i suggest you get comfy and plan to be here awhile. as long as it took me to run the damn race, it may be a long and rambling post!
i don’t even know where to begin. the marathon is truly nothing like anything i have ever experienced. i have always heard these famous quotes but they didn’t really mean much to me (now they do!):
“to describe the agony of a marathon to someone who’s never run it is like trying to explain color to someone who was born blind” jerome drayton
“marathoning is like cutting yourself unexpectedly. you dip into the pain so gradually that the damage is done before you are aware of it. unfortunately, when awareness comes, it is excruciating.” john farrington
“if you feel bad at 10 miles, you’re in trouble. if you feel bad at 20 miles you’re normal. if you don’t feel bad at 26 miles, you’re abnormal.” rob de castella
“i was unable to walk for a whole week after that, so much did the race take out of me. but it was the most pleasant exhaustion i have ever known.- emil zatopek
“the marathon is a 10k with a 20 mile warm up”- unknown
these quotes all hold a special place in my heart now. it’s truly the strangest and hardest thing i’ve ever done but also very rewarding.
ok, on to the race re-cap!
saturday night- 5:30 pm- dinner with julie, drew, keith, al and wheeler. i had pasta with a light sauce, a beer, chocolate cake, and lots of water. i’m feeling a little nervous but more anxious to just get it going.
we left dinner and went to the condo to get everything together and make our shirts- it was mine and julie’s birthday so we wrote our names on the front of our shirts and “birthday girl” on the backs- really smart idea, by the way. we got tons of “happy birthday’s” which was lots of fun. i laid out all of my goods for race morning- tights, sports bra, tank, pullover, knee wrap, ipod, fuel belt which consisted of 3 bottles of water and 1 bottle of accelerade, 4 bags of gu chomps (8 servings), inhaler, tissue, chapstick, race bib, shoes with d-ring attached……geez, that has got to be it!
10 pm- off to bed for a decent nights sleep.
sunday, 5 am- RACE DAY!! no crazy nerves yet; a couple of near emotional outbursts but i’m all business and just trying to make sure i’m following my plan.
5:30 am- eating an english muffin with peanut butter and drinking a liter of water. spent some time with the foam roller, wrapped my knee (which means that i have to have help getting my pants on because it’s so hard to get them over the knee wrap without screwing it up!)
6:30 am- out the door and headed to the race site. feeling pretty good. the weather was chilly- i’m guessing upper 40’s or low 50’s and fairly windy but perfect running weather.
6:45 am- dropped off and headed to our corral- #14. i’m feeling a little like i need to pee but i’m certain it’s just race day adrenaline. i’ll just hold it and surely it will go away once we get started. the corral is interesting. we are enjoying the people watching and time seems to go by pretty fast.
7:40 (approximately), the gun blew and off we went! aaaaaahhhhhhh! keith and drew rented bikes so we knew we would see them along the race course, first at mile 1.1- this is a super loopy course so by mile 1.1 we had already had 5 turns (that may not sounds like a lot but IT IS). yay! 1.1 miles down and we see drew and keith. woo hoo! throw our top layers to them and keep going.
no idea about time from here on out so i’ll have to switch over to mileage. also, i’m going to throw in keith’s texts to my sister, allison, throughout the day (they were fun for me to read after the race was over)
2.9 miles- 9 turns later! yay for keith and drew- they found us and are taking lots of pictures. we’re feeling good. i think i heard them tell us we’re going to fast. we’re not though 🙂 by now we’re filling the time with a game of counting “happy birthday’s” which is much more fun than counting steps and the other crazy things you do to make yourself not think about running. at this point, i’m sipping on accelerade and feeling good.
text from keith to allison: “update. saw them at mile 1 and 3. looked good. waiting at mile 7. perfect weather. 55 cloudy, small breeze”
response from allison: “good, when you see them at 7, will you text? was she nervous?”
keiths response: “not really. not as much as she should have been!!!!”
allison: “i can’t believe she’s running over 26 miles….i’m praying”
ok, these are really funny for me to read later. not nervous?!?! you people really thought i wasn’t nervous? maybe i should take up poker!
4 miles- my first gu chomps- 4 (1 serving); good, they’re going down easily and i’m washing them down with water. i will continue to sip water throughout the next several miles- every 5 – 10 minutes i try to take a sip or 2.
7.2 miles- 17 turns later!!! geez people, i’m getting dizzy! there are keith and drew. it’s fun seeing them every couple of miles. we’re feeling pretty good. no idea what our pace is or time. i’m just trying to do what feels good. i have a pace sheet in my fuel belt with all of my splits for each mile but i haven’t even thought to look at it yet. we’re having fun. we’ve had dozens of “happy birthday’s” and even 1 full happy birthday song. i’m still having to pee so my thought that it would just go away was wrong. plus, this stupid fuel belt is pushing on my bladder. maybe it will go away. 4 more gu chomps and water…
text from keith to allison: “looked good at 7. weather still holding off. pray for no rain”
10 miles- 10 turns later. thank goodness the turns are lessening. my right knee is starting to act up a little. it’s not hurting as much as it’s just reminding me that it exists. i still have to pee but i’m so busy counting happy birthday’s that i’m trying not to think about it. we see keith, drew, and al! julie’s foot is hurting so she makes the decision to veer off with the half marathoners so we let our “crew” know we’ll be on 2 different courses soon.
text from keith to allison: “saw them at 10. star looked good. julie having foot pain. think she’s cutting it short at the half. star’s flying solo for the last 16 miles”
allison’s response: “wow”
10.7 miles- half marathon / marathon split. julie and i say our “goodbye’s”, fight back tears, and go our separate ways. so, here’s where i had my first emotional moment. i just couldn’t believe that i had just taken the turn that the marathoners take. i’ve always taken the turn the half marathoners take and thought “oh my god, i could never do that. how are they going to keep going….” and now i’m that person. ok, star, don’t panic. you’ve got this! it was good emotional but it was definitely emotional. i had to fight back a few tears, got a pretty good burst of energy and just kept moving. 4 more gu chomps and a little water. i’m having a harder time drinking because i have to go to the bathroom so bad. i’m a little off schedule but that’s ok. i’m being careful.
so, now i’m on a pretty long stretch heading out of downtown. i had a feeling it would be several miles before i would see keith again. both earbuds go in, music is turned up and off i go. at this point, though, all i can think of is finding a porta potty.
the road i’m on is an out and back so i’m getting to see the marathoners on the other side of the street who are about to finish- i’m at 13 and they’re at 23. they’re looking pretty good. this is the 3:30:00 and 3:45:00 marathon groups. their pace is amazing. don’t get me wrong, they all look like they’re miserable but i’m seeing some serious athletes out there.
13.1- yay, i’m halfway there. what, i’m only halfway there?! this is a weird mile marker. should i be happy or scared that i’m HALFway there? i finally hit my ipod to hear my time- i think it was a 2:34:something- perfect- not too fast and not too slow. i’m exactly where i want to be. maybe 4 minutes slow but i don’t really care. all i care about is finding a bathroom.
15 miles- thank you Lord, there is a porta potty in sight. it’s across the street and i have to cross the marathoners who are on their way back in but i don’t care. off i go. relief! have to re-situate the fuel belt but i’m back on track. what a difference that made! i should have stopped miles ago. that was obviously not adrenaline.
ok, it’s getting harder and harder to remember what happens from here on out. i think i ate some more gu chomps around mile 15. i stopped at a water station and filled up 2 of my empty water bottles. it’s starting to get tough. i’m telling myself that i just have to get to mile 17 because then i can start counting backwards. i want to be in single digits for the miles i have left! my knee is being nice to me. my tibial stress fracture wakes up every now and then but it’s acting as a great supporter. my left hip (the one i was diagnosed with bursitis in about 7 months ago) is the devil on the course. i’m now feeling it with every step but determined not to let it stop me. i keep telling myself that it is nothing that is broken or that can’t be healed with some rehab over the next few weeks. i’ve got this!
17 miles- 9.2 miles to go!!! somehow, that doesn’t sound like much. granted, i’ve always heard the last 6 is harder than the first 20 but at least i can start counting backwards. no sign of keith. i know he’s probably panicking since he hasn’t found me yet. my pace is still great when i’m running but i’m having to walk the hills due to my hip. the pain is getting pretty bad so i’m trying to be gingerly with my footing and careful on the hills. my calves are now starting to cramp up pretty bad. people are all over the course stopping to stretch. i haven’t seen any bad casualties yet but i can tell they’re just around the corner. i know keith has some salt tablets for me so i’m hoping to see him soon. i cannot get dehydrated! i’ve probably burned over 3000 calories at this point and have lost a ton of electrolytes, even though i’m good about fueling.
i’m needing a boost of energy. starting to get a little sad that it’s been so long since i’ve seen keith. i’m running on the left side of the road and up, to the right, i see 3 people standing there with a huge bulldog, cheering people on. i run over like a crazy person, yelling “i have a bulldog and today is her birthday.” (it really was her birthday too!) luckily, they’re bulldog people so they were just as excited to hear it. they asked Georgia’s name and introduced me to Fred. i said i needed a big smooch from Fred for good luck so i took his cheeks in my hands and gave him some lip sugar and on my way i went. that was exactly what i needed! a big, slobbery kiss from a bulldog.
coming up on mile 18 or 19 (not sure) and there’s keith!!! soooo happy to see him. i jog over, stop long enough to take some salt tablets and fill him in on my aches and pains. i’m really getting worried about my hip and calves. i’m remembering how bad my dehydration cramps were in nashville and i just know that i won’t make it if that happens again. at this point, i’m still trying to run but really watch my form. it’s when i start to feel tired or lazy that i REALLY feel my hip. i think seeing keith allowed me the moment i needed to get a little emotional. i’m still holding it together but i can’t help but express my concern.
text from keith to allison: “mile 18. 3:35:00. cramping a little. just had a salt pill. she’s a little panicky but doing well”
i’m dying to see that 20 mile marker!
20 miles!!!! keith rides up beside me. “only a 10k left,” he says. oh really, only a 10k?! ok, maybe i’m starting to get a little cranky here. i am convinced this will never end. i finally got out my pace sheet and i’m surprisingly still on track. how in the hell is that so?!
i’m really starting to suffer and everyone around me appears to be in the same boat. i don’t know if this is good or bad. should EVERY single person look like they’re dying?! all of a sudden, every single thing on my body hurts. my blood hurts. my hair hurts. screw my hip. it’s the least of my concern at this point. i just want to finish. i AM NOT A QUITTER. i’m pulling it all out now. every mantra i can remember. i need it all.
21 miles- ok, 5 to go. i can do this. right?! yes, i can. it sucks but the course support is incredible. as the mileage increases, so does the cheering. everyone is pretty spread out so the supporters can read my name on my shirt. they are yelling for me as i run through the water stations. i eat some more gu chomps but am really starting to fight the nausea. i’ve already seen 2 people off to the side throwing up and i don’t want that to be me! my low back is killing me and i stop to walk but i hear one of the bands yell my name over the microphone. i have to run!
text from keith to allison: “mile 21. 4:16 and looking smooth! fingers crossed.”
allison’s response: “so close”
keith: “it is amazing how much everyone is slowing down. lot of pain out here”
allison: “i’m sure she’s dying. i can’t imagine.”
mile 22- i see keith and he reminds me that this is nothing more than the Cooper Young 4 Miler. i want to cry and am really fighting back tears. i give him my race belt and he massages my low back and legs for a minute or so. some people yell (jokingly) for us to get a room, which lightens the mood a little. ok, i’m going to walk it in, i guess. i literally can NOT make my legs run. nobody around me is running. people may as well have been crawling. i wonder if i should lay down in the road and nap. (maybe i was less “there” than i thought!?) i stop at the next water station and take a full cup of cytomax. i’ve officially decided i can’t handle any more “food” so i’m switching to sports drinks only. no water, only sports drinks.
mile 23- see keith again. stop to talk for a minute. how in the hell can this be so painful? what hurts? i have no idea what hurts. maybe i’m just tired. maybe i’m delirious. this sucks but i’m not a quitter. i’m running. off i go. i’m going to run the last 3.2 miles. i can do that. sounds easy, huh. i’m running. i feel like i’m flying because i’m passing everyone. people are weaving all over the road so i’m just moving in and out. i was probably doing a 14 minute mile- who knows- but it felt great to be running; mentally, not physically. i have every intention of running it in but we take a turn and DAMNIT there’s a freaking hill. i can’t do it. i’ll walk the hill and start running at the flat.
text from keith to allison: “passed mile 23. walking and hurting bad. she didn’t know i was behind her but she has been running solid for almost a mile. passing tons of people. hard core!”
allison: “she’s almost there”
mile 24- right at the top of the hill- perfect! i start running again. i’m sooo tired and cannot find mile 25. where is mile 25? WHERE IS MILE 25?? i have started walking again and am starting to freak out that i feel like it’s been 30 minutes since i was at 24. have i gone into a time warp? keith rides up beside me- “where the hell is 25?”, i ask. he rides up ahead to look for it. he keeps riding and riding. apparently we both missed it. it must’ve been at a water station or somewhere that was kind of chaotic. i see a sign that says “you’re no longer a runner, you’re a marathoner” and i tear up. i think i may be losing my mind.
all of a sudden, i’m running by the side of the alamodome. i see keith and he yells “this is it.” “what, i’m done? i missed 25?! thank God! this is it! i’m about to finish my first marathon!!” so, off i ran.
mile 26- yay! .2 miles to go- 3 or so minutes. i can do this. turn a corner, and see a complete uphill. no way i can run it. i try and my hip is fighting me. i walk the hill as fast as i can and as soon as it flattens out, i run. i see the finish!!!!!
mile 26.2- DONE!
text from keith to allison: “finished. she ran a f*c*ing marathon!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
i have to wind through the finish area before i can get to keith but there he finally is! now come all the emotions! i’m just so tired i just want to sit down. i threw on a pullover, plopped down on the concrete, took my shoes off and laughed at how i just gave myself the worst birthday present ever 😉
so, not the time i wanted but i can’t really beat myself up. i knew, going into this, that i wasn’t as prepared as i wanted to be since i had to take 7 weeks off but i was determined. it took me a little more than 2.5 hours to complete the first half and about 3 hours to complete the second half. oh well. i lost a lot of time on those last 6 miles but i still finished. i’m cool with that. i can happily say, i feel injury free. pain and injury are 2 totally different things. i felt pain i have never felt and am exhausted but i know i’ll be out there running again soon. i’ll be bringing my new found respect for the roads with me when i come.
i highly recommend the marathon for anyone out there. i remember a sign i saw along the way- “pain is temporary but pride is forever.” to understand it, you have to do it! any takers?