Sunday morning we were up at 4:45 we wanted to get up early so that we would all have time to use the facilities etc. Jamie was making fun of us the night before for having to get up so early, but we knew three girls sharing one bathroom would take some time!! LOL
Jamie's friend Brian who is an Ironman was going to run with Jamie came to the apartment ot ride with us, what a sweetheart and quite the hottie too!! LOL
I think we arrived at Grant park around 6:20 it wasn't a long drive.. Jen dropped us off and then she headed home to get ready to ride her bike to meet Jamie at certain check points.
We took some pictures, I soaked in all of the sights and sounds, I was loving every minute of it, although I was very nervous!!!
Michele and I had decided that we would call each other in the morning so that we could try to meet up and run the race together... as soon as I checked my bag and walked about 20 feet away I remembered I forgot to call her, I was SO upset!!!
After we checked our gear we said our good bye's to Jamie and Brian... Jamie was in the A corral, he is quite the fast runner, and we headed to the open Corral. It's true what they say about the early bird gets the worm, we were able to position ourselves right at the front of the 4 hour pacers, actually maybe even a little ahead of them just behind the 3:50. I guess it was about 6:40 when we first staked our positions, I did have to go to the port a potties one time... and thank goodness because i was able to "use the bathroom" and felt so relieved. We talked to quite a few people in the start area, everyone was was nervous about the heat!!! Looking around I saw 4 guys with hog hats so I had to go over and say hi.. I said woo pig sooie and Brenda came over and said Go Hog's.. it felt good to see people from home.
Eventually it started getting really crowded so we stood up and took our places... we stayed to the left since we knew the first two turns were left turns and they would be the most crowded. JoDee Messina sang the National Anthem, which of couse made me cry. The excitement was really building and I was just about to burst out of my skin when the horn went off signaling the start of the race. I yell to Brenda to have a great race and Kim and I started off together. The start was awesome for me, I was running a little too fast, but it was hard not too, I was feeling good and the crowds were great.. I think I had chill bumps for the first 3 miles. We were running with the 4:00 hour pace group and I was freaking out... too fast I knew I wasn't going to be able to hold that kind of pace, and I knew it would tire me out to fast. I slowed down but I could still see the 4:00 pacer ahead of us. I really tried to relax and just enjoy the experience, poor Kim she tried to talk to me, but I just couldnt' talk, I wasn't struggling or anything but I just didn't feel like I could talk, I was afraid to expend any extra energy.
Kim, Brenda and I had all taken water bottles with us to the start of the race, I had only been sipping on mine so still had almost a full bottle when we started the race. Kim and I skipped the first aid station, it was so crowded and we both had water so we just passed right by it. We did stop at the 2nd one, it was a mess, the first table they didn't have cups set up, they had everything but you had to wait for them to pour it for you, I got water and then at the next table got a gatorade. Although the aid stations were always just a mess I always was able to get water and gatorade.
We didn't take our first walk break until right around the 3 mile mark... not necessarily a good idea for me, but oh well. Around mile 5 I had to stop for the port a potties, I had been thinking they would be all along the course like in Memphis and Little Rock, but that was the first time I saw them, and I didn't actually see them right away, there was a big sign that said toilets with an arrow... The lines were not long so that was great. Kim waited for me and we were off again... the pace felt good, if maybe a little fast... not really fast, but gee I still have 20 miles left to run kind of fast. It was right after the 15K checkpoint that I lost Kim, I told her I needed to take a little walk break and she said she was going to trot along side me... it didn't take long and she had gotten too far ahead and it was too crowded. I was ok with it though, I didn't want to hold her back and I knew I couldn't hold her pace for the whle race.
Right around the 1/2 way point I started fatiguing... my left outer quad was killing me and my right calf was cramping. The pain in my left quad was freaking me out a little bit, I've never had pain there before, and then I realized I had run about 9 miles on the left side of the road and there was quite a slant... I spent the rest of the race in the middle of the road, even if it meant being in the direct sun.
I honestly can't remember what mile I was at when I first heard they were "cutting it short'. I was running along, when a lady said slow it down folks they are cutting it short, I didn't know what she was talking about so I just kept going. I think it was around mile 18 when I heard the official word. The policeman said WALK.. they have stopped the race you HAVE TO WALK... so being little miss rule follower I started walking. I actually even cried a littel bit, I could not believe it... I do believe it was the right thing to do, I passed so many people on the side of the roads, who were either passed out or getting sick, or just moaning in pain. A bit later we heard that they had run out of ambulances and supplies. I guess I was one of the lucky ones because i don't think I ever came to an aid table where I couldnt' get one or the other, the only really bad one for was at one aid station they didnt' have any water and the gatorade mixtue was hot and very strong, I basically had to throw it down it was so disgusting.
I did try to always keep my water cup as long as I could... there were tons of people with jugs of water to fill you up.
The fire Dept bless there hearts opened a lot of hydrants to cool people off and I got SOAKED, the force of they hydrant also propelled me a few feet, it also soaked my feet which would prove to be my undoing!!
I think it was right after the first hydrant that Michele found me... OH MY GOD I was so happy, we were at an aid table and I heard and felt her ( she punched my arm) as soon as i realized who it was I just threw my arms around her I was SO happy!!!!
It was so great to be with her, we had wanted to do the whole race together, so this was just such a blessing. It turned out to be a blessing in many ways. Around the 20 mile mark they were trying to divert us to a shortcut, well I was just following the crowd when Michele looked at me and said do we really want to do this... Ummm no of course not, I was just following the rules. Thank goodness for Michele because I really didnt' want to quit.
There were helicopters flying overhead telling us to WALK the race is over... they tried to get us to go to the busses, but agin that wasn't even an option to us at the time. At first they told us the clocks had shut down and there would be no more times.... I didn't get a chip time for the 30K but I did for the rest of the markers.
I will admit once the blisters started developing on the balls of my feet, there were times when I secretly wished that maybe I had taken that shortcut after all... but I am so glad I didn't. the last miles were truly awful.. Michele asked me several times if I wanted to stop and wring out my socks, but I knew I couldn't sit down on the curb, for one thing I don't think I could have done it without falling and I'm pretty sure I would have been hard to get back up. At one point though I saw a bench a really nice high bench so we walked over and I had the bright idea I would take my socks off and put my shoes back on without socks... I think I made it a few steps before I realized that was just about the stupidest idea I have ever had!!! So we had to walk back to the bench and I put my socks back on.... I really wish I had never stopped because it was even more painful after that. A little while afer that I started feeling light headed and kind of woozy... I thought oh great, this sucks. Michele who was constantly asking if I was ok, made me take her last GU, it helped, but not much, so I took my last honey stinger, it also helped but not for long. I was actually starting to get a little scared at this point althought I didn't tell Michele that!!! She had already told me if I passed out she was going to be mad at me... only because she had been trying to get me to take her gu for quite awhile before I did.. and she also suggested we stop and rest a few times.
Luckily I saw a table with bananas ahead... I had passed banana's once but I wasnt' going to make that mistake again. The banana also helped, but I still just didn't feel quite right. I think it was around mile 24.5 that we saw an ice cream cart... of course we had no money, but there was a young guy who had bought a whole bag of ice cream bars and I guess he saw the longing in our eyes because he asked us if we wanted one... no way were we turning that down!!! Michele and i decided he gaved us the ice cream because we were so cute...LOL yeah you can just imagine what we looked like at mile 25!!!! But Michele is Very pretty and I did have on my zebra skirt!!! LOL Whatever the reason that icecream saved my life, after just a few small bites I felt 100% better.
I cannot put into words my happiness and excitment when I turned the corner to the finish line... Michele and I had been staying positive the whole time, even with the pain in my feet and the light headedness, we kept joking and staying positive. When I saw the finish line I grabbed her hand and i said we are crossing that finish line jogging with our hand over our heads... and we did!!!!!!!!
Was it miserable YES
Was it wonderful YES
Was it worth it YES
Will I do it again YES
It was probably both the worst and best experience of my life.... I have never thought of myself as a strong person, and the fact that I did it, that I pulled through the pain and never quit.... it's just amazing.