Beyond the Bra

Today we’re going to talk about a little thing called support.

And I’m not talking about squeezing into your sports bra before a good run or break.

I’m talking about good ol’ fashioned on and off the course support.

This whole trip for the Illinois Marathon was so memorable – not as much about the race, but because of the support I had for it.

Do we look tired? It had been a few long days!

Not only did my fabulous support team make the long and super boring trip down to Champaign with me…but they got up at the crack of dawn at 4:45 so I could have oatmeal and coffee and listen to my “pump me up music”.

Then they sat out in the rain at the start line to see me off.

UFO haven or warm bathroom building - you decide!

Assembly Hall - Champaign, IL

Please note, I was hiding in the warmth of this building.

Yes building, not spaceship.

Eventually when the rain eased up they called me so I would come out to say hi.

As I mentioned before, they were there at the start, miles 5, 8, 10, 15, 16, 21, 22, & the finish.  This took nearly half a tank of gas, mass coordination and apparently a ridiculous amount of patience and humor.

Have I mentioned how I apparently have a group of rock stars in my life?

But every time I needed them they were there – even if it meant they had to speed, back track and sprint to get there.  And lucky for them that with the exception of the last 1.2 my pace only swayed about 5 seconds on either side of 8:10.

In addition to being totally punctual and right there when I needed them, they all will admit they had a BLAST.

I also had a friend from college drive 1.5 hours EACH WAY to see my finish (thanks

My Grandma, her husband...and me after I haven't brushed my hair...yay!

Mandi!).  And my grandmother wins the award for driving 10 hours (each way!) from Atlanta to Champaign to see my little bootay cross the finish line.  Thanks Gram!

On the course, I tried something new….a pace group.  Honestly I knew I was pushing myself to get this done so I decided to give it a shot.  It was the best decision yet.  Since the 3:35 mark is the BQ for 18-34 women there were quite a few of us there hoping to ease in just under that and unsure if we were going to pull it off.

Stacy, me and Jamie running...

I immediately paired off with a girl named Jamie (whom I still can’t track down on Facebook to share the pictures naturally)…and we stuck it together from start to finish.  We even sped up for 1.5 miles to get ahead of the pace group to pee then took a good mile to catch back up slowly.   When she got tired, I encouraged her on.  When I wanted to quit and told her to go ahead, she reached for my wrist and wouldn’t let me slip back.

We were also joined by another woman around mile 14 (Stacy).

Towel on my head head...don't mind if I do?

Without the on and off the course support from everyone who played a role, there’s no way I would have been able to sport this rockin’ shirt I found at TJ Maxx a few days before the race.

(Yes I secretly bought it hoping I’d BQ just so I could wear it post-race.  If not, it was going straight back….)

So…how about you…

What is your critical race support? 
On the course? 
Of the course?
Do you have a good sideline support story?
You ever run with a pace group?


I Came, I Ran, I Qualified

So today I lost my virginity.  It was quite exciting since everyone in my family was there watching and cheering me on.  I mean, they were able to set a spectator record of catching me in the act 9 times.

Yes, I ran my first marathon.  And it turns out that while I was able to hustle my booty to There we go!a 3:33:42 finish (YAY BQ!), my family and friends proved to be total and complete rock stars by seeing me off at the start, finding me in the finish and cheering me on at 7 different places along the way.

They. Are. Amazing.

The day started out with a not so promising forecast of rain and 20-30 mph winds.  Hooray!  I anxiously stood in my corral wondering if I was ridiculous for putting myself with the 3:35 pacing group.

Yes,” I told myself, “I am insane and this will never work.”  Along came 5 other women who were all trying to BQ.  Many of them had missed by just minutes over the past year.  I was the only newbie…but we decided…

Not on our watch.

We were spot on (and a little ahead) for the first 12 miles (which was good because two of us had to speed up to account for a pee break).  We headed into mile 20 convinced the last 6k was going to be doable.

Mile 20– Great

Mile 21 – Notsomuch.  My family asked how I was, “I’m so tired I said” on video (Dad has that somewhere).  They decided I need encouragement at 22.

Mile 22 – Tired, but hanging in there.  My sister reminded me that I’ve had a baby across the entire course.  I yelled back, “I had two!” and got my second wind.

Mile 23 – Great

Mile 24 – I looked at my running partner and said, “I think I’m going to throw up now I just need to walk.”  She grabbed my wrist and told me it wasn’t happening.  My pacer somehow persuaded me that when I got to Mile 25  I’d be fine.

Mile 25 – Pacer didn’t lie.  Great mile – Sub 8

Mile 26 – Ran into Memorial Stadium and dashed across the 50 yard line to a crowd of cheers.  The announcer yells, “Sheila McDaniel just qualified for Boston.”  Of all the people they chose to announce as we crossed…I got to be the lucky one.  My dad had it on video and it’s pretty awesome – even if the wind blocked out my name on the video – we got to hear it!

I can't believe I'm posting this...but it captures the total and complete raw emotion we've all experienced before. Completely undone...

Mile 27 – Lots of hugs as our entire group qualified.  I then found my entourage and promptly burst into tears.

Women:  45/744
Age Div:  12/128
Overall:  258 / 1890

After I pulled it together 🙂