This is a little late, but a quick peek into my first marathon experience….I want to say thank you to my wife, Henry and Scarlett. It meant so much to see and hear you guys cheering for me throughout the day. All of my parents and Jack and Cookie, your support was incredible. Thank you for being apart of this accomplishment.
Driving around Mount Desert Island on Friday and Saturday was awesome, race signs were going up, start and finish lines were being erected, it was very cool to see MDI transformed into a marathon course. The finish line road was under construction and was a dirt mess, but I didn’t think it mattered, a road is a road.
The pre-race expo was small but cool, got my bib, shirt, goodie bag, and a mini foam roller. I wasn’t nervous, excited and ready to run would best describe my emotions.
We spent Saturday relaxing, eating and had the whole family over for dinner at our rental. It was nice being distracted by cooking and hosting everyone.
I woke up Sunday morning at 5:45, had a banana and half a croissant. Walked Bernie and got dressed. I rolled my cranky calf and just sat and relaxed in the early morning quiet. I wasn’t nervous, just ready to run. I wanted to get to the starting line and get going.
Just before Jack, Cookie and my mother-in-law arrived to pick me up, Henry got up at 6:55 and wished me good luck, hugged me. He might never know how much I appreciated seeing him before I left.
My mother in law, aunt and uncle drove me to the village green in Bar Harbor. We got there by 7:30 am and I just walked around taking in the scene. It was surprisingly laid back, very cool. As I wandered…my nerves started going crazy. I was cold and jittery. I felt like I had drunk a gallon of coffee.
They played the national anthem on a single horn… We cheered, then AC/DC’s Thunderstruck came over the loudspeaker. As soon as the music started my nerves settled down. As the song continued…I begin to focus on my breathing and felt every part of my body buzzing. I was ready to run.
At 8:00 am sharp the cannon fired and we were off. My mom and dad, mother-in-law and aunt uncle saw me off and had custom made banners made up for me. It was awesome.
I felt great ! Loose and light. My first mile was 9:30/9:40. Fast, but it felt really good. Having run most of the course already, I was able to just soak in my experience. Over the first few miles, there was a banjo player, drummer and an aid station with ridiculously enthusiastic volunteers.
The first 10-miles were incredible. I was running a 9:40/mile pace, soaking it all in. Enjoying the beauty of the course, the camaraderie of the runners and my first marathon experience. Every two miles there was an aid station and all throughout the course people were cheering us on, such a great vibe. Individuals kept showing up, reading my name from my bib, and offered such amazing encouragement and support.
For most of the first half of the race, I was alone. It wasn’t until mile 10 that I saw my parents. It was such a boost. From that point forward, my folks kept popping up along the course…they were great.
At the midway point, I was doing well, 2:09 for the first 13.1-miles and physically and mentally okay.
Then at mile 14, along the most scenic section (Somes Sound), I ran into trouble. The wind was so incredible, it almost blew me over. For a 3-mile stretch I fought a headwind and out if no where, my left foot, knee and quad started to bother me. Every step, sharp pain shot through my foot. My quad tighten up and I could barely bend my knee.
At mile 16, I made decision, I would walk into and out of aide stations. I needed to let my leg rest. All through my training I had been preaching, “start smart, finish strong”. It was time to be smart.
The reality of the situation was simple. I would be running in pain for the next 10-miles to finish my first marathon.
The pain got progressively worse with mileage. By mile 17, I was in pain, every stride. I knew that there was a steep hill coming up to RT 102 in Somesville around mile 18-19. Every fiber in my body wanted to walk up the hill. , But as I made the turn towards the hill, I saw my dad…and he turned backwards and started yelling. My entire family was there. It was the first time seeing my wife and kids. My wife was howling, Henry was screaming, Scarlett just smiled, it was such an incredible feeling. The thought of walking up the hill disappeared and I powered up the hill on sheer will power.
The aide stations throughout the rest of the course were incredible. One was a dance party, another had a guy dressed as a gorilla, another was Oktoberfest themed. The volunteers were incredible.
At mile 20 I knew I was going to need to dig deep to finish. My leg was really mad at me, butI only had 6.2 miles left. I would crawl if I had too. To stay focused, I kept repeating my new mantra, “just a walk in the park.”
I knew my splits were gone to hell, but I also knew I could finish. So I decided to partially walk up a few hills during the last 6-miles of the race.
At mile 22, my uncle passed me on the road and Henry and Melissa were hanging out if the van just screaming for me. It was great. They pulled over and cheered me on. I gave a war cry and everyone cheered me on.
I made up the hill to mile 24, passing a family rock band, ukulele band, accordion player and another dance party.
At that point, it was time to say f-it and bring it home. Time to run home to Southwest Harbor. I knew I was going to finish.
I ran the last 2.2 miles in pain, hobbled, but with my head up and my heart racing. Everyone was cheering for me. There was a random guy at mile 26, who saw me and was so cool. His support and banter was, “.. like doing great dude, finish strong Joshua, this is your first marathon, so awesome!”
It was priceless.
The last mile sucked. The road was torn to shreds. I severely underestimated how nice the paved road was. It was a miracle I did not take a header.
I saw Henry and Melissa wearing Scarlett just before the finish line and pumped my fist in the air as I approached them, pointed to them and then crossed the finish line.
After a few cups of Gatorade photos and hugs, my wife, pushed me into a chair inside the medical tent. With a cold chocolate milk in hand and ice on my knee, I finally exhaled. I had done it. I had run 26.2 miles. What was even more incredible was having my family being a part of my experience.
After a few minutes, I got up and hobbled over to the BBQ tent, got some food and a beer, sat down and relaxed. My legs were aching…but the intense feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction of completing my run was more powerful than the pain. My race was an amazing experience. One that I will carry with me forever.
Thank you’s are over due to my family who put up with me during my training, supported me during my run and Gary Allen and his team who organized the race.