the time i ran a marathon.

*thank you to our friend, carlos, for capturing this moment for us.*

10 | 6 | 12

it was like a due date.

and training was like a pregnancy.

lots of sweating, very little sleep and plenty of discomfort.

it felt like the day would never come.

other than a baby, 
i don't know that i've ever prepared for or thought about anything quite as much.

the decision to commit to a marathon had to be my own.
and it came as i was training for my last half-marathon.
i was running with one of my favorite people in the world {steph},
running past my favorite place in the world {snow canyon}
when it hit me.

i could do this.

i want to do this.

and my very next thought was...

crap, CAN i do this?

the thought of being able to run a marathon blew my mind.
and, honestly, it still does a little.

fortunately, some pretty fantastic ladies had set the same goal.
and so it began.
we trained, religiously.
as we slowly increased our mileage, 
we became stronger and more prepared for the big day.

but something else was happening...
something unexpected.
i was building some really incredible friendships.

as october drew near, we began making final preparations.
what time to meet and pick up our packets, what outfit to wear,
where to eat the night before and which pasta/sauce combo to order.

all critical decisions, you know.

finally, the long awaited day had arrived.
the ride up to the start line felt like an eternity.
but it was familiar to me. i knew every hill, every turn and every rut in the road.
still, the nerves were undeniably there. 
i was quiet, which isn't like me.
and i couldn't stop trembling.
i tried to blame it on the cold, but i knew better.
the ultimate test was about to begin.
was i ready?

i felt ready. 
i had done all i could to prepare...

but, was i ready?

at last, the start line came into view.
experiencing it with husband, who's an old marathon pro, helped to ease my fear.
he's run it several times, and yet, 
when we stepped out into the crowds, even he was overwhelmed by the scene.

the plan was to meet at the third bonfire from the start line.
we quickly wound our way through the crowds to the designated meeting spot.
and after a short wait, my girls arrived, looking as anxious as i felt.
and so there we were, nervously standing together around a bonfire, 
giving each other pep talks, taking a few last minute photos, 
fidgeting with our gear and trying to calm our nerves.

one minute to go.

no turning back now...

we weaseled our way into the gathering sea of runners.
the crowds were massive and the energy, intense.
like nothing i've ever experienced before.
it was absolutely electric.
so many people with the same goal, all in one place.

i tried to step back from myself for a moment and just take it all in.
the weather was perfect. it was cool, but not as cold as i thought it would be.
the wind was blowing, but it was at our backs...YES!
the smell of bonfires, the blaring music, the lights, the sound of the announcer's voice,
i didn't want to forget it...
any of it.

by the time we finally crossed the start line, a full eight minutes after the gun went off,
we were out of our minds with excitement.
jumping around and screaming, none of us could believe what was actually happening!


holy schnikees.

in the weeks leading up to race day, 
i continually told tell myself to think of it as just another training run.
no bigs.
i've done it a thousand times.
this is no different.

and it must have worked.
because once i started running, i felt calm, i felt strong and i felt amazing!
actually, i felt invincible.
i can't really explain it.
adrenaline, perhaps?
whatever it was, i was diggin' it.

the miles whizzed by, one after another.
before i knew it, we were past the half marathon point and i could only feel myself gaining steam.
my two fastest splits were miles 15 and 16 with an average pace of 7:50 {minute mile}.

i do, however, have to give credit where credit is due.
my friend, jeny, is a machine. 
and i was hell-bent on sticking with her...
the. whole. time.

trying to keep up with her during training was how i improved my speed.
she motivated me to push myself harder and run faster than i ever would have on my own.
so, with her by my side, i felt confident we would turn out a pretty decent time.

i hadn't set any specific time goals.
with it being my first marathon and all, my only two goals were...
to do my best and have fun doing it.

however, around mile 23, we both looked down at our Garmin watches 
and simultaneously came to the realization that
a sub-four marathon was actually within reach!

we had to immediately change the subject 
as we were both getting emotional just thinking about it.
the rush of adrenaline from thinking about a sub-four finish on my first marathon,
combined with the cheering crowds lining the streets,
was nearly enough to make my heart explode.

i felt like i was flying.
strange things happen to your brain when you run.
super-high highs, mixed with moments of utter confusion as to how 
you could have possibly gotten yourself into this mess.

i experienced both.

the confusion and exhaustion were setting in with only two miles to go.
never in my life have two measly miles felt so far.
my breathing was becoming more labored, my legs felt like rubber 
and my shoes felt like i was dragging two cement blocks.
my IT band, which had bothered me the entire race, was starting to scream at me.


why are you doing this?

coincidently, i was thinking the same thing.

why am i doing this?

and then, i made that final turn and saw the finish line.
i don't know how to describe it.
but, seeing the hundreds of people lining the chute, cheering and ringing cowbells, 
made me forget about the pain.

i was overcome with a flood of emotions as i inched closer and closer to that balloon arch.
i can't believe this journey is nearly complete.
i can't believe how insanely good it feels to accomplish this, once seemingly impossible, goal.
i can't wait to STOP running and just hug my family. 
and with that, my foot crossed the finish line.

it was over.

i had just run a marathon.

26.2 miles.

the feeling was indescribable.
i was overjoyed at the sight of my husband waiting with open arms to embrace me
and put my finisher medal around my neck.
i hobbled up to him, tears filling my eyes.
we hugged and he told me how proud he was of me.
just then, my two biggest littles came running up to hug me, too.
it meant so much to have them right there with me.
it was the icing on my marathon cake.

a perfect day.

i wouldn't have changed a thing.

many have already asked, "will you do it again?"
my initial reaction is, "that's like asking a new mother
in the hospital with her newborn baby if she wants more kids."

i think it's wise to let the stitches heal first before making any major decisions.

however, i will say this...

with one under my belt and a time to beat,
don't be surprised to see me out there in 2013.

what have i got to lose?

you know, besides a few more toenails.


Kristi said...

I love the way you write!
You are amazing. You are an inspiration in many ways.

lynette said...

I'm so amazed by you! And your TIME? Holy freak of nature! Congratulations, Jill!

Heidi and Judd said...

So proud of you! Good job!

Chanda said...

you, my friend, worked it out! a marathon is major...good, good job!!

Hannah said...

You are amazing! Good job and what a time!! And seriously? You look incredible. I wish I looked that good after running a mile. ;)

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.