This is the fourth and final post about the Rev3 Cedar Point Full Tri. If you didn’t see the previous posts, catch up on what you missed:
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As I began the last portion of my triathlon, I couldn’t FATHOM how my body would feel running a marathon AFTER 2.4 miles of swimming and 112 miles of biking in the wind, but I was excited, and I was ready to do it and find out!
As I was running out of the transition area, I met up with a runner who appeared to be going about the same pace as me. We ran side by side and enjoyed sharing stories from the day so far. Our first few miles were a little fast, though that’s what I expected of myself. We did around 7-7:30 pace for around 3 miles before calming down and settling in at a 7:50 pace. Neither of us had a real good handle on what to expect for a marathon time. He was a 2:59 marathoner, and I’m a 3:24 marathoner, so we were thinking we would probably aim for 3:30 until we got halfway, at which point we would most likely die of exhaustion. Good strategy, I know. But I knew that at some point my legs would get tired no matter how easy I took the first few miles, so I figured I might as well make the most of them!
I thoroughly enjoyed the first 8 miles. I had a lot of energy, so I did a lot of talking. I LOVE having someone to talk to when I run (especially when I’ve just spend the last 8 hours in silence! Haha!). Unfortunately, around mile 8, Ryan (my running buddy) was dying and had to slow down. I left him and still felt quite perky, but after just one more mile, I was feeling death creeping up on me as well. My quads and hamstrings were tightening up, my feet were KILLING me, and I was hot. I stayed on top of my nutrition though and tried to maintain just under a 9-minute mile.
I made it to the halfway point just trying to hang on. I still had a good stride, but I was just SO tired! I got a bottle of Perpetuem from my special needs bag, refilled my Endurolytes Fizz bottle at the aid station and set out for the second half of the marathon! During miles 13-15, I REALLY slowed down. I was beginning to get mentally exhausted and lost my focus for a little bit. I saw my family at mile 15 though, and they encouraged me and told me I was still doing awesome! This gave me a boost, and I told myself to get it back together! I spotted a guy a short ways ahead of me who looked to be doing about 9-minute pace. I picked up my pace and caught him in a few minutes. I could tell he was tired, too, but I asked him if I could run with him for a bit. “Sure, but I might be too slow for you right now,” was his response. I said, “I don’t know about that.” And so we ran.
Sebastian was his name. He didn’t have much to say, but I enjoyed the company and talked to him a little bit. The best part about it though was that both of us naturally increased our pace while we were running together! We began clocking 8:30 miles, and I was feeling better and better! I stayed with Sebastian until mile 20, when I had to use the port-a-potty again. I was fine with him going on without me though because I was finally feeling a little more positive about finishing this race!
Over the next few miles, I maintained my 8:30-9 minute miles and made sure to eat and drink enough. I was also keeping my eye on Sebastian who I could see off in the distance. I really wanted to catch him again so I could have someone to run with until the finish.
My family ran with me here and there through the streets to try and keep me motivated. At this point, my legs were unimaginably tired and my feet were burning with every step. Finally I got to mile 23, and I saw my family for the last time. They told me when they left that they’d see me at the finish line! The last 3 miles of the race were incredible. There were several moments where I almost burst into tears because the reality of what I was doing kept hitting me! I was so overjoyed to be doing this amazing race, and I felt SO BLESSED to have been given the ability and resources to complete it!!
At mile 24, I was just about to catch Sebastian, when HE ran to a port-a-potty. “Oh well,” I thought, “I can do the rest of the race on my own!” From there until the end, whenever I passed someone, I said to them, “I’m going to be an Ironman!!!!” Seriously, I was so excited, the people probably thought I was delirious. Actually, I probably was!
At mile 25, I picked up my pace. I actually did the last mile in around 7:30. My legs were killing me, but I was so excited, I couldn’t help but run fast!! I rounded a bend, and I could see the expo area ahead of me! As I ran down the strip through the parking lot, I could hear my family cheering! I rounded another corner, and I could see them! My eyes welled up with tears. I was almost there!!
My family was allowed to run the last .2 miles with me, so they joined me at this point. They surrounded me, running me in to the finish. They kept telling me how good I did, and how I was going to beat my goal of 11:30. I couldn’t believe it! We had one more corner, and then I could see the finish line! I heard over the loud speaker, “And here comes someone strong around the bend…27 years old…Hannah STEDGE! Welcome…to the REVOLUTION!” I crossed that finish line knowing I gave absolutely everything I had! As soon as I stopped, I turned around and hugged John so tight and immediately started sobbing! I am not an emotional person typically, but I was filled with so much joy, I couldn’t hold back the tears! I had done it, WE had done it! After almost a year of working toward this incredible goal, my husband and I crossed the finish line together! Together we had accomplished something that I had only ever DREAMED about! As I think back, I’m still moved to tears. The sense of accomplishment when I crossed the finish line–after the countless hours of training, the late nights and early mornings, and the LONG, sweaty, painful, exhausting day of racing–was just so amazing!
I posed for a couple of pictures, raising my arms in triumph! We then walked over to the timing board and found out that I had finished in 11:15, placed 5th for women, and 3rd in my age group! I trained so hard for this, and I couldn’t have been more excited to see those results! I can’t thank my husband enough for the long hours he put in reading, planning, writing my training program, keeping me company during my workouts and coming with me to all my races! I am so, so blessed!!