I did it. I am a marathoner!
It was surreal, painful, exhilarating, terrifying, and as my running partner put it - "harder than having 3 kids without epidurals - combined."
This post will be just a recap of the day/race, but I will be posting again this week with all of my thoughts, tips and advice on marathon training in general.
The morning of the race I wrote down the names of the people/pets who had 'claimed' some of my marathon miles. Between selling the miles and general donations I was able to raise $822 for the humane society! I honestly think I may be more proud of that then I am actually finishing the marathon. As soon as the money gets into my account I'll be taking my check down to the shelter. I'll try to snap some photos while I'm there, but I'm worried that if I see the cats I'll want to take them all home with me. Before I left the house I went to the bathroom about 6 times. Nerves make me pee. TMI? We got to the start line just in time to take a group shot with our pace groups, wait in line again for the port-a-poos, and then it was ready to line up!
The first half went amazing. I broke ahead from my pace group and averaged about a 10 minute mile. Surprisingly, my foot that I've been having problems with held up fine! Unfortunately, I was still wearing basically new shoes (had 9 miles on them) and my right foot felt like it was on fire from about mile 5 on. I tried not to think about it much and that helped, but it was definitely the worst pain I dealt with on the run.
My incredible parents came out to support me and the first time I ran into them on the course was at mile 11. I turned a corner and saw my Dad, but didn't see my Mom until he yelled to me that I had already passed her. So, this was me looking back and waving at her!Having them there seriously motivated me. Right after I saw them the first time I started counting down the miles until I'd see them again (mile 20.) Around mile 15 I started getting horrible side cramps and became pretty dizzy. I just felt the blood rushing away from my head and my ears started ringing. I slowed down a bit, but was able to hold out and not walk until we reached a hill on mile 17. From that point on I walked about a minute after each mile. From mile 22 on I walked about a minute after every 5! My pace the last 6 miles slowed down to about 11:30.
This was my nutrition plan for the day:
Mile 6 - half a pack of Gu Chomps
Mile 11 - Salted Caramel Gu
Mile 17 - half a pack of Gu Chomps
Mile 22 - Roctane
I ate even when I wasn't feeling like it and I'm glad I did. This next shot is from mile 20 when I started to slow down a bit. Still smiling though! I never hit the wall! I've run into it before on a training run and I think not hitting it on the race is a testament to how well I trained. Looking forward to seeing my parents at mile 20 helped, then by the time I started to feel low again it was mile 22 and at that point I just started to get really excited that I was about to finish a freaking marathon! I knew I wasn't going to make my goal time (4:30) so I just cut myself some slack and did the best I could.
Deciding to raise money for the humane society was one of the best ideas I've ever had. You have no idea how much that kept me going. Just thinking of all the people who donated, and how incredible it's going to feel walking in there with a big 'ol check ... just kept me smiling and chugging along in the end!
The only frustrating part of the race was feeling like I wanted to go faster but my legs just wouldn't cooperate. It was much hotter than I expected and my energy was fading fast. The last mile was a blur. When I turned a corner and saw the straight-away toward the finish line I had to suck it up and just go into auto-pilot. As soon as I crossed I saw Paul, owner of Running Wild (the store I've trained with), giving me a huge smile and reaching out to hug me. That felt pretty surreal. He asked about my foot, and unfortunately the rest is a bit of a blur! I will speak more on this in my marathon advice post, but training with a group was one of the best experiences of my life. This is one of my favorite photos of the day. You can tell Paul is just as happy as I am that I finished!
Medal around my neck made it all official.
After a few minutes of walking around in a daze it finally started to sink in. I was about to cry when I first hugged my parents at the finish line but I was so exhausted if I cried I wouldn't have been able to breathe so I decided to hold back the tears. After the race I immediately inhaled a banana and an oreo (whoever decided to put that in the bag of food I picked up is my new BFF.) When I got home I went straight into an ice bath and then I ate the cinnamon bagel that was left in the bag with a Vega recovery drink. My sweet parents ran to Publix to grab a few things for me and Dad even cleaned up the cat piss on my bathroom floor before they left. Salem's 'congratulations' present.
Walking is a bit difficult. Not so bad that I couldn't sweep and vacuum my house after lunch. I'm anal about dirty floors, and I think the adrenaline hasn't worn off yet. I'm excited to have Monday off from work (my first paid day off!) and the trip to Chicago in 3 weeks (a belated 30th birthday/surviving my marathon gift to myself.) Overall I wish I had done a little better on my time, which was officially 4:44, but I have a feeling this won't be my last marathon! It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I may regret saying that when I get out of bed tomorrow.
I have a lot of halfs on my calendar for the next few months, and I feel triathlons calling my name. Who knows ... if I can buy a bike and learn how to swim there may be a half Ironman in my future for 2014!
Thank you all so much for supporting and encouraging me along this journey. I went from a 5k to a marathon in one year and I don't think I could have stayed motivated if it wasn't for all of you!