After Tonya and I split up in the start corral I made my way up to the group that was going to be running my goal pace. It wasn't easy. When I finally got there I had to wait shoulder to shoulder with other excited runners. I could barely see the starting line from where I was, but when they started the race I got chills from knowing I was about to embark on a new life. I would no longer be training for a marathon, I would be a marathoner. Like Tonya, the first mile went really quick. I couldn't believe how easy it was feeling through the first few miles. I think it had to do with the rush of excitement from the surrounding runners and spectators. I was frightened around mile 7 or 8 by my boss. He was yelling out support to the passing runners as they went by and when I ran by him I didn't notice him until he started screaming my name and jumping up and down. This surprised me and made me jump. I twisted around, gave him a wave and continued on. It was getting warm out and around mile 11 and I noticed I wasn't sweating anymore and it concerned me. I figured I wasn't staying hydrated and realized I needed to drink more water. The one thing I was doing well was staying on pace. My pace through 15 miles was right on my goal pace. When I passed the halfway point I had knocked off about 20 minutes from my previous half marathon time, this got me excited about knocking out this marathon in no time, but then I realized, I still had 2 1/2 hours to run.
Well at about mile 16 I hit the wall. The heat was getting up there and I was starting to feel soreness in my feet. I started to question whether or not I would be able to finish and if running a marathon was a smart idea. I figured to be able to make it to the finish I would walk through the water stops and then run in between them. This helped my attitude and my energy. I had so many things running through my head during the last few miles trying to take my mind off of the pain. A guy I work with who donated to our charity had told me to think of him every time my left foot hit the ground, I did a few times after mile 16, and it helped. I hit mile 20 and felt a surge of energy hoping it would carry me through to the finish. It didn't. I still was struggling putting one foot in front of the other one, but the great supporters at the aid stations and standing along the race course helped to keep me going. Mile 24 came and went and I was having to take more frequent walk breaks and was feeling defeated. But I knew I needed to push on, I was only 2 miles away from my goal. My time had faltered and now I was hoping to finish in 5 hours. Hitting mile 25's water stop I told myself to buck up and start running. I had told myself earlier that no matter what, I was going to run the last mile. So I dug down deep for some inner support and started pounding the pavement. I could feel the finish line getting closer and my legs seemed to have a new surge of energy. I began running at a pace that I didn't know I had the energy for. I was passing people left and right listening to the crowds cheers of encouragement. I turned the second to last corner and headed up the small hill that would challenge my ending pace. It didn't slow me down, it actually felt like I started running even faster. The crowd was cheering loudly as I made the final turn to run the final 0.2 miles of the race. I could feel my legs struggling to keep the pace, but I knew I could do it, I pushed myself that final stretch and when I reached the finish I raised my arms in triumph. As I finished I got a lump in my throat from the emotions I was going through. I felt a sense of pride for what I just did and I almost started to cry, I think it has a lot to do with the stress you put yourself through running 26.2 miles. After making it through the finish corral and getting my medal, I slowly walked through the crowds taking everything in. As I waited for Tonya to finish I was looking back over my experience of the run and couldn't believe I had just ran a marathon. I still can't believe I ran one, but I can say this, I am going to run another one. It didn't deter my attitude towards running and I know that I have at least one more marathon in me. Anyways I am glad I did it and happy that I finished and if there is any one who wants to run next years marathon with me give me a call and we can start training.