According to my cousin, that picture was taken around mile 21. Not sure how I managed to continue to smile that late in the race...but it happened. Oh yea...and I did carry those gloves the entire race because it seems that they weren't too cumbersome in my hands.
According to the media and many other racers, the weather was near "perfect". It actually felt pretty awesome at about 45 degrees, but I think the colder temps may have attributed to some later problems.
My relatives arrived Friday from Kansas City and joined me at the start line along with my parents, brother and beloved bf Andy. They all wore bright NF Tshirts so they were super easy to spot. They were also nice to be able to run into other NF Endurance team members and spectators. We actually met a few team members while standing around in the Metrodome before the race--what a great bunch of people!
The start of this race was a little different than most races I've been to. I lined up behind the 4:45 thinking that would be 5 minutes faster than last year's race and a good spot to start. I stood there chatting with my family when all of a sudden it appeared the crowd was moving but I had not heard a gun or horn or anything. I thought that the race surely had started but shortly after we started moving, I heard claps and cheers from people ahead of us to indicate the start of the race. I was off and feeling pretty good...
Or maybe too good? I started out pretty fast. I was running a 9:17 or so min/mile and I knew it seemed to be too fast. I thought I was still behind the 4:45 pacer so I trusted the pace I was at. It turns out that I had somehow passed the 4:45 pacer and was now approaching the 4:30. I caught up to the 4:30 pacer at about Mile 6 and this is when I realized I was truly going too fast. The wierd thing is--I didn't do anything to slow down because I had some wierd logic going on in my head. I thought if I could pass the 4:30 pacer, I'd have time to go to the bathroom and not be too far behind. I did pass the 4:30 pacer, got off the course at the porto-pottie and then saw that the line wasn't moving anywhere and hopped back on after I saw the 4:30 pacer re-pass me again.
I continued to try to catch up to the 4:30 pacer again but never saw her. I was dropping further and further back. We went through a few "crunches" in the course where it seemed like the streets could not hold all of the runners. People were spilling into the sidewalks and curbs. It was like traffic jam central and I just wanted to keep my pace.
Thinking I was still behind the 4:30 and in front of 4:45, I stopped at another restroom later on. There was a long line but I couldn't hold on any longer. This was mile 11 or 12. I probably waisted a good 10 minutes at this stop. I got back on course and hoped I was at least behind the 4:45. Somehow, I think that pacer had even passed me.
I continued on the course and my pace continued to slow down. The course was packed with spectators and I was loving it. I saw Andy and his family around mile 8 and was so happy to see all of them.
Around mile 12, it seemed that I was quickly losing energy. I was starting to get really frustrated. My stomach was telling me that I was starving hungry and I was trying to wait to take a gel because I had just taken one at the 7 mile mark when it was doing a similiar thing. Finally around the 12.5, I broke down and took the gel. Instantly I was feeling much better. Normally I don't feel such a drastic change so quickly but I was grateful. I kept on running and saw Andy and my cousin somewhere around there.
I continued on feeling pretty good and enjoying the scenery. I would later see my Aunt and parents around mile 18 and then Andy and my cousin a few more times. They were such troopers to travel around spectating!
I went through the "wall" just fine and seemed to be feeling quite well. It was at about mile 21 that I had something happen that has never happened to me while running. All of a sudden I felt a sharp pain around my right knee. I thought for sure I had pulled a muscle. I limped over to the sidelines and tried to stretch it out while the EMT's were just behind me. Not wanting them to pull me off the course, I tried to continue to walk. It seemed to subside some and then about five minutes later my other knee did the same thing. I quickly realized I was cramping and not pulling muscles because my entire leg seemed to seize up at times. I continued to stretch, run, walk, stretch, run, walk for the remaining 5 miles. It was during this cycle that I saw the 5 hr pacer pass me. This is when I knew that the rest of this race would be just trying to finish and enjoy the marathon.
The last 2 miles were pretty tough. I continued on, seemingly pulling my cramping legs through the course at times. The spectators were telling me that the last mile was easy. However, it was a downhill descent and my legs were not having it. My knees were in pain and I had to walk down the hill. I felt so silly as everyone else was running. Once I got closer to where I could see the Finish line, I began to run. The Finish line was amazing. The best Finish line I have ever crossed. You can see it for a good 1/4 of a mile before you cross it. It is lined with spetators and bleachers. I continued through the finishers shoot and was completely coherent when they placed the medal on my neck (as opposed to last year at KC when I was balling and forgot about the medal entirely). It felt amazing to continue to walk through the finish line out into the crowd. My family followed me on the other side of the gates (they were gated off from me). They made me stop for pictures along the way.
I met up with a few NF team members before emptying out into the family area. We gave each other congrats on the race, took some pictures and then were off to see our families. This is where things got to be a little strange. The finish area at this marathon was huge compared to that at Kansas City. There were people everywhere and I couldn't find my family anywhere. I spotted a series of flags with letters on them and stood by the "H" for my last name. I thought that if my family approached an official looking for me--they would probably point them in this direction. Just as I spotted my family really far away through a crowd, a classmate came up to congradulate me. I was happy to see the classmate, but quickly lost track of where the family went to again. I stayed in the same spot for another 5 minutes or so and then decided to walk back towards the vendors and "party tent" to see if I could find them. I found them waiting near the vendors and was so happy to see them except Andy was missing. They had sent Andy up to the "H" to find me after talking with a police officer who thought we were crazy for not having set up a meeting place.
All in all it was a good marathon. I will post more pictures when I get time. For now, you can see a video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4QX0L64CVJo&feature=related I am at the 36 second mark in yellow NF shirt, black hat, and blue skirt.