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The Inaugural Quintiles Marathon at Wrightsville Beach

March 23, 2010

My Journey to becoming a Marathon Runner

I have always hated running.  I remember in my little private school in Wylie, Texas having to run a few times a week, probably no more than 1 1/2 miles, but I could never finish without walking.  Probably didn’t help that it was 101 degrees outside.  But that began my hatred of running.  Fast forward 18 years and my husband decides to start running to exercise.  Him and his running partner AKA Aaron start running longer distances and get the question “So, have you ever thought of training for a marathon?”  Coupled with reading Donald Miller’s new book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, he decides to start training for a marathon.  The race chosen was Charlotte’s ThunderRoad, and the focused training began.  And the race was finished.

Then begins the conversation between me and Janell (Aaron’s wife).  Coupled with the fact that the finalists on the Biggest Loser have to do a marathon….the suggestion comes up that we – me & Janell – should train for a race.  If they can do it, we can do it – right?  So the training begins….now remember – I HATE RUNNING!!!  At the beginning of this training, I couldn’t run to the end of my street without almost passing out (that’s not even 1/4 mile!).  We train and train and about 2 months in, Janell is in pain, she has problems with her feet falling asleep (not good!) and feels she should stop training.  Being bummed that I am about to lose my running partner, I scramble to find someone else to do this with me.  I end up getting Jeff’s sister, Kristen and a girl from church, Faith Talley to run with me.  We train and train and train, run and run and run.  My endurance builds up, I miss a few training runs, but I feel confident I can run the race and finish okay.  So race day comes…..

March 21, 2010 – Jeff takes a week off from speaking to come cheer me on.  In-laws come to cheer me and my sister-in-law on.  Friends come to cheer us on.  What a big day!  The day starts at 4:30AM.  I get up, eat my customary bowl of oatmeal, drink water and eat a banana.  I get my things ready, Kristen shows up, and we leave by 5:40AM.  We park at the finish line and take a bus to the start.  We didn’t realize half the people racing would be in line for the bus, so we’re cutting it close on the bus, but finally get on.  Now the email said a trolley/bus would be available to take racers to the start line.  We were a little confused when we were dropped off (it’s pitch black still, no sun yet) in the dark in an area where there was no starting line, no people.  We have a slight panic attack and start following people.  We realize we have 5 minutes till start, so we start jogging….a good warm-up right??  1/2 a mile later, we come upon the start.  Thankfully, they pushed the start back 10 minutes, so with 6 minutes to spare I get in line for the bathroom.  Kristen makes it to the bathroom.  We find Faith and our friend Kelly….they have to check in bags (which ends up being another 1/4 mile away) and go to the bathroom….so the horn blows to start, me and Kristen start out slow, trying to wait for Faith and Kelly to catch up.  They catch up and off we go.

The first 5-7 miles were great.  We saw family/friends at 1 1/2, dropped long sleeve shirts, then saw them again at 3 1/2.  Here we are at 3 1/2….just trucking along at light speed 🙂

Kelly had us at a 9:30 minute/mile….which was okay, for the first 5-6 miles.  About 6 1/2, I started feeling tired.  My normal training pace had been between 10 & 10:15…so ***warning warning*** don’t start out too fast!!!  I had to drop back from my friends at mile 7….I assured them I would be fine and for them to go ahead.  By mile 9 – I HAD to go to the bathroom, so I stopped and waited in line for 5 minutes to pee…a double-edged sword….I HAD to pee, but that also gave my muscles time to start freezing up on me – OUCH!!!  I grabbed some water and ran another 1 1/2 miles before I walked…hoping that walking would loosen up my muscles a bit…..ehhhh (buzzer sound), wrong answer.  About this time I realized the burning sensation in my feet was actually blisters.  Have you ever tried to run with blisters on your toes???  Hopefully you won’t have to experience that!!!  I made it 1/2 walking 1/2 running to mile 11 1/2….grabbed some more water and walked.  At this point I was shaky and felt real spacey, like I could pass out at any minute.  I believe at this point I needed some sustenance…some juice….some fuel.  At this point I came across family again.  ***NOTE – a large portion of this race was in a private, gated community.  Spectators could only enter on foot, so from mile 4-10 I had only random strangers cheering for me, which was better than nothing….but not family***

So I come across family….I’m walking.  Jeff’s dad and Kenly decide to run walk with me a bit, then we come across more family and Kenly drops off.  Dad-in-law keeps going with me…here we go:

We make it to 12, where I turn into the shopping area to go towards the finish.  Dad Kapusta is told he’s not allowed to run more than 10 seconds w/ me or there will be a penalty (thankfully he was w/ me over a mile before told this!!)  He dropped off and I was on my own.  I still couldn’t run the rest of the way, so between running/walking I finally made it!!!

I was feeling HORRIBLE at this point…. delirious, spacey, in pain…..I did run the last 2/10’s of a mile, so I was running jogging across the finish.  I got my medal and proceeded to sit down.  ***WARNING WARNING*** After finishing any type of running…DO NOT SIT DOWN!!!  My legs cramped up on me and I was in absolute pain.  Now around mile 9 I realized I was very much over-confident in my ability to finish well…I realized I may not have a great time….but I would finish.  I did NOT however realize how awful I would feel at the finish. I felt horrible, I was in so much pain, I’m sure I was whiney, I felt like I was going to die, I wanted to cry, I’m sure people were watching, wondering if I was going to die.  I did put on a happy face, when I was finally able to see my kids “surprise” they had been secretly talking about all week.  My wonderful friend Janell helped them make shirts and signs to cheer me on.  I did put on a happy face and hug and thank my kids for their cheering:

Jeff had to help me walk….off in the distance I see a community college has a tent set up and their massage therapist students “practicing”….giving people free rubdowns, so Jeff helps me get to a table and I collapse.  Yes I am in pain in this picture!!!

So, the student person works magic on my legs…Jeff helps me hobble to the car….I pop a few Tylenol and I’m finally to sigh the big sigh of thankfulness, relief, oh my goodness what was I thinking, thank You Jesus, and what was I thinking, again.  Got home, got a shower….my wonderful friends took my kids to lunch so I could rest in peace….and all was right in the world.  I did walk like a duck for a few days, but thankfully the kinks are getting worked out and my life can now return to normal, minus the running.  Jeff did have a video camera, so later on, there may be a video posting.  I believe a few of my comments on video were: “It was awful”

“I’d rather go through child-birth pain again before doing this again”

“It was awful”

“I’m in pain”

“My feet hurt”

And a slew of other whiney comments I’m sure you’ll see on the video.  I have come to compare the pain of running to the pain of child-birth.  You go through pain to have a child….when delivery is over, you’re thankful it’s over, glad to have a baby…and a few weeks later, you’ve forgotten the pain associated with having the child, then a year or so later you start planning to have another baby….all the while, the details of the pain of child-birth are a bit fuzzy, still you go ahead and have another child.  People have asked if I’ll run another race…I say, ask again in a year when all the pain associated with finishing is a bit fuzzy, and I may think about it….but right now my answer is….there’s no way in ____!!!! 🙂  Here’s a few more pics of my fan club and my photographer:


My friend’s Faith #2149 and Kelly #1879

And last but certainly not least….my most favorite photographer in the whole wide world….a precious friend….a godly woman….super talented….super creative….beautiful…so glad she’s my friend – Jen Griffin

Picture obviously not taken at the race…

In closing of my 1st novel…..despite the awful memories and the soreness….this is me….this is one of my greatest accomplishments!!!

8 Comments leave one →
  1. March 24, 2010 9:30 am

    Great story! Very inspiring!

  2. March 24, 2010 9:55 am

    Awesome accomplishment Michelle! Loved your honest details of the race and your pictures with your family-congrats! By the way, my first two marathons hurt more than ones I did in later years…there is always a certain level of pain, but it does get better and my recovery time is TONS better than those first races. Don’t give it up. 🙂

  3. Amy permalink
    March 24, 2010 12:24 pm

    Congratulations Michelle! That was AWESOME and I am SO HAPPY for you!! What an accomplishment! =)

  4. Surfer's Girl (aka Tamara) permalink
    March 26, 2010 10:02 pm

    This is awesome! Congratulations! I agree with Kirsten….it gets better, and better. Way to go!! Come out to California for a race…I like to call them racecations! 🙂 (ps….still ATTEMPTING to read the bible in a year…harder than I had thought, however I haven’t given up and no matter how far I get, the growth I am experiencing is life-changing!)

  5. sheila permalink
    March 27, 2010 11:19 am

    You’re awesome Michelle! …and after hearing about you training to run a marathon I had contemplated doing it as well…after reading your post, I’m not so sure anymore 🙂 I adore your honesty!

  6. March 28, 2010 9:24 pm

    well done, michelle! ally bergstrom and i run our half in april and i loved reading how your first half experience!!! thanks for all the details, it’s helping me be mentally prepared! 🙂

  7. jill permalink
    April 1, 2010 6:36 pm

    you are my hero! Listen lady, I need some recipes… like a lot & yours are good, so blog some! 🙂


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