Monday, April 16, 2012

A year later....

When I started running a little over a year I didn't ever really think that I would be sitting here and writing about being a marathon runner. I thought if there was any chance of me running 13.1 miles that I would have accomplished more than my body and my mind could ever dream of. This weekend I learned  a lot about myself and what I am capable of accomplishing.

My marathon weekend started on Thursday afternoon when I went to pick up my race packet at the Run On! Store here in San Antonio. It was all very surreal walking into the store and picking up one of the race numbers for the marathon. I still haven't quite convinced my own brain that I am a real runner. When I go into running stores and to races, I keep waiting for someone to ask me if I'm lost! That aside, the folks at the store did in fact believe that I had signed up for the correct race and did give me a beautiful blue bib for the marathon.

College Friends!
On Friday, I decked myself out in the race tee and my 26.2 Sweaty Band  ready to conquer the day. I checked my email at lunch on Friday to find an email from the race organizers regarding potential inclement weather. (Let the freak out begin!) I spent most of Friday afternoon obsessing over the weather and imagining a tornado dropping down and chasing me on the race course. Luckily, I had a fun distraction that evening as we celebrated Doug's birthday by heading downtown.

Ready to Go!
Saturday morning, we woke up and packed the car and headed off to Dallas. We had a great time seeing the Sweeny's and Wolf's from our LifeHouse group in Lubbock. In pre-marathon tradition, we feasted on pasta at Maggiano's with Cynthia, Greg, Jessica, Matt, Courtney, Kasey, and Michael. There were lots of laughs, tasty food, and good times had by all. After dinner we headed over to Pokey O's for delicious ice cream sandwiches. It was time to head for bed after topping off my carb tank. I was definitely feeling tired and anxious since the weather wasn't really looking all that much better. When we got back to Kasey and Michael's I laid out all my race day gear climbed into bed, set the alarm for 5:40 and fell asleep pretty quickly.

4:30-7:30 am: I had no trouble falling asleep but when I woke up at 4:30am there was definitely no going back to sleep. My emotions ranged from excited to terrified. I did my best to fall back asleep, but ended up just getting out of bed and getting ready by about 5:30 because it seemed pointless to lie there. I ate some oatmeal, drank a bottle of water, watched the weather which had been downgraded just to rain rather than thunderstorms, and by 6:20 we were out the door and on the way to Fair Park. We got there fairly easily, though Cory had to employ some daredevil driving techniques for us not to get stuck at a train crossing and then cut in front of several people in a fairly sizable line to get into the parking lot. We may have gotten a few dirty looks and choice words from other drivers, but I think it was probably worth it for Cory to not have to deal with my nerves in the enclosed space of the car while we waited for a train or in a long line. When we got parked, we headed for the porta-potties where I saw something I had never seen before at a race--- NO LINES! Then it was time to stretch get a few pics at the start line and get ready to go. I lined up with the 4:20 pace group hoping that I would be able to hang with them. And then the gun went off...

Miles 0-5: EVERTHING I have read about marathons say the biggest mistake people make is to start too fast so I made a concerted effort to not get ahead of myself early. I got out ahead of the 4:20 group and settled into a comfortable 9:15 pace. I could even see the 4:00 pace group ahead of me during this whole stretch. Cory popped up about mile 3 and I was feeling great. The humidity was pretty thick as it had been raining just before the race started, but my legs felt good; it wasn't too crowded like other races; and once we got out of the park, there was plenty to look at. Around mile 4, we got onto the path around White Rock Lake which was pretty cool--- only bad thing here was the bridge that bounces up and down. I was pretty much all smiles during these 1st few miles!

Here it comes...
Miles 5-10: Cory was my own personal paparazzo during the miles around the lake and  I felt really good. This is where I got my first glimpse of the incoming front and knew the rain was on its way. The sun was partially out and I was starting to get warm and my mindset at this point was at least the rain is going to feel AWESOME! The hardest portion of these miles was the ascent out of White Rock Lake into the neighborhoods. We had had some hills to this point, but this one was a doozie! Cory was at the top which gave me the boost I needed to power through into the next part. Around mile 10, I got my first gust of cool air-- the rain was near.

Mile 10-13.1:  These miles were WET. The first drops of rain felt really great and for the most part the rain didn't really bother me too much. The neighborhoods were were running through were really beautiful---but hilly. I was patting myself on the back for running through Olmos Park a couple of weeks ago and having faced hills that were bigger so that I wasn't completely deflated. Cory was at the halfway point and it was definitely a mental milestone in the race as I could switch from counting up to counting down.

Miles 13.1-17:  The rain continued here and I was really starting to feel the effects on my feet as my shoes and socks were pretty much saturated by this point. I did a fairly good job and getting through these miles. At around mile 15, I went through an aid station that had the usual drinks but had gummy bears as well. Gummy Bears have never tasted better in my LIFE! I was expecting to see Cory again around that time but he didn't pop up until the aid station in mile 17. I could tell that I was definitely slowing my pace from the 9:15 mark to around 9:30 at this point but with the exception of aid stations and fueling stops I was pretty much running all of it. I even had a few of those magical  running moments when you disconnect and float along for awhile.

Miles 17-21: For me, this was the most MENTALLY challenging part of the race as well has having one hell of a hill between mile 20 and 21. This was where the wetness in my feet started to take its toll. I also had slowed down to a 9:45 pace, but I just didn't see how I could go faster and still run a majority of the remaining part of the race. As I came into mile 20, I looked behind myself and saw the 4:20 pace team. I actually got mad at myself. It was then that I had to do a little pep talk for myself and remind myself that I had started with that team because it was a realistic place for me to finish the distance. After the monster hill at 21, I was angry and tired because the 4:20 pace group had just pulled ahead of me.

Miles 21-24: Just when I was about to continue my internal tirade, I heard a voice behind me that said "Come on let's finish with them". I looked to my left and a girl pulled up beside me. We started a conversation and by 21. 2 we were in front of the 4:20 group as the leader called out that we had 5 miles left! The girl who was next to me, whose name was Jaime, happened to be a teacher as well. We held a conversation and managed to keep each other going through the next 3 miles. At around mile 24, I had to take my last gel and get a drink at one of the aid stations which required me to walk. Jaime kept going and I never quite caught back up with her, but she was definitely a major blessing in those miles and kept me moving forward at a run.

Miles 24-26: At around 24.5, I was back with the 4:20 pace group and joined them for the rest of the race. Another girl, named Nicole,  who I had been close to for the entire race started a conversation and that took us through to the end. These were the most challenging miles PHYSICALLY. At this point, I could think of nothing but crossing the finish line. The rain had stopped but I was soaked, my feet were numb, but not numb enough and I could tell that something was going on with my toenails. For most of these miles I could see the Fair Grounds and the top of the building that the finish line was at. I can easily say that mile 25-26 was the longest mile I have run in my life as the end was so close!

Mile 26-26.2: All of this was run between the buildings at Fair Park and was agonizing as you couldn't see the finish line. Just before the finish line Cory was there snapping pictures and I caught a glimpse of the finish. Nicole and I took turns congratulating each other and crossed the finish line together.  I pretty much instantly had a medal around my neck and a finisher's cap in my hand and that was it. I am a marathoner for life. I didn't cry-- I was extremely excited and proud of myself. The first thing I said to Cory was "I DID IT"! Official Time: 4:18:06

Debrief: Training for and completing this race has been invaluable to me. I feel like if I could and did complete this race then I can pretty much do whatever it is I want in life. I really believe now  that no goal is insurmountable but  hard work, sacrifice, and determination are necessary ingredients in getting what you want. I don't have any other races planned in the near future, but I plan to maintain my running so that if I want to do a half that it isn't a big deal and to focus on cross-training. (And I still have to get my 26.2 sticker, but it will be making an appearance on my car in the near future!)

One Mile at a Time....

Monday, April 9, 2012


T minus 6 days and counting and I'm am definitely starting to get nervous and wonder what it is I've signed up for. In one of the marathoning books I've read, it suggests that you write a list of all the different things that make you nervous, scared, TERRIFIED about running the race and then to write down why those fears are ridiculous. It also suggests to write down what makes you excited. So here goes...

Things that make me nervous:

1. I won't be able to finish--
  •  Ridiculous because I have put in the time to train-- so I should be able to finish.
2. PAIN!
  •  A certain amount is expected-- as long as it's not injury pain it's ok!
3. Nutrition-- getting enough of the right kind of nutrition at the right time
  • Ridiculous because I've practiced fueling before and during almost all of my training runs and races to this point--I'll just pack some extra gels.
4.  It's going to be too hot and I'll dehydrate
  • Temps should be between the lows 60s and mid 70s for race time---I'll drink some extra water and there are 13 aid stations to provide me with water.
5. The last 6.2 miles
  • This will be the most challenging part--- but the finish line is at the end of these 6 miles.
6. Hills
  • Can't be worse than Austin or the "mountains" I climbed in Olmos Park a few weekends ago.
7. Neck/Shoulder Problems
  • My neck/Shoulders have been getting ridiculous knots in them the past couple of weeks-- luckily I have a great husband who'll give me massages and a just in case stash of muscle relaxers

Things that make me EXCITED
2.  Putting a 26.2 decal on my car-- don't typically like bumper stickers but might amend my rule for one of these.
3. Pasta party with Dallas friends on Saturday night.
4. Getting to run around White Rock Lake which is apparently pretty great.
5.   Completing a goal and getting to encourage other people to go for their goals-- be it running related or not.
6. Bragging rights-- I'll FOREVER be able to say that I completed a marathon.
7. The Guilt Free Meal after Marathon
8. Figuring out what will be next after crossing the finish line. 

"There will be days you don't think you can run a marathon. There will be a lifetime of knowing you have."
One mile at a time...

Sunday, April 1, 2012