Monday, June 6, 2011

My First Marathon!

I am still in a little bit of shock...I just ran a marathon yesterday.

This weekend was great. I flew down to San Diego on Thursday night and hung out with my brother and his wife, Kathy. Kathy and I went to the expo on Friday and picked up our race bibs:
I had lied on my application saying I would finish the race in 4 hours and 30 minutes, when I was really aiming for 5 hours and 30 minutes, but I wanted a lower number than last year. :)

The night before the race I  made homemade spaghetti sauce, with turkey instead of beef, in order to be more healthy. I've realized that I have begun to eat like crap, since I've been working out so much. But that probably doesn't give my body the fuel it needs, so I am going to try and make healthier decisions when eating from now on. It's about making sure I feel great when I do my events, not about being able to eat whatever I want just because I train so hard. I want to feel really good when I am doing Ironman Canada...and I think it will help to eat right. I am also thinking I will give up alcohol for the month of August.  I think it will be good for training...and after that I should be a pretty cheap date. ;)

Homemade spaghetti and southwestern salad...weird combo, but it worked:
 So the morning of the race, I got up at 4:15 am. I had put all my stuff together the night before, and I actually got a fairly good nights sleep. It's weird, I didn't feel that nervous. I knew the race was going to be more than I had ever done (the longest run I had ever done was 18 miles), but I also knew that with all the great coaching and training I am getting from Iron Team, that I would be able to do it...even if it was super hard.
When John dropped Kathy and I off, we did what everyone should do when they are at an event with 40,000 participants: we got in line for the bathroom:
I actually had to go three times before the race started. I was worried I wasn't going to be able to start in my corral, but I found a line that was going quickly, and got back to my corral just in time to start on time.

So now for the breakdown of the race.  Like I said, I had never ran more than 18 miles before, but when I had done those 18 miles I had felt pretty good. I maintained an 11 minute 45 second mile throughout the whole thing. So before the race started, I thought if I could just maintain that pace for the whole thing I would be pretty happy with my race and would come in somewhere around 5 and a half hours. But then the race started, and there were so many people, and I was so excited, and I felt soooo good, since this was the first long run I had done without having done at least a 7 hour workout the day I started running faster than the pace I had been planning on. I stuck with the run 10 minutes/walk 2 minutes, but when I reached the first 5K at about 33 minutes, I realized I was going faster. But it was so much fun, and I didn't feel like I was pushing myself too hard, so I just kept at that pace. Or tried to...I think I was still good at 10K, but after that I started to notice that each 5K was getting a little slower. 

Now it's hard for me to do math when I am working out, but I kept thinking if I was doing 11 minute miles then I would have been doing 5ks in 33, then 66, then 99 minutes, etc. Anyway, I was still feeling good at 20K and when I passed the 13.1 mile marker I thought to myself: "Wow, if I had just signed up for the Half marathon I would be finished...that wouldn't have been a very good workout." At this point I was still feeling great, and was happy to see that I was at about 2 hours and 20 minutes, which meant, I could possibly get in under 5 hours. 
Me at mile 14: I still look super happy!

Then at mile 16 my legs started to feel heavy, and there was this huge long out and back on the most boring street ever. No view of anything except the other runners coming back in. I knew I had to go out to some unknown point that I couldn't see, and come all the way back. I also thought it was weird that my legs had started to feel the run, because when I did the 18 mile run, I hadn't felt bad at all. Now of course I realize it was probably because I had been running faster than I had run before. I know...bad me, I totally did not get negative splits at this race.

So at that point, when I realized I had 10 miles left to run, I switched from 10 minute run/2 minute walk to a 4/1 ratio. When you are tired, the thought of running 10 minutes sounds incredibly hard, but I found that running just 4 minutes seems somewhat doable. 

When I got to mile 18 and I was back from that out and back...which is weird, it must  have only been about 2 miles, but it felt like 50, I saw that I had done 18 miles in 3 hours and 20 minutes. That was 14 minutes faster than I had done it in training. I knew there and then I really, really wanted to get a sub 5 time. So I went up and over the bypass and started running by Mission Bay. I didn't feel half bad, and when I got to mile 20 (where they were passing out GU, which I grabbed a whole bunch to stick in my back pockets...cause I really like them and knew at some point I would want them) I remember Margo telling me: "It's a 20 mile warm up and a 6 mile run" So I started to speed up on my 4 minute runs...I felt great for the first 4 minutes, and then by the second one (after mile 20) I started to get a little cramp in my side. I've never really gotten cramps while running since I started training for I thought I should just slow down a little and breathe deeply. It would get better during my 1 minute walk, but would come back by the end of each 4 minute run.  I remember some people talking about how cramping means you don't have enough salt, so I took out a nuun and put it in my water helped a little. I really wanted to walk at this point (for longer than my 1 minute), but I knew if I did I would never make it in under 5. So I kept pushing myself. I kept telling myself: "If you think you feel bad now, just think of how much worse you are going to feel doing this after 112 mile bike ride" and "just keep doing it, it's only 6 more miles, you can do anything for 6 miles, you have done 6 miles exhausted before, you can do it now." 

I think the only way to get through the last 6 miles of a marathon is to keep telling yourself, you can do it. That got me through to mile 25. At miles 25 I saw I had 15 minutes to run 1.2 miles. I was thinking I could definitely do that, and I should probably stop the 4 minute run/1 minute walk and just run it in, to make sure. But for some reason, during that last mile, my cramps spread out across my entire upper abdomen. It was a pain I had never experienced before. I stopped and walked for a little bit. But I kept looking at my watch and I didn't have time to walk in my last mile. My legs weren't hurting me anymore, so I wasn't worried about injuring myself, it was just so painful to run. I started holding in my stomach with my hands, pushing down super hard, because the pressure made the pain go away a little bit. 

I was so close to the finish line, I could see it, and here the music and I wanted to be able to sprint it in like I did in the shoot at Wildflower, but I couldn't let go of my stomach. Of course then I saw my brother right before the finish line, and he had a camera, so my vanity was able to help me do, what my willpower wasn't, and I lifted up my arms to get a good shot: 
So that looks like a smile on my face...but my grimaces of pain often look like smiles!

I crossed the finish line in 4:59:09, and really the one thing that kept me going that last mile was that I knew I had put in the work that day, I had worked hard all day I wasn't going to let one last measly mile do me in! Of course when I crossed, I bent over wheezing. It was hard to breathe, and I've never felt like that before in my life. I felt like crying because I couldn't breathe well and was doubled over in pain, and none of the volunteers were even coming over to help me. But I kept breathing, and in about a minute or two, I could breathe normally again. Thank goodness!

The first thing I did when I was done (besides eat a banana) was tell my brother I wanted to go soak in the Bay. I thought tons of people would be there, since I couldn't imagine what it would feel like if I didn't soak my legs in ice cold water for 20 minutes. But when I got down there, I was all alone. Those marathoners don't know anything about recovering!
Of course, I am still in a lot of pain today, so I guess it didn't help completely...But I am sure I would be much worse off if I hadn't gone for a dip.

All in all it was an amazing day. I learned that I can run 26.2 miles! And that I can enjoy most of it.
It's time to hang my medal up on my windowsill with the other ones...although I feel like this one should have a special place.
Kathy (who totally kicked my butt) and me with our heavy medals ;)

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