For those of you who are interested in my experience, here's a little synopsis of the events:
I woke up the morning of the race to the most incredible sunrise, and showed up at the start line at around 5am. It was about 50 degrees, so I was really happy - that's the exact kind of weather I've been training in. It was like an arctic blast of air conditioning the entire time. There was a group of about 60 other people starting at that time, and when the course opened at 5:30 am, I was ready. I walked the first two miles to warm up, and then began to run/walk the duration of the course. I felt surprisingly energetic through the first 13 miles, and running along the lake was an incredible way to start the race.
I met up with my mother who was also running the course (a LOT faster than me!) when I was at about my mile 12 and she was at mile 15, giving her a hug and quickly pushing on. My two younger brothers were our support crew, and they met us at crucial points to give us sports drinks and food to re-fuel. They were so positive and motivating! I'm one lucky girl.
A significant mistake I made was trying to consume one of the "gel packs" for fuel..... it has the consistency of double-thick Vaseline. I had to stop for several minutes to try to choke it down. Never again! The other mistake I made was at mile 14, when I decided to lace my shoes much tighter. It felt better for my legs, but ended up leaving bruises on the tops of my feet. By the end of the race, I could barely walk because of the foot pain. Mile 25 seemed to stretch on forever, but I had made a commitment to myself to run through the pain, now increasing in intensity with every step. Ciara's "Work" was my power song that I played on repeat at the end.... it kept my feet moving!
When I could see the finish line, I started to cry. All the hard work I'd put into making it here was finally over, and fruitful. Although I trained with the goal in mind, I didn't think I could actually do it. Really. Training had taken over all of my free time, but I still didn't feel ready. And yet... there I was. My feet carried me there, somehow!
Of course, in true single mom fashion, I had to take care of the boys immediately following the marathon. The grandparents dropped them off at 12:35, six minutes after I'd completed the race. I was limping, and they thought it was pretty funny. Will was distressed though, "Mommy, I prayed for you that you wouldn't get hurt, but you look hurt. Did I not pray hard enough?" This broke my heart! I responded, "Will, thank you so much for praying for me. I am only sore from running sooooooo far. I'll be better very soon!" I love my sweet boys. My dad took care of them when I took an ice bath, (which sounds awful, but it really helps with my recovery!) and then I took them all home so I could attempt to enjoy some couch time. Shane was particularly helpful as "errand boy" - he brought me fresh bags of frozen peas for my feet and knees, and made sure my feet were always covered with the blanket. ;) We all watched Disney movies until it was time for bed.
The next day was the worst pain-wise, but we went up to the kids' grandparent's house again for a Memorial Day barbecue, and I was able to sit with my legs propped up while they ran around the ranch. Today I'm nearly back to normal, and feeling very grateful for everyone who helped me on this journey!
The question now is: what do I want to conquer next?