Thoughts on my First Marathon
I guess you could say this will be a race recap of sorts… or maybe just a place where I can complain about the race I just ran and the pain (oh, the PAIN!). Not really sure… we will see how this plays out together. I will write a 10k recap for the inaugural Minnie 10k (which I know you all think should come first because that was on Friday and the marathon was on Sunday, but I really gotta get some of these thoughts down before I forget them). I should warn you now, settle in; this is going to be a wordy and long recap with lots of thoughts.
Back in April, when I was still in a boot and already registered for the Marine Corps Marathon, I watched as Disney opened up events for Marathon weekend. After a mostly positive experience at the Disney Princess Half Marathon in Feb 2013, I decided to pull the trigger and register for what would be my second full marathon (assuming my foot got it’s act together). So on one fateful April morning, as I sat laid up with my foot in a boot, I registered my husband and I for the inaugural 10k and me for the full down at disney. As the months progressed and I learned I would need foot surgery, I had to sell my MCM bib (which made me super freakin sad), making the Disney Marathon my first full. And all of the terrifying feelings I thought I would have out of the way, came with me to Disney this past weekend.
Thoughts that swirled through my mind were mostly nervousness, am I ready? What have I gotten myself into? Can I do this? Did I remember everything I needed? Did I train enough? etc. I emailed Abby numerous times in the weeks leading up to leaving and even the day before, freaking out about the smallest things! I got a blister on my toe and was flipping shit thinking about running the full with a blister! I woke up at 12am because of some snoring going on in my room. Took a walk and got some ear plugs (which didnt help) and proceeded to fall back to sleep after a while. I think I slept a total of 4 hours the night before. When my alarm went off at 3am… I got up, dragging ass.
I made myself a cup of instant coffee and proceeded to get my gear on. I am a field tester for Bia Sport and I acquired a new garmin (saved for about three months) in the past two weeks (review to come) but I went with the one gadget I spent the entire time training with, which was old fatihful, my garmin 310xt. I put on my running capris, my MCM hat that saw me through all of my training and my unbreakable warrior bracelet. I headed out the door to the buses to the race. On the bus ride, I chatted with a chica from canada running the Dopey Challenge.
Brief aside: a last minute decision had me signing up for the race retreat approx 10 days before headed down to Disney and the morning of the marathon I was thrilled with the decision on day of… Runners will know what I am talking about when I say this, but for me, my main focus on Sunday morning was making sure I pooped. (Look, we talk about poop here, so if you can’t handle it, skip to the start of the next paragraph) The race retreat had the private porta potties and bag check and such. There were some extreme advantages to this: there were people directing traffic to the potties (pro #1), there was always toilet paper (pro #2), actual sink like structure (pro #3). Also, with the idea that I had paid for this, I didn’t feel the need to rush anything. I had chugged my cup of coffee back at the hotel when I woke up, so my body was ready “to get out the demons” so to speak. Anyway, that went well but I was still really nervous.
After figuring all of the race retreat out and checking my gear, I headed out to parking lot of epcot to make my way to the corrals. As I was headed out, I spotted Linzie! This was truly a blessing. It helped to calm my first-time marathoner nerves. Walking over with him, we chatted about gear and race stuff and how I looked like I was going for a hike on some mountain with my nathan rave backpack on (hehe, my parents gave it to me for christmas) and got in some laughs before we had to part ways because of being in different corrals. I walked to corral M and began the long wait to start my very first marathon.
When it finally came time to start, I had given myself approx 42 pep talks. I continuously told myself I was going to run my race and that I trained for this. I checked my phone about 7-10 minutes before the start of my corral. My husband had gotten up special to text me a good luck and an I love you. I almost broke down right then (he was unable to attend the trip to Disney for several reasons, number 1) being financial and 2) being he will be taking a trip to oklahoma in Spring. I really was missing him but i got my shit together. Reconfirmed that I was indeed nervous but ready and I was ready to trust in my training. My coach said to treat this like any other training run and just relax. I tried my best.
I was determined to keep my pace between 11 and 12 minutes a mile the whole way. I didn’t want to burn out too fast and I didn’t want to go to slow and worry about trying to catch up later in the race. I didn’t have a goal time per say. I had an idea of where I wanted to be, but coming into this race 5 months removed from foot surgery, my main goals were completion and survival with no injury. The start of the race is outside of epcot and we ran to Magic Kingdom first. I was on target and cruising along… listening to my marathon playlist (which I will publish later this week). Mostly, I was looking around and really enjoying all of the sites and sounds of my first marathon. We headed through magic kingdom and I thought I might see my buddies who came down to Disney with me, but I didn’t. No biggie there, continued through MK to the speedway where I chatted with a few girls running in Hokas and carried on (I would see these girls later in ESPN Wide World of Sports). Motored on over to Animal Kingdom where we would hit the half way point. My garmin and I were about 0.2 ahead of the mile marker signs due to curves and dodging people, etc, but as I looked down at my garmin for the 13.1 mark, I noticed I was cruising, right where I wanted to be… around 11:23/mile pace with a 13.1 split of 2:23 — this meant I was on (new) target to come in under 5 hours and beat Al Gore’s time when he ran a marathon (his time was 4:58 or 4:59). Shit, if I could turn it up, I might be able to come in around 4:45. These were my thoughts.
I continued running and as I hit the 16 mile mark and ran two steps past, I said to myself, holy crap on a stick, this is the longest I have ever run. And THAT thought was the beginning of the end. We were headed into the ESPN Wide World of Sports. Now, I have to note to you, that this marathon involved a lot of running on ramps and roads and tilted slabs of concrete/pavement. I also want to mention to you that ESPN and I broke up at about mile 19, but I digress…
Around mile 17-18, as I was in ESPN WWOS, I felt my knees starting to give. At this point I had told them to shut up (yes, out loud and with profanity) a few times and they had listened, but at mile 17-19 my knees slowly started giving up. My legs didn’t feel tired but my knees were done. I told myself I trained for this feeling. I killed it for three months for this feeling and I told my knees to suck it the hell up cause we were running this thing through to the damn finish. Also during this time (mile 18-20), I started hitting a serious wall. I started thinking about how my husband wasn’t there with me and wouldn’t see me finish and started to cry, which was more like a hyperventilating weird asthma thing that was happening. This happened about 7 times in these 2-3 miles and each time, I would tell myself that if I was going to finish this thing, I couldn’t break down yet because there was no way I could run and cry and damnit we were going to finish this f-ing thing. That was enough to calm me… that and the BREATHE BREATHE BREATHE thoughts i was having so I didnt have a full onset of a panic attack or asthma attack. Shit got real. ESPN and I broke up several times over as I continued to run through there. My pace slowed significantly as my knees proceeded to crap out and by mile 20, as I was leaving ESPN WWOS, I was applying the biofreeze at the med station to the back of my knees where my adductors connected to give me relief so I could complete the damn race.
Some things that really helped me was my playlist. I heard Bulletproof during mile 13, Pantera during mile 19 when I was getting angry at my knees and as I ran through the last water stop at MGM/Hollywood studios before headed to boardwalk and finally epcot, Eminem’s Til I Collapse started playing. This was my saving grace. As Eminem’s lyrics played over my headphones, all I could think was I am gonna do this thing, I am going to finish this thing if I collapse trying (dramatic, i know). Point being, that music saved me.
I passed my best friend and her boyfriend on the boardwalk at mile 24.8ish and swore a lot and then continued moving. Rolled with the double rock fist through epcot (yes there is photographic proof, see below)
With the finish in site, running next to a marine and his wife, I made a comment along the lines of, I don’t think I am going to be going any further or any faster and they were like dude… let’s rock this. And, we rolled in. It was nice. And then all I felt was pain. Lots of pain in my knees and my back. PAINNNNNNN and after getting my medal and thanking the marine and his wife for helping me in the final tenth of a mile, with a single tear coming down my face, I walked over to self-medical and got two of the biggest ice packs I could find and shoved em up under the bottom of my capris, in the back.
Overall Thoughts on my First Marathon:
1) I would do it again. It was one hell of an accomplishment and I can throw up a better time, which brings me to point 2
2) I SHOULD HAVE LISTENED TO MY COACH! Some of the strength training, I skimped on (I did it, but not like I should have. I rushed it.). LESSON LEARNED! holy hell! When Abby said never skip the lunges or squats, I didn’t skip but I didn’t give them the attention to detail I should have and miles 20+, I suffered. Hardcore. Next time, I put forth all of the effort towards EVERY workout. Holy hell.
3) Disney was fun and it was a good first marathon. With as many aid stations as they had, I could have used only my handheld waterbottle instead of my nathan backpack vest. I will prolly do Disney again but not for a few years. The cost was astronomical. (If I did it again, I would hit up a grocery store and save some money on food which was a HUGE money sink)
4) Hanson’s method was good for me and now that I know what to expect and have come to the realization that Abby is always right, I think time #2 would be way better
5) ABBY IS ALWAYS RIGHT.
6) Friends and support are important and I think in the future a more local marathon (with less theme parking) would be better for the support thing — my mom and husband would be able to come out and stuff. Guess MCM really is next. Although, there is something to be said for social media! I had so many wonderful messages, comments and tweets as I made my way through the course. Thank you to everyone online and to Erin and Joe who came down to Florida to do Disney and support me during the marathon.
7) 26.2 is no laughing matter. Respect the distance. SERIOUSLY, RESPECT THE DISTANCE –> ain’t no laughing matter.
A lot of people have asked me what is next… honestly, rest. T25 (cross training) with Kat. More rest and then tackling the half marathon distance and getting my half time under 2 hours if I can, although I would settle for under 2:10 at this moment in time, but I think I can do under 2. Go big or go home, right?
I do plan on recapping the 10k and the stay at the Beach Club Villas as well as some touching on the Disney experience and some other stuff, but until then, I will bid you adieu.