So here are the deets:
I had a ton of mixed emotions right after my finish-line pictures and receiving all the “congratulations” and proud was not one of them. Please let me be the first say that I am now very proud of my accomplishment. And let me also explain why it took me a while to feel that way.
My goal was never just to finish. I’m competitive. I’m a runner. We care about time, because finishing is a given. Although right before the race I began freaking out and had this sinking feeling I would not finish it, I went for it. With a specific time in mind. I really wanted 4:29 but knew I would probably have to settle for 5:00.
The first 6 miles to the turnaround and the next 4 were fine. They were tough because the course was much hillier than I thought it would be, but man I was amped up. The atmosphere was amazing and because it was an out-and-back (and out-and-back again smh) course I was pumped watching the early half and full marathoners run toward me after the turnaround. I wildly cheered them on completely in awe of and inspired by their strength. The spectators were so much fun too. One guy even stood on the sidewalk in front of his house with his hose turned on and you could run through the spray if you wanted to. I totally did it and yelled a big thank-you to him. As I watched the other runners approach me (before they hit the turnaround) I was SO excited by how many halfers and relayers there were behind me. I felt great. And I kept looking at my time and noticing I was above-pace slowing down. It made me smile. Oh and the gorgeous scenery was keeping my spirits high. Please google images of the northern california coast if you’ve never seen it. It’s much different from SoCal and from other coasts I’ve seen. It’s more wild and rugged, I think. Really spectacular.
Anyway once I hit about mile 11, I started to get tired. This is the point in my half-mary that I got tired also. I noticed I was still on a good pace and desperately wished I would soon be sprinting to my finish line, but since I would be running past it instead I kept pushing. As I neared the 13 mile mark, I noticed the hill. This monster was smackdab right in the freaking middle of the course. When I had to mentally push myself passed the damn half-mary finish line, I was going to have to run up a giant hill. Ugh! And I didn’t see my spectators! My husband, 1 doggy and a couple of significant others (of the friends running with me) were supposed to be at mile 13. But sure enough, when I went around the bend, there they were! Oh it was wonderful to stop and visit. I refilled my hydration belt, played with Emily and chatted with the boys before my darling husband sent me on my way. And away I went. I had a wonderful flat course for probably about 1.5 miles.
At mile 16ish to 17ish I encountered the most ginormous hill of the race. It sucked ass. Big time. I got really grumpy and stopped to stretch about halfway up – mostly because I was pissed lol. But some wonderful runners yelled encouragement to me (one guy even offered some advil!) and I put on my big girl pants and ran. For less than a mile. That’s where we began about 2 miles of running through horse ranches. In the hot sun. Good lord, the grumpiness really came back with a vengeance.
I mean, what kind of race planner has you run the inland portion toward the end when the sun is right overhead?!? AND how are you going to have the marathoners run through masty horse poo and behind stables in the freaking heat?!? Ugh. I walked a LOT between miles 18-21. I knew I could have pushed myself at the time, but my mind just wasn’t strong enough. I saw a guy and a woman walking together while he encouraged her to start jogging again. I almost broke down. I had never felt so lonely. I wanted someone to push me, encourage me, to freaking slap my ass! My friend had warned me that the end of a is the loneliest I’ll ever feel and damn she was right. There were so many times that I was the only runner I could see and it was disheartening. But I kept going. Mostly because I felt the Big D coming at mile 22 and I was thankful to chill in a bathroom. I called my husband and told him how shitty I was feeling. I literally almost cried. He’s the one person that can brighten my day when no one/thing can. Somehow he makes everything right with the world. And he did it again. He told me my friend stopped at the half with IT band problems (I was so upset because I was hoping we’d catch each other!), Emily was dying without me and kept trying to find me after I left her at the half (that broke my heart and really is what kept me going) and that there was a surprise waiting for me. So I wiped up (thank God I brought cottonelle wipes in my pack lol!!) and ran.
I kept thinking about Emily and my “surprise,” trying to guess what it was. Was it jewelry? Yeah right haha! Did someone drive the 2.5 hours from home to come watch?!? If so, WHO? Finally I got my answer as I ran down the hill toward the finish line. My mommy was standing there with a big sign. I had tears streaming down my face as I yelled, “Mommy!!! You’re here!! Omg I can’t believe you came!!!” And she laughed and yelled, “Go! Keep running!!!” So I did. I only slowed when I came to a corner at the end of the hill and saw all my peeps. I got confused because they were supposed to be at the finish line and I thought I had to turn the corner to the finish line. And since I was crying I couldn’t see very well through my tears haha! So I yelled, “Where do I go? Do I turn??” Finally I saw the volunteer waving a flag directing me to in fact turn the corner. And over the sand I sprinted to the finish line.
Damn. It felt really good to sprint at the end. I honestly imagined myself walking slowly haha! And then the rush of congrats and pictures came. And then the tightness. So I said a quick goodbye to everyone and we made the 0.9 mile walk back to my hotel room. I looked at the tub and couldn’t will myself to sit in an ice bath so I went to the spa instead lol. I walked around, stretched and did squats in the hot water and oh it felt good. Then I went back up to my room, showered and napped for about 2 hours. When I woke up I felt amazing until my feet hit the floor. My damn feet hurt SO bad. We decided on dinner in our room and that was all folks.
I ran my first marathon.
I was pretty disappointed with myself because I knew I could do better. I was embarrassed it took me so long. And I WAS PMSing!!!!!!! Omg how did I not realize?!? I was 2 days away from my period you guys. This means fatigue, crankiness, diarrhea (I guess I could have eaten mu Gu and drank some preworkout after all!) and insecurity. smh. Why does AF have to eff up every aspect of my life?!
So now I feel great. I learned some lessons:
- If racing in a new area, thoroughly research said area and train as close to race conditions as possible (the hills I trained on were about a little more than half as big as I ran on race day)
- schedule people to call in toward the end to give me the kick in the rear I need
- Wake up 2.5 hours before I need to leave my house/hotel (I was a crazy woman and ran out of time in the morning even though I woke up 1.5 hours before we had to leave.
- EAT BREAKFAST on race day (I only ate a banana because of aforementioned craziness)
- Turn on Garmin as soon as I start lining up at the start line for it to “locate satellites” before I actually start running
- Try to find a training group/club to join
Here’s the elevation map:
There you have it, reflections on my FIRST marathon. Can’t wait for the next!