It's official, my first marathon is now behind me. I had a great time, but man, was it hard! My official finishing time was 3:52:31 with an average pace of 8:53 mins/mile. My splits tell the actual tale of my blissful optimism, my desperate search for strength, and my eventual fall to reality. According to my Garmin, my mile splits broke down like this: 1-8:36. 2-8:22, 3-8:06, 4-8:16, 5-7:46, 6-7:41, 7-8:16, 8-7:57, 9-7:54, 10-7:59. 11-7:56, 12-7:53, 13-7:59, 14-8:03, 15-8:04, 16-8:12, 17-8:38, 18-8:54, 19-9:52, 20-9:29, 21-9:09, 22-9:46, 23-9:40, 24-9:57, 25-10:13, 26-11:06.
I could describe to you, quite poetically, how feeling the adrenaline pump through my veins that I surged out of the starting gate and fought with my own sensibilities to maintain that too-quick pace. I could amuse you with my mantra of "Go Vols!" at every mile marker that turned from a shout to a whimper as the marathon progressed. I could recount how I felt the momentum slip from my grasp as I climbed up the straight-away between miles 11 and 14 and jealously cursed the half-marathoners turning to finish their race at mile 13. I could regale you with how my body turned against me at mile 18 and how my muscles started to fail, but through unknown strength and mindless perseverance, I soldiered on through mile 24. I could tell you that I must have looked like a mindless zombie as I climbed up the last incline on mile 26, and that I thanked the Lord as the last .2 miles went downhill, carrying me quickly into the finishing chute with what little strength I had left.
Instead I'll finish the blog that I started last week before my marathon and tell you what I discovered. I found out that I can honor my mother by dedicating this marathon to her, but in the numbing chill of the morning as I pushed past mile 19, I didn't see her. I didn't hear God or discover Enlightenment at mile 24 when I saw the runner in front of me pull off the course and vomit her guts out as I slogged past her. I didn't feel any wave of spirituality or grace descend upon me and re-invigorate my aching, sore muscles as I crossed the finish line. In the end, what drove me on was the faith from my family and friends, who watched me run past the Horseshoe, and the bleeps and dings from my cellphone as the rest of my friends and family cheered me on through my Facebook page (I had my phone with me, but I didn't get to read any of the posts till after the race). As much as this was my victory in memory of my mother, this was a testament to the strength of everyone that supported me and cheered me on. I don't know how other runners did this before me, but I know that I couldn't have done it without all of your encouragement. So thank you to my family, the Richs, and everyone else who bombed my FB. You made this ridiculously difficult task worth every grueling, amazing mile.
On a final note (I know, I know...can this post be any longer?), I'm dead sore. It's painful to walk and worse to go up and down stairs, but I'm already planning my next marathon. My knees and ankles may be shot right now, but I'm going to heal and hit the road again as soon as I can. That's devotion. Or insanity. Either way, I hope I'm fast. Good luck and godspeed.