Am I really back in Michigan? Is the 1/2 marathon really over? It can't be true. But, here I am. Back to the cold (except it's unusually warm here in MI at 45 degrees).
So. My trip. Well, this wouldn't be a TRUE "event recap" from me without a lot of details (probably more than you want to know). For the most part, it was pretty low key, so you shouldn't have to suffer through too much. EDIT- Ha. Just kidding, I guess. Prepare to read a novel.
It all started on Thursday-I left my house at 5:30 AM to catch my plane. I hate flying, plus I was nervous for the trip in general, so you can imagine my nerves. But, I was so exhausted from lack of sleep the night before; I passed out on the plane. I mean I fell asleep as soon as I got in my seat and did not wake up until I heard the pilot say we were beginning the descent into Nashville. When I did wake up, I forgot where I was! I had a minor freak out moment, thank God the plane was pretty empty and I had the whole row to myself. I had to get to my connecting flight, which was no trouble at all. This plane wasn't so empty- we were pretty packed in there-and no sleeping this time. I landed right on time, got my luggage, and waited anxiously for Babz and Holly. Babz came about 30 minutes after me, and Holly 30 minutes after Babz. SO good to see them again!!!!! Holly's brother came and picked us up to drive us to Holly's momma's house. The whole way I was smiling seeing all the palm trees! We got to Obby (nickname for Holly's mom)'s house, and she was right there by the door to greet us. Might I add that she is the CUTEST PERSON EVER. She'll be 89 in just a few weeks but so sharp, sweet, and a little spunky :) Oh just thinking about her I miss her already. Anyways. We were all really exhausted from a day of traveling, so we pretty much sat our bums on the couch, watching the news story about a 9 hour hostage situation, and didn't move except to go pick up a pizza from Pizza Hut. I was asleep by 9:10. :)
On Friday we all woke up pretty early, spent the morning chatting and watching the news. Then we dropped in on a ZUMBA class at the Jacksonville YMCA. Such a good idea! We had a blast. Our instructor was awesome, high energy. I loved that class! Great workout. After Zumba we went downtown for the marathon expo. We had to pick up our runner's packets, but we were also there to hear speakers and walk around all the booths. One of those speakers was Donna Deegan, who founded the race, she is a 3x breast cancer survivor and a news anchor for a local Jacksonville station. I am SO happy we heard her speak- so inspiring! She really made an impact on me, talking about changing your attitude and the mental in everything. After her talk we walked around the expo for a few hours and got TONS of free stuff-pens, bags, mints, etc. All pink, all in support of the cause :) I also bought a 13.1 sticker for my car- and thought gee whiz I hope I make it as I was paying for it! haha. After the expo and a stop at Burger King, we were back home. We tried to sit in the hot tub, but once we all got in the bubbles stopped! Poor Obby tried to help us out, none of us could figure it out. So we changed into pj's and sat to watch some TV. Well, Holly was determined to fix the hot tub- we went back outside, Holly discovered a little door on the hot tub, Babz found the switch, and voila- it worked. Obby was so proud of "her girls" for fixing it! That night, we stayed in for dinner- Obby made us an AMAZING salad (best I've ever had) and we had leftover pizza. We watched Miss Congeniality and headed to bed.
Saturday was a near perfect day. Obby, Holly, Babz, and I hung out in the morning, and then headed to pick up another backup, Sally, who lives in Jacksonville. What a sweetheart! The five of us headed to lunch, we each got a different salad and they were ALL amazing (at least, that's what I hear, haha). So good to meet Sally and chat with her! We dropped Obby and Sally off then the three of us headed to the beach. Boy did that feel nice. We walked along the pier, saw a pelican, and saw a guy catch a stingray- an exciting day, let me tell you. We also saw the signs for the marathon, so Babz and Holly explained to me that we had just seen the 2.5 miles we'd be walking on the beach during the 1/2 marathon. Yippee, haha. We walked around some of the shops, then headed back to the car and went to Starbucks (can't believe it took us that long to get to one!). The one we went to was OUTDOORS. So pretty! We sat there and chatted for a bit, and then made a stop at the grocery store to pick up a Valentine's Gift for Obby. We went for flowers, a balloon, and candy. When we walked into the door and handed them to her, her face just LIT UP. So adorable! That night we loaded up on our carbs- lasagna and garlic bread, plus more of Obby's amazing salad. We attempted to go to bed early, but when we did get to bed all of us got the nervous giggles. I could not stop laughing when Babz phone went off and lit up the room, so Holly said "what's that light? Up in the sky? I thought it was a message from God". We were so silly...and nervous! I could NOT fall asleep. I kept thinking about that beach, the big hill I had been warned about, what if what if what if. I eventually fell asleep at about 12. We were planning on waking up at 4:30, but by 4 we were up and getting dressed!
So, like I said, we were up at 4 am, out of the house a little before 5. It was a little chilly outside- only about 30 degrees. Now, coming from Michigan, I wasn't that cold- just scared. Holly, on the other hand, from Mississippi, was FREEZING. I felt so badly, because there was nothing we could for her. Poor little thing! Eventually, though, we lined up, ready for the start. By 7 am I was READY for this thing to just start! The energy was amazing though. Everyone was there to run for the same cause- finish breast cancer. That made it special. At 7:30, the gun went off, and so did we-kind of. It helped me that "Beautiful Day" by U2 was playing over the speaker- I knew Laurence was with me! But Babz and I felt like our feet weren't moving, from standing there for so long. I had told both of them to go on ahead of me, Holly would get a head of me but then stand back and wait- so sweet. It was fun to walk with her for the first four miles, especially up the bridge, which is by far the hardest part of the walk- but I also knew I had to come BACK to that bridge at the end! I also cried at one point during those first few miles- the first time a group of cheerleaders went crazy for me. Sadly, by about mile 4, I lost Holly. She had stopped to pet a dog, I stopped to take off my jacket and get water. I saw her a little ahead of me but knew I couldn't catch up, so I just kept my pace. I eventually saw her right as I got on the beach, she was taking a picture of some guys decked out in pink, cheering. But RIGHT after she took the picture, she was OFF! Go holly, Go! I was nervous about the few miles on the beach, but I ended up loving it- that is where I did most of my self talk and found inspiration! What a perfect place for it :) Not only was it beautiful, but they also had huge signs with words like HOPE, BELIEVE, LOVE, FINISH, etc. Loved the beach part! The sand was firm enough that it wasn't too difficult, and the breeze was perfect. It was when I got OFF the beach that I had problems- because of the uneven surface, I started feeling blisters- and it was only mile 7. I was in a LOT of pain from miles 7-9. I felt like needles were pushing through my feet. I stopped very briefly once or twice to stretch my foot, but I was afraid to stop for too long. At one point during at that two mile push, someone on the sidelines said to me "you're almost there". I could NOT help but yell back "don't lie to me!" Then another cheerleader offered me a beer- my response? "I'll die". Whew, those two miles were ROUGH. For a few seconds I thought I wasn't going to make it, quite honestly. But what pushed me through were all the cheerleaders on the side of the road. My bib had my name on it, so having them yell out "c’mon Megan!" pushed me. After a bathroom break at mile 9, I knew I could finish. So I kept on trucking-slowly. Soon I was going back up the curve- the death curve as I like to call it- the curve leading up to the HUGE Bridge. Remember how my blisters hurt more on uneven surfaces? Yeah. Try like...a mile of uneven surface, going uphill. Twas not fun. However, my saving grace was literally a few steps ahead. I had been following this girl the entire time, we were keeping a similar pace. So I sped up to catch up with her, put my hand on her back and said "we're going to do this thing". I'm 100% confident that Loren and I saved each other. She told me she was really struggling, even more than me probably because she was all alone. No one waiting for her at the finish line. So I told her I wouldn't leave her, we'd do it together. A few steps later, we look ahead and see the bridge. Poor Loren burst into tears. I just kept encouraging her, which was also helping me "we can do this, at the top is mile 12!". So we started the climb. Thank the dear Lord, there were a lot of cheerleaders along that bridge, all form sororities and fraternities- so they were EXTRA energetic. Like, in your face, throwing water kind of energetic. They put a huge smile on my face! There was also a little girl wearing a Taylor Swift t-shirt- when I got to her I said "I love your shirt!" and showed her my iPod, which happened to be playing "fearless" (that's the ONLY song I recall from my walk, because I was so in the zone) she smiled and said "thanks! GOOD JOB! THANKS FOR WALKING!". Eventually, Loren and I made it to the top. At this point, people who had FINISHED were running back UP the hill to cheer people on. That's what I like to call insane :) But it did help, so thank you! Anyways- eventually Loren and I got down the hill, and were coming around the last curve. Someone yelled to us- after this curve you can see the finish line! Loren said "JESUS LORD THANK YOU" hahahha. And guess what? We turned, and there it was! Oh boy did I start walking faster! I turned to Loren to keep her going, and said I wanted to jog in. She told me to go for it, and as I took off, I heard her cheering for me :) I said a prayer in my head thanking God for that girl! I ran across the finish line, with tears in my eyes, and after grabbing a water bottle pretty much ran into Babz and Holly's arms. Then came the real perk- MY MEDAL! It was such a defining moment. I also heard someone yelling my name, looked up, and there's my cousin Bonny. I was so excited to see her, and so overwhelmed that she came out to support me. We decided to meet up with her back at the "family reunification" center. Well, that was a 1/4 of a mile away from the finish line! Cruel and unusual punishment, I tell ya! We eventually made it over there, and Bonny and her boyfriend graciously offered to drive us back to our car. It didn't work out, but they could drop us off RIGHT at our shuttle- so sweet of them. I am so glad I got to see her :)
The shuttle ride was ROUGH. Almost everyone was a runner, so a lot of hot and sweaty people. We got stuck in traffic, and lost. I almost lost it a few times. We eventually got dropped off, but had to walk (and by walk, I mean hobble) across TWO parking lots to get to our car. We had a blast in the car talking about our walk experience. Got back to Obby's house, where some of Holly's family was to greet us. So happy to meet them, they were all very sweet and friendly. The three of us must have been quite a sight, but they were just so nice. Obby made us bbq sandwiches and watermelon, yum. After everyone we left, we showered and got in pj's. We talked about going out for a nice dinner, steak and potatoes- but uh...didn't quite make it. Instead we had candlelight Steak N Shake Dinner. I was in bed by 8:30! All of us slept great. I woke up this morning to this conversation...
Holly "is you eating?"
Holly "I smell bacon. Maybe cuz I was dreaming of Beggin Strips".
If that doesn't put you in a giggly mood, I don't know what will. That was at 6:30 AM. We got plenty of sleep! This morning was pure hang out- watching the news, drinking coffee, etc. I honestly almost cried leaving Obby- she spoiled us rotten all weekend, plus she is literally the cutest person I've ever met. I adore her. Holly's brother dropped us off at the airport, and after we all checked in, I had to say goodbye to my girls. I had an absolutely amazing weekend with them and am SO grateful for them for inviting me, supporting me, pushing me along, etc. I will miss them- and the sunshine- and the palm trees- but not that bridge. ;)
So folks, I did it! It has been a LONG, LONG journey, and I cannot believe it's over. I had an amazing weekend, though. It was exactly what I needed. And trust me when I say this 1/2 marathon was just the beginning. It inspired me even more to get serious and healthy. I'm going to live my life a little differently, I think. After hearing Donna's story, seeing breast cancer survivors all along the course cheering me on, and finishing this thing. I've got this :)
If you read that, I'll give you a cookie. I love you all.
PS- Every few seconds, I think "Holy crap, I did a 1/2 marathon". I don't know when that will end.