I am telling this story exactly how I feel it happened. These are my words, my thoughts and my opinions. No one can change them and I am entitled to them.
If you want to hear about my experience read on. If you have nothing nice to say, do as your mother told you and keep it to yourself.

Sunday morning my alarm went off at 4:45. I got up made breakfast and ate. At around 5:45 we all headed to the race start. It was a short drive and we found an awesome empty parking lot only a couple of blocks from the start. I never park where they tell you to park, because DUH that’s what everyone else is doing. I like being different. Sometimes it works for me.

We hung out in the car, put on my body glide(turns out it was not near enough), and got ready to rock Columbus. It was still dark when we made the walk to the start. Much to my surprise it was a party. Seriously LMFAO blasting on speakers, lights swirling around in the early morning sky. I started dancing while walking. Don’t mind me – I’m just running a marathon today.

I was surprisingly NOT nervous at all.

The port o pottys were plentiful and I never had to wait more than a couple of minutes in line. AWESOME since I literally used the bathroom no less than 15 times(not exaggerating – wish I was). After my peeing debacle at the Boston Marathon in 2009 my pre-race routine has become very strict. I drink TONS of water, nuun, and tea the day before. I basically live in the bathroom. Then I drink when I first wake up – giving my kidneys etc plenty of time to process the water and get rid of it. I then drink about 8 ounces of water literally 5 minutes before the gun goes off. This water won’t get processed right away (hence I won’t need to run to the bathroom) but will keep me hydrated during the race.

Staying hydrated is something I have struggled with at all 16 prior marathons I have run. I noticed a dramatic difference in my performance at Hood To Coast because of all the nuun I was constantly drinking. I knew this little key could mean the difference between a 3:10 marathon and a 3:20 marathon. I planned and executed this plan flawlessly.

Before I left my mom to go to my coral, she grabbed me and said a prayer with me. It’s the first time we have ever prayed together at a race. After I said amen – I looked up in the sky and saw a GIANT number 8 on the top of a building. It lite up the night sky and looked like it was there just for me to see. She said you are going to do great sweetie. I remember her saying this but I don’t remember that I just said I know to her. She told me this after the race.

I’ll stray from my story for a second.

I know many of you have been wondering what my deal is with 8:18. I’ll explain because it fits in with how I knew I would do well at this marathon, no matter what.

I personally believe 8:18 is how God speaks to me. He speaks to all of us differently and it is up to us to recognized how. Now before you think I’ve gone mad and write me off as a crazy Christian who has God speaking to her in numbers. Just listen…maybe I’ll make a believer out of you eventually.

There are people in my life who think I’m nuts when it comes to 818, others after years of me talking about this and showing them, believe, and still others believe right away.
I first started seeing the time 8:18 in high school. It meant nothing to me at the time, but I remember seeing it, thinking it was odd that I always looked at the clock at 8:18 and thought nothing more of it. Later on in life when I met Eric, I told him about it. We both started seeing it more and more. Despite being sceptical of me, he agreed that it was VERY weird that I always saw it.

Fast forward a couple of years and we were engaged and frustrated with the planning our *dream wedding* We looked at the calendar and saw that 8/18 was a Saturday – loving the number 818 we decided that maybe we should put planning on hold and have our wedding the following year on Sunday 8/18. Then we realized the next year was a leap year and 8/18 would fall on a Monday. We decide then that we would get married the following week on a date we both loved. It would end the wedding planning madness. We did not tell our friends we were getting married, just did it. It was amazing and was a *dream wedding* with out all the cost, frills, and stress.

My faith has wavered over the years. I’m not afraid to admit it. There have been times that I have been disillusioned with Christianity as a whole and it’s pushed me farther away from Christ. In the past two years my faith has grown, as I have realized that I do not need to worry so much about Christianity as I do about my personal relationship with Christ. The stronger it gets the more I see the number 818.

You may think, Dorothy you just noticed the number 818 more because you are aware of it – but I’m telling you some of the places I see it are not just because I am aware – they are there and it’s FLAT OUT STRANGE/CRAZY.(more on this in another post)

At Hood To Coast some of my teammates asked me what the deal was with 818. They had seen me tweet it before and I tweeted it during the race. When I see it on the clock and am near my phone – I tweet 8:18 #neverfails

Our van driver who happened to be the president of Nuun tweeted me a Bible Verse one day — Romans 8:18.

 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

I think it’s applicable to so many things in our lives, but it especially seemed fitting describing the pain of a marathon and the glory that follows. There is glory in any marathon finish, no matter the time. I knew from that day forward that there would be glory at my marathon this fall. It’s not that I think I am some super stellar runner. It is that I had FAITH in the signs I believed God was sending me.

So there you have it. I love the number 818. I like the time 8:18. I love that my anniversary is 8/18. I love Romans 8:18.

Back to my race story….

I was in coral A – for people aiming for a 3:10 or faster marathon. I felt like I didn’t belong there for a moment but then quickly silenced the doubt demons. I had no time for them today. They would not drag me down. Only positive PUMP ME up thoughts were allowed.

In the first mile I got passed and passed and passed. I was running way slower than a 3:10 pace but that was what I wanted. I think the only way to reach your full potential in a marathon is to start slow and finish fast. Time in the bank doesn’t work. Even pacing works, but if you can evenly pace a marathon, you could have run it faster if you negatived split.

Around mile 2 I started to feel chaffing in my arm pits. The body glide had mostly rubbed off onto my throw away shirt. UGH. It hurt. There was no way I was going to let chaffing ruin my race. When stuff like this happens – I really just think to myself – is this all you got Satan? Chaffing? So I said a little prayer to God to help me disconnect my mind from the pain and to not think about it for 24 more miles. I tell you the honest truth that I didn’t really think about it till after the race. Today 4 days later it is still what is hurting me the most. It is an open wound and it sucks.

My goal was to feel like I was out for a casual run. No racing. Around mile 8 I decided it was time to turn on my legs and pick up the pace. Surprisingly it felt comfortable running close to a 7 minute pace. I smiled. My training had worked. I was happy knowing that I am my own best coach. Sure I get advice from others, and research mad, but I know what works for me and what doesn’t. My plan worked.

At mile 11 I passed the 3:15 pace group. I smiled knowing this is EXACTLY why I don’t run with pace groups. (I’ll get into this more in another post)

Mile 13 was one of the hardest mentally in the race. The half marathoners were about to finish. There was tons of crowd support, so that was helpful, but the mile was a slow incline. It hurt. 6:59. I looked at my watch in amazement. I have never seen a 6 in a marathon ever. Back when I started running I was happy to see a 9 in a marathon much less an 8. It’s insane how the human body can progress. A 6? Me – I ran a 6.

From then on I just coasted. I did not listen to music and it was the right choice. I did need something to distract me from this race. I wanted to be present in the moment. I wanted to talk to God. I wanted to talk to myself. I wanted to reflect on where I came from and what has happened in my life. I wanted 26.2 miles of seeing what I was made of.

I was out of water by mile 10. I wanted to ask spectators for their water when I saw them holding a bottle. I started to get water at the stations past 13 but it was aggravating. I can’t drink well on the fly. It splashes in my face and breaks my stride. I loose my breath and throws me off. By mile 16 I started yelling up ahead asking if they had bottles to pour water into my bottle. I’ll never get why races don’t do this more. Saves money on cups and is better for the environment. At around 18 a volunteer finally yelled back to one of the volunteers to run with me and pour the water. The volunteer didn’t get it and just tried to dump a cup of water in my open bottle as I ran past. HILARIOUS. A tiny bit made it in my bottle the rest landed on me.

My foot started to cramp. BAD. It hurt so bad I thought the marathon was over. I calmed my breathing down and said out loud. I believe you God.

I believed that HE wanted good for me that day. I believed HE had heard my prayers.

Around mile 19 the cramp was gone and my husband popped out of no where!!! I have never been so happy to see him in my life. Seriously my heart skipped a beat. He looked so cute carrying my water bottles and running in his trail shoes. I felt lucky inside. Here was my husband helping me achieve something he knew meant the world to me. He calmed me down with his words. He believed in me.

I was so tired I told him that I would love for him to run with me for as long as he could stick with me. His knee was hurting and going from zero to 7 something pace in no time flat is not easy to do. He stayed with me for about a mile. At which point we saw Chloe, Miles, Colton and my beautiful friend Ashley and her family at the water stop. I couldn’t muster a smile, I was in pain. But I manged to wave.

I repeated Eric’s words to myself in my head – just coast till mile 25 – then kick it in. You are one of the top women (top 50) – you can do this. I thought to myself – today you will run a 3:11 or a 3:13. I don’t know why but I just know it will be one of those two times.

As the miles went on I passed person after person who was hitting the wall. It’s a different world up there. A 3:13 marathon is very different from a 4:20, from a 4:56. It felt great inside thinking that I knew what it felt like to run all those different paces. To know what it’s like to run at the back of the pack and be pushing my hardest and to run at the front of the pack and be pushing my hardest.

I kept waiting for the promised downhill finish. There were hills. Not high ups and downs, but gradual inclines that never seemed to descend.

Through the marathon I said to myself: It’s not IF you are going under 3:20 today it’s HOW FAR under 3:20 you are going. I said the same thing to myself at B & A Marathon in 2010. It’s not IF you are going under 3:30 today it’s HOW FAR under 3:30 you are going. Every time I started to have a negative thought, dwell on a pain – I repeated this over and over again. I told myself – YOU can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. The mental game is JUST as important in a marathon as the physical game.

My garmin clicked 26. I had run on feel the whole marathon. I had never calculated in my head what my finish time, could be, would be. I just ran like I run a long run and waited for the time to come.

When I made the turn for the finish I saw on the clock 3:13. I ran my heart out to finish before the clock turned to 3:14. I smiled in my heart. 3:13 – just like I had thought. (to see my splits check out this post)

I didn’t cry when I finished. My body started immediately cramping. A volunteer walked me to the pictures and then walked with me till I found a place I could sit down. I huddled under my space blanket and just smiled. Did that really happy? Did I really just run a 3:13?

As I thought about it more I got happier. It was an 8 minute PR. I saw an 8 at the beginning of the race. In my head I pictured the 8 and the outline of my body as the 1 and my 8 minute PR standing to the right of me.

I was the 37th female, 10th in my age group, and the 2nd 29 year old to finish. I was the 309th finisher overall out of 4,740.

God is good.

10 more days till #18… Marine Corps Marathon 2011

Comments

  1. Congrats again! You did great. I agree… the inclines never did seem to go back down. Whoever said that the course is flat is a liar! :)

  2. thethinksicanthink says:

    I loved reading this and am curious why you don't like pace groups (I don't either). CONGRATS, AGAIN!

  3. Love this post, really love it. I'm shooting for a 4:14:59 in my marathon in 3 weeks and your marathoning posts have been really inspiring and helping me get mentally prepared for the race.

    Congrats again!

  4. What a great marathon race recap! I love all the POSITIVE self talk! I have never done a pace group myself but I have only done 2 marathons. Looking forward to your post later on that. Congrats girl!

  5. Chelsie Varga says:

    I really appreciate all the numbers, my dad has made me a numbers gal too, we always see 12:34. It doesn't matter what other people say, if you feel God is talking to you that way, then he is. Way to be honest about it. Thanks for the encouraging story about this marathon.

  6. Did you notice how 3:13 is so similar to 8:18??
    I hope you post about why you dislike pace groups before MCM. I have never run a marathon but have never even been tempted by the pace groups at the 2 halfs I've done. Interested in knowing your thoughts on this subject.

  7. Karen the "Hungry Mom" says:

    great recap! loved reading it!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for this honest account, Dorothy. Congrats on your PR. You are so inspiring!
    I am also looking forward to your opinion on pace groups. I have signed up for one for my first marathon. And also, I know you've done that many times before, but if you can do another post with tips for the MCM, that will be great!
    Alex

  9. Loved reading this!

  10. Probably one of my favorite race recaps ever. Congratulations on running an AMAZING race!

    (not sure if you follow Carrie Tollefson on fb, but she posted pictures/video from Columbus. http://www.facebook.com/CTolleRun )

  11. Jerilee E. says:

    I said it before, but seriously AWESOME racing! You really inspire me. I just ran my first 2 marathons this year and you give me motivation to keep going and striving to improve. Thanks :).

  12. Jen @ Run for Anna says:

    Wow! I totally have goose bumps. You are awesome. Congratulations!!

  13. Christine says:

    wow – in awe of you. congrats again!

    xo christine
    (@thesehappymiles)

  14. SupermomE12 says:

    Loved the recap! You did an amazing job and I am so happy for you. Wonderful!!!

    Are you going to race MCM or just run it for fun?

    Congrats on the awesome PR. Hugs!

  15. Loved this!! Goosebumps! Thanks for sharing! :)

  16. Rachel McPhillips says:

    LOVE this post!!! Thank you for sharing.

  17. {lifeasa}RunningMom says:

    Amazing story and you are not the only one that has that special number. I don't but I know a few others.

    Great job!

  18. Congratulations on running such a strong and smart race. I hope to do something similar in a few weeks in Philly Not timewise, but strategy-wise! :)

  19. Awesome!

  20. The Samsons says:

    Great recap and congrats again!

  21. Incredible Dorothy! I felt like I was running next to you the entire time…you are beyond strong, mentally and physically and you told your story so beautifully…

    Congrats, you deserve every moment :)

  22. Dorothy, I have read your blog for a while now, and am a Columbus native! I felt like I was running along side you as I read this recap! You should be incredibly proud of your accomplishment.

    And – I ABSOLUTELY believe God speaks to us in numbers – and 8 is my favorite. It stands for "new beginnings". I just love that.

    Congrats!!!! And thanks for the inspiration. :o)

  23. Stephanie says:

    This is probably the best recap I have ever read. I love how you ran this race. I love the mental game you brought. you have given me so much help on how to approach my first marathon. I don't even know how to properly respond to this post. Congratulations :)

  24. Dorothy this was a great recap – on some many levels. Very inspiring!

    I would also like to hear your thoughts on pace groups – I have a time goal in mind for the Philly half but have never tried a pace group.

  25. marathonsnmartinis.com says:

    I just read your most recent blog posts in my reader, and I have to say you are one of the most positive, inspiring people I've encountered. I love that you share your faith and that you have come such a long way – truly incredible your progress!!
    Thank you for giving so much of yourself and putting it out there. It's inspiring and motivating.

  26. Pemberton Family says:

    You are INCREDIBLE! I loved reading this post (you look great by the way, strong and thin – you have a runners body!). Also, thanks for sharing your relationship with God and how he talks to you. I love hearing stuff like that. Can't wait to hear the recap on #18. You are a marathon machine.

  27. What a great race! Also, thank you for explaining 8:18. I have seen you tweet it and have wondered what it meant. You are an inspiration, thanks for sharing.

  28. What a great recap of an inspiring race. I've been following you for a short period of time now and it's great to read such a positive retelling of a marathon race. Usually we are inundated with statements like "I could have run faster" or "Next time I will…" but it is refreshing to read about a race that went so smoothly (well, as smoothly as a marathon can be). I also really relate to your 818 connection. While I don't consider myself religious I do consider myself to be in touch with the energy that surrounds me and I do believe there are things in our lives that are there to guide us and support us that are not tangible. Whatever those forces may be, whether it be God, angels or something else, I believe there is a power stronger than us out there and if we can tap into just an ounce of that energy we would all be better off. Keep up the great work and I'll be looking for you at the Boston Marathon in 2012 (assuming you are running it).

  29. Elizabeth says:

    I totally buy into the numbers thing. God speaks to us in whatever language he can, and it's numbers for you. Congratulations on your race. You are truly an inspiration and I'm impressed at how un-nervous you were.

  30. I loved reading this. I hope you know that reading your blog these past few weeks as I prepare for my first marathon has kept me inspired and also given me the strength to stick to my gut. I am like you, no trainer or coach and I do my own thing. I am following an aggressive training plan and have a time goal. But I listen to my body and I know it can do it! I do the same thing when I run distance races I start out slow and push my body towards the last half. And it works for me too. Glad to hear about your awesome achievement and newest PR you rock!!!! CONGRATS :)

  31. Congrats, Dorothy!! this is an amazing recap. Love the numbers thing. I grew up with an area code of 818—maybe you should move to Southern California! 😉 I love how God speaks to us individually and I definitely agree that he has spoken to you through numbers. Can't wait for #18 report! Good luck!

  32. Nicole Wagner Makeup says:

    I LOVE this Dorothy! you did it! SO inspiring! I love that you just ran with your heart and did what YOU knew was best for YOU! I can totally relate to how you said that God speaks to each of us in a different way and it's up to US to learn how that is. I couldn't agree more. I have found out the language over the years in which God speaks to ME. It is different than how he speaks to my husband or my children. There is always a feeling of peace that comes with it that reassures me that yes, indeed it is HE who is talking to me. I have found this with running. I know He wants me to run and to run well. He is on my side. I also have struggled with my faith the last year…it was hard for me to face that at first b/c my faith has always been so unshakeable….but like you said, I've come to realize that though I may sometimes question certain doctrinal issues, I NEVER have questioned My personal relationship with the Savior and His Divnity and His love for me and awareness of me. Anyway…I am rambling. This marathon is something I think will be on your mind for a long long time. It is such a gift that God helped you and blessed you for everything to come together so perfectly. Today I bought this vinyl lettering that says "everyday holds the possibility of a Miracle". I Love it. I think this was a miraculous day in your existence and something so special to cherish. I am so happy for you and can't wait to experience something similar with my running some day. congrats again, much love to you! way to go! you DID IT!!! xxxxx

  33. Amazing job!! And you inspire me so much that you did it believing God! This may sound weird but sometimes I think you are my long lost sister, well I guess we are sisters in Christ. The reason I say this is because God speaks to me through numbers as well and the number 8 is one of them. A minister came to our church and stated that 8 is related to New Beginnings in Hebrew and it symbolizes us being new in Christ. I did some more research online and came up with these two websites: 1) http://www.biblestudy.org/bibleref/meaning-of-numbers-in-bible/8.html
    2) http://www.biblewheel.com/wheel/spokes/chet_eight.asp
    When my daughter was born she was born on the 8th week of the year, the 6th day of my 38th week and she was born at 8:26 and was 8 lb 1oz. I know this was not a coincidence!! I’ve been seeing numbers in groupings of 3’s for quite some time and I either see 222, 888, 333, 555 or 111. The number 8’s square root is 2 therefore 2x2x2=8. Hebrew letters are also numbers so yes God is mathematical too (of course He created everything!) Whenever I see the numbers I always remember that God is with me and I have nothing to fear. Another thing I do is look up verses from the numbers I see when I see them and usually find one that relates to what I’m going through at the time.
    I love reading your posts, Thank You for being so open and sharing this. You Rock!!

  34. You are AMAZING, huge huge congrats on your HUGE PR!!!

  35. 300 Spartanworkouts says:

    Great pics, Congratulations for a great job well done. You did it again, looking forward always. It was a great race, and exciting too.

  36. This makes me so excited for my second marathon and more marathons to come. You are such a rockstar and I love your conversations with yourself and your belief in god. Goodness … you are great!! Also, I need tips on what you eat during training .. are you super strict, do you splurge ever, what is your go to meal?? XOXO lady!

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