Dear Runner Lovers,

I have to tell you all about my marathon experience! I still cannot believe that I finished.  This was the most difficult and gorgeous marathon I have ever run. 

Honestly, I did not anticipate the degree of mountainous elevation changes in this race.  No amount of typical hill repeats could have prepared me for this. Once I started running a few miles, I became very intimidated by the level of difficulty on this course and a little dubious about finishing.  I took a deep breath and went through all my layers of goals, down to the #1 goal of finishing. I wanted that medal! Running for something bigger than yourself is very motivating.  Running for St. Jude seriously pushed me to the finish line. 

In my moment of panic, actually crying, I needed to put my time goals aside because these hills were just too ginormous and out of my comfort zone for a 26.2 mile run.  Ultimately, I made the decision to enjoy the absolutely gorgeous landscape, embrace this once in a lifetime opportunity to run all of Mount Desert Island in the peak fall season, run for St. Jude, and keep my realistic goal of finishing with a smile on my face.  

So after all that panic happened at mile six, I ate one of my five blueberry/pomegranate GU and started to enjoy the Mount Desert Island.  That sugar/caffeine hit significantly helped, the flavor made me smile. 

Look at these hills!  I still have no idea how I did this entire marathon....

The perfect amount of people were running.  I never felt too far away from the pack or too clustered.  One great thing about running marathons is that I always meet very interesting people along the course.  There were runners from all over the country and world, which was very cool.  I met a lawyer, running couples, girls running for St. Jude too, different clubs, people in costumes/ tutus, boys, and all sorts of runners from all over.  Marathons are awesome for finding your inner social butterfly. 

I really loved running right along the water looking over Seal Harbor, and the Cranberry Isles.  This was at about mile ten! In the water, there were a group of guys out on their ship cheering everyone on; with the ship horn and bell, waving huge. The view was so gorgeous with all the fall foliage reflecting on the water that looked like glass.  Coolest experience ever.

Those rugged Maine rocks along the coast are beautiful to run along.  Cliffs are too cool.  The paths are so awesome, there was pink granite! Pink is my favorite color.  About half-way through the marathon we were running the Atlantic coast.  My mind is still blown by the incredible views!

From the half-way point on, it was really all uphill!  That is literally not an exaggeration.  At mile 18, St. Jude had the most spectacular cheer station ever.  They actually painted the St. Jude icon all over, there were red balloons, a huge support crew, and DJ.  The DJ announced my name, and high fived me!  I felt like a celebrity, high fiving everyone, listening to so many people cheering and shouting my name.  Wow!!  I will always remember that moment, best mile 18 ever.

My parents were with my grandmother taking all these pictures of me!  Hahah, its hard to model for my parents 20 miles into a race!  I suppose everyone feels in the same boat, regarding marathon pictures.  The camera pressure makes me really focus on my stride, keep springing!

At mile 20/21, I looked at the woman running next to me and said, " How are we running up this ginormous hill this far into our marathon?!"  We laughed and a little, and kept making our way up the ascent to mile 25!  Running up a mountain is a good way to make new friends, its a special kind of bond.  The important thing is we made it all the way up.  Once I could see the Acadia National Park sign, I felt so relieved because I knew exactly where we were.  The idea of the finish-line being right around the corner felt awesome.  I never ran up a five mile hill before... So proud of all us runners!

My mom was on a sidewalk corner with her camera, so excited to see me.  I smiled and waved.  Those final .2 miles felt like pure exhilaration, I had a little kick at the end going towards that finish line.  I crossed the finish line, smiling bigger than ever before in my life.  A very sweet volunteer said, "Good job Madeleine!" placed the gorgeous gold lobster claw medal on my neck, and it felt so so so AMAZING.  All of my hard work was worth it. 

Finishing the Mount Desert Island Marathon felt like the biggest accomplishment of my life, even though it was not a PR.  The challenge of finishing this 26.2 was immense, but the feeling afterwards was pure joy.  Being there and taking in the mountainous fall views was just an incredible once in a lifetime experience.  It is outstanding, what the human body is capable of accomplishing.  I am still very surprised I could run up all those hills! WOW!  

My dad found me at the finish line, with water and chocolate milk.  We had a little photoshoot and made our way back to the car with mom and gramma a mile away.  We went out for lunch at this adorable restaurant in Bar Harbor.  The owner noticed my medal and really wanted to meet me.  She said that so many people drop out of the marathon and it is impressive to finish.  That made me feel good, to be congratulated.  My sautéed lobster roll was very delicious and just what I needed after all that running.

The drive home was gorgeous through all those mountains in the peak of fall!

Happy Running,

That Pretty Runner