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26.2….Because 26.3 would be crazy!!

Posted Nov 07 2011 10:05am

{Can’t take credit for the title…I saw it on a shirt!}

Race Recap: My first FULL Marathon

WARNING: This is a REALLY long post, and probably boring to most people, so here is your warning and chance to quit reading! I am writing this because I want to be able to remember these details… shall I ever decide to run another!

I woke up at 4:56 on race morning….4 minutes before my alarm went off. I hopped in the shower in hopes to wake my body up, then got on all my race gear.  I headed out the door at 5:40 to meet the girls in the lobby.  Big Jon walked me to the shuttle to kiss me by and wish me luck on my FIRST FULL MARATHON.  (Prior to this race I had only run four 5K’s, two 10 K’s, and one half marathon.)

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We met up with some of Crissy’s friends who we’ve completed a few long runs with during training while on the shuttle. Once we arrived, we walked a few blocks to the start and then decided we should go wait in Panera because it was FREEZING outside!!  We hopped in line for the bathroom and ended up staying there for almost 40 minutes waiting to use the restroom. (Why can’t women get in and out as quickly as the men?) We headed back to the start line once all the girls did their business, arriving around 7:15.  Official race start time was 7:30, so we huddled up for a prayer and then split up to our different corrals.

I officially started the race at 7:42.  My plan was to fuel every 3 miles (approx 30 min), alternating water + 2 shot blocks with Cytomax (like Gatorade) + half of a granola bar.  My first split was the 5K (3.1 miles), which is where I got water and ate two blocks.  I know I was slower here because I couldn’t get comfortable (shedded my sweat shirt, adjusted my fuel belt a lot, kept dropping my inhaler, got slowed by people walking through the water stations, and having to finagle around slower runners in the crowd), so my time was 29 minutes.  It took me a while to get warmed up and get comfortable, and honestly, I was a little bored from the get-go. I ended up listening to my i-pod the whole race, which I was not planning on doing (thanks Big Jon for hooking me up with my awesome marathon playlist- listened to it on repeat for a solid 4 hours!).  I saw Big Jon & Jay on their bikes around mile 2- so exciting!!!

My next split, the 10K time (6.2 miles) was 58 minutes.  At this point in the race it was still really congested, and I was shocked to see how many people were already walking. I finally started to pick up my pace a little after mile 6….around a 9:10 mile (which is what I needed for a sub-4 hr time!). I crossed the 10 mile mark with a time of 1:34. At this point I was passing a lot of runners, and that was definitely motivational.  The toughest part was knowing how much energy I needed to conserve to make it through another 16 miles. I felt like I could have gone faster during the first half, but I’ve read to try to have a negative split, which means you run the 2nd half of the race faster than the first. (I know, it seems backwards, right?) I tried to hold back a little, focus on my pace, and keep hydrated and fueled up.  My body felt good, and at mile 11 the half marathoners split from the marathoners. I was a little jealous they only had another 2 miles and they’d be done, but I still felt good, so I was okay to keep going.

Running through town was my favorite part.  The huge, moss- covered trees were beautiful, and the streets were lined with cheering people. That part is pretty cool.  I felt like Forrest Gump.  Ha!  I checked my Garmin a few times, and any time we were running through town my pace was in the 8’s.  (That REALLY made me wish the last 6 miles were finished downtown rather than on a boring, uphill highway with a major headwind!)

I had to use the restroom right before mile 13, which is where the discrepancy came in between my Garmin time and my official race time. I paused my Garmin while I peed so I could know my exact running time.  It was not fun peeing in the port-a-potty, nor trying to get my super tight, sweaty running tights back up over my booty; however, I was impressed that I only had to go once during the race. Normally I go about 5 times in a 4-hour period.  I was still on my same plan of alternating water + shot blocks and Cytomax + granola every 3 miles.  After passing the 13.1 half marathon mark at 2:03, I started to get a little discouraged that I had to run that same amount again. Yes, double that mileage sounded a little intimidating, so I decided to redirect my thoughts and focus on the next three miles. WAY better.  I was not having as much fun as the long runs with my girls during training, and I got a little lonely a few times, so I would just crank my i-pod and jam out.

I passed Jon and Jay again around mile 15, and I was so thankful to be able to toss them my long sleeve tee and fuel belt!  I was also excited to show Jon my t-shirt that I surprised him and wore (in honor of his best friend who passed away a couple years ago). 

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They gave me a hard time later about not talking to them- I just threw my stuff down and kept going- but it’s because  I didn’t want to lose my focus, especially before mile 16.  Mile 16  is when the dreaded “wall” typically hits, but fortunately I didn’t really have a wall.  Crissy later told me it’s because I carb loaded properly (I took my carb loading very seriously for a couple weeks before the race) and fueled properly throughout the run.  As this point I still felt good and was keeping a consistent pace between 9:10-9:20.

At mile 18 I felt my legs wanting to cramp up a little bit.  My left hip/glute and right shin were the culprits. Scriptures had been running through my head the whole entire race, and when the cramps were creeping in I kept saying over and over “no weapon formed against me shall prosper."  I held off letting them slow me down for the next mile, but then they got worse.  I didn’t walk at all in the whole entire race, but I had to stop a few times during mile 19 (for about 4-5 seconds) to stretch so I could keep going. At mile 20 my time was 3:12.  People all around me were stopped, cramped up, stretching, sitting, crying, and walking.  I kept going, and when I realized I only had 6 more miles, I decided I could pick my pace up.  My cardiovascular and joints were both fine…I felt good and knew I was capable of picking it up here. I tried to stride it out for about 6-7 steps and immediately cramped up in my left hip/glute and right hamstring. DANG!  I had to stop again.  SO disappointing to know you are trained and comfortable and ready to push yourself, but cramps won’t let you.  I don’t think I was dehydrated, so I’m not really sure what happened.

The last 6 miles were slow and brutal after I realized I wasn’t able to pick my pace up like I wanted.  It was a long, boring stretch of uphill highway with very few spectators.  People were stopping and walking all around me, so I just kept a slow and steady pace between 10:10-11:10….whatever my body would let me do. 

I’ve heard people joke about the last .2 miles and how the .2 of the 26.2 is what gets ya. Uhhhh, that is not a joke.  It’s for real.  I was SO ready to be done by mile 25.3 that the last little bit was pretty tough.  I started to feel a little emotional and felt the tears welling up….I couldn’t believe I was about to accomplish this!!!!

I finally picked up my pace when I turned for the last .15 mile and saw the finish line. (HELLO, race people, it would have been WAY smarter to make the finish line visible way sooner! And make the last few miles in town in a very populated area with lots of supporters….but whatever!)

According to my Garmin, I crossed the finish line at 4:19.  My goal was to finish under 4:30, so I was pleased with that time.  I was also pleased knowing I could have finished in the lower 4’s if it wasn’t for the stupid cramps.

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I fought back the tears and kept jogging for a few seconds after the finish line. I spotted Big Jon right away.

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The race volunteers handed me my medal and snapped an official race photo.


I grabbed a bagel and banana and headed to meet Jon.  I gave him a big sweaty hug and he kept telling me how proud he was.  He told me that I’d kept a consistent pace until mile 20, which is where I lost my time. 

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We walked over to meet our friends at the family meet center.  My legs were STILL cramping for a good 15-20 minutes after I finished the race, and I thought I was going to puke.  I threw up after my half marathon, so it wouldn’t have surprised me if I did….but the nausea went away.  I could barely sit down, stand up, or take off my socks & shoes.  I changed into dry socks and a dry sweatshirt (with some help)….for real, I could barely move without cramping.

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Crissy, who helped coach me along the way, is an absolute BEAST of a runner.

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I knew she was good, but I didn’t know HOW good until we ran this race. She finished nearly an hour before me, ran a pace around 7:10 miles, finished 7th in her age division, and was 41st overall female….out of 23,000!!!!!! She’s incredible!!! She has ran Boston, and all her splits for this race were faster than her Boston splits. If it weren’t for that dang long, boring, uphill finish with the headwind, she would have smoked her Boston time and finished in the low 3’s. Isn’t that insane??  This was her 8th marathon!!!  She’s my running hero.

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We waited for Laura to finish and meet us.  She also beat her goal time & had a great race!!  We were worried about her knee giving her trouble (after a rough fall a few weeks earlier), but thankfully it didn’t give her any problems and she made it through very strong.  Her times were great all throughout the race & she finished in the top few thousand out of 23,000, all while beating her personal goal!!!  That is AWESOME for a first-timer!!

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Check out our awesome fan club!!

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Jay’s creepin….

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Big Jon PR’d on his bike! Before the race the most he had ever ridden was about 6 miles….he knocked out about 30 on race day like a champ!! (I’m giving him one of my stickers to put on his bike- he earned it!!)

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Well hello, little marathoners!

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Here were my official race results (out of 23,000 runners):

Time: 4:20      Overall: 1932      Female: 748     Division: 154

I am happy with the way it turned out for it being my first full. Before today, the most I had ever ran was 20 miles.  And the thing about running is it is the element of the “unknown".  You can train your tush off, but you never know how your body is going to react, what the weather is going to do, how you’ll feel, etc.  I know I am capable of a faster time for sure.  Now I just have to decide if I want to pursue that.  Running marathons is definitely a lifestyle, and it requires a lot of time, effort, and sacrifice.

Still able to stand and smile after 26.2…..I call that a success!!!!

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I am SO very thankful that I accomplished one of my life goals. I am SO thankful I beat my goal time. I am SO thankful I was able to train and go through this whole process with two of my best friends.  I am SO thankful for a supportive and encouraging spouse who listened to me whine, gave me ice massages, encouraged me, prayed for me, and was totally cool and understanding when I gave up our every Friday night and Saturday morning for 18 weeks so I could accomplish this goal. 

And I am also very thankful for all the support and encouragement of my friends and family!!!  Everybody really went above and beyond to show their support.  We got goody bags, cards, texts, e-mails, and FB messages wishing us the best.  Are we spoiled or what?!?!

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This may seem cliché, but it worked.  These are the Scriptures that came to mind throughout the race (I’m paraphrasing and leaving out references because this is what came in my head):

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”

“No weapon formed against me shall prosper”

“In all things we are more than conquerors”

“Run and do not grow weary”

“I know the plans I have for you,  plans to prosper and not harm you”

“Keep the faith, finish the race”

“Run the race set before you with endurance”

I EARNED that 26.2 sticker that I’m now rocking on the back of my car!!! Every stinkin’ mile of it….And I give God the glory for every one of them (even the .2).

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Crossing that off my bucket list….and it feels GOOD!

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