Well, I did it! I am a marathoner! While I didn’t reach my goal time, I am really happy with my race. Here’s the breakdown.
Prep: The night before, I laid out all my stuff so I wouldn’t have anything to forget in the morning. However, the kids did not cooperate and I got to bed later than I had hoped. I went to bed at 10pm, and was woken up at 3:30am, and was not able to go back to sleep before I had to get up at 4:30. But the best part of the night was all the texts I kept getting from friends wishing me good luck and giving me inspiration, like, “Just remember: It will be easier than giving birth—and you won’t have to take care of a baby afterwards!” Truth.
Clothes: I had picked out a sports bra, compression shorts, compression socks and sleeves the night before to wear. I also took a big risk and decided to wear a technical tank I purchased at the race expo and therefore had never trained in. However, it was by Brooks Running and I trusted that it wouldn’t chafe—I didn’t! The temps were supposed to get into the low 70s by the time I would finish, so I really felt like I needed a tank rather than a tech shirt. Everything else I was wearing was run-tested, so I felt fine taking the risk. I also bought a thin, long-sleeved hoodie at Goodwill the day before in case I needed something to keep warm in pre-race, but I ditched it before the start.
Gear: I had a wrist pouch for my shot blocks. My iPhone and an external battery were hooked up in an armband to ensure my phone didn’t die during the race and I could find my husband in the crowd after. I got both in my StrideBox in the past two months, so those came in handy. I didn’t use music or headphones for the race.
Fuel: I ate a Peanut butter Clif bar as soon as I woke up, and then had a cinnamon raisin bagel. I also drank 16 ounces of water with Ola Loa vitamins mixed in. I had a water bottle with a Nuun supplement and two Nuun Plus mixed in to carry with me, as well as 6 Clif Blocks that I planned to eat during the race, at least every 4 miles.
The Starting Line
This race had nearly 25,000 runners, so there was a crowd. My running partner was with me for the first 7.5, and then she would peel off at the half-marathon turn.
The crowd thinned out fast, and we were able to quit weaving and run our pace. We started off at 8:45s, so I was happy, but I kept speeding up to 8:30s. My running partner was on top of things though and reminded me to slow down. I skipped the early water stops, drinking my Nuun instead.
We passed the 4:10 pacers by mile 3 or 4, but I couldn’t find the 4:00 pacer, which I wanted to find before my running partner split. We hit the race’s main hill, Gorilla Hill, early on and felt strong. There wasn’t much wind or sun yet and it was still pretty cool.
At the split, I was still feeling strong but still hadn’t found my pace group. I inadvertently slowed to 9:30s as I kind of spaced out and got lost in thought, but I refocused and got back on track. The gun time and my watch were 3 minutes off, but I kept forgetting this when I passed the clocks and was trying to do the math to see where I was.
At 13 miles, I saw my husband and daughters, which was a huge boost, and then we were at the section where we would loop around the lake. At mile 15, I caught sight of the 4:00 pace group and tried to keep them in view. Mentally, I predicted halfway and mile 20 would be big milestones. I knew once I cleared the lake I would be at mile 20, and then I was almost done.
However, at mile 19 I started to lose it. The sun had really come out and I was sweating pretty hard. I was on pace but barely, but I wasn’t sure I was going to make it. I was having to remind myself to stay loose every time I felt my thighs getting tight, which seemed like every few minutes. I began walking through my water stops and I just wanted to cry to the volunteers that I couldn’t do it—in this way it was a lot like childbirth! Miles 19 through 23 were the toughest mentally, which of course is why they call them “The Wall.”
I didn’t seem to care at all when I hit 20. I saw my family again at mile 21, and began getting both water and Powerade at the stops, which slowed me down more, but at this point I wasn’t even watching my pace, I just wanted to keep running. At mile 23 I began to perk up. Three more miles. Three was doable. I was able to kick up the pace a tiny bit, and as the miles kept passing, I began to feel like I would actually make it.
The last turn was just a tiny bit shy of a half-mile to the finish line. I turned the corner, and as I came over the rise of the street, the finish came into view and I started sobbing—I didn’t cry tears but I began to breathe in big, relieved gasps. I was just so tired, and there it was. I was able to give a tiny kick just before mile 26, but not much.
I did it! I am a marathoner! My chip time turned out to be 04:04:04, which is pretty memorable. I feel like I ran my best and I was not disappointed at all in my time. I felt proud of my training and so thankful for my husband’s support and the support of my running group who helped get me up and out the door every Saturday morning for months of long runs.
And, I’m already thinking about my next marathon.