I started and finished my marathon. I came in with a finishing time of 4:29.42. I was pretty excited about that time. I wanted it to be around the 10 minute mile and I did it.
The race started at 6:00 Eastern time which meant that it was 5:00 my time. I have to say, I think I was pretty pumped up because I didn't notice the sleep that I missed. I slept terrible though. Melissa and I got to South Bend at around 7:30. We got the essentials out of the car and checked into our hotel room. After checking in, I ran down to the race registration and got there just in time, they closed down at 8:00 and got my running packet with all of my stuff. Melissa's mom and dad came down as well and helped out with the girls, they came to the room and helped to feed them when I went to registration.
When we were settled, we went out to Fazzoli's for dinner. I had a plate of spaghetti and some breadsticks. It was tough to turn down some of them at the end, they tasted so good, but I knew I would regret eating too many the next morning.
We got back to the room at around 10:00. I laid out all of the stuff I would need for the next day and helped Melissa get the girls to bed. They took a little while to get to sleep due to the new environment that they were in. I got to sleep at around 11:15, Melissa told me that they woke up a few times after I fell asleep but Melissa quickly and quietly took care of them for me. I am thankful for that. I didn't sleep that well. I think I woke up 4 or 5 times before the alarm went off and our wake-up call came. After that call I got myself ready and helped get the girls ready and we were on our way.
As we were waiting for the starting gun to begin, the national anthem was played and they gave some announcements about some of the things to expect during the race. The big shocker during the announcements was that it was 70 degrees at the start. That was not good to hear. It was still dark out and we all knew that it was only going to get hotter. (it did)
The first half-mile was a little bit congested with runners, but I would say that it became a pretty open course after that. I liked that. I have trained by myself and haven't really had the chance to run around other people. The race only had about 500-550 people start.
Within the first mile I got my pace down and found myself running with a bunch of other people that all had planned on keeping the 10 mile pace. I got to talking to a girl that was from Woodridge named Jen who wanted to keep that pace for at least the first half of the race. We ran together for the first 13 miles and then she stopped to say hello to her family and I didn't see her again until close to the end when I passed her on an out and back section of the race. It was fun to pick her brain because she had run multiple marathons and triathlons. She even completed an Ironman race. I found out that there were a lot of people in the group that we were running with that had also done an Ironman. It was pretty impressive.
I ran without stopping for the first 21 miles. It became really hot. I was still right on my 10 minute mile pace, but knew that the last 5 miles would be tough. Mentally to get me to the end without breaking down I made myself run to each water station. They were all spaced around a mile apart. After drinking I would walk for about 100-200 yards then need to keep running until the next water station. In those last miles I passed a lot of people. It felt great. I was happy that I had kept my energy to the end. It made for a dramatic finish.
As I approached the stadium, I got pretty excited. There was the problem though that the side I was approaching was the opposite side that I would need to enter. As I came up to the place where we could go in, it was the tunnel down to the field. I looked at the guy who was at the door and said, "are you ready for this?" (it's a quote from Rudy) I ran down the tunnel with the following quote that Rudy give. "I've been ready for this my whole life." Now I'm pretty sure I haven't thought about that moment my whole life, but I was about to become Rudy out on that field and I needed to get into character. I made the final sprint to the finish line with my arm in the air and a big smile on my face. It felt wonderful.
When the race was finished I grabbed some fruit and a big glass of Gatorade. I waited for some of the people that I ran with to chat with them and to congratulate them. It felt great. I just laid on the grass in the place where the goal line would be. I was amazed at how thick and well groomed the grass was.
When we decided to leave the stadium we went to the car. At that point I started feeling not so well. I walked over to a grassy area because I thought I was going to throw up. It was a false alarm. We headed over to Melissa's parent's hotel room so I could shower and I figured out then that I was going to have to throw up. I rolled down the window quickly and proceeded to throw up out the window as Melissa was driving. She was following her dad so I just told her to keep up. In trying to keep up, I threw up three more times. Melissa finally pulled over, but by that time I was done.
We got to the hotel and I felt terrible. I took a shower, some tylenol, and a thirty minute nap and felt a ton better.
Overall, the experience of running the marathon was good. The training got long after awhile. I would think if I ever did this again, I would make sure to find a race that has a small amount of people that run in it. I am sure some day I will get the urge again to run a marathon, but I don't see doing one again super soon. We'll see.