It’s hard to believe that two months ago today, I crossed the finish line of my very first marathon. Since this blog hadn’t been born yet, I never wrote a race recap. So in honor of the two month anniversary, here it is!
The night before the race, my cousin, who was running the half marathon, and my aunt came over to have dinner and spend the night. We unwound by watching Law and Order, eating pizza and pasta, talking about our goals, and laying out our race goodies.
My original goal was to beat Oprah’s time of 4:29, hence the crude expression on the shirt I made 🙂 I later revised my goals in order of importance:
- Finish the race alive
- Finish the race without throwing up
- Finish the race without crying
- Finish the race without walking
- Finish in under 5 hours
- Finish in 4:45 or less
- Kick Oprah’s ass (under 4:30)
About 16 miles into the race, the only goal that mattered was the first one. But we’ll get to that in a minute 🙂
After a very short night’s sleep, almost getting lost trying to find the train that took us from a parking lot to the start of the race, we had arrived! Two of my sister’s professors were running the marathon as well, and I met one of them before we lined up. Apparently, he had told my sister’s class that after running for 20 miles, you literally start to die. I totally forgot about that until I saw him! This guy had run the Portland Marathon the week before, and his goal time was also 4:30… which he considered slow. Did I mention he is in his 50s?
We passed the time by waiting in the insanely long bathroom lines and taking care of a few last minute issues, like applying Body Glide. No shame here. Hey, it worked! Zero chafing! I’m so glad my aunt had the foresight to capture this blessed moment on film forever 🙂
Lining up was a total mess. There were supposed to be corrals, but it was impossible to push your way towards the proper one! As a result, we started farther back than we would have liked. My cousin was aiming to run a 2:10 half, and I wanted to run with the 4:30 pace group, but we ended up starting the same time as the 5:30 pace group. Lesson learned. LINE UP EARLY!
I couldn’t believe it when we actually started running. There were so many emotions going through my head- mainly panic because I realized that my shoes were tied way too tight and my feet were totally numb. I debated stopping and loosening them, but I stubbornly let them cut off my circulation. They ended up loosening up after the fourth mile 🙂
Around mile 3, I saw my aunt and my sister for the first time. She was holding a bright green sign, so she wasn’t hard to miss!
I separated from my cousin shortly after this. She wasn’t going TOO fast, but I didn’t want to feel like I was burning out at all. Come to find out, she was only a few minutes ahead of me the whole time. I had planned to stay with her until mile 10.5, when the half marathoners split. The idea of running 23 more miles by myself was a little depressing at this point!
Around mile 5, I saw my sister again. It was an unexpected surprise!
Her sign says “Kick Oprah’s ass” 🙂
Going and gone!
Sadly, this was the last time I saw my anyone before I finished. They didn’t have enough time to see my cousin finish and find me later on in the course. It was a lonely 21 miles after this!
I think I had my first gel around mile 7. I had never had one before, and while the flavor was good, it made me feel really dehydrated. I was holding a water bottle until mile 17, and I had a belt with water bottles on it, so it didn’t bother me too much. I also made sure to take water / Powerade at almost every aid station.
Someone handed me a donut hole at mile 9, bless their hearts. I thought it would make me feel sick, but it didn’t bother me at all!
The pack really thinned out at mile 10.5, when the half marathoners split. Not going to lie, I felt like a total badass when I went right with the full marathoners 🙂
The rest of the race is honestly kind of a blur. I brought my cell phone to put in my arm band with my Ipod, because my Ipod is too small for the band. I pulled it out at the halfway point to let my sister know I was still alive, and text messaged a friend who lives in Long Beach. She had just sent me a message that she was planning on coming out to see me, but she didn’t know the race started so late. I told her I was dying, and she couldn’t believe I was texting and running at the same time. Multi-tasking, people!
At mile 16, I really started to feel the pain in my legs. I kept telling myself that I had only ten miles left, but I was starting to slow down. Marathon training skews your perception of a ‘long run’ so much! When I was training for a half, my longest runs were ten miles and they never felt easy. I had to keep reminding myself that I had run 10 miles many times, and that it was still doable. I also saw my sister’s professor at that point. Unfortunately, he was passing me at mile 21, so there was no way I could catch up to him 🙂
My pace had slowed from a 10:00 minute pace to over an 11:00 minute pace, and I was dying to walk. I bargained with myself, and told myself I could walk at mile 20. I didn’t walk at all during my 20 mile training run, so I knew that running 20 miles again was doable. A lot of people around me were starting to walk, and I wanted to join them so badly!
At mile 20, I knew I had to keep going. I know a lot of people walk during marathons and finish with way faster times than I did, but I had never walked during a training run before. I knew that if I stopped, I wouldn’t be able to go on, both physically and mentally. My legs were in so much pain that if I stopped, I knew it was over. So, even though my running had turned into trotting, I’m proud to say that I didn’t stop once!
The last six miles were a total blur. I was texting my sister at every mile, telling her where I was, and she was sending me encouraging messages the whole time. There were so few runners around me that everyone at the water stations was cheering my name when I went through. I had no idea there support would be so helpful, and I am SO grateful to every volunteer I saw! I made it a point to thank every single one. They were my lone cheering section!
At mile 22, I knew I would be able to finish. Maybe not under 4:30, but I knew four miles was manageable. Four miles is my favorite distance to run, and I thought of my favorite four mile route in my neighborhood, and just pictured myself running it, something I’ve done many times. I think it helped 🙂 Also, someone randomly gave me some Mardi Gras-like beads. They were bouncing around when I was running, so I took them off and put them around my wrist. Festive!
At mile 25, I saw my cousin, who had walked over to support me at the end. I was so out of it at this point I didn’t even recognize her until I heard someone screaming, “Schmuck! Schmuck!” (We call each other schmuck as a term of endearment… don’t ask) Once she got my attention, she started yelling, “You’re almost there! It’s all downhill from there!” The only thing I could say back was, “I’m so —-ing tired!!!” I probably horrified everyone around me with my colorful language, but I was being honest 🙂 She yelled back, “There’s chocolate milk at the finish line!” Chocolate milk?! She had my attention. I started running as fast as I could, which wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be because it really was starting to go downhill. By the way, my cousin met her goal and came in at 2:10!
According to my watch, I hit mile 25 at 4:30. I was sad to see my first goal time pass me, but I knew that if I kept a solid pace, I could make it under 4:45. I knew from reading other blogs that the courses always end up being long, so I knew my watch would say the distance was longer than 26.2.
At mile 26, my aunt and my sister appeared, screaming as loud as they could for me. I have never been so happy to see anyone in my life!
I felt like I was flying! My pace actually got to a 6:11 mile! Granted, that was probably for a few seconds, but I really picked it up. When I showed my dad (who was in Canada with my mom that day and sadly couldn’t go to the race) the stats from my Garmin later, he saw my fastest pace and said, “Was that during the race or towards the snack table?” Little did he know…
I saw the finish line right after I saw my aunt and sister. I took off like a bat out of hell, and managed to pass a group of people! I was the only one headed towards the finish, and there was a man calling out people’s names right before the finish. I had promised my sister I would do something stupid at the finish line, so when he called my name, I started “raising the roof.” She didn’t even see it! I think the announcer enjoyed it, though…
A quick thumbs up to the photographer right before I crossed the finish line.
And before I knew it, I WAS DONE!
I actually got a tiny bit teary-eyed when I crossed the finish line because I was so happy to be done. Someone handed me a medal and another wrapped one of those shiny blankets around me. The wind kept blowing it off one of my shoulders, and I was so sapped of energy, I couldn’t even fix it! He had to come over and wrap it around me again. Yeah… I was that tired 🙂
I got a little bag with an apple, banana, protein bar, and
one two chocolate milks! Ah, the taste of victory. It took me about five minutes to sit down, and that’s not an exaggeration. I have never been in that kind of pain in my life. I knew it was going to hurt, but I was actually surprised by how painful it was! My family came over after, and I couldn’t even stand up to hug them. My sister let me lean against her, which was such a relief.
My beloved milk and I, sharing a moment.
My official time was 4:44:32. 14 minutes over one goal, but I came in under 4:45! I also didn’t cry, walk or throw up, except after pounding two chocolate milks, I felt a little nauseous. It passed 🙂
Noticed the distance? God, it was so hard to see 26.2 on my watch and still have a few more minutes to run!
The only thing that could make my day better was pumpkin frozen yogurt. We had planned to go to my favorite Mexican restaurant, but my cousin and aunt had to get home, so we got yogurt together, and after they left, my sister and I got Indian food 🙂
That’s almost 8 dollars worth of frozen yogurt. If there was ever a time I felt justified in eating it, it’s after running a marathon. Somehow I managed to finish it before everyone else finished, too 🙂
I spent the rest of the day hobbling around and recounting the day to my parents, who came home that night. They thought it was funny to see me limping up and down the stairs. As long as someone thought it was funny, huh? I sure didn’t!
Overall, finishing a marathon was the proudest moment of my life thus far. I truly believe that I would have been happy with any time. Running that long is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I am honestly glad that I made it out alive! I was definitely on a high the rest of the day. Actually, I think I still am 🙂
Have you ever run a marathon? I remember telling my uncle this January that I would never even consider running one. Ten months later… I did!