Well it's done. I finished it! It wasn't pretty, and I wasn't the fastest but I finished and that's the point. The official results aren't up yet, but I came in around 4:45. It was a little longer than I had hoped, but I had some issues around mile 17 and in the end I can't believe that I did the whole thing.
What did I learn? For starters I learned that the beginner training plan I did is really just that. It's designed to get you across the line without collapsing and that it accomplished. But if I ever want to break 4 hours, I'm going to need to step up the plan and get my weekly mileage higher. The second thing I learned is that 26.2 miles is a distance that can only be experienced. You can prepare yourself mentally all you want, but when the sole hits the road it's just an astounding distance and you never know what your body is going to do to you while you are running it. Would I do it again? Yes, but probably not next year. We'll see I guess.
Stars of the show: seeing Melissa and Elijah, and Sean and Jen at mile 6 and 12 was wonderful, and the thought of seeing them again at the finish got me through some tough miles. The guy who held up the sign at mile 19 that said "Hell, you've come this far, you might as well finish." The little girl at mile 13.5 with the orange segments. All the guys with the hoses at the water stations who would hose us off. And finally, the marine boundary layer which stuck around until just after I crossed the finish line!
Successes: Finishing! Having put band-aids on my nipples, which seems silly when you put them on but after you've seen 3 or 4 guys with blood down the front of their shirts doesn't seem so crazy. Vaseline (I won't go any further into detail).
It was a long build up to the day, but I feel that today I have completed a significant accomplishment in my life. One that no one can take away from me. In the words of John "The Penguin" Bingham "Waddle on, friends."