Goal A: finish under 5 hours
Goal B: finish under 6 hours/get a finisher's medal
Goal C: beat Al Roker's marathon time
Goal D: just finish the darn thing
I accomplished goals B-D...woot! Being the super awesome planner that I am I did almost no research about this race. I saw that it was "the easiest marathon in America" and I was good. What I did not see was that it was an out an back 2x race...so basically four 10.5k legs...which turned out to be not as bad as I expected. It helped because once I hit the midpoint turn around, I knew what to expect for the second half...exactly what I had experienced with the first half! And once I got to the 31.5k mark I knew the fastest way back to the car was to just finish the darn race.
What I also didn't fully comprehend about this race was that it was run on pebbles. It said it was on a tow path and my brain interpreted that as "well worn dirt path." NOT SO. IT WAS GRAVEL!!! When I took my shoes off after the race I felt like I had just walked over hot coals.
Soo...on to the gory race recap.
The race started at 6:30AM (I voluntary took the early start as it was recommended for anyone who might need more than 5 hours). I somehow managed to fall asleep the night before so I woke up at 5AM rather refreshed (maybe for the first time ever before a big race?). I ate my breakfast, got ready, and my brother in law drove me to the race about 15 minutes from their house. We got there early and my brother in law graciously offered to let me sit in the car until 15 minutes before the race since it was drizzling and coldish. There were a whopping 100 or so people who took the early start so there was really no need to line up early.
I decided to wear a camelbak since I had worn one during my longest practice run and loved having water available to me whenever I wanted it. I also wanted someplace to store my chews and my iphone so my sissy could track me and know where I was. Did I mention this race was super high tech? Yeah...not so much. The race did not provide online updates on my location. But I did on Facebook! I did quick check ins at every turn around and my sister was trying to track me through the Find My Friends app on the iphone. Unfortunately the app wasn't too accurate. According to my sister I spent a lot of time running in the Potomac river.
I ran the first half of the marathon pretty much running on the heels of a few girls who I found that were keeping a good 11 min/mile pace.
When I say I was on their heels, I mean it...you can see my blue shirt and little head in the back of that pack. I had to consciously back off of them a few times because I was afraid if I tripped I'd take them out with me and that was no way thank a couple of girls who paced me for 13 miles.
After turn around 2 (the half way point) I took a few walking breaks and lost my pacers. I slowed down to 12ish min/miles. There was a woman taking photos at the farthest water stop from the start. After turn around 3 I gave up on my camelbak and texted my sister to see if she could meet me at a bridge to pick it up. Just before the bridge I passed by the water stop photographer...Ladies and gentleman, may I present to you...
Mile 20 of a Marathon
Pretty horrible, huh? To my defense it was right before a water stop so walking is allowable at that point...right? This was just before I found sissy to ditch the camelbak.
Thanks to the fabulous tracking on the Find My Friends app, she thought she had about 10 minutes before I made it to the bridge. I crossed under it just as she got to the far side of the bridge. My poor pregnant sister sprinted across the bridge while I started running towards her. The second she got close enough I pretty much threw my backpack at her and took off back towards the race. Sissy, if you're reading this, thank you for being super fabulous. I felt horrible throwing my stuff at you and not even saying thank you but I was afraid to slow down!
After I ditched the bag I got a new burst of energy to keep going. Although the last 3 miles were torture. I picked a song on my ipod and put it on repeat and just ran through certain parts of the song until I got to the end. By the end I was averaging 13ish min/miles. It was brutal. Walking and running were about the same speed at that point. I finally made it within sight of the finish line and spotted sissy (thanks to the red shirt she was wearing!) and my brother in law. There was this annoying girl running in front of me so they couldn't really get a good photo of me, but here's me turning into the chute to the finish line...it was about 15 feet after this point.
Overall, I'm glad I did the race. I can say I'm a marathoner now! I'm pretty happy with my time considering the several weeks of training I missed but I kind of wish it had been under 5 hours. I'm sure at some point I'll forget the pain and want to run another one but for now, this might be my only marathon...so there you have it...my first marathon. Finally!