Rock and Roll Marathon San Diego

by Megan Houk
(Charleston, SC)

My Ultimate Goal - Rock and Roll Marathon

My Ultimate Goal - Rock and Roll Marathon

As I sit down to write this, every muscle in my body is aching and my sense of smell is on overload. Icy Hot is now part of my grooming routine, but I am not complaining! I got the medal and it is official. I crossed the finish line at the Rock and Roll MARATHON in San Diego!!! I am still in awe of the incredible journey I have had these last couple of months. I am so proud of myself and you better believe I wore that medal on the plane ride home!

Because you were not there along with me physically, I would like to take this time to share with you my whole experience with Team in Training. As you may remember, I signed up to join this organization at the last minute. Before I knew it, I was diving head first into the fundraising and endurance training with two of my best friends. It was such a joy each day to race home and check my mailbox to see if someone had sent me a donation. I got excited every time! Because of your generosity, I was able to surpass my goal of $4,100!

We started our training by running together as a group every Sunday morning at 6:30 am. At first, we did an easy 4 miles and by the end of training we were up to 20 miles. By this point, I had to stop running because of a leg injury. It hurt to even run one mile. The race day was approaching and I was feeling so defeated. How could this happen?? I did everything they said...stay hydrated, stretch every day, eat the right foods, buy the right shoes, eat the right gels while running, etc. It hurt me to even walk around at work. I went to a chiropractor and even had x-rays done. I was so determined at this point to find the reason why I was hurting so bad. It seemed like nobody could heal me. The only thing I could do was rest and not run for the last two and a half weeks before the race. I kept hoping for a miracle on race day.

The weekend was finally here at the Rock and Roll Marathon. We packed up our stuff and headed to San Diego on May 29th. I was nervous, excited, and hopeful. I could not believe it was finally here. On Saturday night, TNT had an Inspiration dinner to pump us full of motivation and carbs. As we approached the San Diego Convention Center we were met with tons of cheerleaders and TNT alumni rooting us on. It felt like the red carpet. I knew what I was doing was a big deal but this was something I was not expecting. My tearful eyes were met with people dressed in all purple and green wearing funky outfits. It really was something. There were runners there from all across the country, even Canada. The top fundraiser raised $103,000!! Collectively, we all raised $8.2 million for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society which got us finally to the $1 billion mark since TNT's inception. Remarkable!

We woke up the next morning full of nervous energy. Our shuttle left at 4:45 am to take us to the starting line. It was so cold. I thought California was supposed to be relatively warm! The race started at 6:30 am so we passed the time by rubbing ourselves down with body glide (helps to cut down on chafing) and standing in line at the port-o-johns. Did EVERYBODY wait to go right before the race??

It was finally time to get into position. I was standing right beside my best friend, Katie. For some reason, I knew I had forgotten something very important. The night before, we decorated our jerseys with the names of those that either lost their battle with cancer or were still fighting. I had made a list with the ones that people mentioned as they sent in their donations. I did not write down my grandmothers' names because surely I would remember them. I asked Katie to check the names on my back. "Do you see my Grandma Rosie and my Grandma Betty," I asked her. She checked and said, "No, but it's okay because I wrote them on mine." I could not believe I did that. Even though their names were not physically written on my back, they are forever written on my heart and I know my Grandma Betty gave me an extra push as the gun went off to signal the start of the race.

Rock and Roll Marathon Mile 1- Here goes nothing! 15,189 runners started moving forward (2,400 were Team in Training participants). The first band was playing a cover song from "Journey." This is going to be great!

Mile 6- I can't believe my leg isn't hurting at all! Perhaps I can finish this thing! Katie also has an injury (IT band) and hasn't been able to run the last 2 1/2 weeks either. She decided to change from the full marathon to the half because of the pain. I know that at mile 13.1, she will finish and I will have to continue on my own. I was dreading that in a big way.

Mile 8- This is going to be a breeze. We are both feeling great, downing water or Cytomax at most of the water stops and eating shot blocks.

Mile 11- We both agree that the sooner we get off this interstate, the better. The road had a serious slant to it and it caused our joints to hurt. Would you just look at that; Elvis ran past us, along with Batman. Some people dress up in costumes for marathons.

Mile 12- I finally see some familiar faces! My Aunt Lisa, Uncle George, and cousins Eli and Alex are in the crowd to cheer me on. They live in Irvine, CA. This is such a treat; I rarely get to see them since they live so far away!

Mile 13- We reach the halfway point and Katie has decided to continue on and finish the full! We are ecstatic as we round the corner to the next mile.

Mile 14- We can't put it off any longer. We have to go. The lines are too long at the port-o-johns so we opt for the bushes in front of Petco instead. I know what you are thinking but anything goes on race day!

Mile 18- Our course takes us through a quaint neighborhood. There are families out in their front yards cheering us on. One family in particular is handing out Ice Pops. Wow, I LOVE these! Note to self---buy some as soon as I get home.

Mile 20- We can barely feel our legs. They are almost running themselves. They have been in constant motion already for more than 4 1/2 hours! We've hit a wall. We have to power walk instead of jog. Everything aches. My back, my neck, my butt, my thighs...you name it. Where are all the bands?? We need music NOW!

Mile 21- Another hill?!? The question doesn't even need to be asked. We both trot to the side of the road to stretch. These runners are crazy. Who would do this just for fun? We are at least doing this for a cause; they're just running!!

Mile 22- If a spectator says, "You are almost there---just a few more miles to go. You're looking good," we are going to scream! I can't know for certain, but I am willing to bet running a marathon is more or as painful as childbirth!

Mile 23- Another Elvis jogs by. Oh and look, there's that guy that is running barefoot. Crazy Californian!

Mile 24- We are power walking more than running at this point. We both agree that no matter what, we are definitely running the last half of a mile in order to look good for the cameras.

Mile 25- It seems like forever since we've seen the last mile marker. "How are you feeling," Katie asks. "I can run if you can run," I reply. A couple seconds pass by. We can't get our legs moving faster! We start deliriously laughing.

Mile 26- We pass by the cute marines that are directing us to the finish line. We are almost there! We are jogging the home stretch. We can hear the crowd but can't see them. Gosh, this is beyond painful! We finally round the corner. Right before we cross the finish line, Katie reaches down and grabs my hand. We hold hands over our heads, and with tears streaming down our faces we cross the finish line!

I will never forget that moment as long as I live. This whole experience made me realize that we can all do something to make the world a better place. I hope one day soon the world will be rid of cancer. My heart is so full right now. Every mile mattered. Every training session mattered. Every throbbing pain mattered. Every blister mattered. Every dollar raised mattered. You mattered. I mattered.

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