Michelle's Blog: My 26.2 Miles to the Finish - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Michelle's Blog: My 26.2 Miles to the Finish

Running is not something I particularly enjoy rather it is a great way, I have found, to stay in shape. I do however love race day. I feed off of the adrenaline rush, the fight to beat the clock and I find comfort in being surrounded by so many other crazy people taking a trek many would never dare.

On March 4, 2012, I accomplished something I never thought I would even attempt, a full marathon. I have always wanted to run a marathon, but never thought I actually had it in me, but after several talks with a marathon extraordinaire, Dave Schroeder, I made up my mind to do it. I started training 16 weeks before the big day, but towards the end of the training I did not always make time to complete what I was supposed to. With that said, I only ran 18 miles before the race. Most people recommend running 20 miles once or twice before a marathon, but I just could not find the push to do it.

The weeks leading up to the marathon I was very busy between work and other commitments outside of work, I did not have much time to think about the race, therefore I did not have much time to stress about how I was going to do this. But, the morning of the race I started to get very nervous, could I really do this? I had it set in my head I was going to do it, so I knew I would, but I was just overwhelmed with how I was going to actually run 26.2 miles.

The countdown began and the horn sounded, off I went. I saw two of my best friends standing along the side line cheering me on with a poster and I was off to a great start.

Ten miles down and I still felt full of energy, my adrenaline was really pumping and it was a good thing because I was not even half way through. I kept wondering when the big separation was going to come, the time when the half marathon runners would go one way and the full marathon runners the other. In past races, my biggest fear was that I would accidentally take the full marathon route, but on this day my fear was a reality.

Mile 12.5 came and I ran to the left as many runners were nearing their end, I was only nearing my half way point. At this time I was still feeling very good, I had been running for one hour and 32 minutes.

The running crowd had thinned out quiet a bit, to give you an idea more than 22,000 runners participated, but of those only about 4,000 ran the full marathon. I wasn't alone at all but just had more room to run.

My feet kept going one in front of the other until I found myself at mile 18, as I was passing this mile my head was telling me this is the furthest you have ever run. That voice in my head alone made me tired. For me, when it comes to running I know my body can handle it, my biggest problem is my head telling me I can't. So from this point forward I knew the next 8 miles were going to be tough.

Mile 22 was one of the worst for me. I completely hit my wall. My head was tell me this is it, you are done, you cannot run anymore.

Throughout the race and particularly at this point in my run, I kept asking my grandmother and uncle in heaven to please give me the strength I needed to finish this. I stopped and walked for a minute to regroup and get some water.

I quickly learned that stopping was a painful mistake. I didn't realize just how much pain I was in while I was running, but as I stopped and walked it hit me like a ton of bricks. I was determined to continue so after a minute walk I forced myself to begin running again.

From this point on I kept counting in my head the many miles I had left. "Only four miles, I run this all the time. Three more miles, I got this," I said. But, at mile 25 I felt like I could no longer lie to myself, who cares if it was only one more mile, it felt like I had 100 more to go. I stopped for the second time and walked.

I know at this point in the race my face could tell the story of just how much pain I was in. The struggle I was battling in my head was very evident on my face. I will never forget this moment at mile 25 as I walked a second and one man in the crowd pointed at me and said, "One more mile and you are a marathoner." That simple phrase was just the motivation I needed. I looked to my right and saw a man struggling just as much as me, he was walking and I said, "Are you going to walk this last mile?" He said, "I'm not walking through that finish line." And I smiled and replied, "Me neither, let's go." We both started running again and to distract my mind I made conversation with him by asking, where he was from, what he did for a living. Before I knew it we were almost there.

As I saw the finish line that was it for me, I sprinted as fast as I could. So fast in fact someone at the finish line shouted my name and I had no idea who it was because I was going too fast to look. I crossed the finish line at 4:06. What a feeling, I couldn't think of anything except I just did it!!!! Someone placed a medal over my head I grabbed some water and fruit, congratulated the man I ran the last mile with and then found somewhere to sit down.

The feeling of accomplishment is the best feeling in the entire world. This feeling is what made the entire 16 weeks of tough training worth every second of pain.

At that moment after the race I was so happy, I could cross this off my bucket list. I swore I would never do another marathon again. That is until the next day when I woke up, still with a big smile from ear to ear, and thought to myself, "Who am I kidding? I definitely want to do this again."

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