Yesterday I ran 26.2 miles. It’s hard to believe until I try to go up or down the stairs with zero flexibility from my thighs and calves. Aside from that and one angry blister, yesterday was honestly incredible! Yes, I enjoyed my marathon experience!
I did everything I could to make this marathon adventure positive. I didn’t let training consume my life. I listened to my body. I stopped to smell the roses. This course allowed me to use all of those elements to make the most of my 26.2 miles.
The alarm went off at 5:30, but I was awake and nervous long before. Once I entered my corral, my nerves were gone. I was excited but in complete trust of what the day would bring. I met up with another runner from school and we distracted each other until the start. Since we were a few corrals back, it took between 7-8 minutes to reach the actual start of the race. The race starts the wheelchair participants and elite athletes well before the rest of us. The scenery was St. Louis perfect. The arch was directly in front of us and the sun was rising as we began.
The first five miles took us downtown and through the brewery. It was a little tough to keep pace with 15,000 runners, but I loved it. This out and back loop allowed us to see the top marathoners run by us on the other side of the road.
After mile five, the “holy hill” arrived. I laughed out loud at the priest who was at the bottom throwing holy water on runners and blessing us before we entered. These hills were gradual for two miles, but they went by fairly fast with fresh legs and huge crowds.
Once we got to mile 10, the marathoners and half marathoners separated. 3,000 people out of the 15,000 were running the full marathon, so it got more lonely as the race divided. This is also the time when my right calve started to get too tight. I feared the result if I ignored it, so I slowed my pace while we ran the interstate to Forest Park. A few more hills continued to put pressure on my calve and I was thankful for every downhill. I reached the half marathon mark right at two hours. I had feared starting the marathon too fast, so this was perfect.
I took this photo during the marathon around mile 25. This is the incredible view I signed up for months ago. #GoSTLmarathon
The next half of the race required me to make a decision. With a tight calve I knew I either needed to listen to my body and slow up on the hills or risk not finishing and plow through the pain. I listened to my body. I started taking Gatorade at every stop and even walked a few steep hills. I honestly can’t believe how many steep hills were on this course! When people told me it was a hilly course, I think I ignored them. Ignorance is bliss, right? Miles 22 and 24 included the steepest hills. It was cruel. However, I took an approach to just run the mile I was in and enjoy it. I even took some photos at mile 25 as I got to the top of one hill and could see the arch and finish in the distance. This was my way of stopping to smell the roses.
I prayed a lot during the 26.2 miles and it was never prayers to get me through. They were always prayers of thanks. I was so thankful to be running that when a girl passed me with a t-shirt that read “Melanoma Research” on the back, I smiled. There is no question in my mind God sent her to me at mile 24. I feel so blessed I had the ability to complete something 0.5% of the U.S. population has done. The marathon in 2011 was an accomplishment I won’t forget, but yesterday’s marathon post surgery was a blessing I’ll carry with me forever.
Thank you for your prayers!