My First Marathon

Finishing, but failing my goal.

Photo by Andrew Ruiz on Unsplash

The day I’ve been dreading has happened, race day. The day I’ve been sort of training for, but not really as good as I should have.

The day started at two in the morning so I could eat breakfast before hitting the road to Mesa. It was cold and dark and way too early for me. We rode our bus to the start line and started the long wait for the start.

Running before it gets light out is not my cup of tea, but a promise is a promise. And I had a bunch of people cheering me on at home.

The first few miles flew by as my sister tried to rein me in and pace myself, but my adrenaline was up and I wanted to finish as fast as I could. Our pace was well above where we planned on being and I had high hopes my training would pay off.

Within a few run/ walk cycles, I was in trouble. My muscles started hurting and we started walking and stretching more. I battled through to the halfway point with my sister encouraging me (and sometimes yelling at me). That’s when I hit the wall and started thinking about letting the nice police officers call a med cart for me.

My sister said the words that helped push me through. “What will you tell your students when they ask about your marathon? It got hard and Coach Dawn gave up?”

The reminder that I had more at stake than just my pride kept my feet moving. How could I go back to work and tell them to keep trying when I gave up? What kind of hypocrite did that make me?

The second half of the race, I walked more than I ran. That was the point where everything started hurting. And the further I went, the more I hurt.

Between miles 22 and 23, we were told we were five minutes behind the pacer and needed to step over to the sidewalk. I thought it was over.

But it wasn’t.

Even though we were directed to the sidewalk, we were making it to the finish line. I finally got my sister to go ahead of me and let me fight my own battle.

And it was a battle at that point. Every step was pain and the aid stations were being packed up. By the last mile, I was down to whatever I had on me to get me to the finish line. When I got to mile marker 25, I stopped moving because I couldn’t believe I still wasn’t at the end. Luckily there was a police officer there to walk next to me long enough to get me moving again.

Every time I thought I was done, there was more road to go.

Finally, the finish line appeared and with it, my family. Including a very cute nephew with a sign saying, “Go Dawn!” I picked up the pace and made it through the end to earn my medal. And finished my first marathon.

But I failed my goal of running in less than six hours. I finished in six hours and forty minutes, but I’m not going to beat myself up over it. I finished.

The Pros

The volunteers: helpful and ready to make sure you had everything you needed (even if it was just someone to cheer you on or a second glass of water to fill your bottle)

The police officers and firefighters stationed at every intersection: they kept the course clear of cars and patrolled the course to make sure everyone was healthy.

My sister: even though there were times where I didn’t like her much, she was my biggest supporter and kept me going.

The Cons

The chip tracker: it was supposed to report every time we crossed one of the timers to our followers, but only reported our first mile.

Falling behind the pacer: the aid stations started closing down as soon as the pacer passed them, leaving you with less and less options for refueling (including not getting any of the frozen options near the end). And not getting any of your finisher beer, pizza, or ice cream.

What I Learned

Can you run a marathon with minimal training? You can, but I wouldn’t recommend it. If I could go back in time, I would skip fewer training days because I took too many off. I’m paying for it today with some huge blisters and really sore muscles.

Did I enjoy myself? At times, the view was beautiful and I didn’t mind running through it.

Was it life changing? Not really. I’m proud of myself for finishing and proving I can do tough things.

Will I do it again? Ask me again after I’m recovered.

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Dawn is a freelance writer, gamer girl, aspiring author, and former manager of a game/ comic store. She can be found lurking on Twitter @theDawnDalton.

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