I’m going to bounce all around race weekend so just bare with me. This was my first marathon, so I don’t have any basis for comparison in my performance or the actual race. Oh, and it was on my 30th birthday! My big goal was to get a Boston Qualifying , “BQ”, time which would have me coming in sub 3:35:00, but I missed that by a whole 78 seconds. Just in case you do not know- to run the Boston Marathon, you have to qualify. This is something a lot of runners strive to do and it’s a pretty big deal. My finish time was 3:36:18 (I’ve been saying 3:36:19 this whole time but I just double checked and it looks like they updated the chip times??) and I am pretty darn proud of that time! I will be back next year and I WILL be getting a BQ.
My plan going into the race was to stay with the 3:35 pace leader until at least the half way point, possibly up until mile 18 then speed up if I still had more left in me. That plan got thrown away when the night before the race, the pacing company got rid of the 3:35 pacer and sped him up to 3:30. This rattled me a little bit because having the pacer there would have taken the thinking out of it. I could have stuck with him knowing I was hitting the paces. I looked up his splits from last year and he was spot on the whole way through. I decided to stick to my pace planning as best I could. This plan was: 8:12s until mile 18 or so and then kick it up with all I had left. Super specific plan, huh?
I did a really quick pickup of my bib at the expo. Colin dropped me off and I just ran in to grab my race packet. We were wanting to get to Chehaw Park as quickly as possible so Brice, our 4 year old, could hit up the BMX track. When they handed me my bib, I couldn’t believe my eyes. My bib number was 30! If you missed it earlier, the race was on my 30th birthday!!! I still don’t know if this was the coolest coincidence ever or someone at the Snickers Marathon was behind this.
I slept okay the night before. The 4 of us were in a hotel room and Brice moved from the couch bed to our bed at some point during the night, and Brett (our 20 month old) woke up at one point BUT that’s normal sleep for me. Felt like we were at home. 🙂 I managed to get up and get dressed, slip out the door for coffee and back in without waking up the kids. A bathroom stop, I chugged my UCAN and Colin and I were out the door at about 6:15. We hit the jackpot and my mom was able to get a connecting room so we just opened that up so she could hear when the boys woke up. Parking is very easy for this race so we parked and I took off for my warm up. I just jogged around the parking lot for about 10 minutes while wearing my jacket and some long pants to make sure my legs were warm. After taking a few pictures and talking to all of the other Valdosta runners, it was time to get lined up!
I placed myself between the 3:30 pacer and the 3:40 pacer and just told myself to not let the 3:40 pacer pass me. The first 3 miles were very congested with the 3:40 pacer right on my heels but based on my splits, he went out too fast. I had a little hiccup with my watch right at the start. I looked down and it said I was running a 2:30 pace, which would have been cool, but I thought something was wrong. So I quickly stopped it and reset it. In hindsight I should have left it alone and it probably would have corrected itself. This had me about .1-.15 off at each of the mile markers for the first half or so. I connected with some other people that were also aiming for 3:35 but they started off faster than I wanted to, so I kept reminding myself to stay calm and in control.
The first 10 miles flew by. My family was waiting around mile 6.5 which was fun to see them holding their signs their daycare made for me. I tossed them my arm warmers (really just cheap Target socks that I cut holes in) and one pair of gloves. Yes, I had on two pairs of gloves. It was in the 30s at the start of the race and my hands get very cold! I was doing well with pacing for those first 10 miles, a few seconds off here and there, but nothing that I didn’t think I could make up later. After this we turned off into a neighborhood that held a lot of the elevation gain. Miles 11, 12 and 13 were my slowest miles but I was focusing on keeping my breathing and heart rate under control. We got out of the neighborhood and I was able to get back to my regular pace.
My family was there again at about mile 18.5 and it was so good seeing them again. About half a mile up the road I saw a girl I’ve run with a few times (and who recently ran a 3:37) so she jumped in with me for a minute. She asked how I was feeling and I remember replying “I’m hurting, but I feel good!” and she told me that if I wasn’t hurting at that point then I wasn’t running hard enough. 🙂
At this point I started picking the pace up. Colin also jumped in with me for a little bit at this point but was staying a little ways ahead of me. Everything was fine and dandy until mile 22. That is when I hit the wall, and hit it HARD. I called to Colin to take my second pair of gloves, and just dug in. I remember running past these signs that said different sayings but a lot of them were things like “run with your heart”, “dig in deep”, etc. and I just focused on that. I was hurting, I was doing the math, and pretty much knew at this point I was not going to cross the line under 3:35. The last 2 miles of the race were run with pure heart. I don’t really remember much from that point on because every bit of me was focused on pushing with all I had until I crossed the line.
My only complaint about this race is that there is a very sharp right hand turn you have to make to turn into the final third of a mile or so in both the half marathon and the full marathon. It’s at this little covered walkway area and there were three girls that were walking the half marathon that were taking up the whole area. I yelled as I approached that I was taking the inside and thankfully they moved out of my way. It was in the final stretch that I looked down and saw my watch read 26.2 miles, so being the numbers person I am and wanting my Garmin account to show right at 26.2 I stopped the timer.
I ran through the finish, got my medal, little blanket thing and went straight to the grass to lay down. Clock finish time of 3:36:18. Watch finish time was 3:34:14. Between the little hiccup in the beginning plus the extra after I stopped my watch, I probably ran closer to 26.4 miles, which is consistent with everyone I’ve talked to. Almost three weeks after the race, and I’m still struggling to come up with a word to describe how I feel about the race. I am so incredibly proud of myself for finishing my first marathon in 3:36. Would I have liked to have been sub-3:35? Duh. The competitive side of me wants to analyze every mile split, but when I think back on it there is NOTHING I could have done differently. I negative split the race, running the second half in 1:47:07 (which technically would be my half marathon PR.) Miles 21-26 were my fastest in the whole race. I ran a smart race, have my first marathon under my belt, and can’t wait to go back next year!
Marathon Outfit: Top- GapFit Breathe Racerback Shorts- UnderArmour Compression Shorts Calf Sleeves- Zensah Socks- Feetures Max Cushion Shoes- Hoka One One Clifton 2
Race Day Nutrition: Generation UCAn 3 scoops 45 minutes before start plus a small cup of coffee, half of a Honey Stinger waffle 10 minutes before start, water/Gatorade at every aid station, 6 Gatorade blocks throughout the race, RunGum 1 piece at mile 13 and 1 at mile 20
Have you ever run a marathon? Did you leave you wanting to run again or to lay down and never get back up?