Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Boy Your Momma Warned You About

This post has actually been one of the most difficult posts to write because I am still trying to wrap my head around that I am a member of the 1% Club!!!  (Only 1% of the world has ever completed a marathon, once you complete one, you are a member of the 1% club) I have all these feelings and thoughts to write down and they are so sporadic that it’s hard to put into words.  I did my best though so enjoy my recap of the Chevron Houston Marathon 2013.

Chevron Houston Marathon 2013 Recap
I have always heard that a marathon is a different type of beast and it’s in a whole different category, but until I ran one I didn’t know exactly what they were talking about.  Marathons are like the boy you momma warned you about, but you didn’t listen. Haha. 

For more pics go here.
As you know, I was a bundle of nerves this entire week (well, the past 6 months!) and my friends all tried to calm me down via encouraging messages, movies, and even flowers!!  My friend Hector brought me flowers to my work to cheer me up.  Aren’t they beautiful?  Tulips are my favorite flowers of course!

I went to the expo on Saturday morning around lunch time to pick up my packet and walk around the expo.  There were all kinds of vendors set up ranging from clothing to hydration.  There were also several different races set up so you could sign up for them.  I just walked around looking at everything but I didn’t end up buying anything.

There was this big wall that you could write why you were running and of course I had to write why I was running (you can go here to see what I wrote).

Official bib!!

After the expo I went to my parents house to chill out and also give my dad/stepmom my special needs bag in case I needed anything when they saw me on the course.  It had an extra pair of shoes, socks, Tylenol, hat, running fuel, bandaids, and a PB&J sandwich.  I got home around 8:30 and fell asleep by 9:15 pm for my 3:30 am wakeup call.

My running shirt that I had made on Etsy!  It's silver glitter paper!!  I highly recommend using VA shirt shop on Etsy, they are awesome to work with and I got my shirt back within a week.  If you look closely in the shoe it actually says 26.2.  Go to the picture page (link at the top) to view a close up of the shoe.  Super cool.
The next morning I woke up at 3:30 am having not slept very well that night.  I don’t remember what my dreams exactly were, but I remember having a lot of them.  I ate a bagel with peanut butter and a banana, which I could barely finish but I choked it down.  I am not used to eating at 3 am so my body didn’t want it.  I got dressed, double checked my lists to make sure I didn’t forget anything and waited for my friend Tonya to pick me up.  Tonya had offered to drop me off at the race, along with our friend Aly so we wouldn’t have to drive and worry about parking. My parents would take us home later since we would be too tired later (smart decision!!).  We were dropped off around 5:30 am and met our group in the area to take pictures and to stretch.  

At 6:45 we headed to our separate corrals to start the race at 7 am.  I was in the open corral so we were the last group to cross the start line.  The faster runner you were, the earlier corral you were in (A, B, or open), but I am not super speedy so I was just in the average people corral.  I crossed the start line about 13 minutes after the gun went off and I started my Garmin GPS watch.  The 6 hour time limit didn’t start until the last corral crossed the start line, which gave everyone a fair advantage.  I said a prayer to God to keep me safe and help me finish this goal.  I knew that there would be obstacles for me to finish, but that it would make it that much sweeter when I did finish.

Right when I was crossing the start line it started to pour down rain.  I had a poncho on, a light weight jacket , and gloves, in addition to my other race gear but I got immediately soaking wet.  I kept trying to avoid puddles so I wouldn’t get my feet wet, but the rain was coming down so hard and people were splashing, it was inevitable that my shoes and socks were soaked by mile 2.  I knew that my family were going to be at around Mile 5 so I could get new shoes then if I needed them.  I crossed mile 3.1 and an automatic alert was sent to my friends and family via text and also FB updating them on my progress.  At this point I was on pace to hit my goal of 5 hours!

At mile 5 I started to look for my family hoping to see a familiar face, but I couldn’t find them. The crowd of runners were so thick that I didn’t think they could find me easily so I was looking really hard to find them.  Every mile after I scanned the crowd looking for them, but I couldn’t see them.  At Mile 8 I knew that they would be at Niko Niko’s so I knew I could give them my soaked jacket and Garmin watch to hold so it wouldn’t get wet anymore, but still no family or friends.  I just knew at any time I would see them.  I crossed the 15K and Half marathon marks and automatic texts/FB messages were sent out and people on FB were cheering me on (I LOVED reading the comments later when I was done).  Right around the 1/2 marathon mark, a group was sprinkling "holy water" on people...of course I got some!  I am Baptist, so we don't have holy water but I still believe in it!  I guess a preacher blessed it or something?  IDK, but I loved it!!  Each mile after 15 my pace got slower and slower.  I really wanted to see my friends and family, but I couldn’t find anyone.  I ditched my poncho at Mile 15 because the rain had stopped.

At Mile 16 we entered the Galleria area and I was still feeling great, and then finally at Mile 17 I saw my friend Leslie!!  Halleluiah!  I was so happy to see someone I knew.  She ran with me for a few minutes asking if I needed anything.  I had ditched my gloves around Mile 7 so my hands were so cold they wouldn’t close.  She offered me her gloves and I felt bad for putting them on, but she assured me that she wanted me to have them (Leslie, I will wash them and bring them to you!).  At the 30K (18.6 miles) marker I realized that this is the farthest I had ever run, which sort of messed with my head a little bit.  Could I keep going? Yes!  My pace began to slow waaaaay down at this point because my head was playing games with my resolve.  Where was my family? 

(photo courtesy of Leslie)

Finally we crossed 610 and made it to the Memorial Park area and the dreaded 20 mile ‘wall’ area of the course.  Right before Mile 21 I saw my Dad and stepmom Pie.  I saw them before they saw me and waved my hands so they would see me.  They said I looked great and had been to four different spots trying to find me.  I needed Tylenol and I was starving so I ate a quarter of my PB&J (it was all I could stomach even though I was starving).  My shoes were dry by this point so I didn’t change my shoes.  I don’t know if it was the socks that were amazing or if God knew I wouldn’t be able to handle blisters, but I ended the race without blisters (I think it was God who helped me out!).

Krista was waiting for me at Mile 22 and took pictures of me running.  She is so awesome!  Krista was my inspiration to start running in the first place and came to cheer me on for the marathon and her also to cheer her mom Ginger and friend Katie to the half (who both did awesome btw!).  Krista didn’t run this year because she is carrying Baby Dabel #1 due in May. :)  She said I was looking good and that she would see me at the finish line.

(photo courtesy of Krista)

Mile 23-26.2 were pretty bad, I’m not going to lie.  I don’t think I ever hit ‘the wall’ but I did have a hard time.  I only had a 5K to go, but that 5K was brutal.  You could see downtown and knew that the GRB/Finish line was just behind those skyscrapers, but you couldn’t get there fast enough.  I absolutely did a walk/run combo in those last three miles.  Brutal. 

At Mile 25 I could see the GRB and I just kept focusing on the big red things on top of the building, willing myself to go faster so I could be done.  I kept praying to God that he would give me strength to finish this thing (I really had been praying that since Mile 18) and I felt that my grandfather was up there watching me the entire time.  My Grandfather loved baseball hats so I wore one of his hats (Texans) so he was with me the entire time.  Every time the wind blew I felt he was there with me.  When I wanted to give up, I would just think how he was up there watching me and how he would be so proud of me. 

I started to cry at Mile 25 because I knew I was about to become a marathoner!!!  Wow!  Who would have believed that a girl who started running a year and a half ago, that was 40 lbs heavier, would be running a marathon today?  Me?  What?  But I was about to do the ‘impossible’. I was crying pretty hard and I couldn’t breathe so I had to calm myself down. LOL.  Nerd! :)

I finally turned the corner and tried to sprint to the end, but I honestly had nothing left to give.  I jogged it in as fast as I could, but I left everything I had on that course.  I saw Aly and Matt who were cheering me on, then I saw my Dad and Pie, Krista was there also but I didn’t see her.  I crossed the finish line at 5:45:30, 45 minutes past my goal of 5 hours.  It was a tough, brutal day but I gave it my all and didn’t give up.  I was very proud of myself.  

If you go to this website and search by my last name you will find a video of me crossing the finish line.

 Picture with my Dad and Stepmom Pie!  

KRISTA!!  She made a sign for me that said Margaritas at the finish Steph 26.2.  She actually bought me a margarita and brought it with her!!  I haven't drank it yet, but I will soon!!!  

Finishers goodies!  Once I crossed the finish line I got a medal immediately and then went inside the expo center to pick up my mug and shirt.  This is the back of the shirt.
 Finishers medal up close!  I worked super hard for this thing.  It was EARNED, not GIVEN!

My parents drove me home and after they left I immediately took a bath. I couldn't stand up in the tub so I just sat there washing my hair.  Finally, I realized this was really lazy so I tried to stand up, 5 minutes later I finally did and then got out.  I fell asleep around 3:30 and didn't wake up until 8 am the next day (well, I did for a few minutes at a time to feed Jabba and stuff but it wasn't for long stretches).

What did I put in my finishers mug?  Nuun Hydration of course!  I needed to make sure I was hydrated so I could recover properly, so Nuun it was!  Plus, I am not a fan of beer.

Thank you's:
Thank you's also go out to my Dad, Pie, Krista, and Leslie for encouraging me on the course and at the finish line.  You guys are awesome and I am so glad you were there to share it with me.

I checked my phone on the way home and I had so many notifications at the top it was unreal!  Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone out there who encouraged me along the way.  You have no idea how much you words, prayers, and positive thoughts meant to me along this journey.  I am truely blessed to have all of you in my life!  My FB wall and automatic posts that were sent each time I crossed certain mile markers had positive words that I keep going back to read.  You guys are awesome!  I have never felt so loved!!

My family (and some friends) tracked me the entire time via the app or text messages and I received many calls and texts of congratulations when I crossed the finish line.

What's next?
Will I do it again?  Ask me again in a few weeks/months and I will let you know.   I will say that I am very competitive with myself and I am already itching to beat my time, so it will probably happen, just not right now.  I don't even want to think about it at this point.  If you asked me either Sunday or yesterday, the answer was probably a NO, but today I am actually considering it.


  1. Congrats! I have been bragging about being part of the 1% too! lol. I am ready to start looking for my next one!

    1. Congrats to you too! Can't wait to read about your experience. :)

      We are doing several 1/2's coming up but I think I am going to wait until November to do another full. They are tough on your body! I am planning on doing the Philadelphia Marathon next, but we will see how it goes.

  2. Fantastic job! I ran Houston, too. I can't believe you only started running in the last year or two, and already did a marathon! Thanks for the twitter follow. I love connecting with other local runners. :)

    1. Thanks for following me too! I read your recap (and then found you on twitter) about the race...you are speedy! I wasn't sure if you were in Houston or not, but I am glad you are. Next time you have a blogger/Twiter meetup, I would love to come!