Monday, October 19, 2009
"I can officially say that I am a marathoner." That is what this girl on my team kept saying after our race. This past weekend has been one of the best in my life. I arrived in Mobile about two hours ago, and although I am glad to home, I am sad it is over. It is funny how you anticipate something for so long, and then it is over, just like that. For the past 6 months, I have been training for the Women's Nike Marathon in San Francisco. This weekend I finally did it. My Team-in-Training group that I have been training with for the past several months met up at the airport at 5 am on Friday morning to complete our amazing journey together. It was an experience like no other. Friday and Saturday were days of hanging out, touring the city, and bonding, then Sunday was the day of the race. Sunday morning started at 5 am when we got out of bed. All runners had to meet up at 5:50 am and check in our bags and meet with our team so we could walk to the starting line. The race began at 7 am. There were over 20,000 people at the starting line. The first half of the marathon was easy. I ran with a friend that I had been training with for the last 6 months. We had a great pace and did our best to keep to our schedules intervals. At mile 12, I said good-bye to my running partner as she headed off to complete the half. From that point on I was alone, well unless you count the 10,000 others that surrounded me. I found myself in a zone. I was feeling the best that I had ever felt on a long run day, until mile 17. That was when I hit my first wall. At that my moment, I began to ask myself, how am I going to finish this race. There is still such a long way to go. The next three miles were slow and dreadful. At mile 20 I hit the runner's high that I have heard others talk about, but have never experienced. That gave me a little extra kick, but only lasted until mile 22. At mile 22 everything hurt. My hips and knees hurt so bad that I was worried that I would not be able to finish. I just kept pushing and praying that I would see someone I knew to cheer me in. At mile 24 my ipod quit working, and I realized at that moment that I was on my own and the only person that could complete this task for me was me. I prayed hard. That is when I picked up the pace, stopped the intervals, and just focused on finishing. At mile 25, my running partner jumped the barricades and began running me in. About a half a mile later my running coaches joined in. I was surrounded by a group of people that I loved and I knew would make sure that I would make it to the finish line. There were thousands of people behind the barricades shouting my name and going crazy for me to finish. My coaches kept yelling, "This is Sara and this is her first marathon." That got the crowd even louder. About a hundred yards away, VV (my coach) looked at me and said, "The finish line is all yours, take it! Finish strong!" At that moment, I ran with everything that I had inside of me until I crossed the finish line at 6 hours and 6 seconds. My goal was to finish the race in 6 hours, and I did exactly that. It was amazing feeling to know that I had finally reached a goal that I have been talking about for years. I have to admit that it was a very emotional experience. This race was one that raced money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. All throughout the race there were reminders of this, whether it be a survivor or signs saying thank you for saving my son. Every time I read a sign I had to fight back the emotions and remind myself to breathe. What an amazing event serving an amazing cause. I can not wait to do this again!