Journey towards my first marathon

It feels amazing to accomplish something that you never thought you would! 

It was a truly amazing journey from mile 6 to mile 26.2! Thank you everyone for your wishes - I am surprised I made it all this way! I had amazing support all throughout my training and on race day!
Suhas was there with me every step of the way and I couldn't have made it without him <3 I realized how much determination, effort and persistence is required and how important it is to make it a priority even on a busy schedule. He saw me in joy, in pain and in tears and still kept me on my toes to make sure I do what it takes to do it. I am really blessed to have such an amazing partner even though he fooled me last 120 days about not making it to my race event :D

Thanks Reshu for all the tips you gave during my recovery period and Raghuram RJ for accompanying us on all hikes and SF run :)

I flew from SF on Friday morning and reached Memphis just on time to collect my bib for race day. I stayed with Mamta who fed me with yummy tangy and hot rasam and bhindi sabji. I couldn't have asked for a better dinner! Thanks mumsie for making me feel so welcome and also staying with me till my race started :)

I started my marathon with great zeal. It just felt so easy to run, felt so light and was in my best mood. St Jude marathon course was filled with so many volunteers and spectators cheering for you all along especially on a cold and rainy day! Every mile (26miles) had an alphabet (26 English alphabets) dedicated to something related to cancer and there was not a single mile that I ran alone! Most of the signboards were so motivating or funny and some were too overwhelming for a runner to maintain emotional stability.

4-5miles into the race I started feeling hungry which was quite unexpected! I finished my one nutrition bar which I had planned on eating at mile 10 and kept hoping I won't feel hungry until mile 16 (which was my pre-planned banana snack). I guess the cold and rainy weather made me feel more hungry and by mile 10 (2hrs into the race) I heard my tummy growl again. I gobbled up on some dates and that kept me going for about 3-4miles. By mile 13 all I could think was about mile 16 coz I knew Ruhi would be giving me banana. It was just that one desperate thought of eating a banana that kept me going even though my lower back muscles started to become stiff - It's amazing how our mind works :) I saw so many people cheering along the course and my eyes were wandering to see if there was any food with them :-/ (unfortunately all they had was alcohol or coffee) 
Finally I could see mile 16 hydration point - Ruhi and Anant were cheering for me with two bananas in hand :) I couldn't have felt any better at that point! I immediately ate one and saved another one safely in my hand. After stretching my back, I felt even better so started to catch up with the time I already lost. 

Mel and Ben had promised to accompany me for the last 9 miles on their bike and I was just immensely happy to see them at mile 17 :) we talked all along and didn't pay so much attention to my back pain anymore because we were so busy catching up! Almost from mile 17-22, I realized I already gained a few minutes by running faster and I only stopped once/twice to stretch. They both biked on either side of me and I just felt like a royal princess :) :) it boosted my confidence even though I was in pain, my fingers were numb from cold, my shoes and socks were kinda wet from rain! I actually didn't care about all those at that point and didn't even care what mile I was at, how much more left...Looking back, now I feel how much body can tolerate pain if your mind tells you to do it!

By mile 23, many people had started walking or jogging really slow and I knew if I slow down, I was gonna lose my game. I just ran past all of them at same pace as before and didn't even think of stopping. I only had 5k left. By mile 24, all I was thinking was " ok 20mins left!" By mile 25, I was really exhausted coz my mind knew I was close to finish line and I had to fight for every single step. Mel showed me that those stadium lights to my right was the finish line and I was almost there. I was only aiming for that! By mile 26, we entered stadium area and I remember Mel saying "only 0.2 left, that's just one round of track - you can do it!" So yeah!! I just ran fast at the end too focused to finish the race I trained for the last 4 months. I never ever regretted signing up for this coz it was just too much personal and emotional for me to finish this race. Once I crossed the finish line, I was already too emotional and I saw the love of my life standing infront of me <3 I just stared in shock for what felt like forever and just completely broke down - this was it for me - all I wanted so bad was to finish my first marathon at St. Jude and Suhas's surprise visit just added to my pile of emotions running in my mind. My heart was full of mixed emotions from finishing my marathon, seeing him, the pain I was in - that was extent of what I could handle! 

I was able to finish in 4hrs 47mins and was just elated coz my ideal target was 4:45 :) 
I probably missed talking to our parents on some days coz of my training, missed visiting a few places with my sister while she was here, missed a few get together with friends - I thank all of them for being so understanding :)

Everybody keeps asking me what's my next goal :) After making sure that I am completely injury-free, Suhas and I will start training for SF half marathon in July 2017. So another round of track and hill repeats will start in the next few months!


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