Where to begin…
For the past 30 weeks, I have been preparing for this one very moment.
It was time. Time to pack my things – decide what to take, what shoes to wear, my RACE DAY OUTFIT. Time to print my boarding pass. This was really happening!
I got on my flight from Dallas to Las Vegas, feeling all sorts of feels. Wondering and hoping I packed matching shoes and my favorite socks. I wasn’t nervous yet and kept wondering if I would be.
We arrived in Las Vegas and go straight to the hotel, Treasure Island. It was 12am Saturday morning by the time we landed in Vegas so it was time to rest up. I slept like a baby and woke up excited to go for a short run and to the expo!
I geared up and went for a short 3-miler just outside the hotel. It was amazing. There were people everywhere and so many things to look at. Without realizing it at the time, I didn’t even turn my music on. I was just soaking up the sounds and the sights. My run felt good. I ended with a few strides and headed back to the hotel to get ready for the expo!
THE EXPO! It was amazing! It blew me away. Not only was this my first marathon, it was my first HUGE race (47,000+ runners). So, this wasn’t just a packet pickup at the local run store, this was an event! Of course, you walk in and want to buy everything. I got away with just a T-shirt for my dad and a long sleeve for myself, and lots of freebies. EVERYTHING and EVERYONE was there, from Garmin to SPIBelt to Altra running… and everything in between. We spent all day there. I was on my feet a bit more than I would’ve liked, but it happened.
We then walked to an Italian place nearby called Carmines and ordered a pound of spaghetti, broccoli, chicken, and $30 worth of meatballs. Perfection.
That night I slept GREAT. AGAIN! I remembered a lot of people who mentioned not sleeping well because of nerves… I did not have this problem! I slept a full 10 hours that night, woke up and took TWO naps before the race (it was a nighttime run). I did wake up every once in a while and chug water.
Anyway, the start time was 4:30pm, so we got dressed and ready to take the monorail down to the start line by 2pm. I still wasn’t nervous. I was mostly a little worried because I WASN’T nervous. I thought maybe I should be… I think I honestly just trusted my training and wasn’t worried about it! I knew I could do it.
So, there we were – loading off of the monorail to walk to wards the start line. I see the crowd of runners and get really excited. We make our way to Snoop Dogg (the headliner!) and I was just amazed. The crowd was unbelievable. This was 1000x bigger than any race I have ever done! Just breathtaking.
For some reason, my bib said I was in Corral 1 (at the very top of the Start line) and that my predicted time was 3:00. I made my way up to corral 1, and decided to stop at corral 4, where I saw my ACTUAL pace group (a little over 4 hr pace group). I thought if I started with the speed demons I’d probably get excited, start too fast and burn out. I’m glad I made that decision.
Then there was the countdown… 3… 2… 1…! We were off! My legs felt great! The crowd thinned out fairly quickly (we weren’t shoulder to shoulder), which was great.
About not even a half mile in, BAM! The lady next to me face plants! She was weaving in and out of people and there was gravel off the road. Poor thing. Someone immediately helped her, which I was thankful for. I definitely would have helped, but I had worked so hard for this… it honestly would’ve been a bummer to have to stop (sorry if that makes me a jerk). It did stir me up, though. The adrenaline was already flowing and that really startled me. I collected myself and kept going. Hoping I didn’t face plant.
The first few miles were simply amazing. I just couldn’t even look at everything! There was so much going on – lights, music, crowds, cheering… it was a party! The first 10 miles flew by. About half way in (I remember it was almost exactly two hours in), my phone died. This was quite sad as that was my music source. I wasn’t even taking photos with it (I used the GoPro) and I had it on airplane mode, so I don’t know why it happened but it just plain sucked. I had worked on that playlist for the past, well, 30 weeks! I had my songs I wanted to listen to at the finish! Oh well, I decided it would be nice to just soak in the ambient sounds. I survived.
At about mile 18 I felt some pain. A lot of pain. For some reason the top of my right foot had a bruise on top of it prior to running and it was just in agony every step. I kept wondering if there was anything at all I could do to alleviate the pain. I just kept reminding myself that it was just a bruise. Even so, I was surprised at how much it affected my running. I was running weird to try to alleviate the pain. It went away for a few miles, then came back. It was just something I dealt with.
Miles 20-24 seemed like eternity. I’m not going to sugar-coat it. I was in PAIN. My hips hurt, by feet hurt, the top of my one foot hurt. I thought I was going to have a bathroom accident at LEAST 5 times. My stomach was not happy. I don’t even think it was something I ate or the gels (which I was already used to), it was just the physical exertion. I held my stomach at one point. Luckily, it would just come and go. I was fine the majority of the time and at the finish.
Speaking of finish, the last two miles were amazing. PAINFUL, yet unforgettable. I KNEW I was going to make it at this point. With two miles to go… it was for sure, 100% happening. Whether I had to crawl or roll myself there, it was happening. The 25th mile seemed like forever, but that last mile.2 flew by. I thought I had absolutely nothing left to give, yet I pulled it out of me and went for it. I sped up to what I felt and thought was a sprint (though I’m sure it was far from it), and didn’t stop until I crossed that line.
There is no way to express in words that feeling. Crossing the finish line… I was breathless – not from the running – but from the sudden emotion. I think I was crying, but no tears were coming out because I didn’t have the energy to produce them. I was in (dry) tears of joy, pain, amazement, and disbelief. It happened. I ran a marathon.
I slowly made my way to collect my medal and my (super sweet) marathoner’s jacket. My two friends who ran the Half were there to give me hugs. (They also did amazing on their runs!) I was thankful they were there. It was amazing to see a familiar face as an official marathoner and after being in such pain for the past hour. I had just done something only 1% of people do. I just learned a lot about myself. I questioned all of my life choices (like wanting to run a marathon), and I learned that what you CAN do is simply what you are WILLING to do. I can, and will, accomplish my goals. I can do anything.
Huge, huge, HUGE thank you to my coach, Andrew Simmons, for providing me with the confidence I had during this amazing race weekend… and for YOU. You all have been SO, so encouraging and supportive. It just blows me away and I genuinely cannot thank you enough. Like I’ve said and always will say, runners are the best! Runners encourage, support, and motivate like no other.
I can’t wait to go for my NEXT goal with you guys and share that experience with you!
And if you’re wondering, YES I WILL definitely be doing another marathon in the future!
This is just the beginning!