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Musings on my first marathon

December 10, 2012

I woke up Saturday morning trying to convince myself that I was coming down with the flu. Did that feel like a pulled muscle in my quad? Surely I was not going to try to run 26.2 miles in an hour or so. As I formulated excuses, my husband prepped for the day. He had packed a bag of energy chews, an extra shirt if I was too hot or too cold and a couple PowerAdes. As we pulled up to the start, I could feel the butterflies in my stomach turn into little pterodactyls. Before I could start lying about not feeling well, Don stopped the car, wished me luck, pushed me out and drove away. I had never run a marathon so I started at the very back of the pack and stretched.

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Some of the awesome spectators that kept us going during the race.

I ambled along for a mile or so until I realized I really had to go to the bathroom. I am a nervous pee-er. And since I’ve had  three kids (and three c/sections), I have no capability to hold it. I ducked into the first port-a-potty on the road around mile 2. However, as I popped out and surprised a very nice construction worker, I realized that they were not meant for runners at all. I yelled a thanks to the site and rejoined the runners and some of them laughed. I chatted up a nice lady from Atlanta who had joined in for a training run while her husband tried to qualify for Boston. She stayed with me for a couple miles until she had to turn around to head back. Then some random guy from Nashville ran with me on and off for a couple miles; he claimed he wanted to listen to my music. It is against race rules to wear headphones but they did not say anything about looping headphones through your bra and listening to music that way. Nashville guy started to die about mile 8 and I was alone for a minute. Then Big Red picked me up. Big Red is from Birmingham and this was his 7th marathon so I figured he would be a good coach. We managed to clip along to the half way point (13.1 miles, 2:17) and then it went down hill. Don waited at mile 15 (2 :45) to wave at us and hand me a package of shot blocks. At this point it is important to mention that my hair was in a ponytail but shortly after, I had to stop and fix it into a bun. It’s the longest it has been since high school (!) and it was in its natural state of thick, wavy curls. (A few weeks ago at work, an ad girl asked “Does your hair just look like that?” and I think she meant it as a compliment because she added something about ‘beachy waves’ before she walked away. Or maybe not.) I could feel it expanding into a giant puff ball due to all the sweat so I asked Big Red if we could take a walk break. Then Big Red proceeded to implement walk breaks about 1/4 mile. At this point I was so tired that I didn’t want to argue, plus he’d ran 7 marathons. Surely he knew something that I didn’t. Alas by the time we got to mile 20, I could see the light and told Big Red that if we hauled ass we’d be done in an hour. “Or two,” he replied. “I’m a realist and this is starting to hurt like hell.” Ooo-kay.

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This is what mile 22 feels like–ow.

Big Red and I picked up some guys around mile 20 and we stayed with them for a while. One was about 45 and built like a runner, the other looked a little like Santa Claus and carried a small horn which he honked at people through out the run. They pretended to be impressed that this was my first marathon and that I didn’t seem to be dying. However, during our walk breaks, Big Red had dropped it to a stroll whereas I wanted to speed walk. It actually felt better to speed walk at the time, since my hips and knees were starting to lock up. I stopped for a bathroom break at mile 23 and decided that I was going to do my best to run the last 5k of the race. I knew my time wasn’t going to be great, or even going to be good, but I wanted to finish strong. I panicked when I looked at my watch and saw that I was 4 hours, 35 minutes into the race. I had hoped to finish around that time. Big Red had caught up to a member of his racing team from Birmingham who I will call the Man in Black. They were content to hobble to the end together. I said peace out and cranked up some Taylor Swift and headed for the finish. “I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling 22. Everything will be alright, if you keep me next to you. You don’t know about me, I bet you want to. Everything will be alright if we keep dancing like we’re 22 (oooh oooooh),” sang I to the few remaining spectators. Here’s a weird thing: I never really felt out of breath during the race. I could talk the same during a 10/min mile as I could during our sad little mostly walking miles (14/min mile). It was my legs that started to give out.

But. The last 3 miles actually passed pretty quickly. I was shocked at the amount of people walking it in. I passed several people on the last 5K that were walking and a few of them cheered me on. Most of them looked like they were just over the marathon. One time a spectator yelled that a “fast girl” (HA) was coming up on a group and one of the girls said “Let her have it.” As soon as I saw the 26 mile marker, I had tears in my eyes. I started to cry during the last .2 of the race and it wasn’t because I was sore or because I had a giant scab on my boob from my giant sports bra suffocating my giant boobs for 5 hours. I cried for that .2 because I’d accomplished something crazy and because I was relieved it was over. And don’t tell him (he doesn’t read my blogs, he has to live with me so that’s clearly enough T time), but I cried because my husband was standing at the finish and I knew he was proud of me. He was my only fan that day. Uncle Garrett kept the kids at home so Don was able to drive to 3 different points to cheer me on. I love him.

Overall, it was definitely an experience. I never thought I would run a marathon. But then I ran a half a few months after my daughter was born and it got me thinking about it. After all, I managed to train for and complete 13.1 miles five months after a c-section but because I wanted to see if I could do it. I’ve heard people say to take your half time, double it and add 10 mins for a full time. My first two half marathons were run in 2:30. Double that and add 10? Almost exactly my first marathon. Spooky. But I ran a 2:09 a few weeks ago with a friend that pushed me, so maybe next time I can be closer to the 4:30 mark now that I know A) I won’t die B) how to pace myself C) not to stick with someone slower than me D) my iPod only last about 4 hours, 45 mins E) my Garmin will stay charged the entire race F) use more body glide. Also, I totally should have worn a “Marathon Virgin” sign.

PS How does this relate to a budget? Well. It was in my hometown, it was cheap and we didn’t have to pay any travel expenses.

PPS I hope Big Red finished strong. I didn’t see him or Santa cross the line but by then I was pretty delusional.

PPPS My 7 year old is watching me write this. “Five hours?” he just asked me, “Were you in last place? I don’t see anyone behind you.”

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You can’t see it, but I’m totally crying here.

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26.2 miles? Me? I’ve looked worse after a 5k!

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Devan permalink
    December 10, 2012 10:13 pm

    Way to go!! You don’t even look like you broke a sweat!

  2. December 10, 2012 11:25 pm

    Congratulations! 🙂

  3. Jessica C permalink
    February 5, 2013 7:36 pm

    Ok, so I don’t know how I missed this when you first posted it,but I am JUST reading it now….and I am crying for you! Great story, and I am so very proud of you! I am pushing to do my 26.2 next year, so keep your fingers crossed for me…I am sure I will be a sobbing mess as I cross the finish line too 🙂 Way to go lady!

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