When we last left off, I was talking about my sleepless night before the race. After sleeping a mere two hours before the race, I woke up very sleepy and very unsure of my ability to run. We had a four am wake-up to be at our buses no later than six. We had about a mile to walk to get to the buses and wanted to allow plenty of time to get there and get situated. If any of us missed our final bus, we were in big trouble.
After suiting up, downing some breakfast, and gathering up our exchange-point bags, we set out to our buses. Sheena made her way to the starting line, and The Boy and I stood and chatted for a few minutes after Erica left for her starting point, and then we split up, got on our buses, and went our respective ways. I knew that we would have a while to wait - I was the third leg and he was fourth, so I settled in at the exchange point to trouble shoot my Garmin and check the weather. Rain was in the forecast and I wanted to see how long we had before getting soaked.
Waiting, waiting, waiting...
Not long after reaching my exchange point, the race began, and the people around me and I started talking about the leader, who was averaging around a five-minute-mile pace. We expected to see him right around when I expected Sheena to reach Erica at the first exchange point, so we were eagerly following updates on the leaders from Twitter, Facebook, and various local news sources. I ate a few orange slices, not wanting to overwhelm my stomach (I do not have an iron stomach and before runs can typically only tolerate some jelly beans or gu), but knowing I had about two hours from race start until my leg would take off.
Not long after we saw the leader pass us by, I got a text from Sheena. Erica had reached her exchange point and was on her way. It was chilly and humid, and I was texting The Boy about the possibility of running in my fleece hoodie, knowing very well that in the humidity this would be a bad idea. The excitement in the crowd around me was palpable, as the first relay runner came in not long after the first marathon runner reached our exchange point. Every runner was announced by bib number, and the excitement as timing chips were passed from runner to runner was great. I was grinning, cheering people on, and eagerly awaiting Erica's arrival. I couldn't wait to be off and running through Mt. Lookout and Mariemont.
When I thought Erica was about a half an hour out, I started getting ready - situating myself in my mini pigpen (which were ordered by bib numbers). I did a lot of jogging in place to warm up, stuffed my hoodie into our exchange-point bag, and had some gu. My exchange point was right at mile twelve of the marathon, so when Erica texted me from mile eleven, I was able to tell her exactly where I would be, and I immediately kept my eyes peeled, scanning the massive crowds of runners for her. Not long after, I saw her running toward me in the distance. Rather than wait for the announcers to let me know she was here, I started waving - and she waved back. We both were grinning ear-to-ear - we were almost halfway done!
Before I knew it, I was being passed the timing chip. I handed over the exchange bag and took off at a 10:30 pace, knowing based on our training that I could only sustain at that pace for so long. I ran into Hyde Park down a very long hill - misleading, as I knew my portion of the course was both long and hilly, though the elevation chart didn't look it. My first mile went by quickly, and I was shocked when I reached the first water station and timing clock at mile thirteen just over ten minutes after I left.
The next few miles went quickly. I had no plans to stop for water or gatorade until I was about three miles into my seven-miler. The humidity was making me very warm, and I almost regretted my choice of a long-sleeved tech tee and capris for the run. The course itself was gorgeous, and since I love running hills, I really enjoyed the ups-and-downs my part of the relay took me through.
Around my fifth mile, I developed a sharp stomach cramp. I was also in the heart of Mariemont, where countless people had come out to cheer the marathoners on as they ran through the square. The motivation was fantastic, and I knew that I didn't want to walk - I wanted to do my best and didn't want to let my team mates down. I did my best to run through it, but struggled, and ended up pausing and walking through the next two water stops, in hope that a few sips of gatorade would help. Fortunately for me, it did, and I was off and running a slow and steady pace in no time. I knew that I wasn't going to make up lost time, so I kept at it, running down onto wooster pike just over an hour after I started my run. As soon as I reached the marker for mile nineteen it started to rain. I pulled my phone out long enough to text The Boy that I was almost to the exchange point and he needed to be ready, and then I started to book it into Linwood and to the third and final exchange.
As soon as I saw the signs pointing toward the exchange point, I started getting ready for the hand off. I was shocked that I was almost done - it seemed like I had just started my run! The rain wasn't steady yet, but was about to be. I pulled off and reset the Garmin for The Boy to use, and readied myself with the timing chip in hand, ready to be passed off. Eventually the corrals came into view and the moment I saw The Boy I had to resist the urge to sprint! I was so happy to see him and so excited to be able to send him off for leg four. Our exchange was smooth and fast, and soon, I was on the bus to the finish line, eagerly awaiting updates from The Boy while I watched the rain fall steadily outside.
Getting back to the finish line was a bit of a challenge, and when The Boy texted that he had made it to mile three, a mere 28 minutes after the exchange, I was worried I would miss him cross the finish line. Fortunately, that was not the case. I made it to the finish with time to spare (though not much). I had enough time to grab some water, my medal, and mylar blanket before setting up in an area where I could see The Boy and get photos of him finishing the race. One hour and seven minutes after he started, and four hours, forty-two minutes after the race start, we were finished, happy, and soaked. We did it! We are still thrilled with our accomplishments and are eagerly refreshing the page at MarathonFoto awaiting our race course photos.
The crazy part? We were both incredibly sore on Monday, and I was done with running - at least then. Now? We're discussing a half marathon in the fall. We will see!