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Marathon #2

Monday, October 07, 2013

I have learned a lot about running & racing from Spark blogs. When you read that no race will be like your first marathon; they're right. When they say to start slow; they're right.

My first marathon experience was magical. And I really did soak it in. But how can you tell something is so special while you're living it? Part of me thought marathon #2 would be just as incredible.

And it was. And it wasn't. I woke up Sunday and had a strange feeling. It just didn't feel like race morning. Maybe it's because I was at home and it kinda seemed like any other day.

Staying warm in the metrodome

DH and I were in different corrals so we waited until the last minute to kiss & say goodbye. He turned left to join corral 1 and I went right to #2. It was packed and I was looking around for pacers, but they were already singing the National Anthem and everything just went so quickly. Maybe my first mistake was not lining up in a good spot. My original plan was to start with the 4:15 pacer, but then I found out I wasn't even placed in the same corral as them! Yes, I could've moved myself back to #3. Yes, I could've made sure I was in the very back of #2. I didn't do either of those things. Can you see where this is going?

The first mile is through downtown and the crowd is amazing and you can breathe in the excitement. I was freezing cold and was saying to myself: slow warm-up, slow warm-up. I promised myself that I wouldn't obsessively check my Garmin, I'd only look when it vibrated with mile splits. So I was really happy with mile 1 at 9:28.

Keep calm, enjoy this gorgeous Fall morning. Rain had been predicted all week and the sun was out. Leaves have just started to change. You could not ask for better running weather. I was still a little cold, but warming up. Mile 2 is 8:33. Too fast. I was telling myself to slow down and really thought I was. And then the next few miles are: 8:25, 8:31, and 8:34.

No, no, no. Stick to the plan! Screw the plan! I feel great! The crowds are amazing and now I'm by the lakes and omg! I'm running the flippin Twin Cities Marathon! Something I have dreamed about for as long as I can remember. I was smiling and so happy. And mile 6 is 8:35. crap.

I can't explain it. I knew what I was doing wrong. I knew this course. I knew the back half was much tougher. I knew I was going to pay for this. A spectator yelled something about the 3:45s and I look ahead and see I am right with that pace group. And this teeny part of me thinks: you can do this! you can keep up with them! That is the dark side of my positive, yes-you-can attitude. Over confidence.

Mile 7 is 8:40 and my friend jumps in. "I'm going too fast," is the first thing I say and she says, "OK, let's slow down." So we do. Oh, wait. No we don't. Mile 8 and 9 are 8:36 and 8:34. We're chatting and she's telling me how great I look and sound. No heavy breathing, my heart rate is fine. I really did think I was reigning it in at this point. And then mile 10 is 8:28. And Tara says, "You feel like you're slowing down. Listen to your body, not your watch." And she jumps out to run back to her car and meet me at the finish.

This piece of advice stuck with me "No matter how good you feel on the River Road miles 15-19, do not pick it. There is a lot of race left." At the half, I made a bathroom stop because I knew that would force me to stop and break this crazy pace. I went into a porta and it had some weird lock that I obviously didn't close because some guy opens the door and I happily wave "Hello!" with my pants off. whoops! It happens.

I was happy when I saw the bathroom break mile was 9:58. I got myself into a better rhythm and knew we were approaching River Road, my familiar territory. Mile 15 was 8:54 and I saw my brother and his wife and their kids. I jumped off the path and stretched in front of my 1 year old nephew and said, "Teddy! This is hard!" and everyone laughed. Then my sister in-law jumped back in with me for a bit. Again, I was told how good I looked and that I was talking easily. I still felt good, but my legs were starting to feel the distance. She reminded me to keep my shoulders loose and to use my arms on the hills. "You know these hills! We run these hills!" and she sent me off with such a good feeling.

There are not words for how loved and supported I felt. I am clearly obsessed with mileage and paces, but I also run for the joy. And the way it makes me feel and for the relationships it has helped me develop. My running family is strong and so full of love. Seeing my big brother, the one that I competed with in that 5K three years ago, seeing him cheer for me, just that visual memory, makes me cry. And his wife, Jen, running along with me in her cute puffer vest for those blocks, will always be a highlight of this race.

It's a tough feeling when you've run 15 miles and you're tired and your legs are sore and you still have 11 MILES to go. Oh, and this is where the serious hills start. Damn you River Road! Miles 16 and 17 were 9:16 and 9:18. Right where I wanted to be. I told myself I'd keep this pace and then pick it when we got onto Summit. But then there were those hills again. At the top of the Franklin Bridge I looked in both directions. My favorite view of the Mississippi River. I said my prayer of thanks for health. I am running a marathon.

And it hurts. Of course it hurts! It's a marathon! My dad has told me that mile 20 is the halfway point of a marathon. So when it started to mist at 19, I felt OK. but when the rain hit at 20 and my legs were so sore and tired, I started to really worry. I looked at my watch and I was right under 3 hours. 10K left. All I have to do is run 10 minute miles. I will meet my sub 4 goal.

I run Summit Avenue every Tuesday morning with my running group. I thought this would help me. I figured I'd have some type of muscle memory. Or at least some mental edge. But here's the problem, we don't run Summit after 21 miles. After 21 miles, I hurt so bad.

I could feel the surge of the 4 hour pace group pushing behind me. I really gave it my all and stuck with them as long as I could. The crowds were incredible and I put on a fake smile. The rain picked up and my shoes were soaked. The crowds started to thin. But then I saw my work friends and some hugs perked me up.

This picture does not show how beautiful the mansions on Summit are or the Fall leaves or how many people really were there. I dug in and reminded myself of good form. But it was so so hard at this point. I went out too fast and I was paying dearly for that rookie mistake. And then at about 23.5 I got a side crippling cramp like I have never experienced.

I wanted to walk, but knew that would just mean it would take me longer to get to the finish. Tara saw me and I couldn't even look at her. I was trying so hard not to cry. I knew I was barely moving forward and I just said, "really bad side cramp." She asked when and I said, "right now." I can hear her telling me "You can do anything for 2 miles. oh honey. You can do anything for 2 miles." And I really didn't know if I could.

I jogged on. I heard my other SIL and waved, but didn't go hug her because I was still so focused on forward movement and trying not to cry. But then I saw my whole family way on the other side of the street. Most of them had run the 10 miler earlier in the day and weren't sure if they were going to come back. With all the rain, I assumed they were at home. I made a complete 90 degree turn and ran straight to them. My younger brother was screaming "Mile 25! Mile 25! You've got this!" When I hugged my sister I just started to sob and said "I can't do this." over and over again.

And then I saw my dad laugh. Not in a mean way. In a "I know how much she hurts" way and that made me laugh. With a little push from my sister, I managed to get going again. I knew the sub 4 was out the window. And that was disappointing. But then I saw the capitol and the huge American flag that marks mile 26 and the finish line. I saw another group of friends and ran to high 5 them and smiled like I felt great. I said "ow ow ow" the whole way down the hill after the Cathedral.

And I soaked in the cheers in the finisher's chute. I threw my arms up and pretended I felt great for the cameras. And then I made the longest walk of my life to get a medal and some food. Holy world of pain.

I found DH and sat down next to him and put my head on his chest and cried. I wanted that 3:59 so badly. I was frustrated with myself for running such a stupid race. He let me have a 10 second pity party and then gave me the good news. My phone had died, but his hadn't so he had my official time. 4:03:05 PR!! By 1 minute and 11 seconds

That cute guy? He ran a 3:22!!!

And how can you be disappointed in a PR?! I'm really not. I'm just emotionally spent. It's the marathon. It takes a lot out of you.

I am very sore and proud of myself. It felt good to add this to that:

We spent the day at my parent's house and on the way home we stopped at a gas station. I wanted Gatorade and Hot Tamales :) The check out guy was singing happily to himself and asked asked how I was doing. I thought about not saying anything, but because of his happy attitude I was honest. "I'm good. I ran the marathon this morning." And he went crazy cheering for me in this little gas station. "you WHAT?! That's so awesome!" And I love that that is one of my memories of the day.

Yep, I missed by time goal by a few minutes. But I still placed in the top 1/3 and that was a goal too.
1102 out of 3928 Females (top 28%)
206 out of 721 age group (top 29%)
I'm sure there will be people out there that think I care too much about times. But we're all different and this is what motivates me.

And I am very happy. I ran a marathon.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I'm in tears!! Congratulations on you PR that is so awesome!!
    I understand the disappointment in not reaching a time goal, but to achieve what you just did is too fantastic to not go apeBleep over!!
    You ROCK!!
    You have so much to be proud of. What an incredible group of friends & family you have. You are blessed!!

    Revel in this... it is a VICTORY!!
    2845 days ago
    So sorry you were in so much pain during the last part of your race, but what great memories you have and I love how much support you get. How blessed! Way to go girl! Congrats!
    2852 days ago
    Envious of your great family support! Cherish it!

    Congrats on a solid race - maybe not as you planned, but a solid effort. And don't worry - most of us obsess about our times whether we are willing to admit it or not.
    2852 days ago
  • no profile photo CD7767704
    Congratulations!!! emoticon emoticon
    2853 days ago
    Congrats. Even though you had some cramps you kept going! It is hard to do negative splits for 26 miles. The longest I've done is 14 but am training for my first marathon in January.

    Sounds like you had lots of support. Remember always smile for the camera even when you're in pain. It won't know the difference!

    Great job'
    2853 days ago
  • LEWILL1982
    Wow! That's amazing, I know some people who ran Twin Cities last weekend. So impressive and inspring and motivational! I'm all about my times too. Can't wait to go run with my group tonight, I'll be thinking about your race on my 5 mile loop, lol.
    2853 days ago
    What a nice race report. You beat your previous time, and that's great! And what a good time, 4:03 is just terrific! Congratulations! Next time, sub 4!!
    2853 days ago
  • no profile photo CD8113065

    Great race, wonderful race report. What a terrific support system you have. Outstanding job!!

    And, you still have a goal to shoot for. Next time.

    2854 days ago
    Way to go! What an awesome story and congrats on the PR!

    I ran the 10 mile, kind of at the last second--a friend couldn't run due to an injury, so I used her bib. It was a blast but not an easy course. Great job!!
    2854 days ago
    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

    You finished strong and ran a great marathon! Way to go on the PR!!!! Something to be very proud of!
    2854 days ago
    Girl you kept the wheels ON and that's all that matters in the end! Congrats on a shiny new PR!! You are so fortunate to have a big supportive group of family and friends along the course to give you boosts when you really need them.
    2855 days ago
  • no profile photo CD4043450
    What a fantastic race report! You wrote it so well!

    Congrats on your new PR! You really pushed through!
    2855 days ago
    How cool is that!?! Wonderful! Wonderful! Wonderful!
    I don't know how you are able to push yourself through those hard runs but some how you pull it off - every stinkin' time! You are one awesome dude.

    And screw what anyone else thinks. We all run for our own reasons. You are awesome!

    2855 days ago
    Great work -- you inspire me!!!!
    2855 days ago
    Congrats!! Great race report! A bad race is only bad if you don't learn from what you did wrong, and it sounds like you now know! :D Your time was awesome, despite everything and the reality is, your time is only important to YOU! That time is someone's ridiculously impossible dream time, and it's also someone else's horrible, wheels-fell-off time. So cherish your PR because it's YOURS and ENJOY your recovery!
    2855 days ago
    WOW, WOW, WOW! What an awesome PR. Thanks for sharing your amazing experience. I actually got a little misty myself reading this. Congratulations!!!!!!!!!!
    2855 days ago
    LOVE this blog!! YAY PR!! Next marathon you know where to tweak(not twrerk emoticon ! You ran 2 marathons!!!!!!!!!!!! Your family is the best!!! emoticon
    2856 days ago
    What a great story and I was thinking of you all day and was hoping that the rain would stay away, too bad it did not. I agree with everyone else, you have a great, great family.

    Should think about running in the EC marathon in May, pretty nice :)
    2856 days ago

    Comment edited on: 10/7/2013 8:09:10 PM
    OMG You did a Fantastic job!!!! And Girlfriend it was the TCM!!!!! The TCM - I really don't think there's another marathon out there that's as beautiful or friendly as ours!!
    You tried to slow down... no worries you got a PR!!! and on our hills!! Loved the blog!
    2856 days ago
    CONGRATULATIONS!! And a PR, woooHOOO! I totally understand the feeling of setting the goal but having a near miss - and we are not supposed to care but of course we do - but you are almost there and you will do it again and finishing a marathon is an amazing experience no matter what!
    2856 days ago
    Great report and a great race1 OK, maybe not a real smart race, but now you know that you can push to the finish no matter what. Congratulations on the PR and being one super tough woman.
    BTW, I care about times too. Nothing wrong with that.
    2856 days ago
  • no profile photo CD5893253
    There's nothing wrong with caring about times! You're a runner, what could you care about? The healthiest form of competition is the one towards ourselves. It can only make you better than you already are!
    One more race, one more PR, one more medal, dozens of priceless moments and unforgettable feelings and times of bonding with your family! Blogs like this, stories like yours, runners like you always make me wish I could love running. And being able to generate such feelings in other people is a blessing.
    emoticon emoticon

    2856 days ago
    Awesome job!!!!!
    I have yet to beat the 4 hour mark either!!! (But you are a lot closer!!) ;-)
    2856 days ago
    That's awesome! Loved this blog- I'm very proud of you! Whoo hoo!
    I've done 21 marathons now- and each one WILL get easier and easier. I have NO DOUBT you will break that 4 hr. barrier. Mentally they will get better: Here's my favorite tip: when you hit mile 16 and still feeling decent- start counting fingers. Ten fingers- then by the time you get to mile 25 you have only one finger left. Anyone can run one finger left.
    Also- huge help that i've found: try succeed tablets (salt tabs). They have really helped me and my running friends out in the marathon for cramping- huge help for me.
    Your quote about not worring about time- heck- you've put in so much time and effort training for the thing- how can a person not think about time!?!! Great accomplishment! ROCKSTAR!
    ooh- one last tip- make each training run have a negative split. In the end- you'll get stronger. That tip helped me with races of all distance levels.
    RUN ON! :)
    2856 days ago
    I literally had tears in my eyes reading this! I'm training for my first mile which is 19 days away. Training for a marathon was a major lifestyle change for me and certainly an emotional roller coaster. I officially paid for my marathon today and it's given me even more motivation to go out a run today!
    2856 days ago
  • COOP9002
    Awesome accomplishment. Thanks for sharing your story.
    2856 days ago
    I had tear in my eyes reading this. I cannot imagine running a marathon, and I really can't imagine the emotion that goes with it. It's so awesome that you PR'd this race. Congratulations!
    2856 days ago
    Inspiring! Those little things make all of the difference. I am in awe just thinking about being able to run 26 point freaking 2 miles lady! congrats and enjoy your relaxing day!
    2856 days ago
    You are amazing! I love reading your race blogs! You are an inspiration to me and maybe I will run a marathon too someday because of people like you. Congrats on your PR! I'm obsessed with timing myself and how fast I run my miles. emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2856 days ago
    You did AMAZING--maybe you missed your goal by a bit, always disappointing with that, but you PR'd and did incredible. And what a great family you have! Way to go!
    2856 days ago
  • no profile photo CD2415256
    Congrats on completing your second marathon! I understand the love / hate relaionship with running pace and times. It's hard not to care even though everyone says you shouldn't - they call it a race for a reason! But, your time is still AMAZING and you hit a PR! Congrats again and hope you are having a great revcovery.
    2856 days ago
  • no profile photo CD13962463
    I am so proud of you! Your time on a hilly marathon is amazing. Your paces are near perfect to me - you ran a 9:18 up a dang hill! And then ran more hills! Talk about bada@@.
    I cannot wait to see what next year is going to be like on a flat course. And also, top 28% at Twin Cities is impressive every which way.
    And you two seriously are the cutest couple (congrats to him too!)- you two look a little too nice for people who just ran a marathon. Where's the crazy hair?
    Look at those impressive medals - "always earned, never given!" And is it time for a new medal rack present? Looks pretty nice and full to me! :D
    2856 days ago
    What a great read! I cried reading about when you hugged your sister and your brother was yelling "25 miles". You have a great family!

    2856 days ago
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