The race began at 7:00 am, but my race with time started at 7:00 pm last night. I knew I had to go to bed, but I was absolutely NOT tired. My husband and I played a game of cards, and then we finally got into bed about 10:00 pm. I couldn't fall asleep, of course, and I think I finally got to sleep around 11:30. Unfortunately, I woke up around 3:30 to use the bathroom and COULD NOT go back to sleep.
Ah, well. My plan was to get up at 4:00 am, so I just lay in bed for a while longer and got up when my alarm went off. The pre-race morning stuff went really well-the preparing of my race bib to my shirt, the chip to shoe thing, the drinking of water for a couple hours, the whole bathroom bit ;). I had a really good start, so I knew it was going to be a good day. I was fully prepared by 5:30 am, and I was super, super nervous.
At 6:00 am on the dot, we were on the road to the race. We arrived at about 6:40 or so, and there were massive lines to the restroom. I HAD to go, or I wouldn't have made it in the race further than a mile. I just had to pee, but it was enough to make it uncomfortable. I stood in line and finally got in, with only 5 minutes left to race time. Luckily, the lineup was steps away. I felt good, really good.
I found a place up towards the front of the pack, and I looked for the 3:30 pacer. Couldn't find him. Oh well. Nothing I can do but just get ready to go. When the gun sounded, I was off. I knew I had to keep it slow; this wasn't a race against anyone. It was a race against time. I kept that in mind as many, many people passed me - they were all running the 10K and the Half, I told myself. They NEEDED to run pretty quickly. I just told myself to keep running until I reached 1 mile, and then I could see if I needed to slow down or speed up. I would be at a point where I could easily speed it up or slow it down.
Mile 1 - 7:43:07
I had already decided I was going to keep track of every single mile, just to see how I paced myself, overall. I knew this time was a little fast, but I was feeling alright, and I knew there were hills coming up that would make up that time. I just decided to keep going at that pace, because it felt completely comfortable.
I'll cut it short here and just say that the next 7 miles were just too easy. I can't even tell you how remarkable I felt. I started running with an older guy around mile 4, only because I wasn't sure I was running the right way and I wanted to ask him which race he was running. Found out he was running the Half, so I was indeed going the right way. I was just afraid I had picked up the path of the 10K-ers. I did NOT want to accidentally do that. Talk about disappointment. I continued running with this guy, telling him about my running past and whatnot, until about mile 8. He faded back and I kept going. It was here that the first of the hills started. There were two hills here, between miles 8 and 10, and though they looked difficult from the bus tour yesterday, they were actually very easy.
It was at around mile 11 that there was a MASSIVE hill. I knew about it; I had seen it on the bus tour yesterday. I also noticed, at this point, that there was a cyclist coming at me. He went behind me and turned around again to talk to me. He said to me, casually, "Hi, how are you?" I was like, "Um, fine, how are you?" Turns out he was there to tell me that I was in third place. I couldn't even imagine what he was saying! WHAT? How could that be? I said, "Are you sure?" He said, "Yes, the other two are about 2 minutes ahead of you, and I just wanted to let you know." I told him that was fine and that I was only there to qualify, and that those women could just go on being 1st and 2nd place.
That was only the beginning of our friendship. He ended up staying with me the entire marathon, and it was helpful, at times. I told him a lot more about my training along the way, and that this was my first marathon. Of course, anyone who has run a marathon probably knows that these cyclists are there with the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place participants. I didn't know that until the end.
Around mile 13 the cyclist from the 2nd place girl came back and told me
and my cyclist that the 2nd place girl had gone ahead to finish. You are not going to believe this-she was supposed to be doing the Half and got off
on the wrong path! She ran 5 miles out of the way!! So that immediately
shoved me into 2nd place. It was too surreal. I can't even tell you how I
felt. I felt lucky, that's what I felt.
I'm going to kind of cut this part short, because for the remainder of the race, I just ran. I mean, I felt awesome, and when mile 16 came along and I still felt like a million bucks. I couldn't believe it, actually. I thought for sure that after mile 15 or so, I'd start to feel it. NOPE. I actually ended up passing the first place girl between mile 18 and mile 19, as she stopped to get stuff at the aid station. I never stopped, never. I just grabbed and ran. When she stopped it put me in 1st, and she never caught back up to me.
I felt fine, for the most part, until around mile 24. At 24 I started feeling the run. It hurt in my hips, more than anything. But it wasn't bad enough to be concerned. I never thought I wasn't going to finish. I got about halfway through and I told my cyclist, "Man, I'm looking forward to that 25 mile marker." He said it was coming up in about a quarter mile.
From there on out it was just a blur. I remember running that last mile, and the cyclist telling me, "You can smile now. You did it. You finished in your time, AND you're first." At mile 26, there was a downhill slope to the band, the finish, and the end. He said, "Here you go. Live it up, throw your hands up, and smile when you go through that tape. You deserve it."
So I did. They announced my name when I ran through, said it was my
first marathon, and it felt FREAKING AMAZING. I will NEVER forget it,
nor my husband, who took care of me at the end. He gave me a lawn chair
that we had brought, which I desperately needed, and water. There were
TONS of people congratulating me, talking to me, looking at me, all at once. The news stations got my picture, there was a guy there immediately from the Omaha World-Herald newspaper to talk to me about my run, how the
race fared, how I trained, etc. I felt like a celebrity.
I ended up getting a medal for finishing, a plaque from the RRCA, (the Road Runners Club of America), saying that I was the 2007 Omaha Marathon Female Open Champion, and a framed picture of some Polar Bears? with a value of $700. We left right after receiving the prizes, as I was exhausted, in need of a shower, and it was nearing 12:30 pm.
So, that's it. My time: 3:22:40! That's right, I qualified for Boston, AND New York!!! (Qualifying times, respectively, are 3:40:00 and 3:23:00)