I took a break all week from running after learning I had walking pneumonia. Towards the end of the week, the pain in my chest was almost completely gone. I had come too far to sit this race out. I really wanted to qualify for Half Fanatics, and today was the day. All I had to do was finish the race.
The Montgomery Marathon was a major event for the city of Montgomery. It was the first year they've offered the full distance. The race was televised and a Boston Qualifier with a $10,000 cash purse. The proceeds from this race would go to three beneficiaries: Child Protect, American Red Cross, and E.A.T South. There were well over 1,000 participants between the half and full marathon, 5K, and 1 Mile divisions.
The elites at the start line
The Mayor of Montgomery, Todd Strange announced the start of the race and was at the finish line congratulating the runners
Mom and I with Deanna
I also saw my friend Paula at the start line. We kept in touch through Facebook chats, but we hadn't seen each other since the Flora Bama run in December. Paula finished her first full marathon at the Louisiana Marathon in January. She had traveled to some great races in the past few months, while I did more of the local runs. Her husband, Mark was running his first full marathon at this race. Paula was running the half, and she planned to pace him part of the way. Paula and I run about the same pace. I would have loved to run with her, but I knew I needed to take it easy.
Me and Paula
Race morning was muggy and humid. There was light drizzle in the air, but it wasn't supposed to rain that day. The course was hilly, which is to be expected with any run through downtown Montgomery. I wouldn't have dreamed of a PR on this course even if I felt at my best.
This was one of many drum lines on course. They were awesome!
The first mile was congested, and I did a lot of weaving in and out of the crowd. We ran outside of downtown past Oakwood Cemetery, where the country legend Hank Williams Sr. is buried. The next miles were through a residential area. Around Mile 3, we ran through Oak Park lined with beautiful tall oak trees. After leaving Oak Park, we entered the campus of the Alabama State Hornets. I was feeling great, clocking each mile under 10 minutes.
Mile 2- 9:42
Mile 3- 9:35
Mile 4- 9:23
Mile 5- 9:43
Mile 6- 9:51
Miles 6 through 9 took us through the Huntington campus and Old Cloverdale, one of the city's most beautiful neighborhoods with old historic homes. Just past mile 6, I slowed to a walk to eat my Honey Stinger waffle. When I started to run again, I felt the ball of my foot rubbing and stinging. I knew a blister was forming. I've never had problems with blisters during a race. I wasn't wearing new socks or shoes, and I even rubbed my feet down with Vaseline prior to the start. I thought my chest pains would be a problem during this race. Just when I felt like I was getting over that, a new problem arose.
Once I was aware the blister was there, I couldn't keep my mind off of it and the pain was getting worse. I walked a lot! My pace slowed significantly, but I didn't care anymore. "All I have to do is finish," I kept telling myself. I wasn't expecting do that well at this race with being sick for almost three weeks, so while it was disappointing it wasn't all that surprising.
We came to the Perry Street Hill around Mile 10. The drum line at this hill sounded incredible. It was very motivating, although I still walked most of the way up. I don't think I could have ran up the hill any faster than I walked. We made our way back through downtown in the final miles. There was a long down hill stretch on Dexter Ave in front of the Alabama State Capitol building. I took advantage of this opportunity to pick up speed for the final mile. At the 12.5 mile marker the full marathoners split. I was so glad I was headed towards the finish. We ran past the train shed right outside Riverwalk Stadium. Then, we took a left in front of the stadium and another left into the stadium. I was so glad to see the finish line up ahead. I heard my dad holler for me as I was entering the stadium. He was in the stands right above me, and he snapped a few pictures.
You can see how my pace slowed in the second half of the race.
Mile 7- 10:14
Mile 8- 10:54
Mile 9- 11:43
Mile 10- 11:21
Mile 11- 11:32
Mile 12- 10:57
Mile 13- 10:12
My finish time was 2:17:40. It was not by best time, but I wasn't disappointed given the circumstances. I was just glad I was able to run, and I couldn't wait to get home to apply for Half Fanatics.
I met my dad in the stands and we waited to cheer my mom across the line. I had to take my shoes and socks off while I waited. I wish I had brought flip flops to change into after the race.
Mom coming through the stadium towards the finish
We enjoyed the post race festivities at the Riverwalk Stadium. They had a band, great food, and free beer. We stuck around for a few hours because my dad wanted to see some of his friends from work finish the full marathon. I visited with Paula while she waited for Mark to finish. We talked about upcoming races that we would like to run.
Mom and I with Big Mo, the Montgomery Biscuit's baseball team mascot
Hyundai Hope on Wheels helped sponsor this run
It was almost lunch time when my dad's friends finished the full marathon. The sun was out in full force by then and it was getting hot. He congratulated them before we left the post race fun. On our way out of the stadium marathoners were steadily finishing the race.
We stopped in at Dreamland BBQ right across from the stadium for lunch. I could fill up on the fresh white bread alone dipped in that BBQ sauce. Yum! As we were leaving Dreamland, we saw a woman hobbling the final stretch to the finish. She would have been on course seven hours at this point. It was her first marathon and we cheered for her.
"If you're losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon." Katherine Switzer
This quote is one of my favorites and it's so true. Marathoners, whether elite or beginners, no matter fast or slow, are the some of the most determined and resilient people. Front of the pack, middle of the pack, back of the pack in the end it doesn't matter when you finished. What matters is that you finished. In the marathon, everyone's journey is different but we're all running towards the same destination: the finish line.