My First Marathon- Part 2
In yesterday’s post I shared some of things that led up to my first marathon, which I ran last weekend in San Diego.
Today I wanted to share my experience on race day, because it was completely different than the nerves I had the couple of days leading up to the marathon.
First, I was lucky because I was able to sleep pretty well the night before the marathon.
I had an early dinner on Saturday and went back to my hotel by about 7 p.m. that night. After laying out my clothes and doing about 20 minutes of yoga, I snuggled up to my husband and fell asleep pretty quick.
I think all the nerves and not being able to eat very much took it out of me. At least something positive came from all those negative vibes!
I was so grateful to get a good night sleep. Tossing and turning the night before a marathon does not sound like fun!
I did wake up a few times throughout the night and took small sips of water, but by then I knew I was well-hydrated (remember the pee test!) so I went light on the water.
When my alarm went off at 4:45 a.m. I jumped out bed, EXCITED again!
This was the feeling I had for the weeks leading up to the race. The shift to nervousness only started a few days before the marathon, but that morning they were magically gone.
I was thrilled that my energy was back. I was ready to tackle this thing!
It also helped that I listened to the Runner’s World podcast the night before. In an episode called “Boston Bound?” the former editor of Runner’s World, David Willey, talked about all his negative thoughts and the random aches and pains in the days leading up his Boston qualifying marathon. And (just like me) the morning of the race his worries were gone and excitement took over.
I had my standard long-run breakfast of Justin’s Maple Almond Butter and wheat bread, along with cold brew coffee. I did lots of stretching, said a few prayers, and my husband and I were out the door by 6 for the two block walk to start line.
I was in my corral (lucky number 17!) chatting with husband for bit. And then at 6:35, I was at the start line and it was my corral’s turn to run.
During the run I remembered all the things I heard over the past few months of training.
I knew things would creep up, and of course they did. I’ve never had a side stitch, and I got one. But I focused on breathing and visualizing oxygen going to the spot and helping the muscle to stop cramping.
And you know what, it worked. After about 10 minutes the cramp was gone.
The same thing happened to by left quad later in the race. And while that pain didn’t go away, I reminded myself it wasn’t a bad thing. It wasn’t a serve, sharp pain, so I knew I wasn’t going to seriously hurt myself if I kept going.
But after all, I was running 26.2 miles, my muscles better hurt or I’m not pushing the pace enough!
Speaking of pace, I didn’t struggle with starting too fast. I reminded myself I was basically running two half marathons. If my body could give more and pick up the pace for the second half then game on, but for those first 13 miles I was going to stick in the 9:30-9:45 minute per mile range.
There were more hills in this course than I originally thought. Thankfully my husband and I drove it the morning before the race and I knew what I was up against. Ironically, they weren’t that bad. I just took one step at time.
Around mile eight, the half marathoner’s broke off on a different route. The runners thinned dramatically and it was much easier to run.
All along the way crowds yelled for us, bands played along the course (a huge reason why I love Rock n’ Roll races), and cheerleaders from local schools lined the course.
I was lucky because I never hit “The Wall”, I really believe this was because I was religious about my fueling.
I took in one GU Energy packet (the ones with caffeine) five minutes before the race and then one every 45 minutes as I was running.
By about mile 17 I was starting to run low on water, so I started to use the water stations. It was nice, because at that point runners were more spread out and it was easier to enter and exit the lanes for water.
The toughest part of the race by far was about miles 19 to 24.
We exited the scenic parts of the course and ran literally on a freeway. No one cheering, and nothing beautiful to look it. Drive down any concrete freeway (so any freeway) and that is what it looked like for close to the last five miles of a 26.2 mile run. Plus, about half of it was up hill.
Many times I thought about walking. So many people I was surrounded with were walking. But I knew that would only make this whole process longer. And I really wanted it be over.
And to my surprise, I just kept hearing my sister’s voice in my head. Anytime I wanted to quit, walk, or felt pain, I heard her say “Nope”.
My sister has a very distinct way of saying nope. It basically has the tone of “this isn’t even up for discussion.”
That one word got me through the tough parts of the marathon. In fact, I’m sure by the end I was saying it out loud.
And while the word got me through, all the positive thoughts I had carried with me every step of way really pushed me through – my family, my hard work, and my almost six years of sobriety. T
hose thoughts were the constant loop of support and positivity I needed to keep going.
In the end, I finished in 4 hours, 20 minutes, and 17 seconds. My average pace was 9:56 per mile.
Overall, I was 1,568 of 5,328 (In the top third).
In my age group I was 87 of 385 (In the top fourth).
And in my gender I was 449 of 2,309. (In the top fifth).
I could not be more happy! And I definitely learned a ton.
In tomorrow’s posts – Tips and tricks of what I learned and what I plan to change for my next marathon, which happens to be the California International Marathon (CIM) on December 3rd!