Rocket City Marathon – 2011

Pain is temporary, but pride is forever.

Friday afternoon the hubby and I headed to Huntsville, Alabama for the Rocket City Marathon. We arrived at the hotel and met up with our friend Drew outside of the hotel as he waited to join the group run for a historic tour of Downtown Huntsville. As we chatted, Drew spotted Dick Beardsley who was the guest speaker for the evening’s Carbo Supper.


I had honestly never heard of Dick Beardsley before, but Drew was obviously giddy so I knew it must be a big deal. Turns out he is kind of a big deal and his speech was very inspiring!

“When you wake in the morning have a smile on your face, enthusiasm in your voice, joy in your heart and faith in your soul.” –Dick Beardsley

Just before dinner the hubby and I headed to the race expo to pick up my bib and t-shirt.


Why is it that the women’s shirts are always white and completely see through? Its a race, not a wet t-shirt contest.

I did manage to pick up several pairs of shorts and a jacket for $9.99 each at the expo though as well as a Christmas ornament and a 26.2 car decal.

After the expo and dinner I headed back to my hotel room to lay out my gear and settle in for the night.

In typical long run, Amanda fashion I de-famed my body with Sharpie marker to write inspirational messages to myself.


“She believed she could so she did”

“Running does not build character, it reveals it”

“Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must, just never give up”

4-2-08 (my son’s birthdate)

26.2 to remind me of the sticker I bought for my car

and a name of each person that I wanted to dedicate my one of my 26 miles to. They are the people who have supported me, motivated me and been my inspiration through this journey and through my life.

I got a decent night of sleep and woke up just before my alarm went of at 5:30 on Saturday morning.

Ate an early breakfast of a bagel with cream cheese and got dressed for the race.


The race started at 8:00, so I headed down to the hotel lobby about 30-45 minutes early to meet up with the rest of my friends who were also running.


Yeah, I’m not ashamed to post bad pics of myself online.

About 10 minutes before the race we headed out to find our spots at the starting line and take a few last minute pictures.



I’m not sure what the exact temperature was but it was COOOLD and windy.

The race started right on time at 8:00 and we were off. The first few miles Barbara and I stuck right with the 4:10 pace group. I was found myself getting lost in my thoughts early and realized that I wasn’t enjoying the experience as much as I should be. I brought myself back to reality and tried to pay attention to the people, the sights, the signs and really take in everything.

The 4:10 pacer stopped to drink at one of the aid stations and Barbara and I got a little ahead of the group. We still managed to keep our splits pretty consistent.

9:41, 9:10, 9:06, 9:11, 9:20, 9:16

At mile 7 I saw my hubby and my friend Duane who came out to support us for the first time. I was feeling great!

Tim tried to snap a quick picture for a Facebook update at that point, but his hand slipped and this is what he came up with …


Yes, it looks like I’m about to drop an F bomb but I was probably saying “I feel phenomenal!”. Who knows?

Miles 7-11 went smoothly as well and we maintained a pretty consistent pace although we were still ahead of the actual pace group.

9:22, 9:16, 9:25, 9:16, 9:24

At mile 11 I finally admitted to my partner, Barbara, that my left knee was hurting some. I started feeling it twinge in mile 10, but I ignored it. I assured her it wasn’t anything that would keep me from finishing.

9:25, 9:26, 9:21

During these next 3 miles the knee pain got somewhat worse and other pains started setting in. Both of my calves started getting really tight, I could feel friction burning my feet, the top of my left foot was cramping and my bladder was full. I knew it was too early to be feeling that bad, but there was nothing I could do about it. I took Gu, salt tabs, drank water. Nothing helped. To make matters worse we were on a 5-mile stretch of road that seemed to never end. I knew I would see my hubby at mile 15 though, I concentrated on that.

Mile 15 was finally in sight, I looked for my hubby and also saw that the road turned ahead. I was hopeful that a change in scenery and the mental boost from seeing him and Duane would get me through a little longer.

When I finally did see them, I almost lost it. I was overwhelmed with happiness at the moment.


The road turned and I immediately regretted begging for a change of scenery. The wind hit us head-on … HARD. I had to duck my head and tuck my chin to even feel like I was moving forward at that point. I told Barbara that at the next port-o-potty I was going to have to stop. I couldn’t control the wind or anything else, but the bladder pain I could do something about.

11:05, 9:31, 9:17, 9:24

I’m not sure if the wind died down, or if I just got used to it but we kept trucking through the next few miles. The hubby told me he would meet me at mile 21, that is what I focused on. I was still hurting, but it wasn’t getting any worse. I read the words on my arms for motivation, concentrated on my loved ones that I was dedicating these miles to, and thought about meeting Tim and Duane at mile 21.

I was physically and mentally finished at 21. I didn’t feel like I could possibly run another 5+ miles.

Barbara was feeling strong and I told her that there was no way I was going to be able to speed up at all, and for her to go ahead. Thankfully Duane was waiting and ready to take her place beside me.



9:56, 9:56, 10:12, 10:07 …

I tried to be positive and take my mind off of the running by talking to Duane, but I finally had to tell him I couldn’t talk back but I would listen. He offered to sing for me, talked about everything other than running and listened to me curse the taste of Gu. I remember asking him atleast once maybe twice if I was going to finish. He said simply, “yes”.

I needed to be finished and I had no qualms telling him so in every way I could. My body was begging to be finished. I tried to stop and walk, but soon discovered that walking did not relieve the pain and only prolonged it. I ran again … walked again, no help .. run .. finally I knew that the only option was to just finish it running.

Like a cruel joke my Garmin clicked 26.2 before I even crossed the official 26 mile marker.

Finally, finally, finally I saw the turn to the finish line.

And just like that it was over.


My official chip time was 4:13:45.

I’m pretty sure I started sobbing as soon as I crossed the line. A male race volunteer who no doubt had no idea how to console an out-of-control sobbing woman asked me if I was ok, I said “yes, just overwhelmed”. He asked “do you want this now? or …” referring to the finisher’s medal.

“Hell yes I want that now! … Are you kidding me?!”. He laughed, gave me my medal and sent me on my way.

My immediate reaction was that I would never ever even consider doing that again. But as the pain started to subside and the pride began to set in I started thinking about my goals for next time.

“Running does not build character, it reveals it”.

What a rewarding, humbling, self-discovering experience!




Filed under pictures, Races

7 responses to “Rocket City Marathon – 2011

  1. I’m in tears reading your post! I can’t imagine in a million years actually running a marathon (even though I secretly dream about it…)
    I love the messages to yourself with the Sharpie! What a great idea!

  2. Martha Eskridge

    I’m also in tears reading this. I swear, Amanda, if I could just have an ounce of your courage and motivation….I’m so proud of you!!

  3. Roxy

    Great, colorful story, Amanda! You ran an outstanding marathon and have come a really, really long way.


  4. Great job!!!! 🙂 You are awesome and you rock but you know all that.

  5. I’m really proud of you. Not only for gutting this out, but for taking the challenge on in the first place. It was a privilege to be on your hand and see you achieve your goal. WOOT!

  6. YEAH!!! YEAH! YEAH! Great finish!! Great Race!

  7. Better late than never! Loved running with you that day! We have become much closer since that day. Glad I got to experience my first marathon with you! :)))))

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