Note: Brace yourself for a journey ahead!

Running a marathon is a transcendental experience. If you’ve run one, you know. While I’ll take you step by step through my recent race day, nothing truly captures the raw emotions and memories like being there in person.

The day preceding the marathon saw an unexpected twist. Emz, Bo, and I kicked off our morning with a 2-mile shake-out run. A simple way to ensure my legs were marathon-ready.

My trusty Garmin watch decided to act up. Though the stopwatch feature was intact, it refused to display distance or pace. I contemplated ditching it for the race but wanted it as a fallback. After testing it post-run, it seemed to revive itself.

Emz and I, after freshening up, headed to the expo. We were accompanied by our friend Sara, staying close by. The race kit collection was a lively affair, especially at the PRO Compression booth. It felt surreal meeting many of my online supporters who had cheered me on throughout my training.

The evening was reserved for a meetup at La Grande Orange. My choice of a toasted English muffin with avocado not only was a hit at dinner but was a repeat from my lunch. This combo might just become my pre-race ritual. The gathering was exhilarating, filled with race strategies, snapshots, and light-hearted moments.

A fun highlight? Customized Starbucks cups by VK, one of which humorously labeled mine as Mrs. Stamos’ Coffee. A playful nod to a childhood joke between Andrea Barber (known for her role as Kimmy Gibbler in Full House) and me about marrying my childhood celeb crush.

The day was action-packed, and by its end, the pull of a cozy bed was irresistible. Emz, Sara, and I planned to stay at Sara’s hotel, situated just minutes away from the shuttle bus pickup for runners. Gears were laid out, alarms set, and we retreated for some much-needed rest.

The race day morning began with an amusing hiccup. We unintentionally boarded the half marathon bus instead of the full marathon one. However, Austin, our kind-hearted bus driver, made sure to reroute and drop us at the correct spot. This detour meant we got extra warm bus time, an unexpected perk on a chilly morning!

At the start line, camaraderie was in the air. Group photos, good luck wishes, and the collective anticipation of the marathoners set the tone.

My race strategy, along with goals A, B, and C, were clear in my mind. Emz turned into an unplanned pacer, using my watch after hers failed to charge. We started strong, fueled by the impeccable weather and the pure adrenaline rush.

Our plan aimed at a balanced energy expenditure in the beginning, with an aggressive push towards the finish. Our pace was on point for the initial miles, although a sneaky uphill stretch did challenge me a tad.

Despite the setbacks, like combating strong headwinds and the physical toll of the downhill, I found my mantra: “You Can Do Hard Things”. This was inspired by a custom necklace Sara made for us.

The concluding miles tested my resilience and determination. I owe Emz big time for keeping me going and ensuring I reached the finish line with a satisfactory time.

Crossing that line, I clocked 3:46:22, an improvement of 7 minutes from my previous personal best. A Boston Qualifying time remained elusive, but this experience has left me optimistic about what’s achievable with a little more effort.

Post-race, it was a celebration galore. Sharing our stories, triumphs, and even the race’s challenges with fellow runners was the highlight.

Refueling post-marathon, we relished a sumptuous meal at Cafe Rio. My plant-based diet worked wonders. Two gluten-free waffles, four Honey Stinger gels, and regular hydration during the race kept me energized.

We wrapped up the day with a dinner hosted by Pro Compression at Oreganos. It was a blend of delectable food, banter, and cherished moments.

To say this marathon was special would be an understatement. The support and energy I felt, especially from this incredible virtual community, made this one of my most memorable races.

To every reader who journeyed through this narrative with me: Thank you. Your unwavering support and encouragement mean the world.

A big shoutout to Carlee and @ruggedwoodsman for capturing these magical moments on camera.

As I wrap up, Phoenix nights beckon for one last hurrah with my beloved running family!

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