First and foremost, the biggest highlight has to be accomplishing a goal that has been 2+ years in the coming. I can't tell you how it felt to cross that finish line and know that I'm not just a runner, I'm a marathoner. Me -- the pudgy un-athletic kid grew up into a guy who, at age 44 (45 next week!) broke 4:30 in my first marathon!
Another huge highlight (and major props) go to my wife Cathy for putting up with not only the mood swings of the last few weeks, but also my early-morning runs and early-evening bedtimes x 5+ months (not to mention hearing me rant about cross-training and rave about various running-related things all the time). She has been my number one fan and supporter.
Major props also go to Tom & Dawn Bartel for coming out and supporting me. They met me at around mile 1.5, and then showed up multiple other times on the course. Tom was also there rooting me on at about mile 26.1 -- just before I turned the corner and faced the finish line. It was so great to have them there as my own, personal cheering section! (And while she was not there for me specifically, a special nod goes to Janel Roden who surprised me late in the course with a hoot and a holler!)
Highlights of being out on the course were:
IT RAINED THE ENTIRE 4.5 HOURS I WAS ON THE COURSE! I absolutely love running in the rain so it was a phenomenal treat, and clear evidence that God loves me! =O)
The father/daughter pair running together.
The young woman who was running in honor of her uncle Doug who had died in the last year.
The 3-4 wheelchair racers I saw with heads down and super-buff arms propelling high-tech wheelchairs.
The huge crowds of spectators -- especially the ones who read my bib that said "My First" and cheered me on with "Lookin' good My First! You got this!" and stuff like that. Also the guy who gave me 10 style points for my heel-kick while crossing a bridge.
Not stopping to walk on the approach to the St. John's Bridge. That was cool to see all the other people stop and walk, but I didn't. I took plenty of walk breaks, but not there.
The multiple bands, and TONS of volunteers who handed out electrolyte drinks, and water, and gel and vaseline and stuff.
The other volunteers at the finish line who put a space-blanket around my shoulders, and a medal around my neck, and then gave me orange juice and other goodies while I was stil not quite in my right mind. Also huge props to the volunteers who were out so early taking our stuff and safely storing it away and then having it all organized so we could pick it up after the race!
The biggest props still go to Cathy. After crossing the finish line, and getting my medal and blanket, I wandered around aimlessly for a moment and heard this angelic voice calling my name. Cathy was there at the finish line behind a fence with the rest of the spectators, and had taken the two finish line photos below. She was in awe and said very nice things to and about me. She even gave me a through-the-fence smooch!
Here's a few shots from the race weekend.
Here I am the night before, all geared up with no place to go (yet!)
Just before crossing the finish line (click the pic & zoom in)
Just as I'm crossing the finish line (click the pic & zoom in)
My number one fan and supporter!
My ad-hoc coach, and encourager Tom!
For the nerds like me, you can see the Garmin data for my run here.