So, I did it. Like any good runner, you turn into a cliche: The marathon runner. SIGH!
I held out for a long time, chiefly because I couldn’t stay healthy enough to train, let alone race, that type of distance. I got a few stress fractures (when people talk about shin splints, they have NO IDEA how bad they can get. Source: me) and I wasn’t able to walk very well so goodbyeee race plans! And then a pandemic, and then another set of stress fractures, and well you know the whole story!
So, this was my time to shine- clearly.
I did train fairly well with a ridiculously ambitious training plan (for people aiming to get under 3:30, and I can tell you the plan was NUTS and clearly designed more for people trying to get closer to a 3:15, in my opinion!).
But…the bugaboos are always there. The gerbils were running wild in my head, I was so anxious. It’s not a joke of a distance and I was aiming for an aggressive time. I chatted with a few runners I knew at the start and told them my time goals and they thought they were agreeable, but when I was pacing with a guy we chatted too and he was surprised that my time goals were that ambitious for my first…So I was kind of knotted up in uncertainty. Go big or go home??
I had a lot of nightmares about the race leading up to the day. Two back to back nightmares about missing the start? Hah. Weird.
The morning was anticlimactic. There was a heat warning for the race, as we are having an incredibly unseasonably warm October- this was the warmest this race had ever been, at just over 20 degrees when we were running! This added to my freakout…
We jogged to the start (a huge bonus of doing a hometown race. Zero travel!) and got into position. The wheels in my brain started to churn- there was NO pacers. None. I was really counting on one, given I am a newbie…And kind of left the idea of pacing to someone else. Big mistake!
But no time to worry, time to focus! We started and it was very congested and very slow. The half marathon started with us, and many racers (half and marathon alike) pretty much went to the front and started…walking. I spent a lot of time and energy weaving, because I am an idiot.
I felt tired right away- good omen eh? The first 10k were uneventful, I had some candy in my pockets and I ate those. It was hilly and winding, very congested. We wouldn’t lose the halfers until about KM 14 I think?
Because of how dangerous the heat could be, I made sure to stop at every.single.water.stop. No skipping- not even one. I don’t normally even go for water in a half, but I knew that could literally kill me this time. I respected the heat warning, and in fact got so hot I started grabbing multiple waters (one to drink, one to dump down my chest).
I was so thirsty. SO thirsty.
My pacing (despite not running tangents due to crowds) was fairly even up until the half way point. I caught a few too fast KMs (4:23s) and toned it down. I’m still so green at this distance…I know it can mess you up badly. By the time we got to the half way point I was hanging on, but also starting to feel concerned…and like maybe this was a bad idea… The tightness in my right hamstring really started to call out to me.
Hah, joke’s on me. It only gets worse from there on!
At around Km 33, the wheels in my brain fell off and I wanted to
b. leave the course immediately and probably
c. get hurt so I wouldn’t have to finish.
Sweat was pouring off me, my core temperature was going crazy and I just couldn’t think straight. I ate a few more Xact Nutrition bars (clumsily, with sugar crystals coating my face, the bar a mushy mess in my mouth) and just tried to hang.
I bounced around with one of my friends until I thought he left me in the dust. I was feeling lightheaded and hot, so hot. After KM 36 or so, it honestly felt like time was slowing down. Everyone was moving in slow-motion, arcing in front of me but still going too fast for me to catch up. My legs, arms, body wouldn’t go faster.
I also tossed an almost full water cup straight into the chest of a volunteer (sorry!) who was standing in front of the trash cans and didn’t move when I was mumbling excuse me as I ran by. There was someone running in a full rhino suit- can you believe it!! It was SO hot man. Woof.
It was pretty funny in retrospect!
I had this thought: Get to KM 39 and THEN you can fall apart.
But then I got there, and the finish seemed so close!! (until you realize it’s still like 3km of winding). Any small amount of hill that normally wouldn’t bother me seemed like Mt. Everest. I wanted to walk so badly, I even stopped at the final water aid station (2km left) to drink in hopes it’d power me further. On a regular day no way would I stop that late in the race!
Clearly I was desperate 😉
Ian was going to watch me and I planned to spy him, but when it came I was so zonked out that I couldn’t do anything but stare straight ahead, and breathe with my mouth open. Hah. He did the half marathon (and got a very solid time!).
My time! Finally! It was good too, 3:17:38 (chip)
I jogged weakly through the finish, saw a chair and sat in it for a bit, then got up and got my medal. The snack volunteers were like: You want a banana or an apple? And my brain was so destroyed that I couldn’t figure out wtf they were asking me. So, I ended up with a banana and then went to the next volunteer and got the apple bag- hah.
I hung around waiting for Ian, and when I couldn’t find him decided to start walking home gingerly. I spotted him in the field of the Legislature and I was soooo glad because then I could lean on him to hobble home! We got home, I couldn’t take my shoes off so I sat on the stairs so Ian could take them off. The aftermath was prettttty hideous. But I hopped in an epsom salt bath for 30 mins and listened to a podcast (Gidget kept coming in to check on me!! ha she is so sweet) and then we were up and walking back downtown to beer festival. Crazy eh? It was SO GOOD!!! I loved it! It was amazing.
And then I walked home feeling pretty drunk but probably just tired and lay on the grass for awhile. Good end to a good day. At that point I told Ian I was NEVER going to run another marathon ever.
We’ll see ??