Back-to-back Marathons Part 2! I was exhausted and feeling the affects of Jackson, Miss. hills when I fell into bed last evening I wondered how in the world I was going to run ANOTHER marathon in mere hours.
I woke up at 5 a.m. and prayed that God would give me the strength, courage and grace to finish this morning's marathon. Ken had picked up my race packet last evening and that was a godsend. I had no energy to go pick it up. I repeated what I did 24 hours previous (mixed my Gen UCAN and got dressed) and hit the road for the short drive to the race start.
This marathon (BankTrust First Light Marathon) was very low key. It fully supports the L' Arche Foundation. No chip time, the start line was a painted orange line, and gun start. Just the way I like it. I was still in a fog and between stages of pain and sleepwalking.
7:30 a.m. and the race began. I was thinking that I was going to be walking a lot and told myself to give the race my all. Whatever my all was. Surprisingly, my legs actually moved. And not just moved, but ran. I was happy. As each mile came and went, my legs began to get the hang of it. YESSSS ...
There were other people who had run the full yesterday as well and so we quickly bonded. Or commiserated. Regardless we all encouraged each other. Around Mile 5 I started running with another back-to-back marathoner. He was VERY experienced, had run over 100 marathons and many, many back-to-backs. I quickly started asking him questions. We were also running at the same pace so it was a natural fit to run together. I think we were both happy for the company. He had run this course the last five (?) years and so he knew the tough parts on the course.
I remember my heart kind of sinking when he said that this is a tough back-to-back to do. Great! Good thing I like challenges. Ha. He paced the five hour group yesterday and was shooting for a 4:30 finish time today. He figured I could run that time. The only caveat was that I ran pretty hard yesterday on a tough course and today's course was not as hilly, but still tough. I don't shy away from doing my best and said I would run a 4:30 pace as long as I was able to.
Mile 17-18 was a big climb, the sun came out and we grabbed oranges before we started up it. Although I was tired, I still felt strong. And determined to hit that time goal. The highest point of the race course came around mile 20. Most people don't think Mobile, Ala., has hills. For the most part it doesn't, but at mile 20 we were looking over the city. Good times.
And what goes up must come down. So we started a slow descent. After a few last climbs, we finally hit the last five miles and flatness! Happy, happy. I pushed a little harder and passed a ton of people. Including some relay runners that had just started. That felt good.
The last 5K I ran really strong and before I knew it, I was hearing the sweet sounds of the finish line. After a few turns, there it was and I ran the second marathon in a 24-hour span in 4:27! As I crossed the line I threw up a little and my new friend held me up. I stumbled over to a chair and tried to fully comprehend what I just accomplished. Tom helped me over to a bench and went and got me food. So awesome.
As I sat there, I was completely stoked and proud of myself. At the start of the day I had NO idea how I was going to walk, let alone run and I surprised myself by running pretty much the whole way. The feeling can not be described. To God be the glory.
The race was absolutely amazing. The marathon is fully supported by the L'Arche Foundation. From their website: "L'Arche is an international federation of communities in which people with an intellectual disability and those who help them can live, work, and share their lives together." And that community MADE our medals and the special back-to-back awards. So touching. The marathon fees went strictly to L'Arche. The post-race party was also great. Tom, myself and other runner friends we made all talked about the race and other things where you wished you a mouse on the ground :).
Soon, it was time to hobble back to the car and go get a shower! I wasn't able to take an ice bath, so I put my legs up on the wall (a good trick to know) and then slept for a few hours. It felt great to sleep - finally!
Ken had friends over in the evening for dinner and it was great to meet more friendly people! I washed my sweaty clothes and then I went to bed. I had an early flight (again).
All in all it was a great, whirlwind, sweaty, long, fun weekend. My first back-to-back marathons done and won't be my last!