The day of reckoning had come. I must say I did have my doubts; not serious but I did have doubts if I could even finish 26.2 but I knew that I would never know unless I try.
Up at 3:00 a.m., I had my usual pre-run breakfast. I felt pretty good which I greatly attributed to my massage that I had gotten the evening before. In preparing my rehydration bottles, I came to the realization that I did not have enough of my rehydration drink. I, inadvertently, drank most of what I had days before and did not realize I needed to save some for the marathon. Well, I just had to do with what I had. My belt was packed down with salt, potassium tablets, Power Generation, bottles of fluid, Powerbar Gels, cell phone and a lot of prayers.
The starting line was as I expected. Packed! We were all herded on a back road at Epcot that looked like a maintenance road. It was dark. Well at 5:00, what did you expect but there were generated lights all along the course. We had to run an hour and a half in the dark which was fun. Never did that before. We were like a can of sardines until about mile 4 when runners were starting to separate a little. All the while we were running in a park, there was entertainment but it was between the parks when it got a little boring. I found myself playing mind games. I would try to remember where I would be at certain miles if I were back home running on my long run. We had music all along the marathon. Of all the music out there, it was The Beatles. This was ironic for me as my MP3 player is downloaded with, none other than The Beatles. Anyone who knows me well knows that I am an avid Beatles fan. This brought a smile to my face.
It wasn’t far into the marathon when I started hearing people calling my name. I thought, “Hey, I have friends down here”. But then I realized that my name was on my bib number. Oh well, it was still neat to hear someone yell out your name.
I did well during the first half. I did run a little slower than expected as I was saving for a big finish. Well, actually, I was saving TO FINISH! Playing it safe, I was trying to keep the cramps away. Mile 16, so far so good. I had just seen Stan who gave me a bottle of water which was to save me later. At mile 18, the water stations ran completely out of PowerAde AND water. Again, at mile 20, the same scenario. No PowerAde or water. Not good as the humidity was creeping up close to 100% by this time. I also experienced the first sign of a cramp in my calf. I really was not surprised. Leg cramps have plagued me from the get-go in my marathon running but they are happening less and less so at least I feel that I am making some headway with this problem. I had been taking salt since mile 3 so I decided to take some potassium tablets. I also stopped at a medical tent and got some Tylenol.
Now remember the bottle of water that was to save me? This was it. I noticed many people having to leave the course from which I assumed was dehydration. I decided to play it safe and power-walk some instead of running as I did not know if the other water stations up ahead had also ran out of fluids.
Mile 22 and I was on cloud 9. I knew I had it made it as nothing was going to stop me now. I power-walked/ran the last 4 miles. This also gave me the opportunity to call my sister for some encouraging words.
At the last turn, I saw the finish line. I picked up my aching legs and ran cautiously with a small gallop. As I made my way to the finish line, I became overwhelmed with emotions. Just knowing of what I had overcome to get to this point in my life and that I actually was going to do it; I literally started to cry. There were bleachers full of people to my left and what sounded like hundreds of people, were cheering me on and yelling out my name. WHAT A FEELING!!!! That alone got me over the line.
I just could not believe that I actually finished. With the help of all the spectators, the Disney characters, others runners and of course The Beatles, I was welcomed into the world of marathon running. It was my best birthday ever.