December 14, 2008

Marathon: Accomplished :)

by Maria Torres

Well, I'm about a month late in posting this, but better late than never, I guess. Stacy did a great job of describing the marathon experience, and I don't have a lot to add to her account of it. I will say that completing the marathon feels like one of the biggest achievements of my life so far. I will be forever grateful to Stacy, who motivated me to scratch off one of the items on my "bucket list", as Justin put it. As corny as it probably sounds, the marathon taught me so much about myself. I think it would be impossible to run those kinds of distances week after week and to spend so much time alone out on trails without learning a thing or two about yourself.

Right before I moved to Denver - about 3 weeks before the marathon - I wrote that I would keep everyone posted on the wonderful runs I planned to do in and around Denver. Unfortunately, those runs never happened. Right after I went home to Arkansas for my friend Sara's wedding, I fell off the ol' training bandwagon. It wasn't pretty. In the month before the marathon, I did about three short runs and that was it. It's funny because I really wasn't too concerned about it. I figured that once I ran 19 miles during training, I could do the marathon, no problem. This probably wasn't the best approach in retrospect, but at least I was confident.

It wasn't until the day before the marathon (my birthday, no less) that panic set in. I think I was short of breath pretty much the entire day. My friends Laura, Julie, and Cheyanne came in from Fayetteville and Little Rock to take me out to lunch. That was pretty much the only relaxing time of my entire day. It didn't help that I hadn't made a playlist yet and hadn't really even picked out what I would wear to run. I had decided against a running skirt (which I ended up wearing) because of the bruises covering my legs from lifting boxes and moving all over the place. Instead, I just slapped on some self-tanner and went for it ;)

Like Stacy, I took a sleeping pill the night before the race. My dad, who knows my sleeping habits (and me) all too well, said, "I think you can pretty much bank on not ever sleeping a wink the night before any major event in your life." That's why the little pill of slumber was a lifesaver! I went to bed just after 10pm, and got up right around 5am. That's a lot of hours of sleep for me, so I felt pretty decent. I was trying to arrange songs on my ipod right up until my Dad and David yanked me out of my hotel room, and we headed downtown. It took a little while to find a parking spot and to get to the actual starting line, so I never had time to freak out before the race. It was all very rushed. My dad was securing my time chip to my shoe as David was pinning my race number to the back of my running skirt. After that, I ran into the mass of people and found Stacy just in time. I was SO HAPPY to see her. She had gotten there much earlier and didn't have her phone on her (of course). I was really worried that I wouldn't see her, but it all worked out.

Right after that, the gun went off. I felt strong at the beginning - and actually ran at a 9:30 pace up until 13.1 miles. At around mile 6, my calves started cramping up and it only went downhill from there. Stretching pre-race might have been a good idea, but it was too late for that. By mile 20, they were in so much pain that every extension of my legs felt like someone was jabbing knives into them. It was awful. Mentally, I was telling myself to go faster but just did not have it in me at the end. My running bib said it was my first marathon, so every once in a while a veteran marathoner would cheer me on. One guy yelled, "good job newbie!" which I thought was pretty cute.

The hills were just icing on the cake. Starting around mile 22 and ending after mile 25, there was NO downhill, and very little level ground. I came across a guy while running the hills who looked like he was in a great deal of pain as well, and we helped each other through it. Then I passed him. :)

The final mile seemed to drag on forever, but at long last, I finally saw the home stretch and my dad and David cheering me on. Seeing my dad choked up - and both of them so proud of me - is really something that I will never forget. Although my time (4:40) wasn't what I had wanted, I never quit running during the entire race, and that was important to me (I might as well have walked during the later portions though I was moving so damn slow - hehe).

My legs literally gave out right after I crossed the finish line (you can see David holding me up for the group picture in Stacy's post). I think that as soon as I stopped, my calves completely tightened up and quit working. Justin, Sharon, Abby, and Joe were all there to support and congratulate us, and it meant SO much. Thank you Sharon for seeing to it that I got my "First Marathon" medal in addition to my Finisher's medal. I really appreciated it, and I have them both hanging up in my room!

Walking through the DFW airport the next day was HELL. I don't even think it would be classified as walking - it was more like a limpy shuffle. David and I would act like we were looking at interesting signs and other stuff along the way to our gate so people wouldn't think something was seriously wrong with me. I woke up that morning crying because my legs hurt so bad, but a hot bath helped. I seriously thought I would have to miss my flight. It continued that way for another 4-5 days, but it was worth it. It was one of my biggest dreams to run a marathon, and I had the best supporters a girl could hope for (including those of you who followed this blog). THANK YOU for reading these posts (eh, em...this one goes out to MIKE WALL - without whom none of this would have been possible).

Anyone up for another marathon (and by marathon, I mean sitting at home on the couch eating pizza)?


Haley Nicodemus said...

Wow - I had to blink several times to be sure you wrote another post! It's about time! Congratulations - I'm very proud of you! I'll have to admit, I got a little choked up.

Jose and Mary Dominguez said...

I am so proud of you Chia! That's so great...I was thinking about you when I was on the treadmill today. I was praying for that 3rd mile to be over....I can't imagine 26...what a woman!

Sara Staley said...

I have been waiting for you to post!! I am so excited and proud of you. What an accomplishment! I cannot wait to see you again so I can give you a big hug (and buy you a celebratory adult beverage-hehe)