11:50   11:56 11:23 12:17 (mile 20)
I never doubted I would finish, not even for a minute, but I was irritated my body felt so heavy. The weather was perfect; I do not typically feel bad in cooler temps. I was blessed with exactly what I prayed for, but I guess I should have prayed for my legs. I had some strong pains intermittently in my foot, but I expected that! Walking slow made them subside pretty quickly.
I have not posted much about this, but I lost 6 lbs. during this training cycle, I finally hit right under my goal weight a week before the race. I should have felt I had wings! I feel like I did everything I could to set myself up for the best race possible.

I saw Robyn standing on a corner about mile 18. It took me a minute to process that I was looking at her. She should have been running, but had been feeling bad the day before, and woke with a fever that morning. After 24 weeks of training she could not run. It made me sad. I enjoyed seeing her, and appreciated she hung out to see me pass, but it was really piercing to the heart. I told her I was struggling…
...and kept trotting along.
At mile 20 I said the word progress to myself over and over - I had lost my pace goal but it was okay. SMILE!  I smiled and kept telling myself how pretty the colors on the trees looked - how fortunate I was having less pain in my foot than when I did my 20 mile training run - how amazing the non-humid air was, I kept the flow happy in my head. Around mile 20, I saw an obnoxious, but sort of funny group, all dressed up, drinking coffee, with a sign with a name on it and they were shouting in unison “You love to run!!” “ You post about it all the time” "Remember, you (insert bad word) love running" ...it was kind of comical, but crap they were loud.
11:41  11:58   12:15 11:47
At mile 21ish or 22 (I wish I knew for sure)  there was a sweet angel in the neighborhood who had set up folding tables - she was out there cutting and peeling bananas setting huge amounts of them out. I grabbed a piece and gobbled it up - it instantly made me feel better. I actually turned around, ran back and grabbed two more pieces apologizing for my gluttony and took off. She was so gracious. She kept encouraging people to take as much as they needed.  
I felt amazing after I ate the banana pieces.  I didn't get faster but a bit of the heaviness lifted.
Unfortunately, a short time later my foot started throbbing… I fixed the image of crossing the finish line in my mind. I had this moment where I realized no one would be there… passing the mile 24 sign, I started to cry. I just felt really alone. Hahahahaha, I am on a course with literally thousands of runners, but I felt lonely. I had watched coaches from the training team hop in and run miles with people - I saw friends hop in and run with people on the course, chat with them and distract them, saw snacks, drinks, towels, etc… get passed to runners. The stabbing sensations in my foot were not helping my frame of mind. Tears take a lot energy you know, and I really had to shut this line of thinking down. Smile. Yep, I smiled at people as I passed them and a few called my name since it was on my bib and I  got the thoughts flowing happy again.

I was sooooooo thankful for the sweet lady who chose to spend her morning cutting bananas for runners. I was also irritated to think a few bananas early on could have completely changed my whole day.  Hahahaha, why does my brain do this!?

11:32  10:56 and the last little sprint a 7:38 pace…
As I could see the finish line I felt super excited. I could not hold back tears when they handed my medal to me, which I kissed :)
I knew I was ugly smile crying but what are going to do?!
I had a few photographers grab me - I was in a fog. I smiled when they said smile and took a few pics, then wandered to find bananas.

Run buddy was texting me trying to find me - and luckily Mary an Instagram bud has a good eye and spotted me. I was thrilled to say hi and meet. Mary rocked her race.


Run buddy and her friend Jen found me. We drank a beer and I ate a few bites of pizza. I didn’t hang out long, I wanted to shower!


I walked the half mile to my car hoping it would loosen my legs ROTFL  it didn't …
And when I sat in my car, a wave of sadness swiftly overwhelmed me. 24 weeks – I trained in miserable summer conditions - I had pushed out run after run on tired legs- added in some speed work when the temps allowed - ran two halfs in training - the second half on tired legs and I finished right where I wanted. It really blindsided me to struggle with heavy legs. It blindsided me that I just didn’t feel well enough to meet my goals. I really believed I would hit my goal. I hoped to come in under 4:45:00. I cried in the car. I cried in the shower. My less than ideal morning weighed heavily on me. I just wanted the perfect ending, but honestly it was just a tough day. I had to work to keep my frame of mind right for half the race; I never expected that…
After I showered and ate lunch, I tried hard to dwell on moment I crossed that finish line! That glorious moment I was so proud and fix that image in my mind. I’ve tried to shake off the what ifs and enjoy what happened.
I had to fight a little harder to get to the finish than I expected, but I never gave up, and while I wasn't feeling all that magical...

I still completed what I set out to do.





I made fifty fabulous!
While every aspect of the day may not have been magical, I had a magical ending. I am a marathoner.



Tell me anything! Do you relate to feeling emotional during a race? Relate to not being able to eat when nervous?
Ever run Richmond?

54 comments:

  1. You ARE Fabulous!!!
    I SMILED the whole post through.
    I love you had no doubts you weren't going to finish. That's the attitude.
    I think people that take the time & their own resources to help runners - they are the BEST!! Like, she has no idea what that banana did to pep you up & help you to the end. So cool.
    Look at you hitting goal weight too.... you are just on a roll of amazing goals met!!!

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    1. Thank you so much :)
      I really did appreciate the bananas so much, that lady has no idea how much of a boost it was.
      i am not sure I can hang on to this weight loss, I have been here before. It takes a very low calorie count, but I wanted to feel good race day :)

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  2. I can attest that running a marathoner is as much an emotional experience as a physical one. I completely understand the lonely. I was teary in Chicago with its 1.2 million spectators for the same reason...nobody was at the finish line (my sister was bumped from her flight). After falling, I just wanted a hug. But look, all of that training got you across the finish line! You should be very proud. Very proud indeed!

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    1. Oh I can imagine...I would have been a mess if I fell like that and had no one there. It is so sad your sister never made it to Chicago.
      Thank you Holly :) I was very proud to finally get this done.

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  3. Yes, you smiled! The marathon is really a beast and it's much more mental than people realize. I find that keeping my head about me and staying positive is the main focus of the day. You did fabulous! First marathons are all about learning and finishing. I think you excelled at both!!! I have issues eating when I'm nervous too. This used to be a big problem for me on marathon mornings, but I've found an option that works for me. I have also been emotional during races. When you put so much hard work into something for so long, it's only natural! Congrats! I am so happy for you!

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    1. It is such a beast. You are so right, you learn a lot finishing one. Not being able to eat is a challenge, but I learned bananas!!!!I really don't know if there will be a next time with my foot the way it is, but bananas will be involved for sure lol
      Thank you so much it feels good to finally get this done :)

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  4. Congrats again! I knew you would finish and am so happy for you. You finally get to cross this one off the bucket list! I hope you can now feel some sense of closure in your running going forward, I know this one has always gnawed at you.

    6 minutes off your goal in a FIRST marathon is really not that bad. Even 10 minutes off a goal wouldn't even be that bad. I can understand wanting to hit a certain time because you know you're capable and your fitness is there, but when you're tackling a super long distance for the first time, it's just impossible to know what to expect. A lot can happen over the course of 26.2 miles, and even marathon veterans struggle with unexpected setbacks and miss time goals despite having the fitness to hit them. There's so much more that goes into finish time besides "am I fast enough". I know a lot of people who train their butts off and can't break 5 hours, but you did it in your first marathon on an "off" day. I hope as time goes by you are less upset about missing a time goal. Hey, at least you HAVE a marathon finish time, which is more than 99% of the population can say!

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    1. Thank you Hanna!!!! I am so relieved to get this done for sure ;)
      I know in the big picture I am not that far off, I was surprised it hit me so hard!! I think part of me feels since there may not be a next time, I just wanted that story book day, but hey I hung in there! I am proud of that :)
      I am in the club :) Thanks again!

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  5. You did it!!! I am so proud of you, Karen. Considering all you went through, you were only 6 minutes off your goal! That's freaking awesome! How did run buddy do? I bet Kenny was so proud of you! :)

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    1. Thank you Megan :) It was a beast of day but I hung in there. I tell myself the minutes shouldn't matter...I hope soon that fades.
      Run buddy, Kasey, rocked her race too, 4:33 and change :)
      Kaneny is probably glad to not have to hear about it anymore i bet lol

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    2. You did awesome. :) Marathons ARE a beast! Expect nothing less than that!

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  6. I could see from these photos that you lost weight. I have to say, I wonder if that was actually a good thing. You know I can relate to wanting to be at the right weight, that running lighter feels better, but marathoning (yes, I made it a verb, because it freaking is!), is hard and it takes fuel.

    Okay, lecture over.

    You DID it Karen. I'm sorry it wasn't exactly as you pictured it in your mind's eye (they rarely are, you know), but you still freaking did it. You did something only 1% of people do. Something I've never done.

    I'm also sorry your husband couldn't be there. I'm sure that would have helped. Here's hoping someday you run another, it goes exactly the way you want it, and you are not alone (although you weren't).

    It takes a special kind of grit to do what you did. And you should absolutely celebrate that.

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    1. Thank you Judy :) It seemed like a lot of people were doing it, do you really think it still only 1% lol I don't know but i am happy it is done.
      I was really sad, and I would have felt bad for my hubby to be stuck in the crowd and just standing around but I really was sad. In the end though I did it for me :)
      I do not feel like I lost too much weight, in the big picture I am still over what my Doctor had originally targeted for me, but I have not been careful the past few weeks so I am not the weight loss will last sadly. I have to cut so low to make it happen, I usually can't live like that. The crazy thing is I tried to get bananas Friday night and the ones at the grocery store were so green,I did not buy any :( I really wanted a few to eat race morning.

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  7. So amazing. I smiled during this whole post. I would of been just as emotional, this was a huge accomplishment.

    Btw I think your marathon time is faster than mine, just saying lol

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    1. Thank you Richard :) Smile was the theme of the day! ...even when you are crying lol

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  8. Loved your recap ! It is such a huge accomplishment ! How many people can say they ran a marathon ? So who cares if you didn't hit your goal. You did it, you pushed through, you trained through the summer in God awful conditions. Congratulate yourself. Pat yourself on your back. You made it !

    I started crying at mile 20 on my first marathon.... second marathon, no crying what so ever. Go figure.

    So happy for you, despite not hitting your time, it sounds like a great race. xoxo

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    1. Thank you Karen!!
      Racing that long is an emotional experience...maybe no tears the second time around was a good sign, you could anticipate what it would be like. I am not sure i will have a next time, but I do feel accomplished now :)

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  9. Congrats! That is a fantastic time and you were SO CLOSE to your goal - I really hope the sadness has gone away and you're feeling happy. And that your feet feel good, too! Be proud!!!! You had the craziest year with your feet and it's amazing you could do this!!!

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    1. Thank you Kim ;)
      I know - I knew my feet may be a factor I couldn't control but in the end they didn't hold me back too much. They really hurt after...UGH, but I feel better now.
      It was just lack of power in my legs really. But you are right i was close :) and i do feel happy!

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  10. Congratulations MARATHONER! I thought of you all morning and KNEW you'd come through just fine. I can so relate to the brain fog and infinite gratitude you felt in the second half. Marathons are enormous, scary beasts. I can't even imagine setting a goal other than manage what the day gives you and finish the dang thing and YOU DID THAT! Mad props my friend!

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    1. Thank you SO much Marcia :) It was a beast of a run lol Funny how 6 more miles makes it feel so much more beastly than training lol

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  11. You did it! And rocked your finish goal! If you spread those 6 minutes out over 26.2 miles, you will realize that 6 minutes is nothing. You should feel so proud of yourself! Congrats and welcome to the marathoner club!

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    1. Thank you Wendy :) That is exactly the reason is bothers me- 6 or 7 minutes isn't much! I wish I could have dug deeper, but in the end it is not that much.
      I appreciate it :)

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  12. OMG. You are way too hard on yourself. You ran 26 freaking miles!!!!!!!! You finished under 5 hours!!!!!!!!!!!!!! For your first full. That is so amazing!!!!!!!!!!!

    Your pace is faster than most of my half marathons. If I ran a full, I think my goal time would be 5 /2 hours. Actually I think it would be not to die or have my feet fall off and quit.

    so congrats. You are a marathoner. Savor it!

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    1. Thank you so much :) I was hard on myself, but I really thought it was attainable goal..live and learn lol
      I think you are stronger than you think! I am sure you could do it. and no, I will probably never see anything half under 2:10 again...but I will probably try lol

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  13. Way to go, Karen! Super proud of you my friend. Nothing short of an amazing accomplishment so don't forget that and don't beat yourself up!

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    1. I was surprised I felt so bad! That is passing...
      Thank you so much :)

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  14. Many Congratulations! A marathon is a beast and it demands hard work and respect, and you put in all the work and accomplished it!

    I'm sorry that you didn't meet your goal, but also you were not far from it and that should mean a lot! Would it help if I tell you that I missed my "goal" by 20 minutes? And Roger missed his goal by 1 hour.

    Also, I was with you in spirit! I kept checking instagram and snapchat for an update, because I knew you were rocking the race. virtual hugs for you!!

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    1. Awww, thank you Ana :) I took you with me during the race! I did think about all the comments and support and it helped me a lot.
      It is a beast! and I can see how easy it would be to off timewise from a goal. I think that is really common and I did try to prepare mentally for the unknown... but deep down I just knew what I wanted in my heart.
      I have the utmost respect for all finishers, no matter a time, it is not an easy task for sure!

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  15. Congratulations on finishing!!! Even though you didn't meet your goal, you still got to the finish line in one piece - which is an ENORMOUS accomplishment. There's a reason everyone gets the same finisher medal! And I think your time was terrific - to run sub-5 on your first try is incredible! (When I ran my one and only marathon, I wanted to finish sub-5 but I ended up running a 5:27! So I was 27 minutes off!) No matter what, I am so proud of you for persevering despite all of your challenges and things that life has thrown at you. You are amazing and super inspirational!

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    1. Thank you so much Emily :)
      It is a beast of a distance! I can see how anything could happen when running that long. I am right there with you -I think to finish in one piece is incredible :) I have the utmost respect for all finishers! It is HUGE!

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  16. A marathon is just a ball of emotions, isn't it?? Sounds like you pushed through a tough race. You did it!! Congrats again on your accomplishment. And dang, you look so darn cute too. How did you manage that? I cringe at all of my race photos!

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    1. Soooo emotional LOL Thank you :)
      Too funny, I have plenty of pics I look rough in! Maybe I should post those one day....really not flattering pics, trust me lol I was thankful to find a few that hid my double chin.

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  17. Oh my goodness, Karen. I totally and completely empathize. To work so hard for so long, to feel like you did everything you possibly could to ensure a good race, and to know in your heart you can hit your goal...and then it not happen...that's a very difficult thing. But as I was reading your posts, your splits didn't seem in line with how bad you said you were feeling. You were still maintaining a pretty consistent pace all through the race! And then I got to the end and saw you were only 6 minutes slower than your goal time?! Um, I would call that a success!!!! You were not that far off at all! And while you had to deal with unexpectedly tired legs, you still held a decent pace and pushed on. I think you were hugely successful and deserve a big congratulations! You did great!

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    1. Thank you Jennifer :)
      I know it could have been a lot worse, but it seemed so strange, I had been steadily improving as the humidity let up and really thought I could carry each mile under a 10:50 pace or so. I was back to summer running paces, I just couldn't generate any power.
      I am not really sure if I will ever get another shot at this distance so I really wanted this to be a best case scenario day and when the weather was so nice I thought I had it. Maybe if I could ate....
      Anyway, Thank you so much! And a big congratulations to you!! We still did it no matter what :)

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  18. Oh, Karen! I just want to give you a big ole hug!! Sorry to hear marathon day wasn't as magical as you'd hoped, but you're a marathoner now, and no one can ever take that away from you. You did great out there and ran a great race. You should be very proud, and I know you are.

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    1. Thank you Clarinda!
      I know so much can go wrong when running that far! I think i just wanted it to be perfect since i am really sure if i will ever do this again. I am proud and so gald to finally have the marathon distance complete!

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  19. I just love when the neighborhood people are out there handing out food, candy, water, tissues...it's so appreciated! I also get emotional at certain points during a long race...such a wave of emotions at the finish!

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    1. That was the biggest boost for me! That lady really turned things around for me :)

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  20. Congratulations! Finishing a marathon is an accomplishment no matter how exactly it goes!

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    1. Thank you so much :) Deep down I know it is a great accomplishment, but I wanted to hit that goal so bad...it really got me!

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  21. I've cried at least once, if not more during every marathon I've run. And it does take tons of energy, and I just can't help it. Somewhere usually after mile 20 my mind snaps. My last marathon in 2015 someone was passing out pretzels rods, and it was so hot that day, so I took two and shoveled them in my mouth. And my mouth was so dry, but the salt was wonderful.

    CONGRATS ON BEING A MARATHONER!

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    1. I guess being that tired does make you emotional! I could have cried more, trust me lol It is amazing how good food tastes when you are running on fumes.

      Thank you so much!!

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  22. KAREN! I have been waiting a couple of days to read this because I was exhausted all week and wanted to give your recap proper attention. I knew it would be a great story filled with excitement, trials and then triumph based on what you said on Snapchat. I am really proud of you for setting your mind on the goal of running a marathon and getting it done! You are a great example for the people around you to work hard and be determined. You are also an inspiration to all of us too!

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    1. Thank you Kristina :)
      I don't feel inspirational, but I do want to encourage folks to shoot high to meet their goals. It feels so good to get this done...even if it didn't turn out as perfect as I wanted, I really am happy I can finally say I am marathoner ;)

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  23. Oh my gosh you did great! I think more marathons are not perfect - that's part of their charm. :-) You certainly did make 50 fabulous -- and you are fabulous yourself.

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    1. Thank you so much Coco! I had my challenges for sure but it is done :)

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  24. I AM SO FREAKING HAPPY FOR YOU!!!!! Not only did you get this marathon done, but you totally kicked ass on your time! I know you didn't meet your goal, but your paces are what I'm hoping for the next time I manage to run a full, so I'm super stoked for you. Despite heavy legs (for no apparent reason) you really held on and run a great race!!!!

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    1. Thank you Ali!! These dang legs just weren't quite recovered ...or maybe I have something brewing with an injury, or because I couldn't eat...who knows, but I did the best I could. I totally think you can hit the paces I did!! I am not sure if I will take another crack at this distance or not, but I am okay with the outcome :) It is accomplished lol

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  25. Great job with your marathon! I am so happy for you, I know how much you wanted this and how hard you worked for it. Yay for the banana lady. I still remember a girl towards the end of my first marathon handing out popsicles and it was the best thing ever. I was so hot, cramping and wondering if I was going to make it and that revived me in the best way.

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    1. Thank you Christy! It feels so good to have this mission accomplished!
      It is amazing how good something can taste when you are working that hard LOL

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  26. I've been meaning to make my way over here to read your recap. I'm so glad I finally did. Congratulations, you're a marathoner! Marathons are an entirely different beast and so much can happen over the course of those 26.2 miles. I know it's disappointing to not reach your initial goal. I went through the same emotions following my race at St.Jude last year. If only I did this, if only I could have done that earlier in the race, if only, if only, if only. You gave it your best on that given day and that's all you can do. I think you had an amazing finish! No doubt you made fifty fabulous!

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    1. Thank you so much Debra :) I do feel fabulous to get this done! I am still trying to recover and it is tough...maybe my age doesn't help lol it is going very slow.
      It is so easy to second guess later isn't it!? I know i shouldn't...but i can't help my self.

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