26.2... With A Twist

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. " Joshua 1:9

A quick self-portrait before walking out to the start line.

The day had arrived. The event I had spent several months training for was finally about to begin. As I made my way to the starting corral on the Marathon side I was teary eyed and nervous. It hit me what I was about to do. Thankfully, as I wandered through the people waiting to start, I found several of my running group buddies and being with them calmed my nerves.

Soon we were on our way, a huge sea of people with a common goal. It was exhilarating!

"...let us run with perseverance the race marked before us." Hebrews 12:1

For the first 9 miles the Full and Half runners are together, then the Half Marathoners turn back. There are a TON of spectators, cheers, music, and you feel part of the pack. Scott, Annelise, our friend Kim (her hubby ran his first half and did a GREAT job!) and T. and T. (their mom and dad were running the full--woohoo!) were along the course to offer support. Seeing them was such a boost, especially the hug from Annelise!

This was the first year I did NOT turn, I continued on the Full route. Somewhere between mile 8 and 9 I got separated from my running group girls. The 5:30 pace pack had left me in the dust too. I plodded onward as the course quickly thinned out. I enjoyed the distractions along the course and still felt on track.

Soon though I felt kinda lonely.

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:2-4

I kept going, trying to stick with my run/walk intervals. I was still close to my target pace, so I felt okay. Quick visit to the lovely Port-a-Pottie and back on the road again.

Now I was leap frogging with the 6:00 hour pace group. Okay. Somewhere around mile 17 I made a mistake. I looked back.

Thankfully, I did not turn into a pillar of salt, but still...

The pace police cars were on my heinie!!! How did THAT happen?

I had become part of a small band of stragglers and we were being pushed along by the police and the threatening vans whose job was to pick up the support stations. Uh-oh.

See, the Houston Marathon has a course time limit of 6 hours. I knew that. However, I did not realize how early they start breaking things down to adhere to their policy. And what this realization would do to my mental game. I now know I should have used the anger I felt at those pace cars to dig deep and pick things up. Instead, I felt defeated and slowed even further.

Our little band of stragglers continued on. Even when we were pushed off the course onto sidewalks, bike trails, across construction sites, etc. we kept going. When we saw the dismantled support tables, the crews picking up the trash, the course cones being removed, we kept going.

I struggled with feelings of disappointment, worry, frustration, and embarrassment. Some kind ladies were handing out bottles of water along with pretzels and crackers around mile 20. I wish I could send them a thank you note! I had been worried about fluids since they were dismantling the course ahead of us. These ladies saved us!

"...if only I may finish the race and complete the task..." Acts 20:24

At mile 22 Scott was waiting along with some other kind supporters checking on the stragglers. I was terribly embarrassed of my performance and didn't want him to take my picture. However, it is part of my whole experience so I guess I'm glad he didn't listen to me.

Even though this was not going how I had imagined it, I was determined to finish. My hips and IT bands were so tight and my feet were throbbing, but I still tried to alternate jogging and walking.

I missed shaking former President George Bush's hand at mile 23; I missed the belly dancers (they were packing up but told us to hang in there); I missed spectator support the last few miles. The sweet lady I was with kept saying she didn't care about getting a medal or a shirt, she just wanted to finish. I was not the bigger person, I still WANTED my stuff!!

Eventually we made our way into downtown and closer to the finish line. Our little band of stragglers crossed the finish line as they were taking everything apart. Yes. We were met by enthusiastic cheers from our personal supporters. It was more intimate that way.

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." 2 Timothy 4:7

Even though the crowds had all departed and they were packing up, it felt so wonderful to cross that finish line! Hearing Scott, Annelise, my dad, and my sweet friend Heather (thanks for being there girl!!) cheer me in somehow made it all okay.

One of the volunteers handed out medals to the families that were waiting in the stands so that we would get one when we finished. Thank you! Other volunteers stayed longer inside the convention center to hand out finisher shirts, I was so thankful they waited!

I did not finish the race like I had planned, I know I CAN do better. Maybe I will try 26.2 again someday. Most likely I will, because I want to improve. While I am disappointed in my performance, I am proud that I finished and that I covered the distance.

(and I got my STUFF)


  1. Oh, Holly! You did it!! I am SO proud of you and your accomplishment. I was so glad to see you turn that corner and finish! You ran the race, you fought the fight...You ROCK girl!

    Love you!

  2. I don't even know you, but I have the chills and am feeling a little teary because there is NOTHING more inspiring than an enduring to end story like that!

    Good good good job!

  3. You did it and you didn't quit. That is more important than anything. You'll do it one day. I have no doubts! I'm so proud of you!

  4. The tears are flowing here too. Congratulations on finishing, that is awesome! Seriously, if that would have been me I would have given up, no joke. So see...you ARE the bigger person!

  5. you GO, girl!! i am sooo proud of you, and loved reading every bit of your journey. i would have never thought about the shake-up of the mental game when they were breaking things down...

    congratulations on FINISHING (and extra congrats for getting your stuff!)

    hope you are enjoying some time off of your feet.

  6. You finished!!! And next time will be better! And there will be a next time!

    You are AWESOME!!! It is such a hard mental battle, seriously. And people who haven't done it have no idea (not that they are great supporters and sympathizers).


  7. Holly! I am so proud of you! I wouldn't make it past the first mile without cramps! You finished and that shows so much about your character! You should be proud of yourself...seriously!
    And what a great application to our spiritual walk with the Lord!

    So glad you got your stuff you deserved it!!!

  8. And don't you hope that those people who are out there being supportive know just how helpful and wonderful they are!!! Seriously! It kind of made me think of all the angels that are on our "life" sidelines. I love them!!!

  9. You did it! Congratulations. All that hard work and you didn't quit. It is no easy feat to run 26.2. Way to go!!

  10. Inspirational! Thanks for sharing!

  11. At this point, I can't even run a mile - you are AWESOME! Just finishing the feat of a marathon is amazing, an achievement of a lifetime.

  12. I AM SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO proud of you!!!!!! YOu inspired so many others to join the race and all of you completed a HUGE task! I loved cheering with Scott and Annelise - such joy. I am proud of you friend!

  13. I have tears in my eyes, Holly. I'm so proud of you! This is such a big deal to finish the race and YOU DID IT!! You FINISHED the race! Yay, Holly!!

  14. You have nothing to be ashamed of! I think it is a great and noble thing that you hung in there. TRUE determination and spirit. I am proud of you girl. Don't give up doing it again.

  15. Holly, I am so proud of you for getting out there! You did more than me!

  16. You are my hero! Way to go, girl! Sooo amazing.


  17. Holly,
    I am tearing up with the rest of these ladies! I thought about you all Sunday and was sending prayers up for all three of you girls! I am so proud of you. You have shown great strength and courage finishing the race! I know you will continue running and working towards a better time- you are runner, girl! I am sooo proud of you!!! Oh, I so wish I could give you a hug!

    The "stuff" looks great!


  18. YOu did it! good job.. that is something.. that is a long way to run.. way to finish! I love the scriptures you put in..so fitting! congrats! I hope your body recovers quickly!

  19. Holly,
    I checked your blog early this morning so excited to see your post...even though I knew you were probably tired and resting. I checked back...nothing....checked again...nothing, went to the gym, ran a few miles myself on a boring ol' treadmill and then came home to your post. I am so excited and proud for you. You did it! You finished. Way to go AND ....you got your stuff :) Very important :) Congratulations!

  20. DON'T be disappointed in your performance!

    Hell, woman! You completed a MARATHON.

    I worship you.

  21. Holly, I am SOOOO proud of you!!! Definitely don't be disappointed in finishing in a time that you didn't expect- there are so many things that go into the marathon and my word, YOU FINISHED!!! You did the entire 26.2 miles. That is all you need to focus on- you finished a marathon!!!! I have been checking and checking to see how you did and I am so incredibly excited for you- what a great journey. You have such a wonderful family, too- they should be (and are, I'm sure) incredibly proud of you! I love the scripture references, too- so true to the experience. I wish I were in Texas so I could give you a hug and send you to a massage therapist! :) CONGRATULATIONS marathoner!!! You rock!!!

  22. Congratulations on finishing the race - that is quite a "feet"! I loved the Scripture you interspersed in your post.

  23. It doesn't matter how long it takes, it only matters that you finish the race.

    Girlfriend, way to go!! Stop beating yourself up and start patting yourself on the back for a HUGE job well done. You did great!

  24. You have totally inspired me. Thank you.

  25. I'm not sure why I have tears in my eyes, but your story is so neat. I love that even though you felt behind, you weren't. There were people to support you, your family, and the people handing out snacks and the person with the medals at the end. You've done something that most can't do Holly - you're so awesome and inspiring. I have been thinking about doing a marathon and now I know I can. Now when? Is the question! Take care Holly and wooooooooooohooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

  26. Congratulations Holly, this is a HUGE accomplishment!! I'm so impressed.

    I'm teary reading this though because it's super upsetting to think of the pace cars being on your tail and all the support people packing up. What in the world? It's no small thing to run a marathon, no matter how long it takes, so you should get the full package! I'm glad there was a volunteer there to give you your medal and other items, you totally deserve them. Great job!!!!!!!!

    I love all the scriptures you put with this post, that last one is one of my favorites.

  27. Oh, I almost hate to comment as the comment counter is at 26...and that seems so appropriate somehow. I will be the .2, okay?

    Just wanted to add my heartfelt congratulations to a race well-run. The mental battle is always harder than the physical one and you conquered both. You are completely amazing! What an astounding accomplishment, at any finish time!

  28. Congrats!!! The fact that your family was there at the end cheering for you is all that matters!! And you finished!! Way to go!!

  29. Holly--

    You have always been such an inspiration and encouragement to me. (In fact, hearing you talk so enthusiastically about Bay Area Fit and running made me want to join and enter the marathon myself!) I am sooooo proud of you for staying the course and finishing such a grueling race. That's why I like you so much--you have got some major determination! Congratulations and can't wait to hear about it in person!

    Love ya!

  30. so, I left you a comment - one for every mile that you did!

    I am really just so proud of you and you have been such inspiration to me. and do you the difference between your medal and they person who finished first - absolutely nothing. they look exactly the same.
    You are amazing and wonderful and everyone who knows you is so proud to say they do, including me!!

    enjoy the week of rest and feeling justified to eat whatever you want!!!

    Finishing in and of itself is such a huge accomplishment! And now you have a great jumping off point for your next 26.2!
    Way to go!!

  32. Congrats Holly!! You inspire me- and the race part is only part of the reason!! You go girl!!

  33. Holly! I realized this morning that I had forgotten to check in with you over the last couple busy days. I read this, and then had to race Emmie off to school with tears in my eyes.

    You finished! And that is a huge huge deal! I'm proud of you and awed by you. I'm sorry things didn't go the way you dreamed, but you did it! I'm so glad there were kind souls to help you along the way. Your scriptures made this all the more poignant.

  34. Thank you, thank you, thank you for reminding me why I am training for 26.2 - you did AWESOME!!! I cried through your post. Absolutely amazing!

  35. You did it!! And that is most important. What an inspiring race report! I'm sorry it didn't turn out the way you had hoped, but you should be so proud of yourself. And I hope you do give it another shot. You should join our little group of mommies who will be getting together for the Salt Lake marathon on April 19. You ARE a Marathon Mommy!


  36. Yay!
    Picture me singing "You did It!" just like Dora the Explorer!

    You totally rock!

  37. You are so awesome!! Thanks for your race report! Just like Team Hanni, I needed a little reminder about why I am training for the SLC marathon! You inspire me with your determination and spirit! WAY TO GO!!!

    Question- I have been having some troubles with my IT band, but only in my right leg. Have you found any tricks that help? Besides stretching of course. :)

  38. Holly-
    I was just checking to make sure I left a comment and scrolled down and it wasn't there. I seriously thought about you all weekend. Friday night it was, 'Holly is getting ready right now.' Saturday it was,'She's almost done now.' And Sunday it was,'I can't wait to hear about it.'
    I am so beyond proud of you. Knew you could do it. And you are now officially a Marathon Bird. That won't ever change.
    And I have read all your reading posts over again. I've loved them in the past, but now I especially look to them for inspiration. I feel a part of your club. I hope that I can join the marathon club someday. For now it's the working-torwards-the-half-marathon club. Baby steps.
    You go girl!!!

  39. I just read this post for the first time and was so inspired! It's not the time, it's the accomplishment! Good for you for doing it and taking those pictures! Those were great scriptures to help you along.

  40. Ok, I just ran across your blog and am reading back on some of your running posts. I have no idea if you will even ever see this comment, since sooooo long after you posted this. Just in case, this was soooo awesome to read!!!!!! I am a half marathoner with hope of one day running 26.2. This year, 3 weeks before my latest half marathon, I screwed up my IT band. I really didn't even realize what I had done until after the race. I decided to take the 3 weeks prior to the race off from running to rest and push through the pain on race day. WELL, HA that didn't go so well. Mile 4, IT band was KILLING me sooo bad, my whole leg was locked up in pain. I ended up limping the rest of the race and finished in the most horrible time ever, so ashamed, disappointed, disgusting, MAD at myself. Reading your post helped me realize that I did finish, that is what matters and trying again is GREAT. Thanks!


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