After two ten-milers, two half-marathons and plenty of time cheering on the sidelines for my crazy, 50-mile-running husband, I can officially call myself a MARATHONER. And a new member of the “Izzo Marathon Club.” I may or may not be wearing my medal as I type this.
I am also trying to type this up super fast, as Matt and his brother Stephen are currently running the JFK 50 Miler in Maryland. So my marathon glory story is going to be overshadowed in just a few hours, and by 24 freaking miles, to boot! And plus I really have to get ready as we’re leaving to cheer them on in 10 minutes.
So let’s get to it. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in Savannah two weekends ago was a family affair, as Matt, Stephen, our brother-in-law Brian (also a new member of the Marathon Club) and Paul, my father-in-law all hit the pavement.
While I am planning to write a separate post about my running journey, it definitely feels like running has been a part of my life for a lot longer than three years. Ever since Matt decided to run the Army 10-Miler with his dad back in 2010, we have covered thousands of miles in Alexandria and DC. (We were actually just joking the other day that we know DC trails the way other people know DC restaurants and bars. Kind of pathetic…but we kind of like it that way!) But the thought of running a marathon didn’t get serious until my 27th birthday, when I made my list of “28 things for 27” and made that the first thing on my list. Seemed so easy to write at the time!
Two months after I wrote and published that post, we were in the midst of moving. There were boxes everywhere, I had no idea what was where and I probably was on my third mental breakdown when Matt yelled from the other room, “want to sign up for the Savannah marathon in November?” I have to admit, my first thought was actually “is he really on the computer right now looking up marathon stuff when we are moving in two days??” Then I sighed, looked around at the tornado that hit my closet and just yelled “oh, sure!”
The next morning I woke up and recalled what happened. Did I actually just sign up for a MARATHON?
Fast forward five months and five million training miles later, here I was at the start line in Savannah, waiting for the gun to sound! Well actually, two hours before that…here I was at 4:30 in the morning when Matt woke up and was flying around the room like a three-year-old on Christmas morning. I played the role of the less enthused older sibling.
Okay, but after some coffee, a chocolate mint protein bar and a Macklemore dance party, I was just as pumped at the start line! (With my father-in-law and some random girl who was equally as excited behind us.)
Since I had run 26 miles with Matt a few weeks prior and faced all of “the wall” demons down, I knew that I was physically and mentally prepared to cover each and every mile. And with a playlist full of Justin Timberlake, Usher, Beyonce, and okay…maybe one or two One Direction songs…I was ready to rock this thang!
Once the gun went off, I was so excited that for the first few miles I was just floating, going a steady pace and taking it all in. Looking down at my running watch, I started to worry that I was going too fast too early, that I was going to wear myself out by mile 10…and have 16 more miles to go! When we ran 26 miles in training, we ran five miles, walked one, ran five miles, walked one, and so on. It definitely helped prepare me mentally, but I wasn’t quite sure if I needed – or wanted – to break up the actual marathon that way. And with the way I was feeling at mile 5, there was no way I was stopping to walk! With all of the long runs I’ve put these Italian legs through, I knew that as long as it didn’t feel like work, it wasn’t work. I was breathing normal, jamming out to old school Usher and high-fiving everyone in sight. My game plan was to keeping on and if, at any point, I felt that I needed to walk, I would.
And up until mile 22, I really didn’t need to walk at all. Following the great Hal Higdon’s advice, I slowed down and walked through every water station and then towards the very end, walked up a couple of hills. But the route was pretty flat and the crowds along the way were quite motivating! Shout out to that girl whose sign read “Ryan Gosling is at the finish line.” That was all of the speed training I needed!
I also thought of my dad the entire run, knowing that if he was healthy, he would be right out there with me. But also realizing how his MS, his struggles and his unwavering spirit are what got me out here in the first place. If it wasn’t for my dad and all that he has gone through, I really don’t think I would ever strive for so much in every waking hour. I actually started to get pretty emotional on mile 12 and I actually had to say, out loud to myself, “KEEP IT TOGETHER AM!!” But I just couldn’t wait to get to the finish so I could call him and tell him what I did and how he got me through it. And to simply say, thank you.
Around mile 16, we ran around Savannah State College’s track which was amazing as all of the football players, cheerleaders and mascots gave us water, high-fives and some serious Nicki Minaj beats. I must have looked like such a weirdo as I smiled, yelled “WOOOO HOOOOO!” and did a running-dance around that whole track. Definitely some Phoebe running going on, but I was super happy about it. I was well on my way to mile 20, which was my mental fence if you will, and I knew once I climbed over that I would be golden.
That is, under I got to mile 22. While I didn’t hit the infamous “wall” many runners talk about, I did start to feel a tad bit nauseous. Did I drink too much water? Not eat enough GU gels? Go a little bit too fast after that Ryan Gosling sign? Whatever it was, I knew that it was mind over matter. I was getting to that finish!
And although mile 25 to 26 was the longest mile of my life (complete with my Spotify completely stopping, only to randomly come back on five minutes later with 50 Cent’s “In Da Club”) I found my biggest fan, Matt, cheering on the sidelines right before that last .2! I went from utterly exhausted to completely exhilerated as I took my final strides towards that big blue finish line. I did it, and in 4:06:02!
Now where are my free granola bars?!?
After I grabbed all the free goods I could hold, I made my way into the park to meet up with the rest of the runners and our littlest fans! After a few photos, a few phone calls to my mom and dad and a few mile 22 stories, we all walked back into town and out to lunch, eating on everything we could get our hands on.
A few hours and well-deserved naps later, we were back on our soon-to-be-aching feet, ready to hit the town in celebration! God bless Savannah and its alcohol-on-the-street laws. Nothing like walking (or in my case, crawling) down the street with a beer after running a marathon that morning!
We took the ferry across the water to the Westin where we hung out with the family and snacked on the Westin’s “s’more kits,” gaining back every calorie burned that morning. It was delicious.
I also ate this little one up! We were so excited to finally meet our newest niece, Anna Milkes. Such a peanut!
We all attempted to go out and actually celebrate in downtown Savannah, but I am laughing at this photo now…everyone looks so exhausted!
Along with running a marathon, extra-large beers might have had something to do with that….Matt.
Those beers must have helped mask the pain that was setting in though! A few hours later, in the middle of the night, I attempted to hop out of bed and go to the bathroom…completely forgetting where I was or what I just put my body through. My entire body – even my ears, I swear it – was devoured in soreness. I yelled “ouch!!!” and then just started laughing at myself…I wasn’t going anywhere fast anytime soon.
Annoyingly enough…Matt felt fine, as if he just took a light jog around the park. So there we were, all day in Savannah, Matt walking 5 paces in front of me while I sneered, “can you please slow down?!? I RAN A MARATHON!”
Not that he didn’t. But as I mentioned earlier, he is currently running a 50 miler. He eats marathons for breakfast. Look at the guy, all happy and smug at lunch.
Alright, alright…besides feeling like I was just run over my a motorcade of 18-wheelers, I was a bit happy and smug too. I couldn’t believe I did it and how amazing the experience was! And even if I was walking like a 94-year old (no offense, Mama), everyone in Savannah knew why.
However, once we got back to DC, I just looked like someone who was just hit by said motorcade of 18-wheelers. So you know, I had to show everyone what was up and wear my medal
everywhere we went on the Metro. Sorry I’m not sorry, ya’ll. And yes, I will be sitting in this seat the entire ride, thankyouverymuch.
It is always hard to have such a huge moment in your life happen, like a wedding or a big family vacation or in this case, a marathon, and then have to go back to the daily grind as if nothing happened. Luckily, I have amazing parents who made sure that my achievement would not go unnoticed once reality hit – they had “happy marathon!” flowers delivered to my office! And yes, that is a photo of Justin Timberlake in the background next to our wedding photo. Maybe, Matt, if you started sending flowers to my office on a weekly basis…
To sum it up, it was one of the greatest experiences of my life and I feel so blessed to be in good health, great spirits and surrounded by so much love & support throughout this journey to 26.2.
And ya’ll can’t go anywhere, bc Matt signed me up for the Disney Marathon in January! So bring on Thanksgiving and Christmas…because I should start carboloading now, right?