09 June 2011

My Marathon Story- The Extended Version

Super nervous, just about to head to the start line
Ok, so here is the wordy edition of my marathon experience.  I want to be able to remember as much as possible about the weekend, so more than anything this is just writing down a memory for me.  For some people it may be one of the most boring things you have ever read.  Others might at least learn a few things that a rookie marathon runner girl has to offer.  Who knows.  I am going to blog and be wordy anyways, so here is my story!

On Sunday morning (6/5) I woke up at 6:30am in order to have time to eat something, shower, gather all of my stuff and be out the door hopefully somewhere close to 7:45am.  The first thing I did was brew a pot of coffee and sit down to try and eat some food.  I stuck with the tried and true cliff bar/peanut butter/banana combination since it seems to always work for me.  I don't usually get nervous for races any more, but because this was a new distance for me and it would be the first time on a starting line ALONE I was having some serious butterflies in my tummy.  So I managed the cliff bar but not the banana.  I decided to just eat that in the car on the drive to the start line and hopped in the shower.  Yes, I shower before running for 5 hours.  Don't you? 

I made sure to apply tons of sunscreen (it said it would last at least 80 minutes.  hmmmm...) and applied body glide literally every place I could possibly think of that may chafe.  I got dressed in my running gear, fit all of my gels and energy chews into my pockets and we were out the door.  We ran into Alyssa and Paul in the hallway and I wished her luck (she looked pretty nervous) and we were off at around 8:10am.  Much later than I wanted, darn!

I tried to eat the banana in the car on the way to Sequim but my stomach was not really too happy with that plan.  I got about 2/3 of it eaten and gave up.  We parked and as we were walking across the field I was feeling really, really nervous and kind of ill.  It was pretty warm out already- not a good sign if you ask me.  I am pretty sure the temperature in Tacoma had not hit 70 degrees one time during my training, and now I was going to go run a freaking MARATHON in that heat?  Holy cow.  Granted, it isn't like 70 degrees is hot, but when you are used to running in cool, 50 degree weather and your body does not adjust well to sudden temperature changes it spells trouble! 
I am way behind all of those speedy looking people!
Anyways, I decided to use the bathroom really quick and while waiting Devan saw one of the teachers from her school there.  What a small world!  So Devan said hi to her really quick and apparently saw her running several times too.  After using the bathroom we found Jaime and Sarah, took a few pictures and I headed out to the starting line.  I headed back to the 10:00 group.  I noticed that this was the smallest starting group of any race I had been at.  I also noticed my shoes were tied a bit tight so I bent down and loosened the laces a bit.  Then the gun sounded and we were off!  The course took us on a 4 mile loop that went back by the start line so Will and the kids stayed there, and Jaime and Sarah took off to go find Alyssa at her halfway point.

I made sure to keep my pace just under 10 minutes.  That was my initial goal, to always be just under 10 minutes per mile, then towards the end if I felt good to maybe try some 9:30's.  Around mile 3 I noticed my feet starting to go a bit numb- my shoes were still tied too tightly!  So finally I stopped and loosened them up a bit and my feet went back to normal.  I was feeling pretty good, trying to just get into the rhythm and enjoy my race- but boy that sun was warm!  There was literally not a speck of shade and running on the pavement started to make me overheat.  As we ran down the main street in Sequim (Washington Ave I believe) one business owner had their sprinkler out so I ran through that.  It was then that I realized my arm sleeves would help keep me cool if I got them wet so at that point I started pouring one cup of water on me at the water stops.  Will and the kids drove past me and honked so I knew they would be up ahead somewhere waiting for me.
I like this picture- notice how we are all landing on our right feet?
At mile 6 I started feeling pretty bad.  My stomach was hurting a bit and I was just plain hot.  I was eating pretzels thinking they might help settle my tummy and give me some extra salt.  At that point I was not having fun and I was trying to not think about the TWENTY more miles I had in front of me.  By mile 8 I knew I was going to need a bathroom stop, and luckily at the 9 mile water station there was an actual bathroom.  I was able to wash my face off, drench my arm sleeves and kind of cool off.  I was feeling kind of dizzy and had that cold sweat feeling, which is probably not a great sign at mile 9 of a marathon.  I think what saved me was the next 2 miles that were pretty much all shade as we went through a section of trail with lots of trees overhead.  Thank goodness!  I got my body temperature somewhat back to normal and then Will and the kids were suddenly there at mile 12!  Devan ran over to give me a hug but by that point I was pretty wet- from sweat and water.  She just said "eeeewww" and I laughed- and off I went again. 
Pretzels in hand- not feeling too good here.
I knew Sarah and Jaime would be at mile 13 waiting for me so that was my next focus.  I kept trying to appreciate the scenery since it is such a pretty trail, but I just kept looking out at the snow capped mountains thinking how nice and cool it must be up there!  And then there it was, the mile 13 water stop as well as my BFF and Sarah with signs to cheer me on.  Love them.  Jaime ran with me a bit and then off I went.  She told me that Alyssa had just finished right before I got to them.  My time for the halfway point was 2:20.  My slowest half marathon EVER.  Ugh. 
The beautiful scenery.  I wanted to be on that mountain top in the snow :)
At this point the path for the marathon joins the path for the half marathon so I was in familiar territory.  Last year I did one training run on the trail as well as the half marathon.  It was also nice because more of it was shaded by trees so we weren't just running in the blaring sun as the afternoon kept getting warmer!  We were also encountering a few more hills here and there.  I walked a bit and ran when I could- at this point I just was happy that I felt good enough to continue running at all.  I remember running up one hill and passing 3 guys who had been just in front of me.  They were all walking and my ego needed a bit of a boost so I just jogged right on up past them all.  As I was walking up the very last (absolutely enormous) hill I was thinking to myself how hard just walking up it was.  I muttered the words "mother f*cker" in what I thought was a quiet voice, however the girl in front of me turned and looked so I guess I must have said it loudly haha.  I just said "sorry!" but I think she probably felt the same way. 

Right after that last hill the trail pops out next to hwy 101 where my whole crew was waiting for me.  I had made it to mile 20!  I begged them to take me with them, but they told me no.  I was almost done!  I kind of needed to use the bathroom but decided I just wanted to be finished running.  I had 6 miles left and then I was done.  I was going to finish, I had complete faith in my body at that point.  I also had a new focus- finish in less than 5 hours!  I did NOT want a 5 to be the first number in my time.  That meant I needed to RUN. 
Begging them to take me with them!!!
I headed down the last hill (yes, down was hard too) slowly because my legs were kind of feeling like jello and I was worried they would just crumble if I tried to run down the hill quickly.  Once I got down I had this sudden energry burst.  I felt pretty good and actually started passing a few people.  Around mile 21.5 a woman had her garden sprinkler out.  I ran at her with my arms out so she knew I wanted to be sprayed.  She got me good, then said "I am going to get your back too honey, don't you worry" and she did!  I was soaked but it felt amazing.  She was my hero. 

Around mile 22 we popped out of the trail and were running next to the water.  It was really pretty, but again we were in the direct sun the entire rest of the run.  We passed the 12th water stop and the ladies there had chips and salsa out, but I just grabbed my 2 water cups and my gatorade and continued on.  At this point I was starting to realize that running was less painful than walking, and if I did start walking getting back to a running stride was hard.  What a terrible cycle!  This is where the mental part of a marathon comes into play I suppose.  Trying to convince your body to keep running when every single muscle in your body is tired and hurts.

I remember passing the 23 mile sign and thinking I had only a 5K left.  I kept playing leap frog with this lady, and she was so nice every time I passed her she would encourage me and tell me to go for it.  I started passing a few people here and there, realizing that was somehow giving me the focus I needed.  So I just started picking people off here and there.  And nearly everyone I passed looked at me and told me "good job"- how nice is that?  When I knew there was only one mile left I shifted into the highest gear I could find.  I passed 3 girls I had been chasing for about 1/2 a mile, skipped the last water stop and just ran with all the energy I could find.  I passed quite a few people in that last stretch.  I slowed to a walk for about 5 seconds before I thought "what the heck are you doing- the finish line is RIGHT THERE!" 

Then all of a sudden I looked up and Jaime was walking towards me.  Somehow she knew I needed that last little push to get me over that finish line.  I have the best BFF in the world.  She ran with me for a minute or two while I told her that if I ever mentioned running a marathon again she should smack me and remind me of this very moment.  Then she stopped and let me finish my race.  I finished strong and crossed that finish line with a smile.  I think anyways, only the photos will tell :)
Just before the finish line- Alyssa and Sarah cheering me on.  Paul took the photo.  I passed all those people behind me :)
One of the volunteers greeted me with an FRS drink and my medal.  He was talking to me and asking questions probably to make sure I was somewhat coherent.  Then he realized I had several people waiting for me and he passed me off to Will and the kids.  I was in a daze for a while, and walking around was rather difficult.  Wow oh wow, I had never felt so sore in my life!  Words cannot describe what my legs and hips felt like.  But I wasn't injured in any way so that made me happy.  My ankle and knees held up just great.  I wandered over and signed up to get a massage and chatted with Jaime, Sarah, Paul and Alyssa.  Alyssa was feeling pretty good, she had also gone and showered in our hotel room so she was nice and clean.  We took a few photos together (I was starting to fade a bit at this point) and they all headed for home. 
Our shiny new medals.  Apparently I was too tired to open my eyes properly!
I kept drinking various things people handed me.  I also had a Hammer Recoverite that Will brought me.  It tasted nothing like Strawberry but it was bland and it seemed to perk me back up a bit.  I tried to eat a banana and some yogurt but could only manage a couple of bites.  The massage felt nice and then we walked back to the car- very slowly!  Once back in the hotel room I sat in a cold bath for about 10 minutes then showered and changed.  I laid down on the bed for quite a while until I started to feel hungry.

We went and had dinner at Applebee's- by then I finally had an appetite!  I had a steak dinner with a baked potato and steamed veggies.  I also had a well deserved beer, then we had some dessert.  It was a chocolate chip cookie topped with vanilla ice cream.  Yum.  I was wearing my shirt and medal so people would know why I was walking like a 90 year old lady so a few people stopped to talk to me about the race, and our waitress was a runner so she chatted with me about it as well.  Then as we were heading out of the restaurant one of the workers was holding the door for us and she looks at me and says "M'am?"  and I said "yes?" She said "I just wanted to tell you that you are really pretty"- I told her thank you, that was nice of her to say.  Especially since I didn't feel all that glamorous after running for 5 hours!!
Well deserved dessert! 
Back at the hotel after dinner.
We stopped at Safeway on the way home- I just wanted a couple of magazines to read and to lay down on the bed and not move.  By the time we arrived back at the hotel I laid down and tried to read my magazine.  I actually ended up with a fever- my face was burning up but I felt cold.  I felt terrible for about an hour or so and just tried to fall asleep but couldn't.  I think my body was just completely out of whack, I kept drinking my vitamin water and hoped eventually I would feel a bit better.  The fever finally subsided and I was able to fall asleep.  Sleeping was a whole different issue though- who knew it would be so difficult to sleep when your legs are so sore!  It hurt to even just lay there. 

When I woke up the next morning I managed to get out of bed and hobble around getting ready for the day.  I felt pretty good (aside from the soreness) so we decided to eat breakfast at The Oak Table in Sequim, hit the ferry in Bremerton and hang out downtown Seattle at the market for the day!  We had a lot of fun, and it was a nice way to finish up my marathon weekend!
Riding the ferry to Seattle

Of course that sticker was put on immediately!!!
Hanging out at Pike Place Market


  1. Great recap, and I like how everyone is on the right foot in that picture, how funny is that!

  2. what a great recap! i keep thinking back to my first marathon while i was reading this and i remember having a really hard time sleeping for a couple of days due to being so sore. great job passing all those people at the end and finishing strong in under 5 hrs :)

  3. Good blog! It was good hearing your point of view of it. Yes I was scared! It was my first race starting alone too. but Im glad we did it. :) you did great ( i know i said that a lot) but thats someone most people cant say they can do. and I honestly felt fine after running , a little sore, and not hungry but im sorry you had a hard recovery time. :(
    ps(did you ever remember getting a card from me?)
    so when is our next race? :D

  4. Great job babe this was a great day and weekend!!

  5. Like I've said before, you are amazing and I'm so glad we could be there to support you. Hopefully one day I'll be at a half with you and we'll be celebrating a race together too! Love you much!