Well I did it!! I finally ran a marathon! It still feels pretty weird because I’ve been
obsessing thinking about it and planning for it for so long, 2 years! I’m SO happy with how I did!! It was pretty hard, but I just went into it knowing I would give it my all and try not to stop. I ended up stopping twice, but otherwise just kept running.
When I signed up last year, I had no idea what pace I would be running. I hoped for 4:45:00 so that’s what I put in at sign-up. Doing my training this year, it was clear that I would probably be doing a lot better than that, but I didn’t really know what would happen since I was having issues, and honestly I didn’t even know if I would end up running the whole thing! So I didn’t change my corral assignment. There were 8 corrals, A-H, and I was in F. I knew it wasn’t the right one for me, but I just figured that I would use that to pace myself and not go out too fast.
When we started out I just tried to run by feel. Not too easy, but not hard either. I think the adrenaline was pumping because I stayed pretty well even almost the entire race. Also, I ended up being one of the runners that went the wrong way! I added a half mile to my distance within the first mile of the race. I really don’t know how that happened, but I wasn’t the only one.
Oh well! I was having a pretty easy time up until about mile 11, then it started to feel like I was starting to work harder. My boyfriend and daughter were waiting for me at mile 12 and that was so awesome 😀 There was also a beer station at mile 12! I thought that was weird, and I almost partook but decided it was too early. Apparently the beer station has been much later in the past, like mile 23. If they had been there then I would have had some beer for sure! But that was the only beer stop. Oh well again. These first miles ran down the Natio Parkway, which is kind of just an industrial neighborhood. Part of it was an out and back, and it took forever to get to the turnaround point. I was so happy to finally get back into the residential area and see something different.
I should mention that it was raining that day, and ended up raining for the duration of the race. I was SO freaking wet!! There wasn’t anything to do but embrace it and just try to ignore it. I had a jacket that I tied around my waist in case it really started coming down, but I ended up giving it to my boyfriend around mile 20. It was soaking wet and wouldn’t have done me any good, and was just an annoyance. So after mile 12 the course continues through residential neighborhoods for a while and then it goes on this highway before St. John’s Bridge. I knew the bridge was going to be hard so I was taking it easy again, saving up my strength for the hill before the bridge, and the hill that is the bridge. When I saw the hill leading to the bridge I told myself “okay, no stopping!”. And I did not stop. I just took smaller steps and went slower to power through it. The hill is 150 feet of elevation gain in less than a mile, so it is no joke! Everyone I was running around though seemed to be doing the same as me and it went by relatively fast, and I didn’t feel like I was going to die LOL
After the bridge I was thinking we might get some downhill, but it wasn’t very much. This is when I really started needing the bathroom, so the first porta potty I found that was free I stopped at. I really didn’t want to stop because I knew it would be hard to re-adjust everything and it was LOL I was tugging at my shorts for a while after that! I definitely felt better though. I saw my bf and daughter again at mile 20-ish and stopped to talk to them for a minute, and then off I went again. This section of the race was in residential neighborhoods again, and it was super cool of everyone to be out there encouraging us. Life-saving! So many people were using our names and it really helped to keep the spirits lifted. I realized I was only going to be out there for another hour or so, and I wanted to pick up the pace and I did try, but I couldn’t really get my body to go faster. I did use a downhill that we had around mile 23 and it felt like I was trying to book it. A few people commented at how fast I was going and that I was looking strong, and that just made me feel like I had to keep it together no matter what LOL At the end of the downhill it started to feel really hard, but I just kept running. No stopping.
It started to feel real around mile 24. I was so close to being done!!! We went over another bridge and I passed a woman that I had been following for a while, but we ended up running side by side for pretty much the last mile of the race. She was definitely helping me to keep my pace, I don’t know if I was helping her, but it was kind of cool. When we finally reached the last few turns I kicked it up a notch. I tried to sprint, which really was probably only just under 9:00, but I wanted to finish strong. And I did!! I had my name called at the finish, super cool. Then got my medal and coin, shirt, and rose and some orange juice and made my way to the reunion area.
My finish time was 4:06:15!!! So much better than I could have ever dreamed of! But if you take away the extra half mile and 4 1/2 minutes, my time was probably closer to 4:01:30. If I had known that I actually went extra, and I was really close to a sub-4 hour, I might have tried to go a bit faster!!! Oh well, again. I still ran a strong race, did not get injured, and had a blast!! I really, really liked having all of the spectators there. That was amazing. It helped SO much, especially in the later miles when things were getting harder.
So that’s it, my first marathon experience! Still can’t believe I actually finished!! And a week later, I’m feeling pretty good. Haven’t run yet again, but I’m planning on one today. I’ll just take it nice and easy 🙂