Tybee Island: My First Marathon

I finished my first marathon! I can officially call myself a "runner"...I think?!

I decided I wanted to do this way back in high school, when I overheard my cross country coach tell another runner that "completing a marathon is one of the greatest accomplishments in one's life". So when my sorority sister, Amanda, began training for her first marathon in 2002, I showed enough interest (read: I was her overwhelmingly curious groupie) that she invited me on board for her second.

After committing ourselves to 18 weeks of training (and NO trips to the bar!), we made the trip to Tybee Island, Georgia with a group of other runners from Camp Seafarer. In addition to the group support, Amanda and I had quite the fan club: my Mom, Mima, Phi Mu little sis Neena, roommates Jen and Shannon. The start of the race offered big crowds and lots of excitement. I had tears in my eyes....it was just awesome!!

Miles 1-10 were nice and steady. I ran with Amanda and was sooo happy to have someone there with me during my first race. I wish I would have paid more attention to my surroundings...and less attention to the super cool running acessories and outfits the people around me had on. Every once in awhile, Amanda would point out funny things that I was missing since I was checking out the shoes in front of me.

We got to see our support crew at mile 7, which didn't take much effort since Mima had on a bright orange beanie and Shannon looked like she just walked off of a runway (fur coat, pageboy hat, full make up...gotta love her!). It was good to see familiar faces. I ran up and jumped on them with excitement, but also secretly hoped they would piggy back me the next 19 miles...of course, they didn't offer!
The hard part of the race came at mile 13, when the half marathoners finished and we had to keep running. The island itself is very small, so the course is essentially one lap around for the halfers and...you guessed it...two laps around for the full marathoners. It took every ounce of emotional strength I had to stay cool when I saw the finishing runners stop, get their medals, hug their loved ones, and cry/smile/shout with the sheer joy of accomplishment. I had another 13 miles to go before I could do any of those things...

I was not prepared for the last 6 miles. Since my training "long runs" had consisted of 16,18 and 20 miles, I did not have the experience to be able to feel strong on this bit of uncharted territory. I seriously had to have some mental talks with myself to keep going; my legs felt like they weighed 100 pounds each with the strength of rubber bands! Amanda and I were not chatting at this point, but we both knew we were "in it" together.

I finally saw the chute and just took off sprinting. Amanda and I finished together and our final time was 5:19:52. Since my goal was simply to finish, this was great news! Amanda beat her previous marathon time by almost 20 minutes, too. For these reasons (and the simple satisfaction of being able to STOP), we were both crying our eyes out as our crew greeted us with flowers, stuffed animals, and high fives.

Although the pain was more than anything I've ever experienced (yes, I'm counting the all 4 impacted wisdom teeth thing), running a marathon was VERY worthwhile. After all, I'm a "runner" now!