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Thought of the Week

20th Marathon: Huntsville Marathon 2015

Writing this while it is still fresh in my mind....it is a little raw. 

First: a thank you to my friend Brett. At the beginning of the week,  my running friend Brett offered his bib to a willing runner, I right away raised my hand and was lucky enough to receive it. Thank you Brett!

This was my 20th marathon. I had different expectations for my 20th, but instead, I received probably the very best experience I could ever hope for my 20th. 

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What a beautiful course! Perfect time of the year to see the leaves changing color. I was very excited to try out this new, to me, course. I have only heard great things about the race and I wanted to give it a try. The volunteers were awesome and each aid station was well stocked, and every volunteer expressed their concern about the heat and being hydrated. Thank you race event managers for such an awesome event! 

The race has a unique start time of 9:00am, I didn't realize this until a couple of days ago. The late start allows one to sleep in, totally thumbs up on sleeping in, however, it does mean that temperature may be a little higher than usual. This time of year, Utah typically has lower temps, but that was not the case today. 

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The race started and just a few miles in, I knew I was in trouble. It was hot! By 6 miles, it felt like I was cooking inside an oven. Training in the early dawn got me used to running at cooler temps, now I see the value of training at 5pm. At mile 10, I started looking at it as a crossfit chipper. The course had aid stations every two miles, on the odd miles. So I started looking forward to the odd miles to get a drink and to cool off. At mile 14, I started slowing down, it was hot, way too hot and I couldn't cool off with the water, so I slowed down to keep my core temperature low. 

Around mile 17, I wanted to quit. All I wanted was to stay out of the heat. There was a little river running down the side and all I wanted was to jump in it and lay my body down in the water. I knew I couldn't keep my pace, I knew I couldn't achieve my desired time, so I had to choose: finish or DNF. I cannot quit, I don't have it in me to quit, not when I can still walk. So, I continued with a new mindset, finish. Finish the race is better than quitting. Walk, walk to keep the body temperature low and stop at every aid station and get water and gatorade. After mile 18, each mile became a chipper, one at a time, walk for about 1/4 of a mile, then make my way to the next mile, then repeat. 

At mile 20, I had to reach out to my hubby and to my friend Lizzy. I turned on my phone and started texting them, I needed encouragement. I needed a reason to keep going. Both of them gave me the words I needed to hear. I took a picture or my attempt at taking a picture with shaky hands at a mile marker. I don't know why I was so shaky, but I could barely type or hold my phone. 

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Did I mention that my ipod died at this point from throwing water on it? Ya, lucky me! 

I want to call mile 24 the miracle mile, I was hot, I had done a lot of walking at this point and I wanted to encourage those around me, but I couldn't even talk. Then, to my surprise, there was a little table around the bend and a lovely couple had set up an aid station with the red tall cups full of the coldest water I tasted all day. I grabbed two cups, and thanked them for their service. They literally saved me at this point. I drank and drank, then I poured the rest over me. Thank you. I wish I had gotten your names to thank you properly.  Around mile 24.75, a group of girls were handing things out, I couldn't make it out from a distance, I shuffled my way to them, and to my surprise, they were giving away popsicles, yummy, icy popsicles! Thank you to you too darling girls! 

Making my way to the finish was all but a struggle. I would walk and run and go back to walking because I just couldn't run. My body was shaking from head to foot, I was hot but yet, I was shaking. 

I passed the last aid station, around mile 25, then I crossed a street, my garmin said I was around mile 25.4 but the mile marker said I was at mile 25. A mile has never felt so long, as this one. I wanted to run it, but I couldn't. I walked a little, and then far away (about a block) I saw my little Nyahbelle running toward me. I knew then the end was near, but I couldn't see the Finish Line. 

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Nyahbelle reached me and she started running with me, then my son, Bryant joined me. I was in the middle, each one by my side. Each one encouraging me. We made the last turn to the Finish Line and I wanted to cry. It seemed so far away. I had to walk. I asked my children to slow down, I couldn't run. I gave myself a few steps, then we picked it up. My kids kept encouraging me and running, right beside me. They slowed their steps down to stay with me. My son, my little coach, kept telling me, over and over "mom, you've got this! "mom, you can do this". I wanted to cry and curl up on the side of the road, under a shady tree, but instead, we kept going. They carried me with their encouragement through the finish line. I got my medal and then I had to lift my foot for the volunteers to take the chip off my shoe, and I was about to fall, both of my children were right next to me, holding me up. Then, a volunteer came and offered me ice, and we found a chair for me to sit on. Having my children run through the Finish Line with me and helping me get there was probably the very best gift ever for my 20th marathon. 

They (my children and my hubby) have been with me during this entire journey...and they keep being my number one cheerleaders. Even when I ruin their weekend plans with my races. I love them dearly. 

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Running a marathon is not easy. It is not supposed to be. It is mean to test our limits, physically and mentally. Today, I was tested. I am pleased to say that I passed (barely).  Today's marathon was exactly what I needed for my 20th. I needed to realize and remember the complexities of a marathon. No, it was not perfect however it made me realize that I have the very best support group on my side. 

I am grateful for the support from my family and friends. For the love, example, and encouragement. 

Time: something around 4:13:xx

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