Well hot damn, we did it.
I knew we’d do it, but I had no idea how well we’d finish.
It was hot, guys. I mean, hot. A beautiful day by anyone’s standards, but when you’re running 26.2 miles and there’s not a cloud in the sky? Um, yah. Not so much.
The morning started at 4:45 where I woke up to a dream where Eric Estrada made a cameo. And by 5:15, we were ready to rock ‘n roll.
We drove downtown, along with an out of town friend of my Mom’s and we parked at PPG place where Matt works.
We did what any marathoner would do. Took the elevator to the 28th floor and used the facilities of his office.
I’m not waiting in a line for a porta-potty along with thousands of other fellow Pittsburghers when I can free up a spot and use a bathroom that has running water.
So, we watched the sun rise and stretched and did what normal pre-race participants would do, except 28 floors up.
I got my game face on.
I drank some nasty Gatorade pre race fuel.
And then we meandered to the start line.
We smiled again for the camera, anxious, but relatively calmed for what was about to happen.
We read the backs of peoples’ shirts.
We took a video of the anticipation.
Then the gun went off, and 18 minutes later, we crossed the start mat and got on our way.
The first few miles were so congested. There was no where to pass or move or breathe. There were bands, there was cheering, there was chaos. It was awesome.
Oh, and there was a guy in a Flyers shirt, which Matt promptly booed. Loudly. As in, loud enough that he responded. Win for Matt.
Facebook updated my page, letting everyone know that we finished the 10K time:
We went across the West End Bridge and high fived every dang person we could. We shouted to the crowd to cheer louder. We commented on signs we saw. We were cheeky.
Matt would turn to me and say: Hey! Is this your first marathon? and I would respond with, “Why yes! YES IT IS.”
Several people commented behind us saying, “That couple is hilarious.”
Because, guys, let’s face it, we were.
Of the signs I saw, two were my favorite:
One said, “You’ve trained longer than Kim Kardashian was married.”
And the other said, “We spent millions making the North Shore connector – why are you running?”
My best friend Ian and long time friend Liz were waiting for us on the South Side with huge smiles. They were high fives number 86 and 87.
Then we really felt like dying when we ran up the monster hill into Oakland. But make it we did, and we drank all the GU gel and gatorade humanly possible and picked it up considerably.
Then facebook updated for my half pace:
We felt really good, a little tired, but mentally strong.
At Shadyside, someone was playing the band fun. to which I responded, “You guys are playing fun. and WE’RE HAVING FUN! Good call!”
Matt asked to get sprayed with a garden hose by a random homeowner who was watering her flowers. She happily obliged and it was one of his favorite parts of the whole race.
Then, guys, we entered Homewood. THAT, my friends, is why the marathon takes you there. See, Homewood isn’t the nicest of neighborhoods. I wouldn’t drive through it at night and I certainly wouldn’t drive through it during the day with my doors unlocked, but oh wow. It was freaking awesome. There was just so much love and pride I was overwhelmed. Forgetting the fact that we saw multiple people throwing up and almost passing out, it was my favorite part. It was like a giant block party. There was music playing, people dancing, drinks being drank and guys with jugs full of water, asking who wants to get hosed down.
Matt and I, of course, and we got covered in some nice, cold water.
At mile 19, I stopped and danced with a lady to Funky Cold Medina.
We shouted to the spectators to cheer louder. Some of my catch phrases included Chuck Norris, Allstate Insurance and “We work hard, so you don’t have to….SO CHEER LOUDER.”
I got many, ‘YOU GO GIRL!’ and I did more thumbs up, fist bumps, raise the roof and horns than I care to count.
All total, I got 99 high fives.
Yup, I totally counted.
Every fluid station we took gatorade for our mouths and water for our heads.
It was SO. HOT.
Under every overpass, Matt would yell a quick, “Whoop!” Even at mile 24 where he wasn’t feeling too whoop-like.
At mile 20, Facebook updated me again.
We felt good, but grew a little quieter. We knew we had another 10K to go, but we knew that in another 2 miles, it’d be downhill from there.
Little did I know, that the downhill would be my downfall.
Enter the painful quads.
I don’t know how many people have said to me, “Wow, with how much you spin, you’d think that’d be the least of your concerns.”
But honestly? I lifted my legs to keep them moving. No wonder they hurt.
Mile 24 was when the true pain set it. We met up with a fellow gym goer, Ron, and all three of us stuck together to the finish.
Mile 24 was when I knew it was now or never. I even quoted Yoda, “Do or do not, there is no try.”
Even with the pain and fatigue, we didn’t stop having fun.
I still cheered and made a general fool of myself, and then we came to the final turn.
I never said a marathon would be easy, but I had so much fun.
That’s when we saw the finish line up ahead. And that’s when I heard a loud, ‘CASSIE!!!! I’M SO PROUD OF YOU!” from my mom, who was bawling and I couldn’t have been more proud. I blew her kisses and came near tears, but the crowd to the finish line was pretty sad so Ron and I started making gestures to get the crowd to make some noise. We put our hands to our ears like Hulk Hogan does and started yelling “WE JUST RAN 26 MILES, CHEER FOR US!”
And cheer they did, people. I mean, it got loud. If you watch the video here:
When the time clock says 4:59:00 you’ll hear the crowd get pretty loud. You’re welcome. 30 seconds later, we come through the finish. Matt and I held hands across the finish. (4:30 you see us off to the right, both wearing green shirts.)
Never once did I say, “I can’t.”
Never once did I get frustrated or feel defeated.
Never once did I think it wasn’t going to happen.
And Facebook, that saucy girl, posted our finish time:
Matt and I’s catch phrase to each other throughout the marathon was:
Matt: Me and you.
Me: You and me.
Matt: To the end.
And, baby, I would run forever with you – to the end.
With 99 high fives and a time of 4:41:03, I, Cassandre Conti am a marathoner.
I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world.