Thursday, March 1, 2012

Lisa's Final Blog

Wow!  I still can't believe I finished a MARATHON!  26.2 miles, are you kidding me?  I was told that less than 1% of the population has ran a marathon!  That is crazy!  The emotions I had before, during, and after were all over the charts!

First let me go back a few weeks prior to this huge event in my life!  I told the girls I would NEVER, EVER run a marathon in my life!!!!  They begged, pleaded and even tried to bribe me into doing this run!  I held my ground......until Stormie sent out an E-mail!  That E-mail changed my whole outlook on doing a marathon!

She was running for a cause and that cause was to raise money for the PPMD Organization to help find a CURE for muscular dystrophy,  which as you all know is very near and dear to her heart!  I got to thinking about HER reasons for doing this marathon,  and for MY reasons for NOT doing this marathon!  Stormie's were all selfless and mine were all selfish!  Her's were to help find a cure for MD, to stop this dreaded disease that takes over the muscles of so many folks, young and old!  Mine were, why would I want to run 26.2 miles?  My muscles would be so sore, my feet would hurt, and oh my goodness...I might get a blister or two!  Really?  The pain that I would endure would go away after a few days, and the blisters would heal and I would be fine!  I have two perfectly good legs (although they my be old legs) to be able to make that treck, where so many with MD only wish they could walk, run, jump & play!

So...with a little push from Mitzi, I agreed to do The Cowtown Marathon with the other MM's!  That was about 3 weeks before the run!  I know, crazy right?  Not a lot of training!   The furthest I had ever ran was 13.1 miles, and that was a year and a half ago!  But Mitzi & I crunched the number's and figured if we ran the first half, walking through the water stops and ran/walked the 2nd half we could get it done before they closed the race course at 7.5 hours!  We did just that....but our time exceeded our goals!  We finished in 5 hours and 34 minutes!  Talk about 2 excited girls!

We had tears, laughter and even anger throughout the journey!  But we always kept in our mind the REASON we were doing this!  His name is ETHAN!  Right before the start gun went off we gathered together for a prayer and I don't think there was a dry eye in the group!  Even after the prayer I had a tiny voice in my head telling me to "get out, don't do it, run & hide"!  But then I had Mitzi telling me...."We got this"!  And off we went to the cheers of about 23 family and friends that made the trip to Ft. Worth just to watch us run!

Running through the streets of Ft. Worth, seeing so many volunteers and spectators with great signs and words of encouragement was amazing!  I saw a sign as we were hitting the home stretch that said RUN LISA RUN!  Sure made me smile!  I think the 2 best signs were, "Wellington Runners Do It For Donuts". (Which most of you know the background on that!)  And right about mile 26, "You Are No Longer A Runner, You Are A Marathoner"!  I still find that hard to believe!

The route was crazy!  Lots of hills!  YIKES!  The one that scared us all to death was about a mile long, between mile 8 & 9!  WHEW!  About half way up Mitzi told me that we were going to make that hill our B#@*h!  And for those of you that don't know Mitzi, she doesn't cuss much at all!  That was funny!  And let me tell you once we made it to the top and I caught my breath,  I could laugh about it!  Darn hill!

We ran through the stock yards, downtown Ft. Worth, the campus of TCU, where the sorority girls were sitting out on there front porch, in there robes, drinking coffee cheering us on!  We ran through beautiful neighborhoods where folks were out in their yards, some handing out candy, muffins, fruit and encouragement!  Oh, I can't forget the guys who were handing out ice cold beer about mile 24!  And yes we had a drink!  We needed the carbs!  LOL!  We ran through beautiful parks and along the river too!

About mile 14.5 my body was letting me know that it was NOT happy about all if the running!  If it weren't for my running partner, Gu Chomps, Cliff Bars, Ibuprofen,  and seeing our family and friends along the route to cheer us on, I'm not so sure I would of made it!

Here is where the anger came into play!  I just wanted to be DONE!  I just kept repeating, finish, finish, finish, over and over again!  And Mitzi kept saying, stride it out, stride it out, over and over again!  I told her if I heard her say that one more time I was going to punch her!  LOL!  I love you Mitzi!  Not sure what mile it was, after mile 20, Maria joined us for more encouragement along the way!  Thank Goodness she was there to keep me from beating up Mitzi!  LOL!   Dawn showed up about mile 24 too!  Thank you girls!  That was awesome!  Those last few miles were brutal!  Then about mile 26 I lost it!  I was sobbing and had that ugly face you get when you cry!  I kept thinking just suck it up...when you turn the corner everyone will see that ugly cry face!  So I got it together and Mitzi & I ran the last .2 miles with smiles on our faces, giving our family and friends high fives before we crossed the finish line together!

Amazing!  Just Amazing!  I will never regret running a Marathon with the most amazing  friends a girl could have!  JB, Alison,  Stormie & Mitzi,  I love you all!  And I am so proud to have gone through this journey with you girls!  Now ......don't ever ask me to run a marathon with you again!   CABO, HERE WE COME!

Mitzi's Final Blog - Totally Amazing…Amazingly Awesome!!!

As you know, Lisa and I were at the beginning of the blog and quietly slipped out.  With both of us having Plantar Fasciitis, and I having bone spurs and still sleeping in splints every night, we knew if we trained for this marathon, it would more than likely put us at not running at all (my foot specialist stated it was in my best interest to not do a marathon).  However, I never gave up on wanting to do it. I remember having a discussion with Ann Shinliver regarding training and long runs when preparing for a marathon.  She said you didn't necessarily need them.  I was all for her advice!  Why hurt over and over again when you could just run it and only hurt once?  Well, every time I asked Lisa, she would immediately say, “No, I don’t want to do it.”  After asking her several times I thought I’d try some others in our running group, knowing I couldn't keep up with JB, Alison, and Stormie and under no circumstance was I going to have them slow down their pace for me.  Not saying these girls are slower than the others, but we have been training together for a half marathon and I knew what pace they were keeping.  I asked Carmen, DeAun, Cassie, Melissa, and got a “No!” from them, even though I know they all could run one!

Then one day, approximately three weeks before the marathon, Stormie emailed us about the marathon and raising money for PPMD in honor of Ethan.  I knew I could help her raise money, but I WANTED TO RUN FOR ETHAN!  I sent Lisa a text message telling her I felt like I was letting Stormie down. She replied with a why?.  I asked her if she’d read Stormie’s email.  She called me shortly thereafter and said, “FINE, I’ll do it!”  I didn’t know what to say.  I was SHOCKED, EXCITED, AND THEN NERVOUS!!  I went to her house that evening and together we checked out the Cowtown Marathon website.  Knowing we could run at least 13 miles, we calculated how much time we’d have if we had to walk the last 13 and be done by the time they closed the course, which was at 7 ½ hours.  The next time we ran, we joined our girls in training for the last 6 miles of their 20 mile run.  When they left, Lisa and I timed ourselves walking a fast paced mile.  Took that number and determined we could finish in that time frame.  Then we had a question for our leader, JB.  We needed to figure out how they were registered, as a team or individual.  I sent her a text message telling her we were working on signs and wondered if they had registered as a team.  She said, “No, we had to have five members and we were short two!”  Ouch!!!  Once again, I felt horrible.  A week later (two weeks before the marathon), Lisa and I told the girls we were joining them in the run.  They were totally surprised and shocked and Lisa and I were then even more nervous, knowing we couldn’t back out now.  So, Lisa and I signed up, putting an estimated finish time of 6 ½ hrs (a number higher then we wanted to finish at), but our true goal was to finish under 6 hrs.  I was sure hoping my training of 203 miles versus their 435 would get me through this run.

The days prior the run, I found myself doubting I could do this over and over again.  Running is such a mental game for me.  I was always fine if I knew a few days in advance how many miles we would be doing.  This way I could plant it in my head and I was okay with it.  So, I told myself, if I can plan to run 12 and do it, why can’t I plan to run 26.2 and do that as well.  I convinced myself that was what I needed to do and I believe it helped.  Then I had my support group.  Oh my, what a difference that makes!  Days prior to leaving for the run, we were given goodie bags full of items we would need to accomplish this feat, well wishes and words of encouragement thru facebook, email, and texting.  Family, friends, and Wellington runners are wonderful to have on your side!

Right before race time, we saw several of our supporters who were so encouraging.  Then we joined hands for a prayer and we were off!

Mile 1:  Went very quickly as you overlooked a massive body of people running down the street.  You always get caught up in the pace of others and JB heard me say I could tell I would soon be getting a side ache.  Running faster than my usual pace and with no wind in my face, I’m bound to get one.

Mile 2:  Sure enough, not stopping when I should have, I ended up with a piercing side ache.  After walking 3 blocks and turning in a different direction, it soon went away and thankfully, never came back.

Mile 6:  Could feel the pain starting in my right knee.  Yip, runner’s knee!  I can’t tell you if the pain ever went away or if I just got use to it.

Mile 9:  Lisa and I had made it up the hill of mile eight.  I was telling Lisa how proud I would be to finish this run under 6 hours when this girl next to me says, “You should already be proud of yourselves”.  It literally brought tears to my eyes.  I looked at Lisa and said, “That sounded like JB talking to us”.

Mile 14:  Lisa started feeling more pain in this mile from the constant use of the same muscles so we started walking a little more, but still kept a good pace.  Between 14 and 20, we continued the run walk strategy.  As we neared a corner we saw some of our support group.  As we got closer, Ethan pushed himself up off of the curb to give us a high-five as we jogged by.  This gave us a boost of energy and reminded us again as to why we were there.  I kept reminding Lisa that if we kept our “practice” walking pace, we would still meet our goal.  I kept encouraging her, and she stayed strong and kept moving forward.  I’d give her a gentle squeeze across the shoulders or a high-five to let her know how proud I was of her.  She wanted me to go on without her, but NO WAY was that going to happen! 

Mile 20:  Yeah, it’s Anna and Maria here to cheer us on!  Even better, Maria joins us for our last six miles.  It was so nice to have her along and I quickly let her take over encouraging Lisa to finish hard.  At one point between mile 20 and 24, I went to give Lisa a hug and she snaps at me, “DON’T TOUCH ME!!!!”.  It was at that point Maria asked if we would be friends after this.  Lisa wasn’t sure and made the comment she wanted to ride home with Maria.  I THINK she was kidding, but I’m not 100% sure (we did ride home together, in case you were wondering).

Mile 24:  Here comes Dawn!  Dawn was working on getting her 13 miles in for the day so as Lisa, Maria, and I walked and jogged, Dawn ran back and forth.  It wasn’t bothering me at all, but I wondered what some of the other runners were thinking with this gal running around, going the wrong direction, this late in the race.  It was nice having her and Maria with us.  Two strong runners, full of energy and advice!  What more could two marathon want-a-be’s ask for? 

Mile 25:  We were just nearing mile 25 and I was SO anxious to get to the finish line.  I started jogging around and backwards when I said, “Lisa, I really think it feels better to run then walk” and a girl in a group running next to us says, “I don’t know what world you’re in, but you’re not in the same one I’m in”.  Made me laugh!!  As we got within a half mile of the finish line, we saw Clay and Caden and I was so ready to run it all the way in, but Lisa wasn’t quite ready.  But once we turned that last corner and saw the balloons and arch over the finish line, we were off!  I was SO EXCITED!!  We gave some high fives and crossed that line SIDE BY SIDE with a final time of 5:34!  We had beaten our goal by 26 minutes and we were thrilled!  What a tremendous experience, I truly enjoyed!  I was so proud of Lisa for enduring the pain and not giving up.  She did a great job and if she wouldn’t have done it with me, I wouldn’t have had this opportunity to RUN FOR ETHAN.  Thank you, Lisa! 

I couldn’t believe how beautiful the weather was for us.  I was never cold and never broke a sweat.  Although some might have said it was windy, I always like a breeze when I’m running. 

Lisa and I had come up with the idea of using the 26 letters of the alphabet to help us get through each mile, but we didn’t end up using it.  Stormie had made each of us pace bracelets that included 26 names or encouraging words.  Lisa and I would share our words and then visit along the way.

Another thing I like to do on my half marathons and this marathon, is count my miles downward instead of up.  My first goal was to hit 20, and then I was so excited to get into the teens.  At mile 13 I felt great!  Couldn’t believe how different I felt compared to my last half marathon.  Next it was mile 12.  If we made it to mile 12, counting downward still, we will have run further than we ever had before.  Then came 9, we were in the single digits.  Yes!!!  All the way counting down I kept getting more and more excited, knowing we were going to do this and I felt fine.  I was so pumped!!  I’m sure Lisa got tired of me asking her how we were doing on time, but I so wanted to beat our goal.  At mile 6, Maria joined us.  Yay!!  She took over encouraging Lisa so I didn’t end up dead J  Thanks, Maria!!  Mile 2, Dawn joined us and mile 1 I felt like I could have ran the whole way in, even though I’m sure I couldn’t have.  It was such an amazing feeling.  The whole route (with the exception of all the hills) was so enjoyable.  There were so many people along the streets cheering us on.  It was awesome!

I can’t thank our massive fan club enough for being with us during this amazing day in Fort Worth.  Your support, whether you were there cheering us on in your “Team Higgie” shirts and with your signs, following us via text messaging in Kansas, or had us in thought and prayer, you were very much appreciated.  Maria, Anna, and Dawn, you ladies are awesome!  Thank you so much for running along side of us and giving us that push to finish the best we could.  I’m forever grateful!!

The Day After:  I could definitely tell I had exercised my muscles, but didn't feel too bad.  Had some pain in my right knee and heel and one toe on my left foot.  My legs ached walking up and down my work stairs just enough to remind me why I did this marathon.  I was thankful I could feel that pain in my leg muscles!

Thanks to these supporters/well wishers and please forgive me if I’ve left anyone out: Ethan, Rob, Brayden, Sherry, Shawn, Maddie, Julie (aka Debbie J ), Sarah, Susie, Janet, Cheryl, Clay, Casha, Caden, Erin, Trudy, Ellis, Jamie, Preston, Maria, Anna, Dawn, Lori, Debbie, Timmy, Ryan, Carmen, DeAun, Melissa, Jeannette, Jenn, Jenny, Andy, Marcia, Mary, Lisa Z., Lisa R., Karen, Dr. Gill, Dr. Anders and all of the facebook fans

Also, thanks to Dr. Will for getting rid of my cold before race day!  I don’t think I could have done it without you. Many, many thanks to my friends and family who supported our fundraising for PPMD!  May God Bless You!! Alison, JB, Lisa, and Stormie, you girls are awesome!  I’m so proud to have been a part of “Team Higgie” and I pray they find a cure for our Little Ethan soon.  I love each and every one of you!!!
- Mitzi

Stormie's Final Blog - Wow...26.2

JB, Alison, Mitzi and Lisa made the trip to Fort Worth on Friday afternoon. My mom and the boys headed down early Saturday morning. We got into Fort Worth around noon and I joined up with the girls and we headed to the Expo to get our race Bibs. We then decided it was a good idea to drive the route. Well, it was a terrible idea! We were nervous as we could see this route would be hilly. Then we headed out to eat dinner with our 23 family members! It was a long day and in retrospect, I wish that I would’ve gone down on Friday with the girls.  I didn’t have much time to relax or rest on Saturday as we were on the go the whole day and I feel like this might have affected my ability on race day. But who knows?

I woke up Sunday morning at 4:30 am with a feeling of excitement and nervousness. Thinking about it now, I actually still get butterflies! We had trained so hard and this was the day that we had worked so hard for. How would it go? Would we be ok? Did we train enough? I tend to overanalyze every detail and that day was no exception. I headed to meet up with the girls about 5:15 am at their hotel. We headed out to the shuttle about 6:00 (with cheers from our fans – JB’s awesome family!) and headed to the race site. As we headed for the start, we were looking for our family members and trying to find them in the sea of spectators. Then we saw a “Team Higgie” sign hovering over the crowd and we all smiled and headed that way. I get emotional thinking about that start. It was awesome to see our Fab 3 – Maria, Dawn and Anna. And we had just enough time before the start for a prayer. It was very emotional and we all grabbed hands and gave a squeeze and looked towards the start with tears in our eyes knowing that this would be an incredible journey. As the gun went off, all 5 of us hit the pavement running and it was an awesome feeling with all 5 of us together.

The first few miles flew by fast. I made wristbands for all of us that included our pace if we wanted to finish at a certain time and it also included a person or word that would help us get through the long miles. The first 5 miles were dedicated to each of us the Marathon Mamas. As we ran those first 5 miles, we thought about each other and ran for that person. About 3 miles in, we were surprised to see my family waiting at the corner for us. They had stopped to eat at a Braum’s and realized that the race was right outside, so as they enjoyed breakfast, they also got to cheer us on! One thing about Fort Worth streets is that they have these annoying bumpy reflectors in the roads that are yellow or white I guess so you can see if you’re on the correct side of the road. Well, JB was trying to avoid a parked car and hit a reflector with her shoe and fell to the ground hard. She scraped her knees and hands badly. I felt so bad for her, and she told us to run on and leave her... and we looked at her like she was crazy and said no way.  JB is one tough lady! She really is head strong and physically strong and she just worked it out and on we went.

I remember in these first few miles asking the girls, why do I feel tired? There was something missing and I couldn’t figure it out. But once I got in my groove it seemed to get better. Mile 8 we saw families again and were joined by Anna and then we had to tackle the giant 1mile hill. That was a big hill, but looking back, that hill was the least of our worries and we were so worried about that one! After this hill is the point where my left knee started to ache. This is the knee I wear a brace on as it tends to hurt often.

After we split from the half marathoners about 10 miles in, the field got much smaller. I remember at this point feeling tired again and realizing that I needed to plan my eating better. With Anna’s help, I tried to make sure I was eating more consistently. I remember struggling a lot around mile 14. Then we saw our families and I ran over and gave Ethan a big kiss and felt a little burst of energy. I tried to keep up with JB and Alison for most of the run and I did a much better job on this run than any of our longer runs in Wellington. To be honest from mile 14 (maybe even further back) I struggled. There were times when I couldn’t think clearly and times when I was being spoken to but couldn’t really acknowledge others. I’m not sure at what point Maria joined us, but she talked to me and was so upbeat but it must have been like talking to a wall for her. I even apologized ahead of time because I knew I wouldn’t be able to hold a conversation. At mile 20, I barely remember Dawn joining us other than her just being there beside me. I remember thinking I wish I could see my boys, and at mile 23, there they were! Ethan had the biggest smile on his face and Brayden I think ran with us for a little bit? I think?

When I saw my family; I kind of gave up a bit at that point. Instead of them pushing me and giving me momentum to finish, it almost made me want to quit and be with them right then. But JB was not going to let that happen and thank God she was there for me! I think this was when I burst into tears and started crying. Then I remember mile 24 or so, some guys with a table set up and they were giving out beer and yes, I drank some beer!! And I do remember JB telling me “throw the beer down and let’s go”. JI then remember running out of the park and thinking maybe this is almost over…. Only to be met by another hill. In my head at that time, I thought, I am not running that hill, my knees hurt so badly and I’m tired and I’m walking. I think Dawn was talking to me and telling me not to walk, but I didn’t care. And then we got up the hill, I started running again, turn and another hill……I was walking that hill too. And JB was ahead of me and I remember her wind milling her arm at me and telling me let’s go! I didn’t care; I was walking to the top. Thankfully the end was near, Dawn told me, one more turn and we’re there. It was such a good feeling to see that finish line. I was in a zone and could not go any faster. JB literally grabbed my hand and pulled me and we all crossed the finish line together and it was over. I originally thought that maybe I would cry at the end, but I didn’t even have enough energy to do that. I was just happy to be done. There are some pictures that someone took of us at the end of the race where I’m smiling, but I really don’t remember it. I don’t think I fueled myself very well during the marathon and I think I should’ve played that smarter. But all in all we ran awesome and I’m so proud to have done this with these ladies. Alison and JB are the strongest women I know.

There is one way to decide if you’re really strong and that is to run a marathon.  You have to find a way to overcome your body telling you that there is no way it can go any further and beat those thoughts. You can physically be in great shape, but if you’re not mentally ready for that challenge, it will beat you. Having completed this marathon made me a little stronger and has shown me what true friends I have. No matter what, JB and Alison didn’t leave me and to be honest, they could’ve run a much faster time. But they didn’t. Looking back now, I feel selfish that I took a faster run away from them. I wish I would’ve got out of my head and just ran strong like those two. How frustrating they must have felt towards me! And I almost cried when I saw Lisa and Mitzi making their way down the finish line. Mitzi was jumping up and down and fist pumping and smiling and it was awesome! Those two ladies are amazing! They didn’t even train for the marathon and just did it. What an amazingly great weekend. Great friends, great family and an amazing will to just run. We all did this for Team Higgie and for my Ethan. I’m a very lucky girl. 
- Stormie

Alison's Final Blog - Wow.....It's over!

Wow.....It's over!

Let me first say that I had set a goal to run a marathon by the time I was forty.  When forty came and went, I kind of dismissed the idea because I thought it would just never happen.  When Stormie and I started talking about running a half, the urge came roaring back, and I was determined to do one.  Better late than never, huh?? 

February, 26th, 2012, a day we five women will not forget any time soon. The weekend started with JB, Lisa, Mitzi and I heading down to Fort Worth on Friday night so we could spend the night there, and have all day Saturday to enjoy the city. We ate at Cheesecake Factory then headed to the hotel for a good night's rest, or so we thought! Yours truly has suffered from panic attacks in the past, but I haven't had one for quite some time.  At around 2:30 AM, I had one!  I tried to get up out of bed quietly, to walk it off, but when I started to feel myself passing out, I knew I should say something to the girls so they would know why I was falling to the floor. I have never seen three women fly out of bed so quickly!! Mitzi grabbed a cold wash cloth to put on my forehead and called my name I think at least 20 times to make sure I was still coherent.  I finally was able to pick myself up off of the floor and climbed back in to bed.  I asked the girls to talk to me to keep my mind off of the attack, so they started singing George Strait songs to me ( I love George Strait). JB needed a little help, she was singing Amarillo sky instead of Amarillo by morning. That's okay, I appreciated the effort.  Mitzi even grabbed my hand and rubbed it for me at one point, because I told them that is what Clay would do for me to help me through it. Do I have great friends or what!?! Needless to say we didn't get a lot of sleep that night.

Stormie came in on Saturday, so we all went to the expo to grab our bibs and timing chips.  We were all really nervous.  Every time we would try to talk about the race, Lisa would make us stop.  We decided to drive the route, which was a big mistake! That is when we first learned that this marathon was full of hills....and I don't mean small ones.  I thought JB was going to pass out in the back seat.  Every time I looked at her she was shaking her head and saying cuss words.I believe she called Dawn and Anna a few choice names also for not warning us of these mountains we were about to climb.; We all knew that there was no way out, our family and friends were all there to watch, and we couldn't let them down.Sunday morning came early, as we all awoke at around 4:50. I couldn't believe what I was about to do.  I was terrified, but yet excited. I think I spent most of the morning in the bathroom.  But before I knew it, we were on the street ready for the gun to go off. Mitzi said a quick prayer for us, and seconds after, we were on our way.  It was so awesome to see Anna, Dawn, Maria, JB's family, my family and everybody else holding signs and wishing us luck.  We got off to a great start as we all felt really good. At mile 4 1/2, JB fell.  I couldn't believe it.  She fell, and fell hard! She could hardly get up, and I could tell she just wanted to break down and cry.  But she is such a trooper, after walking just a little bit, she shrugged it off and started running again. What a champion!!  When I sit and think about different parts of the race, it is hard for me because it all seems to run together.  I remember my family giving me cough drops at around mile 6, and I remember a huge gust of wind knocking JB and I back at about mile 14. I know Stormie started struggling at some point, but not sure when that was. She was hurting pretty badly but she never once said " I can't". She knew in her heart she was going to finish this race, and she did!  And then, I remember my husband, Clay, at mile 26 with the sign that said "we are no longer runners, we are marathoners!".  What a feeling that was!! The three of us ran across the finish line, hand in hand, like we had planned, and all I could think was "we finally did it!!!!" I really thought I would cry when I finished, but all I felt was pride.  And I was so glad that my mom and dad were there to witness it. Mitzi and Lisa didn't train like we did, so they made the decision to walk some of the race.  They did awesome!!!  When they came around the corner before the finish line, Mitzi was jumping up and down with excitement, and Lisa had tears rolling down her face.  I'm not sure if they were happy tears or tears from pain, but she was running across the finish line.  I can't believe they ran a marathon with only 3 weeks of training.  If that is not determination, I don't know what is.

I know in my heart that I could not have done this without the support of all of the Wellington runners!  Thank you so much for all of the words of wisdom, goodie bags, emails, texts, phone calls....everything.  I love you all more than you know!!  And a HUGE thank you to my family, for their patience and support during all of those training days. I know they got so tired of hearing me talk about running.  I love you!!

So now, we are finished with all of the training, and worrying, and analyzing.  We no longer plan all of our meals around what run we are doing that particular evening. We now get to go home after a day of work, and cook a meal for our family.  Hmmm....bitter sweet.  I kind of miss it already!
- Alison

JB's Final Blog

Friday, 2 days before the race:
Alison, Mitzi, Lisa and I started our race weekend off by heading to Ft. Worth on Friday.  The race wasn’t until Sunday but we thought what the heck – let’s make a weekend out of it J  We made it just out of South Haven before stopping.  Where do you stop just outside of South Haven?  Why the State Line Tavern of course!!  We stopped for a quick beverage, but they were closed.  Seriously – closed on a Friday afternoon at 3:00??  So we climbed back into the Tahoe and off we went.  Once we got close to Ft. Worth, we drove a few miles out of our way to grab dinner at the Cheesecake Factory.  We will ALWAYS drive a few miles out of our way for that place – so yummy!!  We checked into the hotel and climbed into the elevator to head to our room.  We watched as the doors closed, waited a few minutes, watched as the doors opened again and realized we were still on the 1st floor – yep, we forgot to push the button to take us up to our room.  This is just another indication of “marathon on the brain” – that’s all we’ve concentrated on for the last few months.  We got a good laugh out of that.  We finally made it to the room for some much needed shut eye.    

Saturday, 1 day before the race
Saturday morning was spent sleeping in and enjoying coffee at Starbucks sitting outside in downtown Ft. Worth.  Ft. Worth has such a neat downtown area – we all would love to go back and really enjoy it!!  We met up with Stormie early afternoon and headed to the Expo to pick up our race packets.  We decided to drive some of the course after the Expo and check out the dreaded hill we were hearing so much about between mile 8 and 9.  And when I say between mile 8 and 9 – it’s actually the entire length of mile 8 and 9.  No kidding!!  I was all for driving the course but really regretted that decision afterwards.  Our running friends (Dawn, Anna, Jeannette, Sarah) who did this race last year failed to mention ALL the hills in Ft. Worth.  Just picture 9th street hill but 3 times as long or Lincoln street incline 3 times as long and I’m not exaggerating.  I was glad we trained with hills but was wishing we trained a little more on them.  And we were missing the KU game to get stressed out by the course – WHAT??  We hurried back to the hotel to at least watch some of the game before going to dinner.  ROCK CHALK JAYHAWK!!  After the game, we went to dinner with our families that made the trip to support us.  There were 23 of us – isn’t that awesome??  My sister even surprised me and flew in from Ohio to support us.  After enjoying a carb loaded dinner, we decided it was time to call it a night and get some sleep.  We had to get up at 4:45 Sunday morning so we definitely needed to get to bed. 

Sunday, RACE DAY
Rise and shine at 4:45 a.m.!!  While trying to decide what to wear for the race, I couldn’t help but remember what Dr. Anders told me – “don’t overdress, don’t dress for the weather at 7:00 a.m.”  I was so glad I listened to him as I would’ve regretted wearing what I was planning to wear.  We walked outside the hotel to catch the shuttle and were met with screaming fans – my family.  Yep – they were up early to see us off.  We caught the 6:00 a.m. shuttle and we were off.  After doing some last minute Mother Nature stops, we headed to the start line.  Our fans were already there waiting for us with their signs.  We didn’t have to wait outside too long before the gun went off and we were starting our 26.2 mile journey.  The 5 of us started out together and it felt like old times – love running with these girls!  Around mile 2, we split up and got into our comfort zones to run this race.  Alison, Stormie and I were feeling great and enjoyed seeing Stormie’s family at mile 3 – we didn’t know they would be there so that was a welcome sight!  When I saw Shawn at mile 5, I dropped off my gloves and jacket.  The weather had warmed up a little and it felt great!  Just after leaving mile 5, we were making a slight turn when I went down.  Yep – went down as in fell down.  Who falls at mile 5.5??  Geez!!  I still feel like an idiot.  My foot hit one of the rubber reflector things that stick up in the middle of the road and down I went…hard.  My hands and right knee took the brunt of it.  I said a few choice words then tried to walk it out.  I wasn’t sure if I could even finish and even said “I can’t do this” then caught myself and said “I can’t say can’t”!  That was one of our rules – we will not say can’t.  After what felt like forever, I started running again and felt ok.  Stormie quickly called Rob and told him I fell and I needed Kleenex, wet rags, Band-Aids – the works LOL!  When we saw him at mile 8 he was ready for me, but I was good by then and off we went.  Really - who falls at mile 5.5??  I can picture the image that Rob must’ve had in mind of me – face, hands, arms, legs all scratched up but to see me you wouldn’t know that I fell unless I showed you the palms of my hands.  I wasn’t going to share this story but Shawn tells me all the time “It’s all about the stories” and this one was too funny not to share.  Anna joined us at mile 8 just in time to climb the monster hill to mile 9.  She was such a welcome sight and full of energy to help us up that hill.  She ran with us until mile 16 (I think) then she handed off to Maria.  When Maria joined us, she ran with Stormie and I could hear her talking “so how do you feel”, “do you talk or not talk” – Alison and I just laughed!!  Maria was so excited!!  She ran with us to mile 20 where she gave the final leg to Dawn.  Yes, THAT Dawn that wouldn’t let me walk during our training on the 18 miler.  I remember thinking when I heard she was going to run the last 6 with us “what if I have to walk – she won’t let me”.  Again, it was great to have a fresh face and she did her job of helping us through those last brutal miles.  We saw our families at mile 23 and Shawn asked how I was feeling – all I could was shrug my shoulders.  I think I hit my wall just after that but it was short lived as when I hit mile 24 I knew I was almost done.  The last 2 miles were somewhat tough because they were the last 2 miles, but also because there were more hills.  Why do they do that?  When we rounded the corner and saw the Expo Center we knew we were about there.  Dawn said her goodbyes and let the 3 of us finish together.  We were met by screaming spectators.  It felt like they were all yelling for us!!  Stormie – do you remember me telling you “Stormie – they are cheering for us, come on!!”  I’ll never forget the feeling of turning the last corner and seeing the finish line.  I was scanning the crowd for our families and saw some of mine right before the finish.  We all 3 joined hands and finished together – tears and all!!  I completely forgot about how tired my legs were and how I was probably going to lose a toenail.  All I remember feeling is sure elation of what I had just accomplished with my MARATHON MAMA’S.  Getting all the congratulatory hugs from our families meant so much to us – especially Shawn who hugged me tight and told me how proud he was of me…awwwww – love him!  I want to thank our families and friends that made the trip to support us – Shawn, Janet, Susie, Cheryl, Sarah, Julie, Jamie, Preston, Rob, Brayden, Ethan, Sherry, Clay, Casha, Caden, Erin, Ellis, Trudy, Dawn, Anna and Maria – we love you!! 
Do I plan to do another one?  No…maybe??  Do I think everyone should do one?  ABSOLUTELY!!  It’s not easy, but if I can do it you can too.  Just remember – you don’t start out running long distances.  Give yourself an attainable goal and stick with it.  YOU CAN DO IT!

I’ll never forget this weekend full of so many emotions with my favorite girls.  We did this together and will laugh and relive it for a long time.  Love you all!

- JB