The End of the Road- The Finish Line of the Marathon!

 It’s true.  I have completed my second marathon.  I’ve lived to tell the story.  So for anyone who followed me along this journey- here’s our fond farewell…

This Sunday was one of the most special days in my life.  Besides my own accomplishment, I was able to be with one of my best friends- Sherry (Sebastian in a previous post), when she completed her very first half marathon.  When I entertained the idea of running a Syracuse marathon, I knew I’d be on her tail to run the half herself- afterall, she runs and she lives in Syracuse- what better reason?

She was skeptical.  Probably because like so many of us she didn’t know what she was capable of doing.  I mean, 13.1 miles is no joke.  I know her well though, and I know that she is a determined feisty little lady- and she needed this for more than just the race.  Fast forward a few weeks and BAM- she signed up and she trained her little ass off to get to that finish line.  I never worried about her once- she was so well-trained and ready for it.  Her moment came.  I couldn’t wait to finish my race to hear all about hers- I only wish I could have seen her cross that line.  When I did get to see her, she was so excited- she had finished with an AWESOME time and she had so much fun!  I loved hearing her re-cap of the race- she had felt what all of us runners feel with every event- the community of togetherness- friendly competitiveness (right, Sher, hahah)- complete support- accomplishment- pride- happiness.  She’s one of them now.

Sher- I’m proud of a lot of things you do, but especially today for what you did on Sunday.  Congratulations from the bottom of my heart.  This past year in discovering yourself in so many ways, you have also become a fantastic runner, and now a racer- a half marathoner.  I hope you hold that medal high and get ready to add more to that collection.  From driveway parties to finish line parties- I love you, and thank you for everything<3

I also must say a huge congrats to my friends Jim and Alex on their completion of the full marathon.  I had the pleasure of training with both of them, and I’m so lucky to have them as friends and training partners.  You both did great- I can’t wait for the next one.  See you in Mendon!

Hell, congratulations to everyone who finished the Empire State half and full marathons- I was blessed to be a part of it with all of you amazing athletes!

So I guess that leaves my story.  My sweet little marathon is all over.  I wish I could begin it with YES YES I did qualify for Boston, but I can’t, because I did not.  But I’m not sad when I write that.  Not at all.

I’d be lying (and who would believe me) if I didn’t say I’m a little disappointed.  Of course I am- especially the fact that I missed qualifying by 4 minutes (DAMN TIME CHANGE THIS YEAR!)  For the record, if I’d have run this time last year, I’d have been in…but who’s keeping track?

Going into the race I was so nervous- I hadn’t had a good 20 mile training run.  I was worried I was going to break down, hit a wall, die.  I tried to keep it together for Sher (I did not do that well), but I had such stupid nerves.  Bri and I went to a nice dinner Saturday night, where I enjoyed a salmon dinner and a Guinness.  Hell, I thought, beer has carbs, right?

Sunday morning came.  It was the most perfect fall day any runner could have asked for.  I ate my oatmeal and my chia seeds and my coffee.  We arrived at the race quickly thanks to Sher driving like a maniac fireball.  We jumped with eagerness, we jittered, and took our before pictures, and we used the potties.  I wished Sher good luck and kissed my hubby.  I lined up with the rest of the marathoners, with Jim and Alex.  Then the gun went off.

Suddenly, I was ready for this.  I began very conservatively.  I did not bring my Garmin.  I wanted to run how I felt, no matter what time that got me.  I was not going to let what happened in my last 26.2 happen again.  I made sure to drink at least a sip of sports drink and every single water stop.  I had a gel at mile 7, 14, and 21.  It went by smooth as a silkworm…like that?  A silkworm.

I remember thinking at the half point (13.1), Holy crap I feel good!  When I saw my time (1:51), I knew I would have to book it faster to qualify.  But I was more excited I’d made it this far without feeling anything bad.  Already going better than last time!  Then a little girl said, “Would you like a sports drink, M’amm?”  And I thought I AM NOT OLD ENOUGH TO BE M’AMM…I AM A MISS!  Ahh, the important things.  Onward.

Throughout the entire race, my husband Brian and my friend Dave drove around to cheer for me at all different miles.  They helped me through- I can’t thank them enough for doing that.  There was one point when Brian yelled “Looking Good!”  as they drove by and a girl behind me said “UGH I hate it when people scream right in your face.”  I giggled and said, “Sorry, that was my husband.”  She did not laugh.

By mile 18 I started to feel it.  The middle of this race is hilly- long, slight hills.  But I welcomed that change of muscle use.  Mile 20 I felt fantastic again- there was a water stop with music pumping, crowd support (Sarah!), and a turn- I started to sprint.  I passed the best old man ever and he said, “FINISH STRONG!”  I was determined to.

Mile 20-26 was flat and straight- it reminded me of running on the canal and it was boring.  Mile 24 is where I heard the quiet giveup voice say “Walk now.  Let’s end this.”  But I never hit a wall, my feet felt fine.  I was just so tired and ready to be done.  My legs started dragging.  That’s when I pictured my baby.  My Braxton.  His birth, his steps, his little noises that make me giggle- and I pushed through.  2 more miles, Jeannine, then you get to scoop up your little pudgy ball of a son.

Come get me, Mama!

When I could hear the announcer, I thought, Holy shit, I am going to finish this.  I just ran this marathon, holy. crapcrapcrap.  Then I heard Sherry’s whistle…and I saw my family (Mom, AS, Niki, for being there, thank you always)- my baby- my husband (Bri, words can’t express my love for you and your support)- my friends (Dave, thank you times a million for being there).

Then I saw the finish line, and I crossed it, smiling.

When I got to hold my boy, I started crying- he is my soul.  He got me to that line, hands down.

But then I had to give him back to my mom because he was heavy and I was worried I’d drop him in my exhilarated exhaustion.  I was drained to the core.

I was able to cheer in Jim and Alex (who crossed the finish line with his beautiful children- it was such a great moment).  Congrats again to both of them.

Yes, I checked the time when I came in.  And yes, I thought, 4 minutes, really?  I could have pushed somewhere- I could make excuses.  But I really have no regrets about the way I ran this race- because although I didn’t reach my exact goal- I did pretty damn good.  I finished still loving everything about running, and that’s way more important to me.  It made me happy to be a runner, to have all my hard work pay off, and to finish strong.

I actually did book it the second half.  I ran a negative split marathon- my second half was somehow faster than my first.  I’m pretty proud of that:)

3:39:27 final gun time (3:39:03 net time)– a PR.  Fifth of 27 in my age group.  Sixteenth woman out of 228.  79th overall of 542 amazing finishers.  That’s a far cry from my last marathon time of 5:03:37- yeah- I’d say I improved a little bit.  I’m actually sad it’s over.  Until next time, of course.

Another thing I’ve learned?  I look like a peacock when I finish running 26.2 miles.  I don’t care, though.  Peacocks are cool.

So there it is.  The reason I started this blog.  But it became a lot more to me, and I enjoyed writing and documenting- it kept me honest and kept me going.

Thank you to anyone who did read or follow me through- for the support.  I hope that I gave at least one person a little bit of encouragement or motivation or a new recipe- I’ll consider my blog worth it if I did.

I hope that every day we all realize that we are capable of so much more than we give ourselves credit for.  For me, I test my strength with running.  I have many roles in my life- mom, wife, friend, runner, sister, daughter…and I am ever evolving at every one of them.  Running helps me to be better at all of them, I know that.  It gives me a sense of myself, and I need that.  I think we all do.

Be it running or not, I wish for everyone that you can all accomplish something in your lives that you would never ever think you possibly could.  Challenge yourself.  You will absolutely surprise yourself.  I promise.

Now I better go chase that baby….


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