I did it, I ran my first marathon. The stats are…1703 out of 2865 participants, 108th in my age group, average pace 9:51 and finish time of 4:18:25. There was a lot more to those 26.2 miles than what those numbers reflect though. I’ll try to narrow down my thoughts from start to finish.
Race day started with my best friend (yes I’m referring to my awesome husband), getting up early with me. He kept adding layer upon layer of clothes, packed a backpack of spare clothes, gloves, raincoat, etc. Then loaded his bike in the car and off we went. He’s my biggest cheerleader and the one fan I want to see at the end of any race.
It was cold, in the low 30’s. Which overall is good race weather, the forecast had 30% chance of rain, but I wasn’t really concerned because no matter what it showed, I would be running. The race start was packed and I couldn’t make my way up to the pace group (9:33) I wanted to run with. So I settled to start a little farther back, I think I was around the 10+ pace group. The gun went off and it took me about 4-5 minutes to reach the start line. I started out feeling good, tons of spectators to encourage. Saw hubs 2-3 times in those first 3 miles, it was great. Since I was chasing the pace group, my first mile was too fast, 8:35. Then I continued the chase and was at 9:11 for mile 2, this started to concern me because everything I’d read said start slow, don’t ruin your race by going out too strong. I got with the pace group around mile 3 and they were running a little fast, in the 9:20’s instead of 9:30’s. I know 10 second doesn’t sound like much, but for 26.2 it adds up.
The first mile was so long! The next few went by quickly and then the half and full marathon split at mile 7, I remember thinking it was separating the full crazies from the half crazies. I spent a decent amount of time praying and another chunk of time looking around and thinking, “WHERE AM I?!?” Apparently, I need to get out of the Carmel/Westfield area because there were many times I had no idea where I was. I hit the halfway mark of 13.1 in Broadripple and was at 2:04, I felt really good about this since it meant I was right on to hit my goal for the day. I was taking water every 3 miles at the aid stations (I know that’s not enough and yes I need to work on my hydration while running). I took one power gel an hour in and then a 2nd at 2 hours. I had a third on my race belt and had planned to take that at 3 hours in, but around mile 16 I got hungry. The gel did not sound good, I wanted something to eat, so I started thinking about mile 18. They set up a runners buffet at mile 18 that has gel, blocks, pretzels, bananas, snickers and I’m sure there was other stuff there, but all I could think about were the snickers. I spent 2 miles thinking about a fun size snickers. My hunger grew and so did my fantasizing about said snickers bar. I finally made it to mile 18 and stopped to walk while taking a drink of water and grab 2 glorious snickers bars. I tucked one bar in the palm of my glove and started right back running and eating that fun size candy bar like a rabbit. I was taking very small nibbles from it, almost testing it to make sure it would agree with my stomach. In no part during my training did I use a snickers as fuel, so this was going to be an experiment. I thought it would either be a great idea, or I would be walking the last 8 miles of the day due to abdominal cramping. Well, it turned out to be a great idea! It gave me a rush of sugar and I ran the next mile back on my goal pace again. I had long since lost my pace group. I remember seeing them pull farther and farther away and thinking they must be running faster because I have not slowed down! I passed mile 18 and 19 with the help of that candy bar and was relieved thinking I had not hit a wall yet, I was still anxious about hitting that wall around mile 20. Miles 20-23 were lonely. It’s a desolate part of the course, not many spectators and boy was it silent. Many runners were not feeling good at this point and had stopped talking and smiling and were just focused on putting one foot in front of the other without cramping. Around mile 23 we turned down Meridian and just before I crossed the bridge, I see my wonderful hubs waving to me. I was sooo thiristy at this point, my tank was dry! I stopped to get a hug and kiss and steal a drink of his water. He rode his bike alongside me for the next couple miles which was a great distraction.
The best part of the race was not the finish, but the last mile. Before hubs peeled off to meet me at the finish, I jokingly said to him, ‘does this race ever end?’ There were 2 women running near me at the time and one of them said, ‘this is the time you soak up because you may never do this again.’ WOW. What profound words to come from a stranger at mile 25 that I so needed to hear. Her words slapped me in the face and I totally soaked up that last mile. I was sprinting to the finish with a big smile on my face, waving to my friends who had come down to support me and cheer me on. I appreciated the moment, my moment, and I no longer longed for the finish line. I let that last 1.2 miles just soak in and it was pure awesomeness. Oh and my ‘sprinting’ at the end, I would have sworn I was running an 8 something minute mile, I just knew I was flying…umm turns out it was more like a 10:05, it sure felt fast though.
About a minute after I finished, a downpour broke open. It sprinkled some during the race and it sleeted twice. I think it was around mile 20ish that it sleeted pretty significantly. I didn’t mind it while running because it was a distraction, something else to focus on for a bit. I actually thought more about my poor husband riding his bike and freezing in the sleet. I mean I was running so I wasn’t cold, but he was just spectating, so that would be chilly. The rain that started at the end was pretty heavy though. I stopped running, got my medal, tried to get a bottle of water and it just started raining. I grabbed a wet bagel and went for cover with hubs and our friends. The ran didn’t last long, but boy did my heart and prayers go out to those on the course. Many people were either walking or doing a combo run/walk and with that amount of rain, they were now wet and walking in 30 degree temps, not ideal conditions.
It was about 20 minutes after I stopped running that a chill set in. I ate my bagel, chugged some water, talked and layered on some clothes. By the time we checked my official finish time (which I could not believe was 4:18, I so thought I was going to get 4:15), my hands were shaking and wouldn’t stop, so we decided to head home. In the car, I had one of Mia’s spare blankets wrapped around my legs, the heat on full blast on my side of car and was still cold. Hubs suggested I take my wet shirt off and he gave me his sweatshirt and that felt so much better! I got a hot shower at home, followed by a warm cup of coffee. I spent the rest of the day tired. I really wanted a nap, but the timing just didn’t work in our day, so I powered through. I was fairly useless in my parenting, leaving most of the work up to Jason. I finished the day recovering with some Pizza King, a glass of Moscato, and snoring on the couch.
I don’t feel totally satisfied with my marathon experience since I didn’t reach my goal time. I really wanted 4:10 and I think I trained well enough to get it. But, it was my first marathon, I know things now that I can use the next time. That’s right folks, I said next time. There will likely be another marathon in my future. Did I love it enough that it’s going to be my thing, like a marathon a year? Um, no. But it did challenge me and it’s something I know I can improve on, so I’ll likely take the plunge again sometime. I’m going to finish out 2012 just working out, maintaining some level of fitness through the holidays and then come January will think about my goals for 2013. It’s quite possible that the half Ironman in Muncie will be on my 2013 agenda.
Also, I’ll need to resume my role as head cheerleader for team Kaufman as hubs signed up for Ironman Florida this morning, so mark your calendars November 2nd, 2013!