It's official and so surreal. After all those months of training, I crossed the finish line with a chip time of 5:02:23, or an average pace of 11 minutes, 27 seconds. (I did the math, so correct me if I'm wrong). I believe I finished the first half in 2:27, so the second half was 2:35.
I woke up at 3:30 a.m. on marathon day thinking, "Wow, I've stayed up later than this!" I was also exhausted since I had run about 20 marathons in my dreams that night.
Still, I was out in the freezing cold, bundled in my thrift-store purchases. I crossed the start line about 3 minutes after the gun went off and enjoyed seeing the carpet of runners filling the streets to the clangs of cow bells. I never felt my toes during the race - they were numb from the cold in the beginning and then the exertion by the end.
I felt solid until mile 17 when everything became a push. After stopping at Watt to use the bathroom at the AM/PM there, getting back into the running groove brought tears to my eyes. Every muscle in my legs had seized up.
"Just eight more miles and you never have to run again. Just five more miles and you never have to run again. Just three more miles and you never have to run again," I kept reciting to myself, ticking off the remaining miles.
This is when public support really made a difference. It's amazing how many people came out to blast music, sing cheers and encourage runners to the finish. When a friend appeared next to me during mile 23 to run the rest of the way, it was all I could do to not cry. A mile later, my sister and brother-in-law were running with me too. Then there were two friends on bikes. Then two more friends joined the running entourage. One of my Fleet Feet coaches ran with her arm around me for part of the last block along L Street before heading into the chute. "Finish strong," she said.
I felt like Oprah.
As the announcer said my name, another group of friends was there at the finish, cheering me to the end.
It's all the support that got me through. The e-mails from blog readers, the note from Audrey the postal worker (How did your husband do?), the editor who let me out of work early Saturday, the running partners who boiled my potatoes and drove me to the bus.
It apparently takes a village to run a marathon.
The question I keep getting now is, "Will I do it again?"
Um, ask me next year.