I’m happy to report I completed my first marathon, 26.2 is in the bag:) It was a wonderful, fun experience.
0400 AM ~ Got up ready to go. Surprisingly I slept the night before with no problem. I was calm and I was glad none of my cats decided to “play” during the night. Maybe I should chalk it up to inexperience but I didn’t have a case of the jitters. Ate a banana drank a glass of water and a cup of coffee. Checked the temperature and it’s 31 degrees. Not happy about that, but at least it wasn’t raining or windy out. If you’ve been to the Midwest, you know what I’m talking about. Put on my gear and I was out the door.
0515 ~ met Kathi at the train station. There were a lot of other runners already waiting (this was kind of neat) so the excitement was high on the train. By the time we arrived in St. Louis the train was already packed with runners.
0600 ~ Arrived in St. Louis and made our way to the venue. I was beginning to worry a little because it was cold. I’m not a stranger to running in the cold, but I was really hoping it would be warmer for this first run. Again, oh well and suck it up. The first thing Kathi and I do is roll on over to the porta potties. That’s right, no line you’re going to go even if you don’t think you have to go. It’s one of those things before you run, I don’t have to go now but maybe later I will, so you try. After that we strolled over to the gear check. I was still wearing my pants at this point realizing that I would have to shed them at the gear check. After about 5 minutes of banter between Kathi and me, “Are you going to take your pants off? Yes, are you? Yes, right now? Yes, are you…right now?” Crap we have to take our pants off…it’s cold:( We finally take our pants off and check the rest of the gear.
0630 ~ we make it on over to the Soldiers Memorial for a picture with one of the local running groups the Road Warriors. They are a great group of people that enjoy running and offering support to other runners. Always a pleasure to be around.
0635 ~ We decide that we want to go to the bathroom… again. Directly in front of us is a string of portas that are heavily backed up…no pun intended. I was starting to get nervous and I didn’t even have to go. Then out of the corner of my eye I see another string to our far right and no lines. I point and we literally start running to these portas. It appeared that others were catching on as well, STEP IT UP. The jog became a little faster. Whew I’m in the front of the line baby! It was dark and difficult to see which ones were occupied and which ones were free. Then there was the occasional battle cry, “don’t use this one…it’s out of paper!” The tsk, tsk of another runner, “that is not how I want to start my day” and all the affirmations of yes, yes. Finished there and bolted to my corral.
0650 ~ Arrive at my corral, 10, and begin the wait game. This really was a very interesting aspect of the race. You’re pumped and ready-to-go but waiting for the race to start. The sun was just beginning to rise and you could see that beautiful sunrise of bright orange and yellow mixed with a splattering of clouds against a struggling dark blue background. It was electric. I started my Garmin at least three times before I actually got going. Since I was in corral 10, 1 – 9 went first. This was new for me as I’ve never participated in a race this size. So you would move up as each corral left the gate.
0710 ~ I was off. I started strong and felt good. In past races I usually dislike the start. You’re always trying to dart around to find that nice hole that you can run your own pace. It was really difficult to do this with so many people so I didn’t even try. I went a nice normal pace and just really enjoyed the run. I also wanted to make sure I didn’t start off to fast and had energy for the end.
I’m not going to mark time anymore because honestly after the first two miles there was no point in me watching the clock. I had a long way to go. Instead I focused on the mile markers and how I felt.
Around mile 2 my hands were starting to get hot. I grappled with throwing away my gloves so soon, but decided to do it anyway. I should have waited a couple more miles because my hands were cold, but there you have it. Throw-away gloves were a very good idea.
Around mile 4 I was hot and ready to shed the throw-away headband and take my long sleeve off. Chucked the headband, danced around to take the top off, dropped my iPod and cracked the screen and Walla finally felt a little better.
Everything was easy breezy at this point. The run was fun and I felt pretty good. I made sure I drank plenty of water not passing up too many of the water stations. Everyone is different when it comes to water, but I wanted to make sure I didn’t get dehydrated. I tend not to drink as much when it’s cold, so I forced myself to take little sips.
Around mile 9 or 10, I forget, they offered the first GU gel. Let me personally testify, chocolate and GU, uh no. I picked up the small packet, ripped it open and began to eat it. Nasty, is not the proper word. Let’s just say, licking the asphalt, might have been better. Dang! That was bad. Maybe they meant to do that. Here, little girl I’ve got something yummy for you. So yes, I did need water with that treat!
My first mental hurdle was at mile 12 when they started peeling the half marathoners away from the full marathoners. I admit I looked at them in envy. Wow, they’re almost finished and me I’m going to run this…again. It’s easy to get sucked into that mindset, but I made that left turn and kept fighting for every mile.
At mile 17 I looked across the street and saw mile 24 with the lead runner heading toward the finish line. That’s a mental mountain. Look forward and keep going. There were a couple of points on the route that intersected. You might be at mile 18 and to your right you could see mile 21. It’s tough.
My right hamstring started acting up at mile 18. There was a lot of pain. I had to focus and slow down a bit. When I had to slow down I did, when I could pick it back up I did. Mental, mental and more mental. I kept fighting for every mile.
Another GU gel was offered at mile 19. Oh no you don’t! I’m not falling for that again. This gel was mandarin orange. Oh…really…sure it is. I took it anyway. Yes, it tasted like man….CRAP! It did give me a boost. The things we must endure for a boost.
Miles 20 – 23 were tough. The pain in my leg would come and go and I had to adjust the pace the best I could. As Ron the pace guy neared me with his bright shiny placard with 4:45 in big black writing, I was determined that he shall not pass! So, I pulled it together and moved forward to mile 24.
My good friend Karen was able to make it to the 24 mile marker and take a photo. Let it be known, if you are going to do something ~ go big or stay at home. Folks, this may be one of the best photo bombs yet. There is no measurement for the level of awesomeness for this quality of photo bomb. I will say this, we’re both smiling at mile 24, therefore brother, and you’re alright with me.
Mile 24 became mile 25 and you know the rest of the story. I finished with a time of 4:41. I’m happy, empowered and ready to do it again. A special thank you to my husband Dave who has supported me through all my training and my friend Lorene who was at the finish line. A hearty thank you to everyone who offered well wishes and encouragement. Happy miles to you. With hard work, determination and the right attitude…
Anything is possible…..
….even drinking Michelob Ultra Light afterwards. (If you follow this blog you understand!:)