Let me say that again because I can hardly believe it myself. Yesterday, we ran a marathon!
Before I tell you about it, though, I have a confession to make. We were really undertrained for this. Up until the first part of December, we were Hal Higdon’s most faithful disciples, never deviating from his training schedule. But when we were called to Memorial then had to, you know, move our entire lives down to Houston in less than four weeks, our long runs just weren’t as long as they should have been, thanks to too much stress and too little time. Going into the marathon, our longest distance run was sixteen miles. Eeek! We made the mistake of sharing this information with an experienced marathon runner while in our starting corral, and his response was that “it’s an entirely different race after you get to twenty miles.” This was just exactly what we needed to hear, y’all. We were going to DIE out there! Thanks a lot, Hal Higdon! (I kid. It was ALL on us because we had botched the training schedule.)
Anyway, we were prepared enough to know that we needed to keep a slower pace than we had ever kept in our shorter races. We’ve run a half marathon at a ten minute mile speed before, but we were completely depleted by the end. We aimed for a very modest thirteen minute mile pace, and when Mickey sent our corral off with fireworks, we started right on target. (We actually started at the same moment that the leaders came flying by running mile four. That’ll encourage you before you even get started!)
Frankly, it was all magic and pixie dust there at the beginning. Epcot was beautiful at that hour, and running down Main Street at the Magic Kingdom was topped only by running through Cinderella Castle. Amazing! We were feeling great as we approached Animal Kingdom at mile seventeen (farther than we had ever run, remember), and I told Wes, “I feel great, but I can’t feel my butt.” I would soon wish that I couldn’t feel ANY body part.
Coach, Nana, Ana, and Emma were cheering us on at mile eighteen, and we were so excited to see them. Their cheering was the momentum that got us out of Animal Kingdom and up the steep overpass that would take us into Hollywood Studios. At the top of the hill, we hit mile nineteen. And I hit the wall.
There are probably a lot of things I could have done to avoid this. I could have trained better, for one thing. And it probably would have helped if I had eaten better the day before. Or just eaten breakfast that morning. (So sue me, I skipped breakfast. Nothing sounded good on my very nervous stomach. But I’ve learned my lesson now!) I was a disaster waiting to happen. Everything hurt. Muscles I didn’t even know I had were hurting. For the first time since we’d started that morning, I stopped running and started walking, thinking that would feel better. It actually felt worse! So, I did the only logical thing I could. I cried. (Because that helps. Really.)
Miles nineteen through twenty-two shall henceforth be known as the sobbing miles. Wes did his best not to freak out about my meltdown and convinced me to keep going, alternating between walking and running, and agreeing with me that, yes, “this hurts a lot more than I thought it would!” (Seriously, y’all. Who knew it would hurt like that?!) A couple of other runners helped to encourage me on to mile twenty-two, where I finally sucked it up, stopped crying, and ran without stopping or slowing down to mile twenty-six… where I once again began crying (tears of joy!), as Wes grabbed my hand and we crossed the finish line together.
This whole experience – training and racing – has been life changing for us. We’re so thankful for all of you who have encouraged us along the way. We don’t yet know what our next race is, but we know there will definitely be a next one!
Go, Team Faulk!