I finally did it, I ran my marathon last Saturday! It was surreal leading up to it, I let myself get so busy visiting family and friends that it almost snuck up on me. I think that really helped, because then it didn’t cause me to get too out of control with nerves. The night before meal with my family at a local Italian restaurant was perfect, I held back a bit so I didn’t make myself too bloated and because I had been doing some carb loading slowly through the week so I wasn’t concerned about it. We had a ton of fun at the restaurant, no one can make me laugh like my brother; it was again the perfect release for any jitters.
So I got up at 5 am to eat some fuel, I used some natural hazelnut butter and honey on whole grain bread. The night before I had gathered all of my gear up and only had to fill my Camelbak, drop in my Nuun tablets, and dress. I gave myself plenty of time to walk around and feel alert before I had to drive to my race. Once I got there it was FREEZING! Not really, but to this chick that loves the heat and is used to Vegas it was very cold. I was thankful that they had a school gym we could wait in for a bit before the start of the race and I managed to hit the bathroom line early (score!).
I was starting to get a little nervous and anxious to get going, so I had to get up and move. I chit chatted with a few other racers while stretching and pacing. I was very clearly not the only one nervous and at the same time felt reassured by the veteran marathoners/ultra runners that were there. I figured I might have traveled the farthest, until I saw the Canadian flag on someones shirt, so much for the one award I thought I might get (there wasn’t a traveled farthest, but I could dream).
Notice the ominous looking clouds, for a little bit I actually thought we might avoid the rain, but there was no such luck there. Still the rain did hold out for a bit so I got to enjoy some music for a little while. On top of the marathon there was an 50 mile, 50k, half, and an 8k.
7:30 am- we started, I hung out in the back of the pack, I know my tendency to go out too fast and it’s the number one thing on my mind along with reminding myself not to worry about anyone else, because this is my race and my pace not theirs.
8k– as we pass this point it goes from the black top to the fine crushed gravel. I think to myself how short that distance is and laugh inside. At the same time I had briefly talked to someone that was doing her first race and doing the 8k. She was obviously that fun mix of excited and scared, I am reminded that it’s all about perspective at this point in my running journey. I feel strong and I feel confident, I can’t believe I am finally doing it.
Half marathon turn around (6.55 miles)- As I am approaching it I get passed by a kid sprinting (for me it would be a sprint) I am well aware that he is going to win the half marathon and he is way ahead of the others in his race. At this point it isn’t raining, but it feels like it will very soon. I had to make a pit stop which slowed my pace, but again as long as I finish it’s a PR so I don’t worry much about it. I had met two older men and had been chatting with them about their racing experience. Both were marathon maniacs, one had completed 75 marathons and the other one 25. They were doing the walk/run method and we were going back and forth passing each other. They reminded me that I was not allowed to pass old people at the finish line, I laughed. After the pit stop I they pulled ahead and I met another runner and we paced each other for a bit. I still felt strong and in a bit of denial of how far I had left to go.
13.1– My turn around point was coming and Deborah the girl I was pacing with and I had really passed the time talking about our common love for running. She is a mother of 5 and totally kicked butt on her race. She was a few months older than me and we discussed how this time next year we would be in the next age group. We also laughed at the pace we would have to keep to qualify for Boston, I shared that I doubted it would ever happen for me, but I now have added NYC and Chicago to my bucket list. It started raining on us in between the half turn around and our turn around so it was nice to have someone to talk to. I had used my wireless earphones for the race so I quickly stashed them in my pack as soon as it started to sprinkle. Thankfully my new phone is water resistant and the band is to, so the phone is fine and I admit to a few pictures and texts along the way. Halfway done and as you can see still smiling!
2.5 miles out– I felt like it would never end. I was encouraged by the knowledge that I was close to finishing, but my energy was definitely waning at this point. Just before 2.5 miles out I had allowed myself to walk for probably less than a quarter of a mile. I also passed the guy who said I wasn’t allowed to (oops), he laughed and said, “and there you go” as I went by. As I did it I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to make myself start again so I forced myself to get going again. With that in mind I made myself pick up the pace again. I also had an awesome friend meet me at 2.5 miles out, Sarah from Beauty School drop out who lives in my home town. I have to admit part of why I pushed myself to keep a decent pace is so that I could get to her soon and not have her waiting forever (though after meeting her she is so sweet I doubt she would have minded). My brother was there to wave and cheer me on as well and that was awesome.
1.2 miles left– I swear to you on everything, this was THE LONGEST MILE EVER! I mean it, I felt like this mile was much longer than that, technically it was longer than a mile I know, but I focused on it being just a mile to keep myself going. By the time I crossed the finish line my Garmin said I did 26.76 miles, I like that because that means I did my first ultra, ha! As I got right up to the finish line I sped back up and reminded myself to not slow down until the last mat (remember that if you race, the last one has to record you for the results). Of course I started crying at the end, not overwhelming tears of a break down, but tears of joy, relief, and some disbelief. This is a goal I had wanted to do for so many years of my life. It was a secret goal that I dare not share with anyone, a secret desire. Now it’s an achievement that I am so proud of and ready to tackle again. I love running more than I can express, it’s such a challenge to your mind and body I can’t explain. I’ll even be brave enough now to say that even though I don’t know when, I will meet the challenge of an ultra marathon one day.
Waving to Sarah who’s about to run with me!
My average pace was 11:23/m, fastest was 9:40 (around mile 3), I was 46th overall, 7 out of 12 in my age range with a finish of 4:58:05.65. Since I was figuring on a 5 hour finish I felt pretty good about that. I will do another post to share my post race plans with you to get my muscle mass back and lose some of this increased fat. I want to do this too because the cross training will help increase the chances of a longer running life. Tomorrow I get my 26.2 sticker for my car and soon a new tattoo to celebrate. They say if you run a marathon it will change your life, the training and the race both did that for me. I can’t wait to do it again!! PS my Swirlgear totally kept me warm and dry, being in Vegas I hadn’t had much opportunity to try the water resistant factor, it worked great!
The finish line!
If you are a runner, what is your race distance bucket list or race bucket list?