Monday, March 23, 2015

I'm a (Shamrock) MARATHONER!

I am officially a marathoner!!!

Happy smiles at the finish line

That was HARD!

BUT...I completed my first marathon in under my goal time of 4:20 at 4:08:42! 

Mile 1!
Mile 11.5ish
Smiles right before the halfway mark!

My friend and I ran the entire time together. We lucked out with overcast skies in the upper 40's and minimal wind.

Happy smiles at the starting line!
It was great to stay on the boardwalk and be able to walk to and from the start and finish. This is the first time I have stayed on the oceanfront for this race (when I did the half marathons I stayed with friends). It was very also cool to see all the runners throughout the weekend. The expo was fun and it was nice to walk around all day Saturday.

I was really excited and nervous all day Saturday. My stomach felt good (thanks to probiotics), but I also knew I had missed many days of rest and carb-loading from being sick. I never thought I wouldn't be able to finish, but I was nervous all the same. I didn't know how my body would react!

Miles 1-13.1 felt pretty good. The course didn't have a ton of spectators and got boring in parts, but I was pretty motivated, so it didn't bother me. I also knew the 2nd half of the course, so I felt mentally that would help me in the end. We made a habit early of alternating water and gatorade at the drink stations, which were about every 2 miles. We took water for the first time at mile 4.

From miles 11-13, we saw a lot of people we knew- my parents and friends, and there were a lot of spectators- so that made the middle section really fun. We also ran on the boardwalk and near the beach, and we saw the half marathoners who had finished (they started at 7 and we started at 8:30). That was probably my favorite part of the race!

After halfway, I started to tire and got stiff pretty quickly. My friend and I started talking a lot less, and I was getting worried. Nothing hurt awfully, but my body was breaking down a bit sooner than it had during training runs, which very well may have been because I had been sick earlier in the week. Luckily there were spectators until about mile 16, so that helped.  Once we got to 16 my friend and I decided to put our music in and literally just shuffled along with minimal words until mile 25. I took Gatorade chews at miles 6, 11, and 16 and then took a chocolate gu at 19 (I was so tired of  the sour/sugar flavored stuff). After mile 20 there was also more food (bananas and pretzels) along the course, so I took part of a banana. At that point I wanted anything to stay moving! Luckily, my stomach cooperated the whole race.

I can't really pinpoint what kept us moving for 10 miles when neither one of us felt great, but our pace stayed the same and we were motivated to finish. At that point moving at the same pace was the same amount of effort (and probably less painful) than actually walking. It is a funny thing!

Once we hit the numbered streets coming out of the military base at about mile 23, I knew we would do it. I kept thinking about how ridiculous it is to run this long, but I dug deep and kept moving. It helped that spectators increased a lot at this point. I started to notice the unevenness of the road, though, and every stride hurt when I hit unevenly. I was also worried I was getting blisters.

When mile 25 hit, we both took out our headphones to enjoy it. We knew we had it, and I really wanted to savor the last 1.2 miles. My GPS watch was .2 ahead of where we were on the course, so I was annoyed about that, but figured that was probably average when you run for so long. It was cool to come back into the home stretch knowing we were almost done.

We hit the boardwalk with about .5 miles left, and this was my favorite part of the race. It was totally flat and smooth, and spectators increased as we closed in on the finish line. We actually got a sudden urge to pick up our speed because we saw friends and family! I think it was the best I have ever felt the last .2 of a race. It was an awesome finish. What an accomplishment! I didn't feel too awful when we started walking after finishing, but bending over was very painful!

Our pace was completely consistent the whole race- 9:32 @ 10k, 9:28 @ the half and 9:30 @ 19.4. We had some faster miles in there (some of my watch splits were around 9:10) and the last 3 were much slower (about 9:50), but overall we did great.

I am 100% pleased with how it all went. It was hard and exhausting, and I am sore today, but I am so proud of myself. I don't know when/if I will do another one (though there is definitely a desire for me to break 4 hours now), but I am going to enjoy taking some time off and running some halfs! The Flying Pirate is next in mid-April in the Outer Banks:) I am already excited for a shorter run!

What a fun weekend! Thank you all for your support!

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