Where were we? Oh yes, Mike had just finished his half of the relay and it was my turn to be the Sherpa! Crystal and Mike ran the first half of the marathon in 2:17, averaging around 10:30 pace.
"I'm mad at you for not taking the baton" - what Mike was thinking in his head
As soon as I started running, I caught up to Crystal and handed her the rest of her fuel for the race. I said that I had missed her, and then we stopped to walk through the water stop briefly (I obviously didn't need anything since I had just started running).
This woman ran by us and said, "so nice that you have pacers for both halves of the race". I guess Mike had told her what we were doing and she had said that she was considering dropping out of the race, I'm not sure if she did or not (Side note: 650 people registered for the full marathon and only 386 completed it, either they DNF'd or dropped to the half).
Crystal let me know that Mike had been telling her their pace every half mile or so, which I could definitely handle doing for her. I asked her how she was feeling and she mentioned that she had gotten a side stitch during the first half but other than that she felt good. It was still pouring out, but I hoped that it was going to get better.
The course map
We turned down Sea Street and then right around mile 1 (mile 14 for Crystal), I heard her say, "I just popped a blister on my foot". Her feet were soaked at this point so I'm sure she had a lot of blisters forming, I told her to just try to run through it (which I guess she didn't like me saying at the time, but kept that to herself until after the race).
This was the only point during the race where I was actually worried about her not being able to finish. I knew that she was struggling a little bit but I just tried to keep her spirits up.
At this point, we almost missed a turn because we weren't sure which way to go. Crystal had mentally blocked out parts of the first half (it was a two loop course) and she wasn't sure if we went straight or left. I thought straight, but right at the last minute the volunteers pointed us in the right direction. One guy said that the flaggers were sleeping on their job!
This was when it started to get rough. The wind was in our face and the rain was coming down harder. We also saw Eric at this point and we both waved to him.
It was around this time that Crystal told me to just get her to mile 20 and if we got there that she would finish the race. I knew that Mike and Joe would be at mile 5 (mile 18 for Crystal), and we only had about 2.5 miles to get to them.
Then things got really interesting. We ran by the Kennedy Memorial and the streets had HUGE puddles, maybe even lakes, in them. We were told by a volunteer to go on the grass on the left and then smile for the cameras after we went by. The grass was so muddy that I was afraid I was going to fall on my face!
Crystal and I ran by the cameras, and we must have smiled nicely since they said we looked good for being so far into the race. I told Crystal that they were lucky because I normally don't smile that much while I am racing.
Right after the cameras there was another HUGE puddle! Crystal said she was going to the left, on the grass, and I said, "I'm going through!" Immediately after I did that I said, "that was a bad decision!" If I wasn't soaked by then, I was definitely soaked after doing that.
Crystal said that there was going to be a slight hill coming up, and then after that I knew we were going to be at mile 5 (mile 18). We were still doing well with our paces, but we had slowed down a little bit because of the conditions/terrain.
Still doing well
On a downhill, I saw the water stop and took my only energy gel during the race. I also saw Mike and Joe and waved at them. After walking through the water stop, we headed out on our way. I just had two more miles to go to get Crystal to mile 20.
Miles 5-7 (miles 18-20), were probably the worst. Crystal hadn't been talking much, but I just tried to encourage her. Then right before mile 20 we saw a girl wearing a Wineglass jacket. We caught up to her and I said, "I ran Wineglass last year", and when she looked at us she recognized Crystal from twitter! I also knew this girl from Instagram and we all introduced ourselves (with our handles of course), and Sarah joined our group for a little bit.
A tweet-up right there out on the course
At mile 7 (mile 20), Crystal got a welcoming sight: her training partner Jenn. Jenn had run the half and she ran with us for about a mile. Crystal was so happy to see her! At this time another girl joined our group because we "looked fun" and we just kept trudging along. We were so cold at this point, but there wasn't really anything we could do about it. Sarah kept telling Crystal to think of warm things like Alabama and hot soup!
Jenn left us and shortly after Crystal and I left Sarah and the other girl. Crystal told me that at mile 21 she was going to have to walk to eat an energy bar and when I turned around near that mile marker, she was already eating it and still running. We slowed to a walk so she could finish it and then we continued on.
We actually picked up our paces a little bit and then right before we hit Route 28, Crystal needed to walk briefly. Whenever we would walk, only through the water stops and these other two times, I would always try to get her going as quickly as possible, knowing from experience that walking wouldn't help. I asked if she wanted to start running again at the mailbox or the street sign and she said street sign. I'm so proud of her for running the entire thing and never giving up.
On Route 28, I was pretty much over the race, but I never let Crystal know how I was feeling. Whatever I was feeling or going through was nothing compared to what Crystal was experiencing.
My hands were numb and even Crystal said she couldn't feel her arms. I told her to try to move them and we both probably looked like weirdos shaking our arms/hands. My sparkle skirt had been riding up in the back the entire race, but at this point when I tried to fix it I couldn't tell what I was grabbing so I just gave up.
When we had about a mile and a half to go, I got so emotional for Crystal. I was more emotional than when I finished my own marathon. I was so happy for her and I knew that we only had about 15 more minutes or so to go.
Right at mile 26 we saw another welcome sight: more of Crystal's friends and their kids cheering her on.
We are in the distance (Mike and I gave the kids our extra medals since we had a 2-person team)
With .2 miles left to go I tried to pick up the pace. I could hear people cheering for other runners who were finishing the marathon and as we rounded the second to last corner I could see the finish line. We turned into the conference center and as we got closer to the finish I saw Mike. He handed me our relay baton, I grabbed Crystal's hand, lifted up our arms and said, "you did it!"
You did it!
After 4 hours 39 minutes and 34 seconds (35 seconds if you were on team "Drove From New York to Run with a Dork"), we were done! Crystal and I ran the second half of her marathon in 2:22.
The marathoner and her Sherpas
After getting our medals, going inside and taking a few photos I went to change. It is embarrassing to say that the toughest part of the day was changing my clothes. My hands were completely numb (my fingers were white) and I couldn't unzip/zip my clothes. It took me a lot longer than I would have liked to change.
We had to do a jumping photo
After we were all ready, we went to Dunkin Donuts (needed coffee to warm up) before going to Crystal and Joe's house. Later we went out to dinner at our other usual restaurant: British Beer Company. And of course we sat at the same table.
Perfect end to a great weekend
I am so honored that Crystal wanted us to be a part of her first marathon. It was an incredibly special moment and it is one that I will cherish forever. She called us her heroes, but she is mine. I am thankful for her and Joe and that they have become such good friends.
This weekend was never about us, sure we were "racing" but it was more about being there for a friend. A friend who would do the same for us (I told her she owed me at one point during the race, and that she could come pace me sometime). A true "sole" sister through and through.
Congratulations Crystal on becoming a marathoner!
Please go give Crystal some support and congratulations on her blog, and check out her three part series of her race experience:
Leading up to the Marathon
My 26.2 Mile Adventure - Hyannis Marathon
After the Finish Line