There are lots of races I get for free or get a discount code for, this was not one of those races. It was worth every penny I paid for it (and it wasn’t that expensive) because of the perks that came along with it. The race directors were amazing and their staff/volunteers just the same! This was one EPIC event!
Jes and I early started! She’s a 6 hour marathoner and she thought she needed to extra buffer. I needed to take it slow so I could run the Gusher close to 4:35-4:50 this Saturday. I also needed it so that I could take the time to enjoy the race. When I hit the race course, I focus on time and pace but this race wasn’t going to be like that. I was going to run with my friend and have a good time. Plus, we had to make the drive back home to Texas immediately after the race. And for once, I got to start a race in the front of the pack. The rules of the early start were very strict. You couldn’t pass the 6 hour pacer until the elites hit the course. We started two hours earlier than everyone else, which I’m glad that we did.
Conditions in the morning were perfect. The forecast called for rain starting at 5 am but that didn’t happen. We started the race at 6am with a temp of 52 degrees. That was the warmest it was the entire race.
Things started off great! We were having a good time. The city was beautiful and amazing. The people were nice. There were a lot of marathon maniacs at the start so we were chatting them up! We talked and laughed and just had a good time. The first 4 miles rolled by very quickly. Around 7:30 am we saw the half marathoners, 10kers and regular start marathoners going to the start but they were cheering us on. It was so great! We feel off the pacer a little bit for some reason but I couldn’t remember but it was cool.
Around 8 am it started to rain but nothing serious. It was just something that happened. The wind picked up a little but it was really nothing to complain about. I loved this marathon because the volunteers were so nice and the crowd support was so great. AND there were built in photo ops for the race. This stop was pretty cool!
Mile 11 was probably my favorite though because we ran past Central High School! This was the thing I was looking forward to the entire weekend. Seeing that school, I shed a couple of tears. How many times can you say that you ran through history like this? It meant so much to me!
It was a very emotional moment for me. And they had a kicking band! They were rocking out! Those were pretty much the last pictures we took on the course because my hands were starting to tighten up! Extreme cold messes with the circulation in my hands.
At the half way mark, the wind started to pick up and the hills started to get steeper but we were still in good spirits! We were smiling and laughing and talking about food because Jes was hungry. The miles were rolling by until we got to mile 15. Jes started to feel some pain in her Achilles and I couldn’t feel my hands. She had to help me out by opening everything and handing me my water bottles. I wouldn’t have been able to make it without her. She through me a major solid just by being there. I love her so much for that because she was always willing and able to help me. We were in this race together! At mile 16, I started to cry because my hands were hurting so bad. The temperature was dropping and the wind was picking up.
At mile 18, stopped at medical to get Jes some icy hot and for me to get some circulation back in my hands but we kept moving! This was the out and back. On the way back we would be on the home stretch! When we got on there, the rain really started to pick up and the wind changed dramatically. It was windy and raining…and it was freezing rain! Then Jes felt a pop in Achilles and had to stop for a minute. She was scared but she was still moving. At that point she was really upset and she thought the 6:30 pacer had passed us because she misread the sign. She was having a moment but I was trying to keep her moving and positive. We she needed to walk, we walked. We she could pick it up, we picked it up. She was in pain and you could see it on her face but she just kept moving. The fact that she was moving meant it wasn’t that serious and she was pushing it! This is the point of the race where we both admitted this was miserable and we probably would have DNF (did not finish) if we weren’t there together! But even in those bad mental moments, we were still laughing through the tears.
I was so concerned about her and she kept telling me to leave her but I wouldn’t do that. I had to pick up the pace a little because the cold was tightening up my legs. I would run ahead a bit and then run back to get Jes or I would wait for her to get to a certain point. At mile 22, things got serious. The race officials had put up the red sign meaning conditions had worsen. We both saw those signs and knew something was going on. We picked up on it at mile 20 though because the conditions were changing rapidly. I told Jes we needed to pick things up because something was going on. At mile 21 this was confirmed with the sign. At mile 23, they started to close the course and reroute people who hadn’t made it to that point. Jes and I had already traveled 23 miles and 5 and half hours, we weren’t letting them take it away from us. I ran up to the cop and told him my friend was right behind and asked him to let her go through and he was nice and said fine. She wasn’t that far behind me. They were picking people up at the WalMart and taking them back to the finish line if they felt like they couldn’t finish. All other runners who hadn’t made it to the out and back in time were rerouted and were cut short at least 6 miles, but we made the cut off!
I would check on her and run ahead to make sure she would make the cut offs and then I would run back to her. She was still moving really fast though at one point she passed me because she didn’t want to stop moving. Finally I told Jes that it was a little past noon and she was so happy because she thought we were hitting the 7 hour range on the course but we weren’t. We pretty much stayed on pace the entire race even with the bathroom stops, medical and the little bit of walking! We were doing good. I am POSITIVE if the weather would have been right I would have paced Jes to a PR!
In the end, we crossed the finish line together with a time of 6:22:34 and the sky opened up and it started to rain! Willie was waiting for us at the finish and immediately told us to go back to the hotel. The hotel was four blocks away from the finish. I don’t remember much after that. I just remember it raining and almost passing out. I walked like a zombie all the way to the hotel. When we finally made it back to the hotel I know I couldn’t feel my hands and I tried to warm them up but nothing seem to work. My body temp dropped and I was shaking. Willie was doing his best to help me but I didn’t feel normal again until I was put into a hot tub of water. But we finished! There was no time to take a finisher picture just a walk back to the hotel.
I think my watch was a little off, don’t you think? We ran those 26.2 miles together! I couldn’t have done it without Jes. She was worried about me staying with her because I run a bit faster than her, but I wanted to stay with her. I had the best time of my life even though the conditions were miserable! Jes pushed through so much pain and hung in there like a trooper! That is one strong woman and I am very proud to call her a best friend! We suffered a lot during that race but it was still fun! Yes there were mental breakdowns, but we were there to help each other make it through. Without her, I would have been miserable and not happy at the end. But we did it! I know the one thing that kept us going was getting that medal because it’s EPIC!
And this is just so you know how big those medals are! Three pounds of running goodness. 26.2 miles of the worst conditions possible, but filled with lots of memories that no one will ever take away from us! Thank you Jes for making me a better person. You have no idea how much it meant to me to have you there for the love and support! You are an amazing woman and a marathon maniac!
Thanks for reading this LONG post! This is something I really wanted to share with everyone because it’s a lesson in not giving up even when you want to give up soo bad! Things may not go the way you hoped and planned, but that doesn’t mean you can’t push forward! The theme of the race was super heroes and everything about this race was EPIC! Don’t let anything squash your epic-ness!