Guest Post by Rebecca Cortese
It was not intended in God’s plans for me to run in “normal” conditions on race day. But then again, I never thought I would ever run a marathon!
This was my first ever marathon and I’m so happy I joined Star Runners 7 months ago to embark on this crazy journey.
Roughly 3 months prior to my race we had a long Saturday group run of 18 miles. It is a day that I will never forget because I hit a major wall due to the heat conditions (90 degrees) and only a few hours of sleep the night before (thanks a lot fire alarm!) It is also a day that prepared me more than I ever could have imagined for race day.
I arrived in San Antonio 2 days prior to race day and temperatures in the morning were averaging in the low 50/60s. Perfect! The temperature was a little higher on race morning, a humid 68. Still, I was pumped and raring to go and my family was there to cheer me on, including my sister who was 10 corrals ahead of me running the half.
I took off- the first 13 were amazing- I was averaging about 20 seconds ahead of each split, ensuring I had a slow enough start. It was when we split from the half runners at about mile 12 that I started to really feel awesome. I knew I was feeling great and was ahead of my time (thinking in my head) “Star must be so proud!” I also didn’t want to let my Star Running buds down- so good so far.
It was at about mile 18 that I really began to worry. I felt a MAJOR increase in temperature, not to mention there hadn’t been any shade since I passed mile 15 and I knew it was going to be all mental from this point on. I got to mile 20 and we entered this park that was paved and in wide open sunlight. I began to notice my surroundings- ambulance golf carts passing more frequently, more people walking than running, people camped out underneath what ounce of shade there was- underneath the interstate overpasses.
Mile 22 I walked a great bit. My body was sluggish and I found myself chugging Gatorade, water, and downing salt packs. During my extended walk break I passed a man that had to be in his 50s. He knew I wasn’t a happy camper- no one was at this point. He told me that this race was his 37th marathon and that by far this was the worst. Encouraging! I told him this was my first and he told me to keep going- to imagine myself crossing the finish line with a chocolate milk. I like this guy! I then took off- I thought about everyone rooting for me back home and at the finish line. I thought about the hot, humid day in Memphis when I hit the wall. I thought about Genna and Stephanie running that day with me and afterward telling me that if I could get through that day, I could get through anything. I thought about my husband who, on the day I hit the wall, walked the last 3 miles with me to my car just so I could finish. I CAN DO THIS! (I was saying his to myself out loud- talking to myself- anything to keep me going.)
I approached mile 25 and I knew I wanted to run the last one in. I turned to a lady next to me and asked her if we had crossed 25- she said yes, about a half mile ago- S#*%!! I took off and I made it to the .2 where I saw my family waiting (sweating) and cheering me on and I dug deep and sprinted to cross the finish line. Immediately I began to cry because I knew I hadn’t met my goal but then I realized- I finished. I. Finished. At the end of the day, that 110% meets my expectations because I accomplished what I never thought I could. Later that night I learned that within a span of 15 minutes the temperature had climbed 8 degrees to a staggering 89 (while I was around mile 20). I also learned that later in the day they were actually re-routing people to finish, cutting off 3 miles so that they wouldn’t be running any longer in the heat. They also moved the race to the first weekend in December for next year – I am going to run it again to prove to myself I can run a “normal” race.
Thank you to everyone in the group, especially my marathon training buds, the ones that kept me going through all of this- through blisters, tight legs, sweat, tears, and laughs- we did it! Most importantly thank you Star & Keith for supporting and teaching me to complete this race. You have made me the runner I’ve always wanted to be and for that I am forever grateful. Go Star Runners!
Isn’t it crazy to read this post about awful heat as we sit here waiting on an ice storm! Rebecca, I could not be more proud. You were the definition of perseverance. Marathons are tough and marathons in unexpected heat are crazy tough. You were awesome!! You are awesome!