I did it! I ran a marathon! The runner's high that I have experienced this afternoon cannot be described! It took some time after crossing the finish line to actually begin experiencing it. I feel like I am on the top of a mountain and can accomplish anything I put my mind to. It's very surreal to think I just ran for four-plus hours through hills and wind!
Before I talk about the 26.2 miles, I want to thank all of my family and friends for their support during this journey! You all cheered me on, encouraged me and listened to my incessant chatter about marathon training and how I think you should all become runners (I do think you should all be runners still!) I want to thank my mom and stepdad for dealing with my anxiety this week. I was nervous and when it was time for someone to get yelled at, it was typically them! Thanks for coming to the race, cheering me on and walking through Baltimore! Thank you to my brother, Rick, and his friends, Tyler, Whitney and JB, for cheering me on at mile 13. Seeing familiar faces helped me to keep going! Thank you to all of the people on the streets of Baltimore who cheered, gave me high fives, passed out Swedish Fish, gummy lifesavers, water and more! Thanks to the police who kept us all safe! Thank you to my Food Bank family for all of your words of encouragement and to my Facebook family for all of the encouragement and nice comments!
Now that my thanks are finished - let's get down to business.
Now that my thanks are finished - let's get down to business.
So yesterday I went to Baltimore to spend the night with my cousin, Chris, and his wife Aryna! (Thanks for letting me stay!) When Chris got home from work he started making HOMEMADE, yes, homemade pasta. I know our family members are probably shocked reading this HAHA!
The pasta was delicious and after dinner we headed to Ravens Stadium for the Expo to pick up our race tags and t-shirts. The expo was nice and they had a lot of different vendors. I didn't buy anything, but the Under Armour marathon shirts that we got are BAD!! They are so nice!!! I can't wait to wear mine. It's a neon yellow longsleeve shirt. After the Expo it was close to 8:30 and I was getting tired. I ended up going to bed around 9:45, but couldn't sleep well because of th excitement of the race. I ended up waking up at 5:45 to start mentally preparing for the 26.2 miles ahead of me. I did my typical longrun morning routine... wake up, get dressed, eat a bagel with peanut butter (powdered peanut butter mixed with water - it's 85% less calories than regular peanut butter), drink water and the rest I will not discuss hahahahaha.
Around 7 a.m. my mom and stepdad picked me up so we could head down to the start line. After some issues with directions we parked and got there. We had a few blocks to walk. The race started at Camden Yards and we we arrived around 7:35 there were tons of runners already there. I made one last pee stop and headed to the start line. A little background on my outfit because the colors were deliberate. The black shirt was in memory of my friend, Michelle, and the pink shorts were in honor of someone very near and dear to my heart who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer (however, she is a one beast of a woman and is going to come out of this STRONGER than ever!!)
They had start areas based on your finish times and I chose to start at the back of the 4:00 pace group beginning of 4:15 pace group. When I got to the start line I was pleasantly surprised to to see Steve, a friend I went to high school with! It was nice to have a familiar face at the start line! A few minutes later the Star Spangled Banner was sung and a sky diver came from the sky with an American flag and red smoke coming from him. I got chills. First off, I love this country and at that point, I was like, wow this is really happening - I am about to embark on probably one of the most challenging journeys of my life! And then the race began!
There I am waving!
My strategy was to take the first five miles a bit slow (thanks Mark for the good advice!). At mile one my split was 10:01. I was happy with that because I knew I didn't go out too fast. Each mile after that got a bit quicker (until probably mile 8). I don't know what my fastest split time was, but I didn't care because my knees didn't hurt, the weather was nice (very windy though!) and I was feeling good. I kept telling myself to enjoy feeling good because I knew eventually fatigue would set in. I had to pee around mile 5, but I didn't want to stop and the lines at the portapotties were long. Around mile 7.5 the line wasn't long and I decided it was a good time to stop. From waiting in line to actually peeing probably took 2.5 minutes and I'll talk about those minutes later. My mom also told me not to talk about the portapotty in my blog so I'll leave those details out.
At mile 9 we were in the Inner Harbor and I saw my mom and stepdad for the first time! My mom gave me five! Here she is... she has nice nails LOL
I got a little distracted at this point and I think I slowed down trying to look at all of the people. I eventually got a rhythm going again and we started heading towards Key Highway. When I did my training run a few weeks back I felt really crappy at this point of the course, but today I was feeling good. At mile 10 I was clocking in at 1:34 and I was feeling good with this split. By mile 13 my time was 2:02. I probably lost speed around mile 15. I started getting tired and the bottom of my left foot really started hurting. Despite the pain, Tim's (our Chef at the Food Bank) advice of "pain is temporary" kept going through my head and I trudged through the pain. Ed (Food Banker and multi-marathon runner also advised me to not leave anything on the course and that also played through my head!) At the 16-mile mark the marathoners merged with the half marathoners. They had a shoot off to the side for marathoners so that helped to keep me going with my rhythm, but that shoot eventually merged. I was a little annoyed because a lot of people were walking and I needed to keep moving. Every mile I completed I kept counting down and still couldn't believe I was running a marathon. Mile 17 was tough - it was uphill and we were running against the wind. I wanted to stop and walk, but I didn't. I just told myself to get to the next water stop (I walked through all of the water stops so I could drink - on a side note that I forgot about... a little past 11 miles I ate some Swedish Fish and gummy lifesavers that were on the course and they made my stomach hurt!) My foot was throbbing at this point, but I just kept running. Mile 20 was close and by that point the hilly part of the course would be over. The 1.3 mile run around Lake Montebello was not too bad, but it did play with me mentally a little bit because I could see the runners on the other side of the lake. Liz Phair's Extraordinary was playing on my iPod so it helped me stay motivated. By mile 21 I was tired and just wanted to be finished. I kept saying just 5.2 more miles - that's a piece of cake run, but it really wasn't cake. By mile 22 I was starting to hit a wall. I stopped to stretch and then kept going. A water stop was near. At this point of the race adrenaline, praying and thought of sitting kept me going. I prayed and asked God to help get me home! Mile 23 was intense - it was hilly, but at the top was a man dressed in a tiger costume dancing on the top of his car playing "Eye of the Tiger!" It made me laugh and I read about him in the Baltimore Sun this morning! Tons of gummy bears were being passed out, but I decided against them. I was too tired to eat anything. Mile 25 was hard because I knew I was almost there. Tons of people were cheering. It helped me get through, but I was so tired at this point. I saw the 26 mile mark and it was just .2 to go! Whew! I saw the finish line and I kicked it in (as much as you can kick in after running for 4+ hours) My goal was to run under 4 (I did not accomplish that) or 4:15. I finished in 4:18:10. I was very happy with this time considering how challenging the course was and the winds! But I would have met my goal of 4:15 had I not stopped to use the portapotty!!! But I would have peed my pants, so that wouldn't have been good! After crossing the finish line there was an exodus of runners and I was actually really angry that it took so long to get a cup of water. We were hearded like cattle and my legs were tired and I'm not patient anyways so I was HEATED! People were everywhere. I didn't even get to have food after the race because the line was so long. I wasn't about to wait. I just wanted to sit! I eventually found my mom and stepdad, but it took some time because the clowns moved from where we were supposed to meet. I started crying because I couldn't find them HAHAHA!
Also shout outs to my friend Katie who also ran the marathon and finished in 3:33! (BEAST!) and my cousin who ran the half in 1:50!! So that was the marathon! It was so awesome after the feeling set in that I finished! I am so proud of myself. It was a lot of work, but the training paid off. I feel like I am in the best shape of my life and I'm excited to hit up the Concordville Inn brunch buffet with Naty, Mr. Russo, Anna and Bill tomorrow. It will be a true Fat Girl Check-In! After experiencing the torture of 26.2 I am looking forward to doing a quick 10k on Thanksgiving Day and a half marathon in Rehoboth with Lisa from the Food Bank on December 11! A half will be a piece of cake after 26.2! But, I think I have caught a serious long distance running bug and at this point I plan to run another marathon. It's a thrill that cannot be explained unless you've run one before. And I like to eat so training for a marathon allows me to do my two true loves, run and eat!!
So that's all! My first 26.2 is in the books! If you are interested in viewing the course map, click here. If you want to see the elevation chart, click here!
ROAR I'm a beast! On another side note, October 16 is special to me - last October 16 I bought and moved into my very first home and October 16 of this year I ran my first (and not last, sorry mom) marathon!
Peace. Love. Run.