Back in February, my (“never ran more than a 5k”) brother came up with the idea we should train for a marathon. Initially, I thought he lost his mind but he seemed pretty serious about it, so I agreed. We compared calendars and found about the only weekend we had free in the summer. So we printed out a training schedule and set our sights on finishing 26.2 miles in Manitowoc, Wisconsin.

Training for a full marathon was one of the most time consuming and grueling things I’ve done. Spending hours running on one of the two days you aren’t working is tough (let alone the 3 weekday runs) but running with another person made it much easier. Brad and I ran the majority of our long runs together and it was really nice to spend some (a lot) of quality time together with nothing else to do but talk about life and watch the miles tick down. Let me tell you, after running 15 miles and having 5 more to go, the things you start to talk about are … interesting. There were a few screams, possibly some tears (me, not him) and pain. But we kept going. Crossing that final training run off our schedule after 18 weeks was a really great feeling.

18 weeks of X’s

The day of the race we were both nervous and excited. We knew it was going to be hard and long but we were ready. The weather was cool (around 60) and rainy. Originally, I thought this was going to be a problem but it ended up being a blessing. I cannot imagine running that far in heat and sun.

Pre-run… can you tell we were a little nervous?!
Turning onto mile 15. Our Mom is the best cheerleader

The first 8 miles were a breeze and we knew our amazing cheer squad was going to be waiting for us around mile 9 (our Mom made signs and full size cutouts of our heads – she’s the best). They also surprised us and showed up at mile 11 and 14, which we were still feeling really strong at. We were running pretty smooth until about mile 16. And then it got hard. At this point, we were just trying to not think about the fact that we had 10 more miles to go.

At mile 22 our cheer squad said we looked pretty tired and they were right. We didn’t have much energy to talk or high five as we ran by, but their encouragement was SO helpful. Somehow we managed to keep going and before we knew it we were coming around the corner to the finish line!!

There were some interesting things we saw along the way, some extremely inspiring things and some things that made you go “huh!?”. So, here are my top 10 memories from the race:

  1. A man running the full marathon barefoot. Yup, you read that right – NO shoes (and his feet were not bleeding).
  2. Seeing the grit and determination from so many people trying to finish those 26.2 miles.
  3. The first sighting of our family at mile 9 cheering us on with homemade signs and cutouts of our heads.
  4. The spectators who made a bar near mile 12 for anyone to take a shot or have a beer. Luckily, I talked Brad out of that beer which seemed like a good idea at mile 12, not so much around miles 18 or 19.
  5. A man who had (according to his shirt) run a marathon in each state 4 TIMES… which means he was on his 200+ marathon.
  6. The surprise of seeing the mile 18 marker when we thought we were still at mile 16.
  7. A slobbery kiss from Jameson at mile 9.
  8. A bar/restaurant owner giving out water bottles in front of his establishment along the course.
  9. The little girl watching the race who offered to share her snacks with me mid-run.
  10. The man holding the American flag at the top of the finish line. I almost started to cry (dehydration and 26 miles will do that to you).

Overall, the greatest feeling was crossing that finish line and enjoying the “victory milkshake” that Brad and I talked about so many times during our training runs (like I said, we talked about some weird things). Turns out, if you run a marathon you can eat WHATEVER you want and not feel one ounce of guilt.

I’m not sure if/when I will do another marathon but this was a great experience and something I am so proud to say I was able to complete and check off the bucket list. Thanks “Little” Brother for talking me into signing up. I would not have wanted to run 450+ miles with anyone else!

Post-run with the full cheer squad
Marathon finishers! If you can’t tell by my HUGE smile, I was pretty pumped

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