Today was my first marathon.  It was, in a word, challenging.

Yesterday morning I went and picked up my packet.

I was so excited that the weekend was finally here.  It was like Christmas.

Saturday night it was time to lay out all my race day gear.  I’m a little OCD when I pack for a race…

Complete with a packing checklist and a spectator plan for my husband.

Sunday morning I woke up super early (4am), got ready, and was out the door by 5:00.  We picked up my mom and made it up to Schroon Lake by 6:30am.

Whoops!  A little earlier than I planned.  But it worked out well because a friend of mine was walking the marathon and was starting at 7am.  So we got to see her off.


Go Eileen!

We killed time until about 8:45 until it was time to line up for the start.

The starting line!

Me and the hubs, pre race.  All clean and NOT sweaty.

The hand cyclists got started a few minutes before us.  These are some crazy bikes!

Runners line up!


And we’re off!  (I think those guys might be laughing at me…)

It was a beautiful day.  I really enjoyed running through the gorgeous woods and all the leaves changing colors.

My family was waiting at the halfway point and snapped some pictures of us as we went by…


Eileen


Carrie


Me

At this point, I was feeling good.  My hills had been slightly slower than they were on my 20 miler, but I was happy with how it went.

And THEN…

Just after I passed my family, my knees stiffened up and started to get really painful.  REALLY painful.

I was only at the halfway point (13.1 miles), so I knew the second half was going to be an exercise in patience and willpower.

There was never a moment where I thought I wouldn’t make it.  I knew I would be slower than I had planned (I was aiming for between 4:15:00 and 4:30:00).  But I didn’t care about my time.  This was my first marathon, and all I wanted to do was finish.  Even if it was slower than what I planned.

For the second half, I alternated between running and walking.  Every step was tough, but I pushed on.

Some interesting things I saw along the way…

  • A woman who ran with me (chased me) with a wind chime from her front porch while singing and dancing.
  • A guy playing a harpsichord at the end of his driveway.  (Very pretty!)
  • A taiko drumming group (twice).
  • A marching band.
  • A guy (spectator) in a kilt.  No bagpipes to be seen.
  • A woman at the aid station at the 20 mile marker with a PA system who didn’t stop talking once.  I could hear her for a mile.

When I got to the 22 mile marker, I had a moment where I finally realized that I was going to finish.  I started to cry.  It didn’t last too long, but it was a really exciting and emotional moment.  I’ve been working towards this for a long time, and it was becoming real.

The last few miles were incredibly difficult.  With every step, my knees yelled back at me.  But I kept counting down the miles.  Finally, I was at mile 25!

ONE (.2) MILE TO GO!!!

I pushed on and ended up coming into downtown Schroon Lake.  I took out my headphone and soaked in the cheering.  A few steps later, I rounded the corner and could finally see the finish line!!!

See it?  Waaaaaaay down there?

This was where I felt the tears coming on.

In the last stretch, I saw my friends and my family cheering me on.  I knew my husband was waiting at the finish line for me.  It was a fantastic feeling.  I HAD DONE IT.  (Just writing this is making me get a lump in my throat.)


Is it bad that all I could think as that guy passed me at the end was “hey!  you’re going to block me in my picture!”

As I crossed the finish line, the tears started flowing…



I met up with my friends and family at the finish line and much picture-taking ensued.  (I still have to get the pictures from mom’s camera, so I’ll add those later.)


Eileen, Carrie, and me


Carrie and me.  Love the sign (thanks Mer!).


Griz (Carrie’s other running partner, still collecting herself after crossing the finish line), Carrie, and me.

My overall impression of this race…

This is a FANTASTIC race.  It’s not easy by any means.  But it’s beautiful and INCREDIBLY well run.  The people of Schroon Lake put a TON of work into this event and it shows.  I would recommend it to anyone without hesitation.  The volunteers are all sweet, and the crowd is very encouraging.  One of my favorite things was the race program they put together.  It has everyone listed by bib number.  So lots of the spectators have a spotter who will yell your bib number out as you approach and they’ll all cheer you on by name.

My overall impression of my performance…

I FINISHED!  That was my goal and I’m thrilled with myself.

Was it perfect?  Not even close.  But that’s okay!  When my knees started to give me trouble, I threw out any plan for a time or pace.  I just kept going.  I didn’t let myself get stressed out that I was going WAY slower than I had planned.  I was STILL GOING, and that was what mattered.  And for that, I am extremely proud of myself.

And hey, now I have a time I should definitely be able to beat when I redeem myself at the Buffalo Marathon in May 2011!

Thanks for all the support along the way, dear blog readers.  It’s been quite a trip!

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