I already registered for the QCM Half marathon knowing that I could upgrade at the expo the day before. After recovering better than I thought I would during the week there was no doubt in my mind. I was at the expo at 10am sharp and indeed paid the difference and made it official. I was excited and not nervous at all with the challenge. From the moment I finished AFM I knew full well I could indeed run #2 in short order.
But first, grandson Hayden would be running his races Saturday afternoon. He had a blast last year and he did again this year. he is such a cutie patootie and takes his running seriously LOL!
The toughest decision I had to make was which shirt to wear LOL. I opted for my beloved bright orange Cornbelt Marathon Training shirt and it felt so right. It was also going to be COLD marathon morning so I opted for a long sleeve Under Armour shirt. My capris as opposed to my skirt with back pocket was choice of bottoms for more warmth as the temps would be staying in the 60's with bright sunshine. It doesn't get any better than that for a runner.
I got up early Sunday morning and Jim who was going to run the 5k woke up with a temp and not feeling good. I felt badly but he was okay with it. I gathered my gear and headed to the iWireless Center and scored a prime parking spot. Matt and Emily who were running the Half met me there in short order. Emily and I met up with our Cornbelt group for a group photo and that in itself was so much fun. I love that group!!!! Next up, hitting up the porta potties twice like buddy Catherine in Texas taught me. I listen to my teacher and do what she told me.
The three of us line up and didn't even hear the National Anthem as we were that far back. We did hear the canon and it wasn't long before we off to the races. Literally.
We broke off immediately and was a solo runner which was very odd since I run with Emily all the time in races. What I haven't mentioned is that I made homemade pacing strips to carry in my grubby little fist. I had two times with one on each side. Goal number one was knocking a complete hour off AFM time with a 5:58 finish. Plan B was to finish at 6:15. I had no clue at all which one was going to be the one.
We are now making our way up the worst of any hills of the day and that was quite easy as I took it nice and steady not looking up but just about 10 feet ahead. Done. Everything is still feeling so effortless considering that this would be my second marathon in such a short amount of time.
I am now making my way now the big hill and heading back to the Mississippi River bike path at about 5 miles. I love this stretch and there is so much to see. Looking across the river on to the Rock Island Arsenal Island you could see the race leader and that was incredible. Eventually, I meet up with my Cornbelt running buddy Erin who was pacing the 5:25 group but she had fallen back with a tummy issue. I stayed with her for several miles until she shooed me on as she was running slower.
The course runs through the downtown district of Rock Island, IL in areas I really had not seen before. yes, I don't get out much LOL. It isn't long and we are now at the halfway point and heading to the Rock Island Arsenal which is an army post. The island is gorgeous and even though there are some parts of the path that are gravel/dirt it doesn't last long. I actually take some photos. Pacing is holding well.
It is at this point where I meet up with an ultra marathoner named Rich from the Peoria, IL area. He is running about my pace as this was a training run for him. Our pacing matched perfectly. Running with Rich made the time truly pass quickly as well as the miles. I told him what I was attempting to do with this racing event and he knew exactly what I had in mind. He knows several MM's so he understood.
I kept telling Rich that this was truly a dream and that I was feeling stronger the further I ran. Unbelievable! I am now at mile 17 and now actually passing runners. I don't even really do that during HM's. My heartrate is in check and all cylinders are clicking. I was now just 9 miles away from becoming a Marathon Maniac!
After more visiting and sharing stories we are at the bridge coming off the island and into Moline. this is now mile 20. Fellow marathoners always talk about this point in the race where the HM'ers go to the right to promptly finish the race and where the marathoners go left to run another 6 miles. Me? I was actually very very excited and almost in tears. I was feeling even stronger!
We head towards the area where hubby Jim and I love to run...the Ben Butterworth bike path. We didn't actually run on the path but it still felt like home and that was so comforting. Not that I needed comforting but it helped me feel even more confident. I am now at mile 22 with just a mere 4 miles to go. I kept checking my pacing with my Garmin time and my pacing cheat sheet that was firmly ensconced in my hand. We were starting to pick up the pace. I decided to try a glucose tablet thingy that Rich had and looking back it worked very very well. I am going to do that again.
I kept telling Rich that our pacing was either holding or increasing. We reach the turnaround at mile 23 and it is now a straight shot to the finish line. There is also a breeze in our face that I had not felt up until that point. it was just enough to create resistance. It wasn't that bad though and felt good. Rich goes into his zone like he traditionally does at mile 24 so I did the same going through my thoughts of the morning.
With my pacing cheat sheet that showed me the way every mile I am at mile 26 and with one final kick I cross the line and become an official Marathon maniac qualifier. I also knock 1:16:some odd change off my AFM finish time. I now truly have a marathon finish time to call my own. I am in tears...happy giddy tears. I have a runner's high that I had never had with this magnitude. It's moments like this that cannot be adequately described. I did what alot of folks would not even think about doing and I did it myself. Not in the sense of running by myself that day but running is a personal thing and you have to rely on your mind and body to realize your dreams.
After composing myself and turning in my timing chip I say goodbye and thank Rich for sharing the experience with me. Hopefully, we can hook up again in a marathon. I also find Rick, the fellow Cornbelter whose pacing sign at QCM 2011 made me realize that I did indeed want to attempt a marathon. After a huge hug I head for the beer and it is flowing freely!!!! I still have my fuel belt on but I didn't care LOL...I wanted my bling and beer!
The next day I would find out that I would be forever known as Marathon Maniac #5858...my birthyear is 1958. I love it!!! It just so happens that son Matthew qualified for Half Fantatics the same day I did for MM's. How cool is that?
As I look back on the day one thought came to the forefront. I would give anything for running partner and daughter in law Emily to experience what I did before, during and after Quad Cities Marathon 2012. I want her to know that feeling of ownership with a marathon finish time when you truly feel strong and you are able to give it your all. At Air Force, she ran out of gas as she had the flu earlier in the week and therefore walked quite a bit in the waning miles. We finished but there was a feeling of not having a true finish at least one that we had imagined. She will have a chance in the future and she is already taking the steps to get her body ready for optimal performance. Emily is going to be in for a treat on that day when all of her cylinders are clicking! I can't wait!!
Until next time...