First things first, I DID IT!
Ok, now that we have gotten that point across, let's talk about the race. Packet pickup was fun and easy. It was held in a parking lot outside a RoadRunner's store, and was fun. Not too crowded. Picked up my bib, confirmed I did not have to ride the 5:15 am bus, and then walked into the store, crossing over a chip tester strip. Then I received my shirt, a nice Nike DriFit sized for women. We did a little window shopping and then headed to the hotel.
The alarm went off at 5:15 and we were out the door by 5:45, on our way to the starting area. I checked my bag, struggled with a safety pin and then posed for a picture. I was so glad I opted for the tall socks and makeshift arm warmers. It was 55 at the start, but still kind of cool.
And, we were off! I started out slow, knowing I would need to pace myself, but also wanting to hit that magic number of under 3 hours. I crossed the starting line about 4 minutes into the timer, so I knew not to get discouraged if I crossed the finish line a little after 3:00:00. The first few miles flew by. I felt great, felt fast, was moving well. I stopped at mile 4 for a quick pit stop and then kept on going. I met up with a new friend about mile 5/6 and we stuck together until the last 1/2 mile or so. We were stopped by police officers trying to clear up traffic for about 2 minutes and I was a bit discouraged, but understood why they were doing it.
The lead marathon runners passed us at mile 8.5 on pace for a sub 3 hour marathon. Starting at mile 8, there were aid stations every mile. They had water, Powerade, cliff blocks, sometimes fruit and jolly ranchers. I only took water throughout the race, but I took water at each aid station. I had my own Gatorade chews for the times I needed a little more.
Just before mile 13, when I could see the finish, I wished my friend good luck and took off. I sprinted (in my mind, at least) in to the finish line, passing 4 or 5 people along the way. The clock read 3:01:00 and I knew I did it. Robin was waiting for me at then end with some awesome signs. She also met me along the way, it was so nice to have a friendly face there. I enjoyed the recovery area, had some Rocket Refuel chocolate milk and bought myself a 13.1 treat.
Overall the race was easier than I expected. I never really hit "the wall." I never once doubted that I could do it. Obviously, the training paid off and I am stronger than I thought. I will be doing another one, and working to improve my time!
After my shower, I applied some dragon ice recovery balm to my calves and fell asleep. We celebrated that night with some Olive Garden! And went to bed early for, yet another race, the next morning.