So, as I shook my head in disbelief after I split off from the half marathoners, I started my way down the LONGEST stretch of the course. Miles 12 to 16 were HARD because we were right along the lake running INTO the wind. Plus, it was the most difficult part of the course for spectators to get to so there weren't many bodies around, or any activity at all. Surprisingly, even with these obstacles, I was still feeling good. My breathing was steady and I was just moving along. I remember thinking to myself how happy I was. I was running along the lake, the sun was shining, and I was still feeling strong!
At mile 16 we turned onto Martin Luther King Drive and I knew I had one mile or so before I saw my family. I hit a pretty steep hill right after mile 17 and halfway up decided to walk so that I wouldn't burn myself out. I thought "I hope they aren't right at the top of this hill and see me walking!". And, wouldn't you know it, they were RIGHT at the top! It was the coolest thing ever, though, because I saw them and they saw me as soon as I came over the top and started on the decline. I saw my mom point me out to C and it made me smile so big.
J actually hopped in with me at this point and ran miles 18 to 20! He's not much of a runner, but he was such a trooper. What a husband! This was probably the prettiest section of the race so I was just trying to take it all in. The volunteers and spectators were so motivating through here, too. These 3 miles went by so fast! We had one more hill at the end of that area and C ran to the bottom to run up with us:
Anyone see a "family marathon" in our future??? Hehe.
Beka joined me at mile 21, and ran with me to the finish (even though she had already run the 10k!). I have the best of friends who are willing to sacrifice their time and energy to support me in these crazy endeavors!! We had to run down Euclid Ave and not through the best part of the city. This was probably the most boring section of the race. I felt bad because I was starting to feel the pain - my hamstrings were super tight and calves were burning - and I was starting to complain.
But Beka was fantastic. She never let me get down on myself, and really pushed me to the end. At one point I remember saying to her "I can't talk anymore. You have to talk without me." Haha. I was getting frustrated and just wanted to finish!
Once we turned the corner and could see the finish line in the distance I actually kicked it up a little! I couldn't believe I had it left in me.
Beka jumped out at mile 26 to let me finish and as I was running down the finish corral, C and J jumped in with me and we finished all holding hands! It was so emotional!
The announcer at the finish line even came up to read Colin's shirt and announced into the crowd "TEAM HEATHA!!". It was pretty darn cool.
Official results: 4:29:02. HECK, YES!!! I secretly wanted to come in under 4:30... :)
We walked around the after party a little bit so I could stretch my legs and they had a booth that had the official race results. How cool! I had literally just finished the race 5-10 minutes before and they were able to tell me my official race time. I was psyched! Especially since my Garmin told me I ran 26.48 miles!!! I know Allison's watch said she ran 26.34! WTH, Cleveland?? Whatevs.
I just want to thank my family for being there for me. You all seriously ROCK.
What a great day.
So, will I do another one? You betcha!!
Be on the lookout tomorrow for the post race celebration.....!