We did it!

We are officially marathoners!
I have been wanting to blog about our marathon for a little over a week now, but it has been hard to put the whole experience into words. Where should I begin? Well, I guess from the beginning, which actually started the morning before race day! Let me explain…
Friday, October 15, 2010…4:30 am….We were standing outside M&T Bank Stadium, better known as Ravens Stadium, waiting for the local news station, Fox 45! We had been selected by the Baltimore Running Festival to share our weight loss story and why we were going to be running the marathon on LIVE TV! As if running your first marathon wasn’t exciting enough, but being able to share how we got to this point in our life on Live TV, made the whole marathon experience even more exciting and memorable. Unfortunately, we could not DVR the broadcast and see ourselves on TV because we did not get the channel, however; we had some friends who DVR’ed it and watched us on TV. Hopefully one of these days we will actually get to see it! Either way, whether we see it or not, it was still an amazing experience for the both of us, even if it was only for 2 minutes!
Now, let’s fast forward to the night before the race…sleeping the night before the marathon was actually easier than we thought it was going to be. We both got a good night’s sleep and got up at 4:00 am feeling refreshed and relaxed. It was actually two nights before the race that I had a dream about the marathon and ended up running the whole thing in my sleep! 🙂 I was thankful that it was not the night before the race, as I think I would have been too exhausted for the actual marathon.
Okay, now back to the morning of the marathon…it was surprisingly pretty easy to get up and around at 4:00 am. We were both excited for this day, knew we had spent a lot of time preparing for the marathon, and we were ready! We got up, put our running gear on, and had one more meal to help prepare our bodies for the punishment we were about the put them through. We left the house around 5:15 am for the drive to Baltimore, so we could make sure we could get a parking spot. We got there a little bit after 6:00 am and we were surprised how many cars were already there. We bundled up, since it was still 2 hours before the start of the race, in order to keep our bodies warm. It was freezing that morning!

Me trying to stay warm before the marathon!

Rob trying to do the same thing!

Around 7:00 am, we finally decided to brave the cold and started our preparation for the marathon. We got the rest of our running gear on, put on sunblock, checked our bags, and used the bathroom one more time! 🙂

Then we began our walk to the starting line!

Rob walking to the starting line.

Me walking to the starting line!

Almost there…well, at least to our starting point!
We got to our starting point (12 minute a mile pace marker), grabbed a small sip of water, and waited, and waited, and waited. Then, after what seemed like hours, it was finally 8:00 am…

and time to start our 26.2 mile journey we had been waiting 3 months for. Here are some pictures of the marathoners ahead of us as we started our walk to the starting line:

Lots of runners!

Getting closer….

There it is…the starting line!
And we are off…
I didn’t get a picture of it, but only a few yards into the marathon there was a guy holding a sign that said… “<26.2.”

I ended up carrying my camera the whole 26.2 miles because I wanted to be able to document our entire marathon experience. I am really glad that I did too because it is definitely something we will never forget. I got as many of the mile marker signs as I could throughout the marathon, as well as, some of the scenery, as this was a great way to get to see the city of Baltimore.

Somehow we missed mile markers 1 and 2, probably because it was very crowded the first few miles. When we saw the 3 mile marker we were surprised we had already ran 3 miles, as it definitely did not feel like it.

The Maryland Zoo!

Wow! 4 miles in and feeling amazing!

Had an amazing view between miles 4 and 5,
so took a few pictures.

Druid Hill Park

Mile 5 with our clock time…we were at about 52 minutes chip time at this point.
(Clock time is when the gun goes off signaling the start of the marathon
and chip time is when we actually crossed the starting line.)
After the first 5 to 6 miles the marathon crowd started to thin out some more, which made it easier to keep a decent pace and allowed for some more photo opportunities.

Running through the streets of downtown Baltimore.

Woohoo…mile 10! And the crowd support was AMAZING!
They had several local schools out supporting and cheering us on.
This was one of my favorites that we passed!

Halfway, baby! 13.1 miles! And still feeling great!
Our chip time at this point was 2:24:05! We couldn’t believe we
had already been running for over 2 hours.

Archway to the other half of the marathon. The arch says,
“Welcome to the Midpoint. The Best is Yet to Come.”
At that point we believed it, but after mile 15, we weren’t so sure!
Inner Harbor
Inner Harbor
After the Inner Harbor we hit mile 15! We were still feeling pretty good at this point, but knew that we had some hills coming up very soon. So, we decided to stop for a quick picture and our first walk break. We were very proud that we made it 15 miles before taking our first walking break. Little did we know that this would be the first of many walk breaks throughout the last 11.2 miles.

Rob at the 15 mile marker sign!

Me at the 15 mile marker sign!
Once again that is our clock time.
I think my watch said about 2:45,
so we were keeping a decent pace.
Oh, and we have our names on our shirts, not so we could remember who we were, but for the fans. We read a blog and that blogger suggested that you put your name on your shirt. We were so glad that we took this advice because instead of the fans shouting out good job runners, etc., they would actually shout out our names, tell us to keep going, that we were looking strong, and that we could do this. I didn’t know how much having our names on our shirts would help, but it definitely gave us that extra push when we had complete strangers cheering us on! It was incredible!
We both felt amazing through the first 15 miles! Unfortunately this feeling didn’t last the whole marathon, but in reality we knew it wouldn’t, but one can hope, right?! Then, mile 16 hit, and so did the hills! This made the next 7 miles extremely difficult. It probably wouldn’t have been so bad, if we hadn’t already ran 15 miles, and if the wind wasn’t blowing 20 mph right into our face. And, it didn’t matter which direction we were running, the wind was still there!

One of the hills!

Another hill!
The other half of the hill! We didn’t think it was ever going to end!
But, the great thing about running up a hill, is that eventually you get to run downhill!
It was nice…while it lasted, which wasn’t long.
On this downhill stretch, we were lucky enough to run next to one of the relay runners, who was so awesome and asked if we would like a few pictures of us running. So, of course, we took her up on the offer! A big thank you to her for doing this while she was running as well!
And one from behind!
We could always tell when another hill was coming up because we could see the congestion. Those hills were brutal, but we survived them, by doing short walk breaks.
Another hill coming up!
Ahhh…mile 19, which seemed to take forever to get to because of the hills!
And here it is…another hill!
Mile 20! Only 6.2 miles to go!
But, those were probably the hardest 6.2 miles we have ever run!
Chip time at this point was 3:41:56, which goes to show just how
tough those last 6.2 miles really were, physically and mentally.
Mile 21…these miles are taking forever! But, at least we
had a beautiful view for miles 20 through 21 around
Lake Montebello.
A little bit of a flat stretch at mile 23!
Woohoo…only 3.2 miles to go! We kept telling ourselves
that we could do this and then…
…another hill was upon us! At this point we thought we were
finished with all the hills, so it was a little disheartening
to see, yet another, hill!
Although the hills were really getting to us, we knew we had come way too far to stop now. Even though we had to stop and take a few more walk breaks than we wanted too, we both knew that we were going to finish this marathon, and we were going to do it together! We passed the infamous Gummy Bear guy, which gave us just that little bit extra to finish the last couple of miles. The Gummy Bear guy stands out there every year and holds a tray of gummy bears, a $1,000 worth, for all the runners. Who knew gummy bears would taste so good after running 24 miles?! After the Gummy Bear guy…we saw…

Mile 25….only 1.2 miles to go!

Seeing this sign was overwhelming and the tears started to well up in my eyes. This was where it really started to hit me that we were really going to do this! So, the next 1.2 miles were emotional, but it was the best feeling ever!

Running the last full mile of the marathon through Camden Yards!
Inside Camden Yards!
Almost through Camden Yards and hitting the home stretch!
The end is in sight!
We FINISHED our first marathon!
Our official chip time was 5:07:17!

Rob with his medal, and of course,
some much needed and deserved water!
Me with my medal and some water!
An up close picture of our medal!
We got them both engraved after the marathon with our
name and finishing time!

We set a new PR for distance and time for the both of us. We actually finished under our original time goal of 5:15, which is what we figured we would finish in when we started our training.
What an amazing experience! I am not sure how else to describe it, other than, it was the most amazing, yet hardest thing we have ever done! But, it was so worth it! And, yes, we are going to do it again…just not sure when our next marathon will be yet!