Thursday, December 11, 2014

i swear i lived

"I hope you spend your days, but they all add up"
Let me tell you the story of my first {and last} marathon.

For those of you just tuning in, this all started with my dental school wife bucket list. Then, back in June I finally signed up for the St. Jude Marathon. Training began mid-August. And this weekend, it finally arrived. Here’s the play-by-play:

Pre-Race: Arrive at FedExForum early to watch my dad start the 5k. Then, head behind the arena to get in my corral. It’s a little colder than expected, and about five minutes before the race starts, I feel the need to pee. I chalk it up to nerves and decide to run it off.

Mile 1: Wave to Daniel and my parents as I pass by and try not to think about how they’re heading to breakfast while I’ll be running for the next four hours. Still gotta pee a little, but see the long lines at all the porta potties and keep going.

Mile 2: Okay, it wasn’t nerves. I really need to pee. See a guy jump out of a porta potty right in front of me and decide to go for it. Twenty seconds later I’m back on track and glad I stopped.

Mile 3: Turn on third street from Beale amazed at the number of people who came out to support us runners. I’ve never ran in a race like this before.

Mile 4: Run through St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital campus. Choke up trying to hold back the tears when I see the patients. Think to myself that this is definitely worth it.

Mile 5: Start my first very long trek down North Parkway. I’m feeling good and I know I’m running faster than I expected. The 4:00 pacers are a good ways behind me, and I can even see the 3:55 up in the distance.

Mile 6: Still feeling good. Pass a stand of supporters handing out free beer. Think to myself there’s nothing I want less right now than a cup of beer.

Mile 7: Pass the 3:55 pace (who left 2 minutes before me) and think I should probably slow down, but I feel strong so I don’t.

Mile 8: Enter the zoo. I know I’m entering the zoo because it smells just like the zoo.

Mile 9: See my coworkers Kelly and Amy. Actually, I hear them first. They’re yelling “Go Jenny Fish!” loudly and repetitively, holding a sign with a fish in a fish bowl. It's awesome.

Mile 10: Start to run back toward Downtown on Poplar. Notice that it’s still super congested and that I keep running into people. Hope it gets better when I hit mile 14 and separate from the half marathon runners.

Mile 11: Run past the first set of belly dancers and wonder why they are all older than my mom.

Mile 12: See Sarah and Joanne by the University of Tennessee Health & Science Center. Think about how that’s a really odd place for them to decide to cheer, but glad I got to see them. I have the best friends.

Mile 13: Notice that not only have the 3:55 pacers passed me, but they also seem to have sped up significantly. That, or I’m losing gas. Probably the later.

Mile 14: Try not to think about how I would be done by now if I had only signed up for the half marathon.

Mile 15: Keith - an experienced marathoner - fills me with dread when he says the next three miles will be up and down hill and - I quote - “it’s the worst.”

Mile 16: I want ALL THE FOOD. I’ve been eating gummy bears and downing Powerade, but it’s suddenly not enough. Yes, I’ll take a banana. And that candy bar. Peppermint? Okay! But the Salted Caramel Gu? No thanks! - I will never be that hungry…

Mile 17: Turn on Cooper toward Cooper-Young. Think about how long it takes us to drive to Cooper-Young. Try to stop thinking about how long it takes us to drive to Cooper-Young.

Mile 18: The 4:00 pacers pass me. I try to keep up at first, but eventually give myself enough grace to let them go. Just keep running, Jenny. You just need to finish, Jenny.

Mile 19: There’s a fire and a bunch of firetrucks. I want to walk, but I tell myself I can’t walk past a fire.

Mile 20: I walk, but only for 15 seconds and then I make myself start running again. I see Amy and Kelly again and they’re still yelling loudly. It encourages me to keep running for at least one more mile.

Mile 21: North Parkway again. I don’t know how I’m going to finish this race. I stick a peppermint in my mouth and tell myself that I can't stop running until the peppermint is gone. No chewing allowed.

Mile 22: Pass mile marker 22 and see a large group of people. I think it must be a water station and start walking. It’s not. It’s the group from the CVB. Even worse, it’s people I know. My head says, “Start running - they can’t see you walk!” My body says, “Shut up, head!”

Mile 23: By this time I’m walking/running. Every time my foot lands, I know my body is going to break into a million tiny pieces. My hamstrings will shatter like glass. If I stop moving forward, I’ll never move again.

Mile 24: We run back through St. Jude. I make it from the entrance to the exit and immediately start walking. I play leapfrog with this bald guy who looks like his back is hurting him. He runs past me and starts walking, I run by him and start walking. Over and over. We make a pretty good team.

Mile 25: I can see AutoZone park. The end is in sight. I tell myself not to stop until I pass the finish line. People yell, “You’re almost done! You’re looking strong!” I think they seriously need to go get their eyes checked.

Mile 26: So close. There’s the ballpark lights. The YMCA. My apartment window. A ninja turtle sprints past me and I resist the urge to trip him. I see Daniel and my parents and I reach down into the depths of my soul and stretch it out for the last .2.

Mile 26.2: Hands in the air as I cross the finish line. I’m sure they say my name over the ballpark speakers, but I can’t hear it. I take my medal. I take the foil blanket and think about how I’m not cold and I don’t really need it (haha, stupid). I take the first bottle of water I find.

Mile 27: I realize that the only way out of the ballpark and back to my family is up a steep flight of stairs. I stand there and just look at the stairs until a line forms behind me and I know the only way out is up. Complete torture.

As soon as I hit the top of the stairs I head straight toward the food. Every step is a challenge, but I smell pizza and that keeps me moving forward. I stuff a bag full of granola bars and Powerade, grab a plate full of pizza, and contemplate my next move.

I don’t have my phone. There’s no way I’m finding my family in this madness. I’m starting to get cold. I just want to sit down. I just want to sit down and eat. So I head toward my apartment and the last place I saw my husband and parents.

I’m in a lot of pain. My hands are full and the bag seems illogically heavy. The foil blanket won’t stay on my shoulders, but I’m freezing now and glad I have it. I can’t find my family. I can't get even get into my apartment without them. I know I don't have the energy to walk back into the stadium and look for them. And, that’s about when I start to cry. I try to play it off - to avoid all the stares - and then I finally ask this older lady if I can borrow her phone. She hands me a flip phone and I thank the Lord that I spent all that time trying to memorize my husband’s phone number.

Five minutes later they are standing in front of me and I’m shivering pretty violently. I stand up long enough to snap a picture in front of the finish line, and then head up to the apartment for a warm bath - I can’t even stand for a shower. I spend the rest of the day (and the next two after that) hobbling around and generally feeling miserable.

I tell my husband if I ever mention running a marathon again that he better talk me out of it.

All in all, it was a good experience, and I learned a lot of lessons {I’ll save that for another post}. I also crossed a big one off my dental school bucket list. I would definitely run in a St. Jude race again, though it won’t be the full marathon. The cause is amazing and they put on a spectacular event. If you’d like to give to St. Jude, my fundraising page will be open until January 1.

**For those of you who don't know, I live about three blocks from the starting line and -literally- right behind the finish line for this race, which made me love it all the more! Anyone up for the half marathon with me next year?

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