(Turns out that I’ve been calling this the National Marathon for months, but it was renamed this year to the USA Marathon…oops.)
So, I ran a marathon this weekend. I don’t even know where to begin. I can’t believe that it is over. I was warned that it would be hard, and I didn’t believe anyone because my 20 mile run had gone so smoothly. Nothing could have prepared me for how difficult it is to run a marathon. This was hands down the hardest thing I have ever done. I am sore in places I didn’t know it was possible to be sore. Ouch. Let’s back up to before the race though…
The Thursday before the race I felt really off. I went to get acupuncture to help my back, and I don’t think it did anything. I guess it was just a really expensive mid-day nap. I went back to work afterwards and didn’t feel great. After work I met up with Mom and she bought me dinner so I could begin carb loading. Then I went home and got in bed in hopes that I would feel a little better. I watched a movie called “The Spirit of the Marathon” before going to sleep.
I heard that it would pump me up. But really it just freaked me out. (It’s on Hulu if you want to watch.)
I met up with Vic and we headed for the train station. We had perfect timing and were soon on our way to DC. We checked in at our hotel and then we walked over to the metro to head down to the race expo.
First I got my bib.
Then my teeshirt.
Then we walked around for a while, first we found a faux finish line.
I bought some Gu and some Gu Chomps.
And a sticker.
And a magnet.
(Not sure why that looks green, it’s actually white, and already has a prime spot on my fridge.)
And a headband. (I was planning on wearing all black, and figured a bright color would help my fans find me!)
Then we went on the hunt to find me new sneakers, but no luck. Boo.
As we were walking out a lady told us if we test drove a car we would get a Target gift card and a tee shirt. So we did! Since there is no Target near me I gave Vic my gift card and she gave me her tee shirt. We also entered to win a car, but we didn’t win and I ended up with ANOTHER tee shirt. So, I left the expo with 4 new tee shirts…
Then we went and had lunch and went back to the hotel to rest for the afternoon. I didn’t plan on napping because I wanted to sleep at night. But then I felt really tired and decided I probably wouldn’t sleep well anyway, so I took a nap. Then Mom arrived and we went to a pre-race dinner with Jon!
After dinner I was SO full. Too much pasta!!!!
Then we watched Lehigh beat Duke!
I tried to sleep but didn’t have much success…
Saturday – RACE DAY!!!!
I woke up a little after 5:30. Since I had to wake up before 5 some mornings in February to fit my runs in, this didn’t even seem that crazy. I always think that racing means waking up at insane hours, but not this time!
over dressed in pants, a tank top, and a long sleeve shirt. Then I ate my normal pre-long-run breakfast of peanut butter on a flax wrap. Soon it was time to go! I left Vic and Mom still snoozin’ in bed and I headed to the metro. It didn’t seem too crowded when I got there. I talked with a girl while I waited about our Garmins (we had the same one). Remember “runner’s are friendly”. Then the metro arrived. It was packed! I squeezed my way on and got quite cozy with the other people on the metro. I ended up talking to a few people who were doing the half marathon but had done full marathons before. They gave me some tips, particularly not to go out too fast. After what felt like hours, we finally got to our stop! The metro station was mayhem.
After a while I finally made my way out of the station and headed for my corral. I was really concerned about making the time cut offs and I sneaked up to an earlier corral.
I was busy trying to text Vic the pictures of the subway (they weren’t going through probably because 24,000 people running the race were also trying to text/call/etc while waiting for the race to start) when a lady standing next to me said “oh wow!”. I looked up to see the sun rising.
I ended up chatting with a triathlete while we waited for the race to start. This was his first half marathon because he was hoping to see if he could possibly do a half ironman. Amazing. I noticed that most people were wearing shorts and tee shirts. Hmm…did they know something I didn’t know?! Soon enough, it was 8 o’clock. Annnnd, we were standing completely still. Almost 20 minutes later I finally crossed the start line.
Miles 1-5: I tried to start off nice and easy. I was feeling great. I didn’t feel like I was going too fast, and I took my planned walking break. Mile 2 I felt awesome. When it got to my planned walking break I was flying down a hill and decided it would be dumb to stop and walk on such an easy stretch. The next mile was the same. I felt great! Then I spotted Mom, Vic, and Jon. It was great seeing familiar faces, and I knew I just had a few more miles until I would see them again.
Sitting down with Starbucks...jerks.
After that I started taking my walking breaks each mile. They weren’t quite consistent because I would walk through water stations and then not take the breaks as planned. This really screwed up my rhythm. Before the race I wanted to make a point to enjoy the scenic part of course, we were running by all of the monuments. However, I barely even noticed them. Jon got a neat shot of the Capitol though!
I took my first Gu at mile 5. It was really hot out and I was already drenched in sweat. This made my Gu a little runnier than usual, but I kind of liked it like that!
Miles 6-12: A little after mile 6 there was a HUGE climb. I started to trudge up the giant hill but was killing myself so I just decided to walk instead. I was racing smart and trying not to burn myself out too early. I continued to feel awesome. This portion of the course was very hilly and I took it easy on the uphills and took advantage of the downhills. Crowd support was really great. There was lots of energy.
Around mile 7 I saw my fans again!🙂 At mile 10 I took another Gu. I was being careful to only drink from my Camelbak when I needed Gu and to drink from the water stations in between. I was worried that I would run out of water by the end. At mile 12 we split off from the half marathon. As I turned right and the half marathon continued straight I realized there was no turning back! At this point the crowds completely died down. It was a like a ghost town on the course. I knew that the race was geared more towards the half marathoners, but I had no idea how difficult it would be without all the energy of the crowds.
Mile 13 – 15: I kept on running, but it was starting to get tough. My watch wasn’t synching up with the mile markers and it was really throwing me off. I was so, so hot. I couldn’t believe I was only just over half way done. I still had a very long way to go and I was starting to doubt if I could do it or not. Just before mile 15 I saw Mom, Vic, and Jon again. Vic said she was going to run with me for a bit. I took my third Gu of the race.
Mile 16 – 19: I felt terrible. Vic was helping me along and trying to give me pep talks. I couldn’t have done it without her (seriously, best sister EVER!), but I also wasn’t having any of it. What a role reversal! I don’t really remember these miles very well, I know I was wishing for death. I know everything hurt.
At one water station they were handing out cups of ice. It was glorious! For a minute anyway.
Just before mile 18 I decided I needed to go to the bathroom and stopped in a port-a-potty. If it had smelled better, I probably would have just stayed in there!😛 After, I wanted to walk but Vic pushed me to run for another stretch. At mile 18.5 we saw Mom and Jon again and Vic said goodbye. Jon ran with me for about a half a mile in his jeans!
He grabbed a Twizzler from a spectator and gave me a bite but I spit it out because it hurt to chew. At mile 19 he said goodbye and I was on my own again. I got to a water station and walked while I drank my water/sucked on ice. This part was over a bridge and it was really pretty. I tried to tell myself I needed a game plan for the rest of the race (meaning when I would run and when I would walk), but I guess I got distracted at some point because I never ended up doing that. Every single person around me was walking too. Someone would start running and then a minute or two later I would pass them because they were walking. This was pretty much the pattern and I don’t think anyone was really passing anyone else. In a way it made me feel better that everyone else was struggling and it wasn’t just me. The heat was just so killer.
Mile 20-23: I took my 4th Gu at mile 20. These miles were hard. It was exciting because I was officially PDR-ing with every step. I also liked that with every mile, the finish line seemed so much more attainable. 6 miles, I can do that! 5 miles, no big deal! 4 miles, so close! However, those miles were ticking away very slowly. The 5:00 pace group passed me, and since they were a pace group they were going steady, not stopping and starting like the other runners. I was disappointed that I probably wouldn’t make my under 5 hour goal, but at the time I really didn’t care. I just wanted to finish. I walked for the entire mile 22. At mile 23 I took my phone out of my Camelbak to tell Vic that I had just 5k left. I also tried to run again, but my legs felt SO weird. They did not like the fact that I was trying to get them to run again.
Mile 24-26.2: It was another mile until my 5th planned Gu, and I was really dragging. So, at mile 24 I took a few Gu Chomps. They gave me the boost I needed and I was able to run for a bit. There were rolling hills at this point and I took my approach from earlier in the race with running down hill and walking up hill. It seemed to be working. At mile 25 I took a few more Gu Chomps instead of the gel. There was a giant down hill and I was really cruising. The sun was incredibly hot. The last stretch was down the highway and the sun was just beating down. It seemed like it would never end. At one point, I asked a spectator how much further until the finish. I knew how far I had to go, but I guess I thought by asking someone it would magically make it shorter?! Clearly I wasn’t thinking straight. Anyway, this guy didn’t speak English… I knew I had a just a mile left but I still couldn’t force myself to run. I finally got to mile 26 and I ran for the last .2 miles. I saw my fans again and pushed to the finish.
Then, just like that, I crossed the finish line.
I kept saying “oh my god” over and over again. I got my medal and headed into the finisher’s chute. Instead of the space blankets they gave us ice cold towels to wrap around our necks. Someone handed me a water bottle and I grabbed a second one (I got the stink eye for that, I was like oh please, I just ran 26.2 miles cut me a break!). Then someone else shoved a fist full of granola bars in my hands. I was so disoriented. I met up my family and friends and they tried to take pictures. I was clearly very happy about that.
We met up with a co worker and his wife who came to see me finish and then all walked to the metro. Even though I smelled really good, I wanted to shower immediately.
It was the most painful shower of my life. My back and sides and armpits were chaffed and the water burned so badly. I thought I was going to pass out! I have had some blisters on my feet throughout training and my socks were bloody but the blisters were totally gone, how weird! My feet were also really swollen! I didn’t think ahead and didn’t pack flip flops for after the race. I could barely fit my feet in my shoes! Then, Mom and Vic headed back up north and I went to lunch with my best friend and cousin Jon.
Post race thoughts: My Garmin said that I ran 26.44 miles, so the splits aren’t exact (i.e. the mile that I walked the whole time for is shorter than some of the other miles according to my Garmin). But here are the splits anyway:
Obviously you can see my splits for the first half were much better than the second half. I had high hopes of keeping them slightly more consistent than these. I think I went out too fast, despite my efforts to take it slow at first. I also think the weather really killed my pace. It was about 40 degrees hotter than I was used to training in. It’s no surprise that my pace suffered because of it.
It’s also possible that I was under trained even though I know I really, really gave it my all both in training and during the race. I’m disappointed that I didn’t finish in the time I thought I could (between 4:40 and 5 hours), but I know this was still a huge accomplishment and I’m so glad that I did it!
Sunday I was very sore, even walking hurt. My abs were a little sore, and everything from the waist down hurt. The chaffing was a little better and it was starting to scab over. I went to get a massage and it felt amazing. It was the same masseuse I went to during training so he didn’t go to hard on me, otherwise I’m not sure a massage would have been the best idea considering how sore I was.
Today I took off work since I was away for most of the weekend and knew I would want to relax. My right quad is still very tight. I ended up walking around town a bit. One stop was to get new sneakers. I had to order them, but they should be here next week. In the afternoon I was tired of sitting around so I went to the gym and biked very, very lightly. It didn’t hurt, but I don’t think I can do much more than that for a few more days.
So will I be doing another marathon?
I don’t think so.
I’m glad I did it, but this was the most challenging thing I have ever done. When it was over my first thought was “why would ANYBODY do this?!” As much as I enjoyed long runs on the weekend, I don’t think a distance this long is really for me. Running for 5 hours is a LONG time! I think I will switch back to half marathons. That distance seems so much more reasonable now that I’ve done a full! I have a few half marathons on my radar, but I’m not sure if I will sign up for any of them. I have a ten miler in a month and a half and I think that is enough for now.
Thanks to all of my fans!!!!