I did it!!!
I can’t even contain my excitement, joy, pride, and disbelief over Sunday’s marathon. Spoiler alert: I met every single one of my race goals!
Before I get into this extremely long race recap, I just have to say thank you to all of you. Your messages, tweets, calls, and texts meant the world to me. I know it sounds strange, but I could honestly feel the positive thoughts being sent my way throughout the race. Thank you so much for all of your support.
Now, let’s recap!
On Saturday, Rob and I hit up the expo to pick up my race packet and peruse the booths. Some of Rob’s students were actually volunteering at the event handing out race bibs! My memories might be slightly skewed, but I think the Phoenix expo was about double the size to the one in Denver, which was still huge! Regardless, it was a successful afternoon as Rob had his gait analyzed by the Brooks representatives. (Apparently he has a mid-foot strike.)
After a peaceful evening of staying off my feet and not sleeping much, Rob and I found ourselves on the 6:15 Light Rail full of runners on our way to Civic Center. The compartment was alive with nervous energy and chatter among the runners.
I didn’t want to wait around at the start line too long, and we arrived at Civic Center right at 7 for the 7:15 start. I had just enough time to slather on sunblock while waiting in the bathroom line before heading to corral 8. Rob and I said goodbye once it got too crowded for him to walk with his bike.
With the full marathon, half marathon, and 5k all starting at the same time in the same place, the start line was seriously packed! A bunch of runners and I were just standing on the side of the corral barriers waiting for the waves to start and thin so we could find a space. It wasn’t a big deal, but it did not help my pre-race jitters.
Once my wave crossed the start line, I seriously couldn’t stop smiling for about a mile. With goal #2 being to have fun, I was just trying to enjoy my time on the course and soak everything up. Plus, I couldn’t believe this was actually happening!
The first few miles were more hilly than I had expected. In truth, I did about 0% studying of the race course (besides a vague idea of the locations it went). I didn’t look at an elevation map and I didn’t study street names or mile markers. I wanted to know as little as possible so I couldn’t psyche myself out. It worked.
I’m not sure what I did, but around mile 5-6, my right knee started giving me some problems. If I wasn’t running in a super straight line and with perfect posture, my knee would shoot some pain and force me to limp along until I got my posture under control and/or came out of a turn. Uphills were equally as painful.
I will tell you that I had some seriously angry thoughts at this point. It was mile 8 for pete’s sake and I was considering pulling out because of the pain. I put that thought behind me because this was NOT going to be how my race turned out.
Since goal #3 was run the whole thing, I didn’t stop running through my knee issue, but just slowed down (though according to my watch, I was still holding steady at 9:30 averages). Once the 4:15 pace group caught up to me, I decided it was mind over matter and stayed with them for a few miles before the pain subsided for good and I was able to pull ahead. Phew.
The course was super crowded until mile 12.5, when the half marathoners branched off for the finish while the full marathons headed out for a few more out and backs. Though I was really enjoying listening to people chat and the motivation a large group brings, the open space along the road was welcomed.
At mile 16, my confidence soared. I was feeling great, holding onto my 9:30 pace, and knew I was going to finish this thing. My stomach was under control and the only cramping I was getting was in my forearms (from holding my water bottle). I desperately wanted to pick up my speed, but I had to remind myself that there was a lot of race left and to keep it under control.
The 4:15 pace group passed me for the second and final time around mile 20 when my splits slowed to 10:15-10:30′s. Even though I wanted to hang with them, I wanted to run the whole thing more and I wasn’t sure I could hold their pace, so I let them go. My calculations were also telling me that I might still finish under 4:20 (goal #5), so I figured I didn’t need to rush.
Those last 6 miles were funny. Part of me was ready to pull off and sleep. Part of me was ready to sprint so it would be done quicker. Part of me so so desperately wanted to stop and walk. Resisting these things, I grandma shuffled my way through the last few miles. Though, according to Rob, I was looking strong at mile 25 even though I felt like I was going at a snail’s pace.
When that finish line finally came into view, and the spectators were crowding in so much that a narrow alleyway was formed, I was ecstatic and in utter disbelief. I could finally feel confident in calling myself a marathoner!
Rob was the best spectator. On his bicycle, he was able to see me at about 10 different spots along the course, track me via text, take photos, and message both our families to keep them updated. I think this officially earns him ninja status!
The entire course was absolutely gorgeous. From the golden leaves to the three separate lake views combined with the perfect, slightly cloudy weather, a runner couldn’t ask for a better day to tackle 26.2. Not only was the scenery a major perk, but the spectators were the best! There was only one section of the course (City Park) that felt slightly lonely. The rest of the course had people cheering, signs every few steps, and little kids with their own aid stations. It was so motivating!
Here it is, 3 days later, and I am feeling just fine riding this marathon high. No muscle soreness and just some slight pain in the balls of my feet. My knee is ok and working fine.
RQ: Are you a fan of crowded races? How would you have dealt with unexpected pain/injury so early in a race?