Sunday, December 4, 2011

My First Marathon

Boy Oh, Boy Oh Boy!!  Sitting to write this while it is fresh on my mind. 

I'm going to start with the boring, runners stuff ;)
I purposefully ran "slowish" the first 13.1.  Holding just under a 9:45 min. pace.  I wanted to make sure I had some left for the second 13.1 without Mike.  My plan was to speed up to 9:15 pace the whole second half.   I felt TERRIFIC at 13.1! And continued to feel that way for another hour. Somewhere around 18 is when I started having to pay close attention to not dropping below a 9:50 or 10 min. pace to finish under my 4:30 goal.  See, around that time everyone around you is slowing down, walking , stopping to stretch out cramps, or even just stopping period, etc. So when you feel like you're rolling because you are passing everyone, you are not. From the time I was at 18- the end,  only about 2-5 people passed me. So, where was my "wall" ? it wasn't at 20 like everyone says. Mine was at 24! With only 2 miles to go, I slowed to a 10:30 pace. My lower body didn't want to move as fast as my mind wanted it to.  The second half was very hilly and windy! And of course when you were going uphill it was also against the wind!  With .2 to go, I found UMMPFF to pick it up strong to finish in Autozone.  Finished with a 9:58 average pace, 4:21 total finish. I was the 279th woman out of 1,071 women who completed the Full.

So, now the mental and emotional side of the whole day. The first half was simply put...Fun! Mike and I found my Uncle at mile 2 and we all ran together until 8. What an amazing course to run! After your first hill you come upon the first large crowd of spectators as you run down Beale Street, and immediately followed by a percussion band of young guys and Riverside Drive , and then St. Jude campus around mile 4. That stretch makes the entire 3 months of training well worth it for any runner.  Simply put. It's amazing.  We definitely had a giant lump in our throats during the stretch.  You feel a part of something big. The families aren't just monotonous in there cheers. They are genuine and personal.  We saw my younger cousin cheering there, an added bonus. Then, the nice stretch down North Parkway and the even prettier through Overton Park.  At mile 10 we saw my other 2 cousins, where we proudly told them that their Dad was not too far behind us.  At 12, the full keep on going and the half turn to finish. I had mentally prepared myself for this. Knowing I was on my own for the rest. And..that I was only half way.  The first tears of the day came out of my (and Mike's) eyes as I told Mike to go finish strong and we said our I love you's. Mike had been fighting a quadricep cramp since the 11 mile marker. And he told me to do awesome. (Interlude he is the best man in the wide world!)  As I ran through miles 13-16, I was feeling great. I picked up my pace a bit knowing I had everything like breath and hydration under control.  Around 14, I saw a couple of my friends along this part and that was awesome. Having loved ones along the way truly helps!  Many of the signs put a lump in your throat. "Run for Jake", "Pain is weakness leaving the body", "Run because (she) can't.  The crowd support of this race is extraordinary.  Complete strangers making eye contact with you , telling you you're doing great, an truly meaning it.   So now we are at 17-22. This part of the course is heading North on East Parkway. The side of the road we are on in slanted, not flat and gradual up hill.  I still felt good though, as I said above. And this is where I realized I was going to finish! And most likely at my goal time!  As long as I kept that pace or slightly slower.  When I had 5k left, I still felt OK. I was in rhythm, and mentally there.  At mile 24, I had a change.  My body was not striding like my mind wanted it too. When I walked to drink my sips of water at stations, it was a task to start back up again. So, I did not stop at the 25 water station.  For 24.5-26.2 , I had to dig every bit as deep as I did to deliver my Kade drug free. If not more.  At 25, I looked at my watch and actually thought to myself...' I COULD walk this mile to 26 and STILL come in under 4:30'.   So, I walked a few steps. Then, I told myself what I tell my clients all of the time.  "Just do it. Don't think about it. Go!" And picked t back up to a run.  I saw my great friend, Laura, at 26. Her energy gave me energy. I am thankful for her presence on the course for sure! And then , I was there. Sharp turn into Autozone park and crossed the finish line. A girl who I have taught dance to for over 10 years+, and her mom, were who gave me my blanket. That was very special.   You would think that you have all kinds of ...ohhhh I just ran a marathon ....thoughts and emotion. But...your mind is actually shut off.  At least mine was.  I was happy, don't get me wrong. Just not basking in glory yet. That came after about an hour when my muscles stopped burning.    I sure was glad to be DONE! Immediately after crossing the finish and getting my picture taken,  I sat on the field for a couple minutes to stretch and sit for the first time in over 4  hours. The first clear thoughts that I remember from immediately are that I want to be a volunteer next year instead of a runner.  I want  to experience that event from that perspective as well . I think I am a good cheerleader! Next, came walking up to my family.  I sure did feel those stairs! Some pain did set in. More than I expected.  I was overcome with joy to see my family  . I am so very glad and thankful  that they were able to be there.  

It is definitely one of those challenges in life where in hindsight, it wasn't that bad! You start thinking of all the ways you could have done better. Don't get me wrong, I am proud of my 4hr 21 min finish , but being who I am, I feel that I could have changed strategy around mile 20 and finished better.  But I can only assume that is how every athlete feels after an event of this caliber.

You might think that on this day, the day after running my first marathon, with very sore leg muscles, that I would not want to think about running again anytime soon. Wrong! Notice I titled this, 'My FIRST Marathon'! I trained the right way in my book and would like to help myself and others feel the feeling of accomplishment again that comes on this day.  And most importantly ,uninjured. Far too many run these races injured or injure themselves during. My muscles are quite sore; they carried me 26.2 miles. But they are not broken.  Along with other phases of my career, I want to help runners train and race free of injury.  I truly know that my  training being a comprehensive plan of strength training, dance (cross training), stretching, and running is a winning one. And that marathon running is mostly overall fitness and willpower, not how long or how much you actually run.  My husband, Mike successfully running two half marathons this year with respectable times and uninjured is another testament to this as well. We each ran at most 70% of our race mileage, which is common in Europe ( I trained to 18.5 and he trained to 10).

So, wrapping this up.
I will go back to my prequel blog.
Why? and the answer is still, Why not? There are so many in this world that can't. We should all do it for them . Do it for the funds raised during.  This event of 13,000 runners raised almost 4 million dollars. Amazing . And guess what? That will run St. Jude for almost two days. It takes almost 2 million a day to keep their doors open. To save lives everyday like they do.  Let us all be thankful for our health and our families' health. Let us all go out of our way to help those who are not healthy and do not have healthy families.