The story continues…October 19th, 2008After a long night of tossing and turning in hopes of getting some sleep and not miss my alarm clock the alarm finally went off at 3:45am and I was up and in the bathroom getting ready for the day ahead. There was a quick bite of Power Bar, banana, and yogurt to eat before slicking myself down with Bodyglide and BioFreeze. I suited up in my best spandex and donned my purple Team in Training singlet which had my name written on the front and a small message on my back shoulder to my grandma. Bleary eyed and excited I headed down to the lobby to meet Coach Kathleen and Coach Renie.
I grabbed a banana and small water from the lobby and off we went. We walked to the start line and my coaches pumped me up some more. They are great for words of encouragement. We got there early and walked around helping a fellow teammate get her race packet (she forgot the day before) and then found the porta potties (which I used several times because A. Nerves and B. who wants to break for a potty break early in the race?) and the bag check. We then headed to the start line for a photo op.
Coach Kathleen, me, and Coach Renie at the Start
Me, so excited to be there
Since I was the only early start from our chapter the coaches left me to head back to the hotel to rally the troops for their 5:30 am lobby meeting. There I stood waiting for my husband Paul to arrive. He showed up just as planned at 5am and shortly after, to my surprise, Jennifer Moodenbaugh arrived. As Jen ran up to me and Paul you could see she was already tearing up. I asked her if she was emotional because she thought she was going to miss it and she nodded yes and then cried a little telling me how proud of me she was. We all laughed a bit and then took the opportunity to take more pictures.
Me and Paul (yes, I might have red eyes from a couple tears)
Jennifer and me before my marathon!
Just before our 5:30 am start (who were ALL Team in Training participants) the crowd did a few Go Team’s and a group sang the National Anthem, and then we counted down to our go. “Five, four, three, two, one!!!!” Off I went, 26.2 miles lie ahead of me and to my left is my husband with the video camera documenting the start of my journey. Jen ran along side too, telling me how proud she was and then they were gone, and all I had ahead with me was my thoughts and thousands of people in the same boat.
Look, marathons are cake walk!
It was dark and the streets were vacant, minus a few people sleeping in doorways and the few onlookers cheering us on. In front of me was a lady with the name Marian written on her back. Marian, spelled with an ‘A’ just like my grandma. I made a mental note to keep track of Marian. As we walked up to The Embarcadero I could tell I was going to be at the back of the Full Walker pack. I was in awe over some walkers pace! There was some serious speed walking going on. But I reminded myself of what Coach Jessica told me about pacing myself and not burning out too early. “Your not going to win, Regina,” she had told me, “you’re here to have fun.” So, that’s what I did. I forgot about the people whizzing by me and I had fun. I talked to a man who frantically walked along side me asking “what is this? Did it start already? I am not where I told my wife I would be, she said 7 am start.” I reassured him that we were the early start group and that his wife would be along later on. It was sweet to see how concerned he was.
In the darkness I didn’t really look for familiar faces. I knew that Paul would be up near the marina Safeway and that at some point around mile 8 I should keep an eye out for family, but around mile 2 I was honored to see Mentor Nancy and Mentor Susan on the side cheering with their TNT signs. When I saw them and they saw me Mentor Nancy flipped her sign around and showed me a “Go C Jane” sign she had made! See Jane had been a nick name I earned from wearing my See Jane Run singlet to Saturday trainings. I rushed to them and hugged them and thanked them for being there for me. I am getting choked up thinking about it. Because really, I was the ONLY early start for our team. They had many other participants out there with a 7am start and they made an effort to come to a spot where they could cheer me on. Thank you ladies!!!! It meant the world to me.
As I came down out of Fort Mason I could see Paul there to cheer me on. And just up ahead was Jen. Now, don’t get me wrong, I appreciated all of the spectators and the cheering sections, but to have these people who were there just for me made it so much more special. The morning was beautiful, and my very fast paced walk through San Francisco brought me to Chrissy Field at mile six. The sun was rising and suddenly I am joined by two very excited coaches. Coach Kathleen and Coach Renie came running up behind me saying “it took us a lot to get to you, you are further along the course then we expected.” What exhilarating news that was! They had found me to help get me up the very steep hills ahead of me. Their timing couldn’t have been any better, even though I was still riding on the high of embarking on this journey my mind was starting to play tricks on me. So with them there to remind me what I was there for and to tell me I was looking good, it helped push me further. They informed me that Coach Jessica would meet me at mile 8 to get me through the rest of the icky parts of the course and then turned back to help others up the hills.
Around mile 7, still feeling good
Towards the middle of mile 7 Paul and Jen were there for further encouragement and a sock change. I was already feeling a hot spot form on the bottom of my foot and needed to change out some damp socks (sweaty feet, very sweaty feet I have) to prevent further blisters. As Jen begins to dig for her pocket knife so I can cut some moleskin a coach from another Team in Training chapter stops and offers her scissors and tape. (I am telling you people, TEAM IN TRAINING ROCKS) All bandaged up and a sip of Jen’s coffee I am off again, and just as I am distancing myself from Jen and Paul who do I see but Coach Jessica smiling and making her way to me with open arms. We chat our way through the upscale neighborhood of San Francisco chatting about anything and everything. Jessica has become a true friend. We have spent so much time together (especially at one of our last Saturday trainings when we might have gotten just a little lost in Rohnert Park because we might have been too busy talking and not paying attention to directional arrows) and gotten to know one another that I feel we have become friends for life. So it was totally acceptable for me to screech to her “look it’s my people!!!” when I saw the gentlemen wearing Proud Republican t-shirts cheering us on from the sidelines. (I came out as a Republican in San Francisco!)
So this is where things start to get a little fuzzy for me. I know Jessica stopped to go back and get others over the hills, and at some point around mile 11 Paul and Jen were there and I didn’t want my nuts anymore and I was wet from condensation on my water bottle so I passed that off to them too, but I wasn’t happy. Suddenly, my smiles were fading and my focused look was taking over. Nearing mile 12 I saw the turn off for the 1/2 marathon participants, and I was pissed. And then even though there were tons of people cheering for us and other TNT participants were happily telling each other “You look good, Go Team” I just wanted to kick people in the shins.
Mile 15 Paul and Jen were there again. I wanted nothing to do with them and when they asked me “how is it going” or “how are you” (I honestly can’t remember) I said something along the lines of “I am done”. No sooner had the words left my mouth then another Team in Training Participant turned around and said “No you’re not, come on. You’re coming with me” and took me under his wing for the next mile. He talked to me and got me to run with him for almost the entire next mile. He was from San Francisco but was originally from some eastern european country. Seriously, this guy was heaven sent. He had no idea who I was, and was a participant. Not a coach, not a mentor, but a participant and he stopped to help pick me up when I was down. That’s TEAM WORK!!! Thank you random Team in Training Guy from San Francisco!!!!!
After I told him I couldn’t run any longer he was off and I was feeling much better. Then out of nowhere I see my friend Marian! (OK, we weren’t friends, but remember I had made a mental note about her earlier). I sped up to catch up with her and saw she had the same look on my face from Mile 15. I offered her some Shot Blocks (or whatever they are called) and she eagerly took them. I mentioned I had seen her earlier and that we were keeping pace with each other. She smiled but was quiet, so I just moved along and refocused my energy. All along the Great Highway I kept a look out for someone. ANYONE!!! But alas, none of my cheering section appeared. I felt slightly discouraged, but didnt’ let it get to me because I had a new found energy, and a new hot spot on the bottom of my foot. SHIT!!!! That’s all I could think. Just get to the next first aid booth. Just get to the next first aid booth. Ow, ow, ow…
That’s when I spotted Lake Merced. I felt overwhelmed, but 100% determined. You could tell just how far there was to get around the lake and I wasn’t pleased, but I just wanted first aid so I pressed on. As I made my way to the red first aid tent Jen and Paul appeared. Jen was cheering “how do you feel, you are setting a personal best here”. In response I begged for nuts and water as they walked along side me. (Side note: Jen has a tendency to cheer me on when I really just want her to stop. For example, she was there trying her best to encourage me while I was in labor with Zoe. I believe she is the only person I yelled at that day and it was something like “SHUT UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” She means well, I just get cranky when I am in pain and other people are peppy and not in pain).
My hands were swollen at the first aid tent
The first aid guy stuck a moleskin circle thing on my already forming blister and I switched out my socks again. The lady next to me had ice on her knees and was on the verge of losing it. She was upset about her time and when I tried to encourage her (she was in a Team in Training singlet afterall) she shot back at me that it wasn’t OK! Waahhh. Just let me tie my shoe and move on! The miles are starting to bring out the worst in people. And just when I thought people were going to stop being nice we saw a sign. “The Chocolate Mile”. People started to reawaken at the thought of chocolate. A lady behind me cheered with her friends and stopped for a photo op with the sign. I just forged ahead eager to reach the people with the snacks. The small, yet tasty chocolate with nuts was just the pick me up the people around me needed. Again there were chants of “Go Team” and “You look great” around me. Then we saw the Mile 23 marker and it was “just a 5K away!!!”. Then I saw my mother-in-law Tina with Paul and Jen on the side of the road.
About to hug Tina with Jen looking on
She looked so proud of me and I ran up to hug her and the rest of my cheering section. She got a little teared up and so did I. I suddenly knew I could do it. I was going to finish. Paul patted me on the back and told me I could beat my goal and believing him, I moved on down the road with a little spring in my step. A very little spring in my step, let’s be honest.
I just kept going. The last few miles seemed like forever away, and then there was Coach Jessica. A smile on her face and words of encouragment to keep me going. I kept telling her “I just want this to be over” and she kept telling me “Your going to do it, your going to finsih! There are still people behind you. You are doing great!!! You are beating our expectations of you.” She asked about my family and I explained I hadn’t seen my kids yet and I just hoped they would at least be at the finish line. Less then five minutes passed when Jessica shouts “Regina, look!!!” There on the side just after mile 24 was Riley, Maureen, Zoe, and Aidan. Coach Jessica motioned for Riley to come down and when I saw Riley running to me I started crying. I was so happy for her to see me doing something I had worked so hard to do. I was excited for Maureen to see me moving towards the finish line and not pissing and moaning about it (She’s been my rock on my 1/2 marathons and has had to sometimes almost drag me to the finish line). I was doing this on my own, and I was doing great! Just a little further ahead was another happy face. Mentor Joel was there telling me “You look great! You’re doing so good!”. Again, tears welled up in my eyes. He had been there for me too. Many a training when I was out on my own and he had either ridden his bike along side with words of encouragement or there was the time he drove Mentor Megan (oh, I think that was her name!) out to walk the remainder of the walk with me, even though I said I didnt’ want the company (really I did, I was just being bitchy).
On we pressed, Jessica and I, and the closer we got to the finish line, the further it looked. I know at some point here Jen appeared to my right on the other side of the fence, trying her best to keep up with us and cheering for me to keep going.
Just as we neared mile 26 Coach Renie and Coach Kathleen appeared. Seeing them caused even more tears to well in my eyes. They both looked like proud parents they beamed so much for me. As soon as I saw them I picked up my pace to a run. Sadly, I lost Coach Jessica and even looked back at one point for her but she motioned for me to keep going. My coaches told me how great I looked and how good I was doing. Then they as we got a certain distance from the finish mat they patted me on the back and said “This is your moment”. (OK, TEARS ARE FORMING IN MY EYES AS I TYPED THAT) and they stopped and I kept going. Well, I stopped running because suddenly the blister on my left foot prevented me from running any further and I weeble – wobble walked the last few feet to the mat.
I FINISHED! I was done! I COMPLETED A F*&KING marathon!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
That’s me as I close in on the finish line!
After crossing the finish line there was a line of firemen in suits holding silver platters with Tiffany Boxes. Honestly, I could have cared less. I grabbed my box, grabbed my finishers shirt, and moved (very slowly) forward looking for my husband. When I saw him I instantly broke down into tears and hugged him. “You did it honey! You finished a marathon. You did it!” There was such pride in his voice and tears (YES PAUL TEARS!!!!) in his eyes. I sobbed some more. My mother-in-law Tina was there with flowers for me and a big hug. She had tears of joy for me too. Then the rest of my crew showed up and all I wanted was the med tent. I hurt. I hurt bad.
Jen figured out where the tent was and hooked me up with a wheel chair ride to the tent. There I was greeted with people who could only help a little. After looking at my blister they determined there was nothing they could do, and then when the Physical Therapist asked about my pain in my hip he gave a few exercises to work it out. A couple of tylenol and a signed waiver form and I was out of there. Sadly, I couldnt’ move fast. I still had to make it to the Team In Traning tent to sign out. Upon arriving there I found they had their own med tent (and a PB&J sandwhich on sliced sourdough) who was far happier to help me.
The blister on my left foot was ridiculous. The first aid guy even laughed and said “That’s the biggest blister I have seen today”. Yay me. A couple quick stabs with a needle and a band aid and some ice for my knee and hip and I was off. Only, I wasn’t moving all that quick. It was suddenly undeniable that I couldn’t walk. If I was going to get a ride to my hotel I needed to make it to the car. I wasn’t going to make it to the car if I couldn’t walk. Jen sprung into action again and somehow managed to get me a wheelchair ride all the way to the restaurant Maureen, Tina, and the kids were eating at on the far corner of Lincoln and the Great Hwy. I was rolled right inside the restaurant! Thanks First Aid Tent Guy!!!!! That’s service!
I rocked the wheel chair
So, that’s my story. We did have a victory party later. I would write about it, but really, my victory party was at the Thai Diner on Lincoln and the Great Hwy.
Me and Coach Jessica at the Victory Party
Thank you. Thank you to everyone along the way. Everyone who was there to support me and to help me see that I could do it. I have never been so proud of myself in my life!
(OK, there will be a brief Pt. 3 as a kind of follow up on my thoughts)