This is my account of my husband's journey to becoming a Marathoner.
We woke up quite early on race day, to ensure time to eat, get dressed, and make sure we had all we needed. We stepped out the front door into the chilly air to discover extremely thick fog, this slowed our drive into town, but we weren't in a hurry and it was kind of a good distraction.
We drove past the Finish line as we pulled in to park, and I could feel his nerves mounting as we unbuckled, gathered our things and saw everyone headed to the front. I told him that before we got out I wanted to pray with him, we held hands, closed our eyes, I took a deep breath and began praying. Thanking God for him, for his desire to make this journey to a healthier lifestyle. choking back tears I then asked for protection for him, and that he would be given the strength to reach this goal that meant so much to him, little did I know how much strength he would end up needing that day. We kissed, exited the car and began our walk, shivering, teeth chattering and discussing the surroundings.
Passing a nearly empty portapotty line I advised him that it was a great time to use it. Greeted by friends in the line, we talked about the day to come until Ty was finished and we headed to the main entrance to meet our other running friends for a group photo. Lots of hugs, laughing, and encouragement happened in those next few minutes. I saw him smiling, then he appeared to be far away thinking, then right back to smiling. I knew that feeling, it was me last year.
Start time grew close, and we knew we were walking the first mile so we headed to the rear of the pack. As the national anthem began we started our GPS watches, covered our hearts and took deep breaths.
The song ended, the cheers erupted and the countdown began and then ever so slowly we began moving to the Starting line. I kept squeezing his arm and rubbing his shoulder, we crossed the mat, started our watches and power walked our way down the road.
We spent the next mile discussing his plan, fuel, and the hours ahead. We came to the split up for the half marathoners at mile 1, stole a kiss, and went our separate ways. I watched him jog down his path and all I could do was smile. The ladies around me began asking about our story, and just thought that was the most awesome thing ever, I agreed, but I still had no idea how the day would unfold.
I power walked for some time and then decided I wanted to really loosen up and run. Thanking volunteers and taking the time to shake officers hands at intersections I made my way past mile 5 to the location where the marathoners would join back onto our route. I stopped, pulled out my poster and waited.
Ty was unaware that I wasn't going to finish without him, but crossing the finish line together was something I've wanted for long time. We were going to do the marathon together, but after my lack of training and becoming pregnant, I knew it was wiser to do the half. I wanted to be with him through those final miles. I was able to cheer on the remaining half marathoners, as well as the relay and marathoners as they made their way past me. Texting my friend Latoya for updates on Ty I learned that his feet were already bad before mile 6. My heart sank. It was too early to be hurting, and I grew concerned. Slowly the updates came, another mile down. Struggling but another mile gone. I was waiting at his mile 18.5 but growing antsy I decided to start walking closer to him down the route. I came to the mile 18 aid station and camped out. Saw some struggling friends come through and tried to encourage them for the final miles they were approaching. I literally was able to see every marathoner who made it to mile 18, which is pretty cool.
I began growing antsy again and decided I was going to walk more, as soon as I started I saw Latoya pulling up so I decided to hang out and wait. We visited, she filled me in on all that was going on and how long Jim had been with Ty.
Finally she says "here they come!" I move towards ty, seeing he's visibly hurting and has tears streaming down his face. My eyes immediately swell up, I choke back what I can and go to his side.
I'm told we need to get him eating, so I start asking him what sounds good, "nothing"
He's crying and telling me how terrible he hurts, but he keeps moving. He asks how I did on the half, I replied, "I'm not done yet"
"No how did you do?"
"I haven't finished, I've been waiting for you. You won't be last. We will finish this thing together."
Moving through the streets with our bike escort, and suddenly we are joined up by a couple from church who join us in our walk for a couple miles. During that time Ty was growing more and more overheated, we called Latoya for ice, dumped water on him at that next aid station and kept moving. Before Latoya met us we came up to a bunch of ice dumped out in the grass, the guys began picking it up and putting it in his hat, and on his neck. We then met Latoya who had a big glass of ice water for him. His temperature began to cool down, but his feet and right hip were still a major problem. The bumps on the sidewalks at intersections were excruciating on his feet, as well as uneven ground, acorns, and rocks.
We were moving along nicely, but needing to stop more for ty to stretch his hip. Ty decided it was time for more ibuprofen and some biofreeze. We called Latoya again and she showed up down the road with his race kit. He leaned on me to stretch his hip out and then had me rub the biofreeze on his shoulders, neck, and hip. Off we went, finding more church friends and running peeps along the way to cheer him on through the miles.
Mile 22 was a long incline with lots of stupid acorns. Every time he stepped on one it would cause him to stop in pain. He still wasn't eating, his stretch breaks increasing, as was his nausea. After a slight nose bleed Ty felt the need to throw up. We were at a rock wall which he leaned over and began dry heaving but no luck getting anything out. He sat down on the wall and began turning pale. Then white. His nose and lips began turning blue, and his eyes looked funny as he took long slow blinks. I asked him if he was ok, a soft "no."
"what's wrong honey??"
His eyes rolled back and he went limp falling forwards into my chest and arms. Jim and I supported him up while the bicycle escort called for an ambulance.
"ty? Ty talk to me"
Jim asks me if he's ever done this before
He starts trying to take his pulse while I'm holding ty, crying and talking to him.
"talk to me, you have to talk to me"
He just moaned
"are you done babe?"
"baby, are you done?"
He starts coming out of it, the ten seconds he was out felt eternal. As the ambulance pulled in, we had him eating some peanut m&ms. They took his blood sugar (normal) offered to take his blood pressure, "no."
Jim, being a fireman began telling the EMTs what happened and what he believed caused it based on the events leading up to it.
The guys offered to take ty to the Finish, to which he sternly replied, "absolutely not."
Jim told ty that if we are going to continue he HAS to start eating, or we are done. Ty agrees, he slowly stands, we give him a minute and began moving again.
At this point I'm thinking finishing is unlikely, but oh how I wanted it for him. I just didn't know if his body could handle it despite his determination.
More miles, more friends, more acorns and rocks, less stretching and zero problems with fuel from that point on.
As we get off the greenway and make our way through the neighborhood, I just couldn't believe what I was witnessing. He had scared me to death, and here he was still swinging his legs, forcing down candy and not stopping.
More friends come running up, ty is bent over in pain as they arrive and one girl drops to the ground under him, grabs his face and tells him "we are all SO proud of you! You have NO idea! There's a crowd waiting for you at the finish. you are doing AMAZING. You have NO idea how proud we all are"
Choking back my tears is becoming more and more impossible.
Later when he stopped to stretch again the same girl came and dug her thumbs into his hip, causing Ty to scream, but it helped.
The steps were smaller, the pain unimaginable, but still we moved forward.
Approaching the final turn to the finishing chute, our friends, run off to go cheer him in. Jim turns and says "you two have a race to finish together" and off he went.
Alone we walked, towards the chute, the sun setting, the sky looking the same as it did 9.5 hours earlier. Ty begins crying, "it hurts, it hurts so bad"
Passing friends, and crying I tell him, "this is it babe, you're doing it. this is it." We turn the corner, I shake the cops hand who is holding off traffic, and begins picking up the cones behind us as we go.
Our car tail driver comes walking up and tells ty, "I'm supposed to stay behind you so I'm going to walk behind you all the way in."
Cheering, cowbells, clapping... The announcer shouting our names as we work our way through the chute. All I can do is cry and put my hand on him.
"look sweetie! Look at this! This is for you, all for you. This is the most incredible finish of all finishes. I'm so, so proud of you"
Straight to his coaches arms, I watch them embrace and see the tears streaming down David's face. I knew this was huge, and so did everyone else.
We hugged and I told him "you did it Ty! you're done! You finished."
We were given chairs to sit down as friends and strangers came over to congratulate him. Not a single dry eye there.
I'm so thankful for the volunteers, especially those who went above and beyond and stayed until he was in.
For our friends who came to show support.
For his pacer Jim.
For his coach David.
For his crew Latoya and kids.
And most importantly, that God had given him the strength we requested that morning to finish his goal. Tyler could have dropped, and had every right to. No one would have thought less of him but God gave him the strength, determination, and an able body to complete it.
I will never forget that day. Ever.
I'm proud beyond words Ty. I love you.