Official time 4:14:31, third in my age group!
When Kara offered me a free entry to the Lower Potomac Marathon, I was disappointed that she'd be volunteering and spectating, not running the race with me like at Baltimore or MCM. It turned out to be a fantastic turn of events.
I arrived at Kara's for a slumber party with her and Emily on Saturday night. She took care of my carb - loading needs by making delicious pizza on her fabulous homemade dough, and generously cutting me the piece with the most frosting from this celebratory cake.
|When a good friend breaks up with someone who doesn't deserve her, cake is in order.|
We then got to work on the race signs.
Kara informed us that we needed to be ready to leave at 5:40am, and set up the coffee pot for me so all I had to do was turn it on in the morning. Not having to worry about race day logistics? Just getting dressed, coming downstairs and turning the coffee pot on? Heaven.
|I'm working really hard on being a healthy living blogger. Kara is trying for the weirdest pre-race breakfast award.|
I forgot my gloves the next morning when we left for the race, and considering I had to scrape frost off my car before leaving, that was a problem. Luckily, Perry, my good friend who was also tortured in the Stone Mill 50 miler, had an extra pair in his car.
We killed two birds with one stone when we went out to get it, and carried the clocks for the start/finish line out with us. That really drove home just how different this marathon would be than any I'd ran before.
Being at a race so small that runners help set up the start line is not a bad thing at all though. We parked right at the start, had a nice, warm school to wait in, and tons of real, clean bathrooms with no line.
After sitting in a nice, comfy chair to enjoy my bagel while Kara and Emily worked the registration table, I was ready to seek out other runners to freak out with. I found Ashley in the lobby of the School of Seamanship (how awesome is that name) and we got to briefly panic together in between bathroom trips.
|I stopped worrying and got my game face on just in time.|
We got to wait in the warmth until just about a minute before start. Kara introduced me to her neighbor, Kim, who was running her first marathon, and we were off.
I had three goals during this race:
- Don't pee
- Don't completely go insane from lack of music and talking to myself
- Have fun
Here's some decisions I ended up regretting during this race:
- Trying Peanut Butter Gu - thanks to my friend Mike for bringing this to me, but it was disgusting. Tasted great, felt like paste in my mouth.
- Giving Kara and Emily my phone. I thought it was great that I could hand them all my crap that I didn't want right before the start. I was wrong. I found some surprises on Twitter after I finished.
She said she kept my Facebook status appropriate because she didn't know if I was friends with my mom or anything. I guess my family is more technologically advanced than most because my mother, father, and stepfather follow me on Twitter. At least my grandma isn't on there yet.
Anyway, the race director purposely planned the race start to coincide with the sunrise. We were heading toward St. George Island, so we got to watch the sun come up over the Potomac. The first 11 or so miles of the race on the island were beautiful. The whole time I was getting to know Kim, and chatting was making the race go by pretty quickly. Kara and Emily were out cheering for us with is always an exciting little boost.
|Why does my "running a marathon" look suspiciously like "standing on one foot" so often?|
|One of my best marathon pictures ever, meaning I look something like a normal human being.|
|And we're back to the usual look.|
After the first 11 miles, we headed out on the highway. Running with Kim was great since not only I had someone to talk to, but she also was an expert on the course. Apparently after we exited the island, it was just a straight out and back. I was pretty worried about this section being boring as hell (since that's what I'd heard). It actually wasn't too bad. I'm so used to running on the sidewalk next to honking cars, fast food joints, and trash cans, so running through farmland and wide open areas was a nice change of pace. Plus, the beautiful day.
At the halfway point, the clock said 2:04. At first I dismissed it as "just the clock time" but then I realized that since there were no chips, that WAS my time. I got pretty discouraged since I could feel myself slowing down a bit, and started thinking I was going to have a terrible time.
Mile 15 I hit the dreaded low point - in pain, exhausted, and thinking "11 more miles of this? REALLY?". We also started hitting the hilly section here, so miles 15-20 were the slowest ones of the race. Around 17 I decided to go back to my original goal of just enjoying the race and decided - who cares what my time is? It wasn't like I was anywhere near a PR, and trying to kill myself to get a better time in this marathon wasn't exactly going to do my Half Ironman training any favors. I really didn't want another MCM experience either, where I basically hated every second of the race (I'm prepared to do that for a PR, but not for a random marathon I'm just doing because it was free).
|Not to worry, I retained my ability to run with my eyes closed.|
Around 17 Kim confessed that she was starting to struggle so I tried to focus on cheering her up by telling her random dumb stories about myself. I knew Kara and Emily were waiting at mile 20 to jump in and finish with us, so in my mind I just had to make it to mile 20 anyway.
We turned around at something like mile 18 or 19 and started to head back toward the finish line.
|Oops - didn't go around the cone, I'm a total cheater.|
In the last mile a girl asked if she could run with us since she was totally struggling. It turns out she was 16 and running her first marathon! That's dedication. My sole focus when I was 16 was getting a driver's license and talking on the phone. She wasn't even the youngest finisher at this race - a 14 year old boy finished in like 4:23.
I finished this marathon about 18 minutes slower than Myrtle Beach and it's amazing how much difference those 18 minutes made. I crossed the finish line of LPM feeling spent, but not like death warmed over. I could barely step up onto a curb after Myrtle Beach, but I was able to go up and down Kara's stairs to shower with no problems yesterday.
I'm not thrilled with my time from yesterday's race, but I met all my goals, and had a great time and managed to enjoy most of the race. Plus, I finished a marathon without music, something I thought I'd never do (although I had people to talk to the whole time). I ran the Shamrock Marathon in 4:17 (a completely flat race) and was utterly shocked by my time, because it was so much faster than expected. That was less than a year ago, and now I'm able to run a hillier marathon in 4:14 (3 weeks after another marathon) and for the most part feel like I was taking it easy.
There was a lot of talk about the tough hills in the second half of this race. I had to ask Kara if we were actually on those "tough hills". Total elevation gain for this race was 2,952 ft, which is a lot, but it really didn't feel terribly hilly compared to my neighborhood.
It's crazy to say that I've completed 6 marathons now!
This race had a fancy hot luncheon at the school. Way better than waiting in line for an airplane sized bag of pretzels and a third of a banana.
Winning an age group of mine has been a bucket list goal of mine for forever, and I never thought it would happen in a marathon, much less a marathon where I didn't even feel like I put forth race effort! Pretty exciting though.
Today my legs feel tough workout sore, not marathon level sore. I can get up and sit down fine, which is a big deal.
Overall, the Lower Potomac marathon is a great race. It was well organized, had a lot of great amenities, and was run by friendly volunteers. Even though I made it through though, I just can't get on board with prohibiting iPods. That's just sadistic to me.