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Marathon Completion and Memories

on June 8, 2011

It’s taken me a few days to try to put together my thoughts, and to be quite honest, I’m still having a difficult time.  There are so many emotions. 

Sunday was suddenly here after months of training.  If you have been following my blog, you will know how stressful the training was for me….how demanding, consuming, emotional, great, terrible, scary, difficult, and everything in between.  You will remember how crazy I felt starting to run at 2:30 am so I would have my long runs out of the way as to not disrupt my family time.  So many times I have wanted to quit.  But I didn’t….and here was the day.

I actually woke up excited, not very nervous.  I found Thomas, the pace leader I wanted to stay with as long as I could.  He told me how hilly and difficult the course is, and it was then that the nerves came back.  Hills are very difficult.  Were my legs going to hold up??    There was a girl there, Theresa, who had been at the Get Lucky Half in March and we had been in the same pace group for that…I was so glad to see her again! 

The gun went off promptly at 7am and I was estatic!  I was going!  I was started!  My first MARATHON!   Theresa and talked and talked.  Everything felt so great…the people were great, the city was beautiful.  Everything was going so smoothly…until…mile 7.  Who put that hill there????  YUCK!  It was a long hill, not an easy hill, and I was so disappointed that it was so difficult, even though Thomas had warned me.  My legs didn’t hurt at the end of this hill, but they were definately tired already.  I hadn’t planned on them feeling tired this early, but nothing I could do about it except slow my pace a little and keep plugging away. 

We got to mile 12ish and my legs were TIRED and Theresa was experiencing some of her own difficulties, so we decided to stick together away from our pace group.  It was the best decision for both of us.  We slowed down from them, went at our own pace that was right for us, and we helped each other through.

We were heading out to Fort Snelling and we knew that it was going to get lonely out there.  There were plenty of med tents and water stops, but not spectators.  We were turned onto a dirt trail with lots of uneven terrain and rocks.  It was a miracle I didn’t come out of there with a rolled ankle!  We had a turnaround out there and started heading back toward Minneapolis.  We got to about mile 17 and there it was….the worst hill I have ever seen in my life.  We knew that we were going to walk it…everybody does.  It was so steep, that we had to walk bent over forward and we had to push on our thighs to even get the other foot to move forward.  We figured the incline percent had to be over 50.  It was unreal. 

We made it up that hill and onto the rest.  I had a hard time between 18.5 and 20.  I was so tired.  Once we hit mile 20, the fact that there was finally a TWO as the front number was a boost and I found a little energy…not sure where I found it though.  We kept plugging along, eating our snacks, drinking water and Powerade.  We were back where we could be around spectators and they were so wonderful.  Our trail was opened up to other walkers and bikers and I must say, most of the people biking were so rude.  In fact, while I was going for water at the water station around mile 22, a biker going way too fast nearly ran me over.  All the people at the water station yelled at him or her and I never got a “sorry!” and that was really frustrating.  I wanted to scream…”Hellooo!  I’m running a marathon here!”  But I barely had the energy to even think it!

Mile 23 everything felt like it was shutting down.  My quads were BURNING, my feet hurt.  Everything else was fine, but my legs and feet hurt so badly and that the word excruciating doesn’t even come close to describing how it felt.  Again, we kept plugging away.  Mile 24.5 to mile 25.5 was the absolute worse and I didn’t think it could get any worse than what I was already feeling.  I was so close to the finish, but I did NOT think I could put one foot in front of the other anymore.  It just didn’t seem possible.  I kept saying to Theresa…”I just don’t know, I just don’t know if I can do this.”  I can’t even describe the pain.  And who puts a HILL AT MILE 25.5????????? 

We got through the hill and she said…..”Around that corner, we only have 3 blocks to go…that’s it!”  There were these huge, black flags that had all the states represented in the race as the start of the finish corral.  When I saw how close we were to the finish, I quit thinking about the pain and I started to cry.  I first saw the huge banner, then I saw my cousin Kean, then I heard my sister Jackie yellling my name…”Jess! Jess!  Woohoo!  You are going to do it!  Way to go Jess!”  I was scanning the crowd through teary eyes for Lane and Nicholas and suddenly, from my right, came Nicholas out to run the last little bit with me.  I was so happy to see him and it meant SO MUCH that he wanted to do that. 

As we crossed the finish line, I heard over a microphone…”Finishing the Minneapolis Marathon is Jessie Powell from Harmony, Minnesota!”  How neat it was to hear your own name at the finish.  They put the beautiful GOLD medal around my neck….I hugged Nicholas, I hugged Theresa.  She and I held on for so long…we thanked each other for each other’s support and suddenly we parted ways…after 5 hours and 46 minutes painful and wonderful minutes together, we parted ways.  Then I saw Lane.  He grabbed me and held me while I sobbed and sobbed.  He told me how extremely proud of me he was and how he always knew I could do it.  I will never forget those finishing moments.  I will never forget any of the moments during that race.  The pain, the excitement, the laughs, the tears, the nerves, the people, the sights, the sounds, THE HEAT ( I don’t think I mentioned how extemely HOT it was too), the people throwing up, the people on stretchers with the ambulances.

Many people have asked me if I’ll do another marathon.  I told myself that I wasn’t going to decide for a good amount of time.  There are just too many emotions.   For one, I’m so relieved to be done with the life-consuming training.  There is a huge part of me that NEVER wants to limit myself to that training ever again.  I don’t ever want to be so worried about limiting myself to one thing like that.  I want to be able to run when I want and enjoy it…I want to lift weights without having to worry about pulling or straining something that would not allow me to train and sideline me and then be setback…I want to be able to NOT go for a run if I don’t feel like it and then not feel guilt-ridden about not running.  On the other hand, I still have the high…I still feel the adrenaline…I wonder if I did some things differently, how would the 2nd one go?  I do know what it takes now and I would know what I would be getting myself into, so maybe training would be a little different the next time.  I don’t want to decide on either emotion right now because it would be the wrong decision.  All I know for now, is I want a break from any sort of race until at least fall.  I am going to walk a 5K with my dad in July.  It’s his first 5K after successfully making though cancer and chemo and I want to walk with him for that.  But as far as running and events in the very near future?   No, none…I want a break.  I think I deserve a break.

All in all….now that it’s over, I loved it.  I’m glad that I stared the training, glad I completed the training, estatic that I finished a marathon.  The future is uncertain when it comes to another one as I’ve said and I don’t care.  I’m going to enjoy my feelings, my beautiful medal, enjoy the weight off my shoulders. 

Thank you to all of you who have sent me supportive comments, texts, emails….it really does mean the world to me.  Thank you to my friends who let me talk as much as I needed to.  Especially…thank you to Kean who helped me through so much…he is such an inspiration.  Thank you to Nicholas for being a wonderfully supportive son and for coming out to run with me.  And to Lane.  I can’t even describe the support he constantly gave me every single day.   And now…onto the next journey…whatever that may be!



One response to “Marathon Completion and Memories

  1. Linda Dwyer says:

    Hebrews 12:1 And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.

    “The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.”
    -John Bingham

    So so proud of you girl!!!! Not sure at almost 50 God has a full marathon in His plans for me but had I started at your age I would not want to miss that experience!! Loved your training blog! Have you read Born to Run or the Ryan Hall book on running with joy? Those are two of my fav’s!! Rest and enjoy all you learned these past months in the prep and celebration of accomplishment!! Congrats!!!

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