My friend, Jen, wanted to train for her first marathon and convinced me to train with her, something I swore I'd never do again after my first experience. My first marathon was on New Year's Day in 2011. I ended up joining a group in my area for this first one in order to have people to train with. My goals for the first marathon were to finish and to jog/run the whole thing. Both goals I accomplished and finished in 4 hours and 28 minutes. I was so proud of myself at that point knowing I was never going to put myself through that torture again and knowing that I was in the best shape I'd ever been in!
I've come a long way in 3 years (despite having a baby in there), and my pace is much faster. So my goal for this second marathon was to finish in under 4 hours. At the same time, I knew that this goal would be difficult to accomplish and might be just out of reach. Regardless, I was confident that I would beat my first time.
We ran into difficulties parking and ended up having to park further away than we wanted because we didn't have time to wait in the line of cars for the closer parking lots. We were nervous about being there for the start of the race! So after parking, we jogged at a good clip to the race starting corral. That's the last thing I wanted to do before the race was to jog about a half mile before I'm about to run 26.2! We did some stretching and snapped a picture in the few minutes we had to spare. I'm bummed that I didn't have time to do some thorough stretching prior to the race (it's my own fault for cutting it too close) as it affected me later in the race.
Me and Jen, my running partner
I started out at a comfortable pace (knowing I needed to save some energy for endurance) running between 8:40 and 8:45 miles. I kept it up till mile 13 before I started to get some side cramps. After eating a Gu, I slowed down my pace a little to 9-minute-miles and that helped with the side cramps.
I knew Matt would be at mile 16, so I was so excited to see him and my sweet boys holding signs for me and cheering me on.
(Matt snapped a few pictures of me running on the course, and every picture has me running next to a different half-naked man!)
At about mile 20, some serious cramping began. I started to think to myself, "This is miserable. Why am I doing this to myself? Why did I voluntarily put myself through this and pay money to do this?"
From there on out, I talked myself through it mile by mile. I stopped worrying about my time so much and just concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other. Prior to this point, I was on track to not only make my goal but to beat it significantly with a 3:52 finish. So I knew I had a little wiggle room to accomplish my goal still but also listen to my body.
A few days before the race, the weather was in the 30s. The day of the race the weather was in the 60s with 100% humidty. I wasn't sure how the humidity affected runners at the time and have since done some research to find that it typically slows runners down due to an increase of body temperature since the sweat doesn't evaporate. Most runners that participated discussed how they experienced a lot of cramping. That was the case for me as well. Around mile 21, I was feeling it the most in my right quad, which I've never experienced before as a runner (usually my hamstrings get sore and/or cramp). I stopped to stretch it out for a moment, but it was ineffective and caused more cramping in my calf. Sheer misery. But what do you do at that point but continue to push on and finish the race?
I saw Matt again at mile 23. As I ran by him I said, "Never again. For real this time. Don't let me ever do another one of these." I had some other snacks and energy supplements with me, but I didn't feel like any of it, so I just stuck to water and gatorade through the duration of the race.
My fastest miles were mile 1 and mile 4 at 8:31 and 8:30 respectively. My slowest miles were mile 21 (when I stopped to "try" to stretch) and mile 25 (stopped to drink some gatorade) at 9:47 and 9:49.
My official chip time was 3:58:08. I finished 6th in my age group, Female 30-34, out of 100 women. And I finished 55th out of all 515 women that ran the marathon. Most importantly, I accomplished my goal!!!! It was so nice to see my parents at the finish line, and it was nice to hear that they were proud of me for accomplishing a goal I set out to do.
I have to put this out there in case it may help any other runner. The bane of my existence as a runner is that running gives me digestive issues. I've tried a few different ideas, but nothing has worked. I have just accepted that I will have to stop to use the restroom during every race, and therefore my official chip time was never going to be accurate. As anyone with this problem knows, it's not fun and can be painful. Through a friend of a friend, I came across Modere and tried their probiotic pills (natural ingredients). It took some experimenting every weekend, but I finally figured out the best times to take the pills in order for me to have successful long runs. It seriously is like a miracle to me that I was able to run over 26 miles without stopping for a potty stop. Yeah!!!
I was in so much pain for the rest of the day...and the next, and the next. Anything that involved my quads or hamstrings was so difficult--bending down, going up and down stairs, sitting down. Even sleeping was uncomfortable/painful that first night. By Thursday I was finally feeling back to normal, except my poor toe. I got a blood blister on my second toe of my left foot under the nail. The nail is still attached, but it's the only thing that still hurts, and the nail will fall off at some point.
Saturday afternoon after the race.
This was the cutest picture of all my boys even though not my best. These are the cute signs that my boys made me!
Is another marathon in my future? I'd like to say definitely no, but I guess I better say, we'll see. I love the half marathon distance so we'll stick with that for awhile. It feels great to be in the best shape of my life (again). :o)