Saturday, October 16, 2010
I am a MARATHONER!
I can barely believe I ran 26.2 miles this morning! It was truly an amazing experience.
5:00 am - Wake up call - wanted to sleep until 515 but once I woke up I was up! The nerves and excitement kicked in.
6:20 Headed downtown to pick up Carolyn. We blasted some inspirational music in the car and I was surprised I wasn't as nervous as expected. I truly never got that absolutely terrified feeling that I was expecting.
6:45 We walked from Carolyn's to Sliders - about a mile and a half walk for our warm up!
7:15 Got to Sliders where my marathon training group was all waiting together for the race to begin. We took some pictures and before we knew it it was time to begin!
8:00 MARATHON time! A group of four of us originally planned to run together: me, Carolyn, Katharine, and Mike. I was really excited to cross the start line and finally be doing what all those months of training were for! I didn't see my family at the start (although they saw me). Katharine went ahead almost right away, she was feeling good and wanted to PR (which she did by a ton!).
Mike went with Katharine at the beginning so it was just Carolyn and I. We chatted a bit miles 1-5 and then we saw Mike and Katharine waiting for the bathroom. They caught up to us about mile 6, Katharine went ahead and Mike joined us. I was feeling pretty good this whole time. I was a tiny bit nervous because my knee felt a bit weak, but that either went away or it just became part of the rest of the pain later on? Our biggest problem at this point was we were going too fast! I heard so many horror stories about going out too fast and I was determined it wouldn't happen to me. But, in retrospect, I could have definitely run fast in the early miles. Oh well - now it's the goal for next time! The miles didn't seem to be flying by or anything like has happened in other races but things were still going well. I knew I was seeing my family at mile 9 so I was really excited for that. I texted them at mile 6 "nile 6 beed tissues" - guess that's why you don't text while running! We were all feeling good and happy going back downhill towards the harbor. I was also excited for the huge crowds I knew would be there.
Miles 6-9: Pretty uneventful, although Carolyn and I sung Baby Got Back and later on Don't Stop Believing - a bunch of runners joined in for that one! But, then we all realized we only knew the chorus, so that died out. Who needs an ipod???
At mile 9 I saw my dad first and then Mom, Vince and Eric right after. Nothing could have prepared me for how excited I would be! Seeing people cheering for you is a HUGE boost, so much more than I would have thought. It means so much to me that they came and cheered and really helped me make it through the race.
It was almost time for the half to start at this point so Casi and Darcy should have been there. I knew Casi had her phone so I texted her to ask where she was and she texted back "Lee Street" - I looked up and saw we were about to pass under Lee and then there they were! The four of us girls screamed like we had just won the lottery and hugged and wished each other good luck before we headed off to Fed Hill. Lots of crowd support there made it fun and we saw Carolyn's husband John outside their apartment cheering for us - again super excited! We did the Fed Hill loop then stopped at Carolyn's apartment to pee! No porta potties were needed the whole race! We spent about ten minutes in the lobby taking turns using the bathroom, pretty sure the doorgirl thought it was hilarious. I accidently called my mom at this point (I held my phone the entire race!) so we chatted and I told her we were almost back to the harbor. John joined us at this point to run a mile to his office. He was totally in to being a marathoner so it was pretty hilarious. At the harbor I saw Sam, a teacher at my school, and once again reacted with a completely unnecessary amount of joy. At this point I needed to make a quick decision whether or not to keep my camelbak or hand it off to my mom, this was the last time I would see them before the finish! I realized it was starting to chafe me and also almost empty, so I chugged what was left, whipped out my ipod (also a split second decision to keep it with me, thank god I did!) and gels, and switched it for a disposable water bottle Vince was nice enough to bring for me.
I gave Eric one last kiss. It was a little sad at this point knowing it was the last time I'd have my cheering section, so I focused on seeing the half marathoners at mile 16 and hoping I'd see Casi and Darcy.
Miles 13-15 We were also now running through fell's point, our old neighborhood....oooh the memories. It was fun because it was a route I'd done a million times when I'd lived there. I used to always come out and watch the marathoners and think I'd never be one of them - now I finally was! At mile 15 Mike said he was feeling rough so we should go on without him. We said a sad goodbye and told him we'd see him at the finish. At mile 16, the half marathoners joined us but there was mostly walkers by that time! I knew we probably wouldn't see Casi and Darcy or anyone else. The walkers turned out to be super annoying, they were everywhere taking up the whole road and we had to constantly run around and dodge them for the next ten miles.
Mile 16 goes past Patterson Park and up towards Lake Montebello, and I had been a little nervous about the big hill. It wasn't as bad as I thought though, and we saw Carolyn's friend who was running the relay just before Mile 19. They took our picture with the mile marker, then it was truly just us!
Carolyn asked me why I wasn't complaining about anything hurting, and if I truly wasn't in any pain. Um, I wish! I am just a serious believer in the strength of denial. I told her I was definitely in some pain but trying to ignore it! Still, it wasn't excruciating or like every step hurt or anything, which I have also heard from marathoners. It was more just like achy. I had a feeling I would really feel it when we finally stopped at the finish, but if I just kept going during the race I could pretty much ignore it.
We were basically done with conversation at this time and agreed to put in some music and try to just zone out with our thoughts a bit. Someone I ran into that I knew at the expo told me just to make it to Lake Montebello, around mile 20, and then you knew you could finish. I had that in mind, as well as the excitement of running past mile 20. After 20 miles, every step would be a new distance record. We celebrated that together and it was a boost. Carolyn also pointed out there was only a 10K left, and we remembered running a 10K in college together when it seemed like such a long distance. Now we were running one after already doing 20 miles!
I also knew it was time to start my mile dedications then so that was one more thing to focus on. Between 20 and 21, as we ran around the lake, there was an aid station with a medical tent. I saw people with bandaids or something so I ran up and frantically asked "Do you have vaseline?" When they said yes it was another "I just won the lottery" moment. I whipped up my running skort and started smearing it between my legs where some serious chafing was going on. Yes, running a marathon turns you into a person with no shame, especially when you have almost none to begin with. I was still carrying my cell phone and tissues in a plastic baggie, which was now covered with vaseline. Awesome. Despite all this, I was still feeling fairly strong. As we were running around the lake I remembered being here last year as a half marathoner, seeing the mile 20 and 21 sign and thinking I could never imagine running that far. It was a great feeling knowing that now I had. I guess mile 20 was significant for a LOT of reasons?
Yet another hill! This mile was dedicated to Darcy so I thought of her out there running the half and how excited I'd be to see her at the finish. I was getting really nervous about hitting the infamous "wall" that runners always talk about, especially since my camelbak and water bottle were long gone and I was only relying on the aid stations for water. There was barely anyone cheering at this point and Carolyn turned to me and said "this is where we need the crowd support!". SO TRUE! I tried to get into my music and just pretend this was any other run, and picture where I would be in my neighborhood if I was going on a five mile run.
I texted my family "Mile 22, tired but good" so they would have an idea when to head to the finish. People said I was crazy for bringing my phone, and I can't believe I carried it in my hand for 20 miles, but it truly didn't bother me! Plus having the tissues in the baggie came in handy. I'm glad I was able to text so that I was sure to see my family and I didn't miss them like I did at the start. I was seriously tired at this point, and the music was not motivating me like it normally does, but I was still able to run strong and the music was a distraction. 4 miles still seemed FAR though!
Mile 23 - 24
When we got to the 10 mile mark for the half marathoners, (.1 past the mile 23 sign), knowing there was only a 5K left was a huge mental boost. Although, that mile seemed really long, like so long I was positive that the mile 24 sign had blown away in the wind. (My garmin was all messed up because of all the weaving were doing around the walkers, and our little detour to Carolyn's). Sadly, it hadn't. Mile 24 was across a bridge back into the downtown area which is pretty. Some random people were giving out water (not an official stop) so I asked for a bottle and they handed me a shotglass of beer! Um, no thanks, I'm in the middle of a marathon. They gave me a bottle though, which helped with the last two miles. Mentally I was feeling pretty good, we were seeing a few more cheering spectators and knowing I was so close to the end was great. My body was so tired and sore but I guess it just felt like status quo now?
This was the marker I had been waiting for - I had heard you could see the finish from there and it was true! Not the actual finish line but the stadiums at least. This was because it was at the top of the hill and it was time to start heading down - yay! This was the only aid stop we skipped, we basically looked at each other and agreed we just wanted to finish this! Plus if I stopped to walk and drink water, I wasn't sure I could start again. "Stronger" by Britney Spears (the glee version) came on and I loved it because of the line "Now it's nothing but a mile away" - so perfect! We actually got a little teary eyed at this point knowing we were about to finish.
We had walked by this marker while walking to the start and seeing it from the other end felt so good! I just couldn't believe it was finally time to finish. Carolyn said she was going to try to push it to the end, I told her to go ahead, I didn't think I could move any faster. But when I saw her back I really wanted to finish with her so somehow I sprinted up next to her - really thought I was going to die here - but isn't that how all races are supposed to be finished?I am told that Eric and my dad saw us running to the finish, and Eric was also holding up my huge sign with my name on it! I feel so bad that I didn't see them but I honestly was using every ounce of energy to get across the finish line with Carolyn and didn't see anyone or anything but the finish line. I have been through that finish line twice now and couldn't tell you a thing about what it looks like - there could have been an elephant in the crowd and I would have had no idea. Carolyn and I grabbed each others' hands just before crossing and threw them up as we did - WOW! As soon as a volunteer handed me my medal I put it on and just felt so thrilled, proud, and exhilarated. After months of training and hours of running, I can't even describe how excited I was to be wearing that medal.
After the marathon, we got in line for food (which was a bit sub-par compared to last year) and then wandered around in total confusion trying to find beer tickets, my second medal (I got two for doing two races in the same series) and our families. Beer tickets were mysteriously missing, but I did find my other medal and our families. I also grabbed a stranger's shoulder in line for the second medal and informed him I was using him to hold on to while I stretched. (In my defense, he had done the half and looked very fit, so I figured he could handle it. He was also really attractive. Just saying.) We met up with the cheering section, hugged, took pictures, and stretched while trying to hear about Casi and Darcy's half. Complete mental fog at this point - no one warned me how STUPID you become after running a marathon! My legs were hurting pretty bad, but again, not excruciating or unbearable (and I have the world's lowest pain tolerance). Maybe like a 4 on a scale of 1-10? With 10 being a charley horse?
We walked back to Sliders to meet up with the group. After giving some excited hugs I was pretty much done. I had only had one bottle of water since the race, and all the free food they had talked about was meat. I had a slider bun with a tomato slide on it, but let's face it, that plus a banana after 26.2 miles wasn't doing it. We had to try to figure out how to get to all the cars, get them home, what to eat, etc and I was so mentally exhausted I just couldn't handle it. Finally, the boys headed to Carolyn's (another 1.5 mile walk) to get the car, and we decided to start walking and meet them halfway or whatever. We walked down the narrow staircase of the bar backwards at glacial speed and the whole bottom floor started cheering when we finally got to the bottom! Totally hadn't realized they were even watching - it must have looked hilarious. We ended up walking almost the whole way to Carolyn's, probably about a mile. My garmin says we ran 26.82 miles for the race, plus another 2.5 miles to and from, so we covered nearly 30 miles on foot!
I honestly thought I would enjoy the rest of the day more, but I was just so tired and sore! I was still happy and had that great feeling of accomplishment, but doing things like getting a glass of water and going to the bathroom were extremely difficult. I fell asleep on the couch by 9pm and told Eric to carry me to the bedroom!
My overall thoughts are:
I really enjoyed the training and felt very mentally and physically prepared
I think I could have ran the first half faster, and plan to in the future
The race itself was great and having my family there cheering for me (and my sister running!) made it JUST TOO PERFECT. I truly appreciate all the support from my family - driving 400 miles, getting up at the crack of dawn to stand outside and hold up a sign
just to see me run by for a few seconds! I loved training with my fantastic training partners and getting to run the race and finish it with Carolyn was so much fun - thanks for keeping me going! I'm so happy we did this together!
It was an amazing experience and I can't wait to do it again!