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Michelle’s First Marathon

by Meghann on December 16, 2010

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I was feeling festive today. Wrapping paper makes for a good placemat, does it not?

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December has flown by! It’s a week before Christmas and I realized that A) I still haven’t hung my wreath on my door (it’s been sitting next to my door since Thanksgiving) B) I do not own a single X-Mas themed placemat and it would be kind of pointless to buy one now and C) all those ‘personalized’ Christmas gifts I wanted to order/make are approaching their make by deadlines. Ooppsss….

At least it’s warming up. (Feels good to be back to good Florida weather!) And I have good soup to remind me to slow down and take it all in.

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I don’t care what people call my bowl of mush/stew/stoup/cooked veggies…. it’s still soup to me. :P

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I had a mini pita on site to soak up the good stuff.

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Polar Plunge

I just registered to participate in the 2011 Special Olympics Florida Polar Plunge in January. The ‘plunge’ is an icy dip in one of Aquatica’s wave pools (after the temperature has been brought down to a chilly cold, of course). I’ve set up a donation page with all donations going directly to the Special Olympics. If you have an extra dollar or two I would really appreciate your support for this casue.

If any other Orlando Bloggers are interested in joining my team – let me know! it should be a fun event for a great cause! :)

Michelle’s First Marathon

Hi, everyone! I’m Michelle from Taste As You Go. Meghann and I go way back and not only share a love for running, but also a love for a certain special cookie – the Montana Whopper. Typically, I only write about food on my blog, so when Meghann asked if I’d like to share the story of my first marathon with you all, I jumped at the chance to write about something other than food.

Judd - First Marathon 1 

I never imagined I’d be able to call myself a marathoner. When I ran my first half marathon in Philadelphia last year, I thought I had run far enough. After all, running 13.1 miles was a major accomplishment for me. I wasn’t itching to sign up for a longer race. To be honest, after the race, I was more concerned with regaining my ability to walk up and down the stairs without wincing.

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In early summer, I began warming up to the idea of training and running a full marathon. Maybe it was the fact that I had turned 30 that May. Maybe I was tired of being taunted by those friends and coworkers who had already run one (or more). Maybe it was a combination of those things plus other things not yet identified. Whatever the reason, come October 9, I was going to be at the starting line in Hartford.

At first, my training wasn’t too difficult. Running felt great and I tried not to put too much pressure on myself. I knew that I wasn’t out to break records in Hartford. My goal was to finish. So, I just took each run one at a time and embraced having a reason to get outside, to exercise, and to let go of whatever was stressing me out. I was doing fine until I looked at my training schedule and saw that I had to push through a 14-mile run. 14 miles… Only a bit longer than a half marathon but still completely uncharted territory for me. I had my doubts about whether I could get through that run, and all of the subsequent long runs exceeding 14 miles after that one, but I got through them. Some went better than others, but I remembered my goal… to finish.

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Before I knew it, October rolled around and I was making the trip back to my home state to run my first marathon. The afternoon before the race, my boyfriend Stephen and I drove up to Hartford, checked into our hotel, and then made our way to the Expo. Not wanting to miss out on any part of the experience, I went up and down the aisles and looked at every booth to see what was up. I even allowed myself to spend money (oh, okay, Stephen’s money) on a race souvenir.

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After we finished at the Expo, we met up with my friend Kate for dinner, where I ate three courses of food (pasta, salad, pasta) and drank my weight in water. My nerves were starting to kick in, and by the time Stephen and I got back to the hotel, worries started flashing through my mind. What if I didn’t train enough? What if I didn’t eat enough at dinner, or what if I ate the wrong thing? What if I got hurt during the race? What if I didn’t finish? I tried to stay calm and to take deep breaths, but, less than twelve hours before the race, I started asking myself what the hell I was thinking when I signed up to run 26.2 miles. Voluntarily. I think I got a total of 4 or 5 hours of sleep that night.

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Thankfully, being from New England… I run on Dunkin’. What happened after that was almost a blur. Not because I had suddenly figured out how to run quickly for a prolonged period of time. But because I was so focused on finishing that I don’t really know how I did it! I knew I had to take it one mile at a time in order not to be overwhelmed by how many miles were left. And I knew I had some folks out in the crowd cheering for me. I saw Stephen several times during the first half of the race and managed to see my father, as well. I can’t tell you how much it meant to have two of the most important men in my life out there with me, even if they weren’t running.

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When I reached Mile 25, I saw my father again. We exchanged high-fives as I ran by, and he told me later that he couldn’t believe how great I looked. He said it was as if someone had dropped me off at the corner and I had just started running. That was good to hear because it was right around Mile 25 when both of my ankles started hurting and I could feel my feet swelling inside my sneakers. After I crossed the bridge and made my way back through downtown Hartford toward the Finish Line in Bushnell Park, I started feeling really excited. I was almost there! I nearly started crying when I saw Stephen and my friend Mary, who had run the Hartford Half Marathon, running toward me and then running with me, encouraging me, telling me how I could eat whatever the hell I wanted after the race because I earned it.

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As I approached the final turn, they told me they’d see me at the Finish Line. I started pumping my arms and started sprinting as hard and as fast as I could. Like in Philadelphia, I wanted to finish strong, with power. And I did! In 5:16:01, well under my goal time of 5:30! (I wasn’t going to set a goal time since I just wanted to finish, but I did in order to pace myself better.) What everyone had told me about that minute after finishing a full marathon was true, and I knew that nothing else was ever going to match that feeling.

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While I entered the lottery to run the 2011 New York City Half Marathon in March, I’m not sure I’ll sign up for another full marathon. We’ll see if I’m selected to run in March and then take it from there. ;-)

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