So it may seem that I’ve given up blogging but in all actuality I’ve had the busiest month and a half and have been running around in circles (literally some days). April is always a whirlwind of activities but this year more so than others. I turned the big 4-0 and my sweet hubby threw an awesome party at my sister-in-law’s house and then we had a family dinner at our place the week after.
I like to believe the glass is true!
Then there was our church’s “Riverwood Women’s Retreat” where I co-hosted over 100 ladies for the weekend at Camp Cedarwood near Lac du Bonnet, Manitoba. I’m on our Women’s Ministry Team with 7 other amazing ladies and there is a lot of planning that goes into the event. It was an awesome time of fun, laughter and growing in God! I’ll have a post on that at a different time.
So that pretty much took us into May where the fun didn’t stop for one minute. The three of us travelled to Grand Forks, ND the first weekend of May with friends to do some shopping and relaxing at the hotel while our boys water-logged themselves at the pool.
Then it was a short drive home, a quick unpack and a quick re-pack on Sunday night and then back to Grand Forks, ND with my hubby, his sister and her husband (notice no kids!!) to catch our flight to Vegas! But you’ll have to wait to hear all about that too.
Instead I want to devote this post to something I told myself I would accomplish when I turned forty. My first FULL marathon! Last year it just seemed like a pipe dream when I first told my hubby that I wanted to run one. After registering it just became something to train for. But last Friday night it became one of the scariest, most exciting things in my life! Which would be why I was having stomach trouble after dinner the night before the marathon. Or maybe it was just the coleslaw I had at Pizza Ranch? Who knows. Whatever it was it sure kept me up all night long with a wicked stomach ache and nerves so shot you could have seen them short-circuiting in the dark. Oh, and the thunderstorm in the middle of the night didn’t exactly help matters either.
I’m getting ahead of myself here just a bit. We rolled into Fargo, ND just after 4:00 p.m and went straight to the race expo at the Fargo Dome to pick up my race kit and check out all the booths. Thankfully there was no line up to get my race kit and only a short one to confirm my timing chip. As for the expo……I think I got my hopes up a little too high and thought it would be something spectacular. It was o.k. but not as thrilling as I thought it would be.
Fargo Marathon Race Expo
What was thrilling was seeing all the medals on the tables all sorted and ready for the next day!
I see the one with my name on it!
After such a difficult and restless sleep the night before the marathon, I woke up with such a fog in my head. I didn’t know if I should eat, could eat, needed to eat and what-have-you. I had made my favourite quinoa oatmeal recipe to bring along so I tried to get as much of it in me as I could and thankfully it helped. I had packed a ton of stuff which in hindsight was more of a hinderance than a help because I felt overwhelmed with the choices of what to wear and what to bring along.
Everything but the kitchen sink!
So one went my new Under Armour tank and shorts, Injinji compression socks, a long sleeve Nike shirt, a rain jacket and my Vibram Fivefinger Bikilas. They were calling for more thunderstorms and it was quite cold when I tested the temp before leaving the hotel. Boy, was I wrong!
No sooner had I stepped out of the Fargodome to the starting line and wouldn’t you know it! The clouds parted, the sun shone down and the humidity shot up like a rocket!!! The rain jacket lasted ’til roughly the 10th mile at which point I took it off and asked a nice lady on the side of the road to donate it for me. I wasn’t too sad to see it go, I can tell you that! Plus I knew I wouldn’t be seeing my family till the half way point and there was no way I was keeping it on that long.
I started off at a conservative pace and just enjoyed all the sights and sounds along the route. I had never been down most of the streets of Fargo so it was nice to take it all in and not be obsessed with my time. I high-fived the children on the street, stopped for some orange slices from ladies in the neighbourhood and even ran with Superman (a man completing his 9th Fargo marathon) to chat for a bit.
I made it to mile 13 and stopped to use the Port-a-Pottie so I wouldn’t have to think about it in the second half of the race. Boy, was that a challenge! Hot, sweaty and hovering over a toilet seat are all things that should not have to be done after completing a half marathon distance!!
Once I got myself back together I was feeling the anticipation of seeing my family and my son, niece and nephew with their signs. I knew they would be cheering full tilt and it was exactly what I was needing at that point. They did not disappoint!
A little bit of home straight ahead!
After I left them though, I couldn’t help but feel a little bit alone since I knew the next time I would see them would (hopefully) be when I crossed the finish line. So I started talking to a few runners until I found one I knew somewhere around mile 21. We walked a bit, ran a bit and laughed a lot! He was having trouble with the heat though and encouraged me in mile 23 to carry on without him. That’s when I pulled out my secret weapon!
No it wasn’t a rocket launcher to propel me to the finish line although I probably would have used one given the chance. Instead it was a picture of my late father when we were out fishing together one day. It was exactly at mile 24 that I pulled it from my SpiBelt. I looked at it and said, “O.K. Dad, it’s just you and me to the finish line. Take me home.” It was exactly the motivation I needed. I almost ran the entire 2.2 miles without stopping to walking and when I did it wasn’t for very long.
I will though, always remember a lady on the side of the road in my last kilometer (sorry, but you can take the Canadian out of Canada but you can’t take the kilometers out of the Canadian) that really helped me. I was on my last walk break and she looked me straight in the eye and I could have sworn it was my Mom (who has also passed) talking to me. She said, “You have one kilometer to go! You can do this! You will do this! Now go for it!” I will forever be grateful to this beautiful stranger that took the time to encourage me.
As I ran the last half mile I started thanking everyone out loud that has helped me to realize my dream. It was so emotional that I still have a hard time thinking of it without tearing up. But I wouldn’t have been able to get to that point without them.
Right when I was rounding the last corner there was a family of four to give me one last big cheer of encouragement and then I could feel the air conditioning blasting through the door of the Fargodome. The finish line was in sight!!!
A close-up from Friday night.
I used every last bit of energy I had left and sprinted (or at least in my mind I was) to the finish line with my family cheering in the stands beside me for a PR time (it is after all my first one so instant PR) of 5:19:54. It was the most incredible feeling to be done and to know that I was now a marathoner! Me, little old me, a marathoner!!! Woot! Woot!
42.2 kilometers baby!!!
I walked (more like hobbled) over to the food table, grabbed a few goodies and then waited for my family. Much to my surprise my BRF Stephanie and her hubby had seen me come across the finish line too! I hugged her with all my sweatyness and sobbed on her shoulder for a good little while. Plus she was holding me up so I didn’t want to let go!
My family made their way over for more sweaty hugs, kisses and congratulations before we made our way back to the hotel.
My cheering section and amazing family!
Even though it’s been four days since the race I still can’t believe I did it. It’s such an amazing feeling to accomplish something I’ve set my mind to, trained for, sacrificed for and dreamt about and I’m sure it will take quite some time to wrap my mind around it. Oh, and it’s not the last one. It’s only the beginning!