(Holly F, Holly C, Me, Denya, Christina, Samantha)
Team Holly (Holly C and Holly F) and Team Thelma & Louise (Christina and Samantha) would be taking on their first full marathon. Denya, though she had an issue earlier in the week, was feeling better and decided to attempt marathon 2. Her plan was to stick with Christina and Samantha for as long as she could.
Christina and Samantha have been training since late August/early September of last year. They are both naturals and really took to the miles easily for their half marathons... and somewhere along the way a race addiction rubbed off on them (not sure where THAT could have come from). Samantha came up with the crazy idea to run a full for Christina's birthday (which was the day after the marathon). These girls put in some serious miles and were ready for the day!
Holly F has had her mind set on a full for awhile - but she is a majorly busy mom of 4 young kids. She plays other sports, her husband plays sports, her kids play sports, she works, hubby coaches, she does Girl Scouts... the list could go on. For her to get in the miles wasn't easy. She did the miles though, even when most of them were alone or on a treadmill or with a kid at her feet. Getting to the start was an accomplishment!
Holly C has been with me for 52 weeks. A year. That's not coincidence. She ran Big D last year - the 5k, and had a rough 3.1 miles. She contacted me the next day. There's so much to say here, but I'm gonna let Holly tell that story... coming soon. ;-) But it was a long year of tough work and a lot of miles. She inspires me daily with her push-through-it attitude. I cannot even put into works how excited I was about this day for her.
Despite a nagging leg, I decided I was going to see as much as possible of this race. I was very nervous about driving all around town by myself and finding places to park and dealing with road closures and making it to the next point in time, but I was determined to make it happen.
And they are off!!! Go girls! As soon as they crossed the start line, and I attempted to not be an emotional basketcase, I bolted for the car (ok, ok, so I walked slowly to the car... no worries!). I headed for the spillway at White Rock Lake which would be mile 4 and the marathon/half marathon split. Fortunately, I run around the lake enough that I actually knew where I was going for once.
I arrived at the spillway and saw the runners streaming by. Ok, they weren't exactly streaming. The marathon is around 700 runners, so even at this point, they were already well spread out. I saw Lee from the Rockwall Running Center, so I headed over to hang with him while I waited. I loved watching some friends pass by... and then I spotted Christina, Samantha, and Denya looking strong!
(Christina - feeling great and acting a little goofy - love this photo!!!!!)
It wasn't too long before I spotted Team Holly, and they were taking their first GU break. Check out my crazy photog skills... because catching a runner on a GU break is as hard as catching Sasquatch in the forest. (OK, maybe not.)
I went out to walk with them for a bit and ended up getting a couple of sticky chocolate GU wrappers! Lucky me!!! He he he.
I told them I wouldn't see them again until mile 21, but decided that I would try to find another point on the course closer as soon as they passed. There was too much time between 4 and 21 and it was a crazy weather day - from hot/humid to downpours with ominous clouds to windy/chilly. I looked at the map and decided on mile 9. I had wanted to wait to see the half marathoners get to the split (they started half an hour later so weren't there yet), but I knew I wouldn't make it to 9 if I did that. As much as I wanted to support all my friends running the half, on this day, I just felt like it was more important for me to be there as much as possible for Team RIO. This was their day!
So I hopped in the car and headed to mile 9. I got there pretty quickly and the cop didn't flinch at my highly illegal parking job (race day mercy, I guess). As soon as I got down the hill, the clouds came out, the wind got strong, and the rain started coming down. I felt guilty shivering in my tank top while runners struggled up a steep hill in the windy rain. But I finally gave in, and although uphill isn't my favorite thing with the current leg issue, I walked back to my car to get my raincoat... mostly to break the wind. I got to see lots of my frunners again at mile 9.
(Super Speedy Karyn!!! who I noticed is wearing those red Brooks Launch that I have been drooling over for a month... )
(Crazy fast Paul pacing the 4hr group in El Sombrerito!)
Christina and Samantha still smiling and looking good!
At this point Denya stopped to adjust her shoe which she thought was giving her blisters. I yanked out some anti-chafe cream, and she lubed up her foot and then she headed right back off.
Team Holly staying strong and steady and pushing through!!!
I stayed with them for a little bit here because it was a steep hill and they were taking a quick walk break. But they were looking awesome. Super proud (and don't you love those hot pink shoes???). They were surprised to see me, since I said I wouldn't see them until mile 21, but I assured them, this time, I really wouldn't see them again until 21!
Back into the car to find my way to mile 21! Mile 21 was also mile 8 for the half marathoners, but I knew by time I got over there that I had surely missed them all. I got to the spot and the rain was coming down, so I decided to sit in my car for a bit, knowing it would be awhile before anyone got there. Christina's husband and I had been touching base, and he had planned on coming over to meet me, so I just stayed in the parking lot until he got there.
About this time I got a phone call... it was Denya. She had pulled herself off the course at mile 11. She was having issues that were bothering her, and she made the tough call to DNF. She was waiting for us all at the finish line!
After wasting some time and choking down a granola bar (the only thing I had eaten since breakfast) and some Swedish Fish (hey, spectators need fuel too), Christina's husband, daughter, and brother finally arrived, and I got out of the car and headed to the corner. I hadn't been standing there too long when the phone rang again. It was Holly F's husband. He was coming to surprise her, and I told him to meet us at mile 21, that she'd need him more here than the finish, but that he could probably make both. After a few convos, we managed to get him to where we were despite our bad directions! He surprised me because he not only had Holly F's 4 kids, but he also had her best friend, best friend's husband, and their 4 kids. It was a crowd! I'll tell you, I've run enough marathons to know that a familiar face at mile 21 can be just what the doctor ordered.
Finally we saw Christina and Samantha round the corner.
They were still moving forward, but I could tell they were tired, but who isn't at mile 21? This is where Samantha told me she hated me. Ha ha ha. I expected it. It's ok! She forgave me. ;-) Her hip was bothering her, but they were still trucking along. Mental strength.
While waiting for Team Holly, I saw my friend, Ali, who ran most of Rocky Raccoon with me. So good to see her smiling face!
Not much later, Team Holly came around the corner. The kids were yelling like crazy. It was pretty awesome.
Love this photo... look at Holly C! Holly F saw her family and friends and got pretty emotional. Of course this late in the race, your emotions are already on edge! I scooted with them a bit, and they seemed encouraged. Holly C had stuck to the plan and was holding them steady right on pace. So. Proud. (Have I already said that? ;-) ) After they passed, Holly's hubs asked me "was she crying cause she's hurt or because I'm here?" I assured him it was because everyone was there cheering for her. Such a pick-me-up for her!!! Really cool to watch from the sidelines. I just remember thinking over and over how many of these moments I would've missed if I had been running. As much as I don't want to be hurt, I would not take back being able to watch all this.
As soon as they passed, I hopped into the car to race for the finish, hoping I could get there before Christina and Samantha got there. As soon as I arrived, I found Denya waiting for everyone and my friend, Robin D, who ran the half to save her legs for a different marathon this coming weekend. I told them when I saw everyone at 21.
I've said this before, but it bears repeating... if you haven't stood at a marathon finish line past the middle-of-the-pack, it is a sight to behold. The longer the clock ticks, the more emotional the finishes are, it seems. It's pretty much impossible to stand there without getting emotional. This was it, though, the moment the whole day had built around... the finish line!!!
While I was waiting, I got to see my awesome friend, Elizabeth finish! It was great cause I had seen her at every stop I'd been at, and she just seemed genuinely happy to see a familiar face! She was running with some first-time marathoners too!
After waiting ever so impatiently, we see Christina come around the corner... and girl busts out the sprint for the finish! Not long after Samantha comes around the corner! I couldn't wait to hug their sweaty bodies and congratulate them. It was such an awesome moment.
First-time marathoners, Christina and Samantha!!!!!
(I am trying not to get emotional writing this, but I can admit that I'm a total wreck right now...)
Next up was a 20-25 minute wait for Team Holly. I was going nuts waiting for them. Every person who came around the corner made me strain my eyes hoping it was them. Then finally I see them. By the point Holly F's husband and I had asked the volunteers for their medals so that we could put them on their necks. They come sprinting down the way with kids chasing after them (I absolutely LOVE moments like this).
As they crossed the line, I went straight to Holly C and had the awesome pleasure of putting her medal around her neck after a year of working towards this! Very emotional and proud moment. I hugged her and we both cried. Then I went over and pulled Holly F's hubs off her (he had given her medal). I said "give her up". We hugged, and I'm pretty sure there were more tears.
I could not be more proud of what these four amazing, strong women pulled out on April 15th.
Samantha, Holly C, Holly F, and Christina are MARATHONERS!!!