Tuesday, May 2, 2017

2017 Rock N Roll Nashville Marathon Recap

Kyle and I headed out to Nashville Friday morning, thanks to his sweet parents flying in to town and watching our girlies (they are so amazing!). It was so much fun to explore Nashville with my sweetheart!

For our pre-race meal we opted for Mexican food. We had loaded nachos and burritos (which is probably not the best meal before a race but it was absolutely delicious)!
On race day, we woke up bright & early (aka four thirty in the morning), ate a little bit of breakfast and then headed towards the starting line to meet up with my girlfriends (Alyssa, Sanita, & Jamie). 
 As the start of the race inched closer, and there was still a good amount of cloud coverage- I naively thought that we would have a cooler race then predicted.
 Boy, was I wrong! The humidity was around 88% and It wasn't long before the temperature creeped it's way to the nineties!
Even though, I had heard all along that the Nashville marathon was a hilly course, nothing could have prepared me for the 2-4 hills per mile (with some miles being one long hill). It was torture (mentally and physically):D!  
I didn't take very many pictures of the crowd or their hilarious signs but they were everywhere. And they definitely gave me a much needed mental reprieve from the grueling hills!
Aside from my feet going numb, I was doing okay physically at this point. I think the first 7 miles were the easiest mentally because I knew the course (Kyle had driven us around town the day before to better prepare me for the hills). For some reason, that made a huge difference for me in the second half of the course. I was in unbelief of how many hills there were and how they never seem to end. I think if I had seen the course prior to running it, it may have not been such a shock to me mentally (or soul crushing:D)!
 Kyle met up with Sanita and I right around mile 9, after I had just had a horrible asthma attack. He didn't know it at the time, but I had seriously considered stopping because of the wheezing and shortness of breath. It's been over fifteen years since I've had anything close to what I experienced during the race, and I'll tell ya- there's nothing quite as scary as losing control over your own body. 

Sanita was next to me at the time, and she could hear the wheezing and see my panic expression, so I think it scared her a little too. 

Thankfully the day before I had a feeling I should pack my inhaler, so I had it on my hydration pack. But, I almost didn't pack it, Kyle actually teased me about bringing it because he said it would be cheating if I took it when I didn't need it. But something, kept telling me I should pack it. I now know it was a tender mercy from the Lord. He knew how much this meant to me and how I might need it.

I had intended to keep my hydration pack with me until mile 15, but since it was so hot, I had drank all two liters of water by mile 9. So, Kyle took my pack from me then, which was such a welcomed relief for my shoulders!
I didn't see Kyle again until mile 16. I decided to skip the last three aid stations, so, I was really thirsty by this point and my calves where giving me twinges of cramps (which made the doubts of finishing creep in). Other than that I felt fine:D.
 This was about the time I realized I wasn't going to get my finishing time I wanted, unless I picked up the pace, which didn't feel realistic. I didn't know how many more hills there were ahead and I didn't want to burn out the little energy I had left at this point.
At mile 17 we ran through the First Tennessee Park, which was a cool change in scenery but the gravel hurt my feet badly. Not that It took much at this point (I already had blisters on my toes). 

Amidst all the aches and pains, the thing that frustrated me the most was that I didn't pack enough salt pills (I had three in my hydration pack and then Jamie gave me a few more, but it wasn't enough). It was too hot, and I was losing electrolytes way too quickly, and it was adding to the fatigue. I think it was a general consensus though, because every water station/medical station we got to had already ran out of them. Lesson learned!
  Miles 18 & 19 brought more hills, and a soreness in my quads that I had never felt during training/running, which scared me. I always took pride in knowing after a long hard run, that I had more in my tank, but I wasn't even close to finishing and my quads were already fatigued. This is about the time I realized that my legs weren't going to get me to the finish line-my tenacity was (and of course the help of my Heavenly Father).
 I think the look on my face says it all! This was how I felt every time I got to the top of a hill, only to see there was yet another hill ahead. It was so hard to see people walking the hills, it was oh-so temping! But, with my first goal of finishing under four and a half hours being off the table now, I needed to hold on to the only thing I had left- which was to run the entire marathon. Because If I faltered on that goal, I knew I would be devastated when I finished!
Kyle was so sweet throughout it all, he never stopped smiling, cheering me on and stopping at every aid station to get me fuel & drinks. I love him so much and I'm not sure I could have done it without his help! 

Mile 25 was the hardest for me, because I felt absolutely drained, and there was a mile long hill ahead and I still couldn't see the finish line. Twice during that mile, I reached for Kyle's arm to get his attention but secretly because I wished he could pull me to the finish line:D. But he just kept reassuring me that we were almost there, I was doing great and that the hill was almost over. I wanted to cry so bad at that point, but I didn't have anymore fluids left in me to spare.
But, I made it! It wasn't pretty. It wasn't when I wanted it to happen, but I finished! I came in at four hours and fifty minutes (over a minute slower per mile than in training). 

It was definitely not my best time, but I take comfort in knowing: I never gave up, I smiled throughout the race, and I sprinted the last .2 of the race. I did my best. And that is all I could ask for! Plus, I had the support of my amazing husband through it all, and it made me feel so loved, cared-for and treasured. Best feeling in the world!
I'm still in awe that he ran 11 miles with me (without even training)! He's such a trooper!
I look forward to repaying the favor, and being able to be his cheerleader on his first triathlon this summer (I already know he'll do great)!
 Afterwards, I caught up with my beautiful friends and congratulated them on their amazing accomplishment and shared stories about our journey to the finish-line!
I'm not entirely sure I'm cut-out for marathons, but I sure am happy to have been able to complete this one! We will have to wait and see if I keep this long distance running up!