Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Philly, Dublin, and 26.2 Miles

Last summer, my friend Jim Asker came up with the idea for Team in Training to do an international event, with Dublin, Ireland to be the destination. I excitedly agreed to be a part of this inaugural event for the Tennessee chapter, and what an adventure it ended up being. Here's a recap of the trip.

A little group photo while we were still smiling. This group of people helped raise over $80,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. All of us are involved for different reasons, but all in it for the ultimate goal - a cure. Jim and Paige on the right were our two season mentors.

Paige and I in Philly
Exhausted and stuck in Philly!
Our flight was delayed, then we were delayed in Philadelphia for a day, which we were less than thrilled about, but Paige and I decided to make the best of it. We decided to go out and about in the city, which I ended up loving. The art and history in the city are amazing, and I can't wait to go back and explore more when I have more time.

We arrived in Dublin on Saturday morning, exhausted, smelly, and most generally grumpy. Things started to become a little more real after we visited the race Expo to pick up our gear. It was my first trip out of the country, so I was pretty much enthralled with everything. One of the most interesting things I noticed about Dublin was how all the doors seemed to be different colors. It makes me want a purple door, you know, when I grow up! We found the start and finish lines, which were thankfully very close to our hotel. It was all coming together - I was about to do my first full marathon. I hadn't trained properly and was nervous as heck, but I knew I had to do it. Anxiety, stress, and worry were all setting in. Who wants to do 26.2 miles for fun? This coming from a girl 2 years prior wanted nothing to do with any type of exercise at all. Quite the reversal.

On Monday, race day was upon us. It was windy and cloudy but then again I wouldn't have expected anything else in Dublin. I can see why those people drink so much - the weather is beyond depressing! Someone handed me a poncho early in the day and for some reason I decided that it was worth holding onto. That gut feeling proved to be correct - as it started pouring later on in the race. The race started at 9, which was awesome. It gave us time to eat, talk out some last minute jitters, and take a shot of vodka before starting. (I kid, I kid, it was whiskey). My teammates and I headed out for a race we had been preparing for for months.

Things started hurting around Mile 2 - that's when I knew it was going to be a long day. Thankfully, sweet Paige stayed with me throughout the entire race. By Mile 8, my hip had pretty much had it and I was beginning to think I couldn't do it. By the time I got to Mile 13, I was ready to call it quits and hang out in the Sag Wagon for a few hours. Much to my disappointment, the Sag Wagon never showed up. We kept plugging along, and at Mile 15 the torrential downpour started. That was fun. By mile 18 I was really beginning to question my sanity in addition to my stupidity. I hadn't trained more than 14 miles, it probably was pretty stupid to take on 26.2 but my stubbornness set in somewhere around Mile 20. I hit the infamous "wall" at Mile 22 and broke down crying. Paige was there to comfort me and encourage me but never have I wanted to just sit down in a puddle and splash and cry as much as I did in that moment. She pushed me along and kept me talking. Around Mile 24, it was game over. I started sobbing where Paige kindly told me that if I didn't stop crying she was going to kick my face. Okay, maybe she didn't but it sure felt like she was being mean to me telling me to stop crying and all. I mean, it hurt... I was cold, it was dark, and dammit I wanted to see that finish line! I'm not sure how she kept me going and out of the puddles, but she did and soon we could hear the finish. However for some reason, we could never see it... then we discovered we were going the WRONG direction. By this time, any expletive ever known to man was coming out of my mouth and I was ready to punch someone who looked at me wrong. Crossing the finish line is honestly a little fuzzy - almost like I was drunk exhaustion. I remember stumbling back to my hotel thinking, Wow, I'm a marathoner! I got to the hotel bar and immediately ordered a drink! It was great seeing my teammates comforting faces and getting congratulatory hugs.

I still look back and the whole thing feels unreal. I can't believe I actually finished. I can't believe I did it in Dublin, Ireland. What an amazing trip with a great group of people. To complete such a huge feat in my life with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society made all the pain worth it. I swore that I'd never do another full, but now I have one picked out, and I fully intend on training properly for this one. I'm excited. Thanks to everyone who supported me emotionally, prayerfully, and by donating to the cause!

Wouldn't be a trip to Dublin
without some Guinness!

This is what I got to come home to!