Wow. This is long overdue.. I had a draft of this sitting around for a while.. Anyways, without further ado:
Marathon #1 is in the books!
I got up pretty damn early Sunday.. Just as well, since I couldn't sleep. Unlike the half marathon this spring, I wasn't confident I was going to crush this race. (Well, not the race itself, but my goals for it). My 20 milers had been, well, sub-par. The longest I had run was 20 miles. Until 4 months ago, I wasn't even planning on running a marathon this year.
For prep, I made sure to taper, carbo-load, and all of that good stuff coming into the race. I even abstained from the drink for a week!
As you can see, the elevation is generally downhill, but pretty flat overall:
Major props go to my inlaws for coming over and watching mini-Raul for the better part of the day. Mrs. Raul came with me to the race, and I was stoked about that. Her first showing at a race! I gave her a printout of possible viewing locations, and the general direction of "each of these seems to be right off of the highway", and left her to it. Huge props to Mrs. Raul for truly making the most of what little I gave her.
So, I had decided the 4 hour goal was ridiculous. I was comfortable running a 9:45 pace, and that's what I would shoot for. Walk the water stations, drink 2 gatorades at each, and a Gu every 45 minutes.
It was cold in the morning. I was shivering in a tank and shorts. Damn cold. There were probably 2000 runners. I haven't seen the official count, but that's in the ballpark. The course winds through a few small towns, and a lot of back roads. 5 years ago, there were about 500 runners, so it's really expanded.
The race started just a couple of minutes past 8. Close enough to the official start time for me. It's truly amazing that with pace signs up and everything, people still can't line up to where they should be running.
I got off to an appropriate start, and was quite befuddled to see the 10:07 pace sign ahead of me. I think the pacers started out pretty fast.
Miles 1-3 were uneventful. After here, people were in the right spots.
Mile 4 became eventful. My left knee started a familiar tinge to it.. A little ITB rubbing. Eh, shizz. Well, there's no where to go but forward. I'll stick with the plan.
There were a few marked spots for easy runner sightings.. Mrs. Raul nailed those. She found them all with minimal directions. Talk about a boost seeing someone you know.
So, I kept up with my pace for the next few miles. Nothing terribly eventful. I did get trapped near some run-walkers which was irksome.. Not the fact that they were doing that.. it was the fact that when their watches went off to walk, they would start walking. Immediately. Not moving to the side or anything. Sigh. Eventually, we got far enough apart from each other for my tastes.
At the 13.1 mark, I found it pretty incredible. This was going to be my longest race. I wasn't on pace for a particular time, and I could feel the wheels getting a little shaky. Oh well.. we were in it for the long haul. Besides, at this point, someone was crossing the finish line, first place was well out of reach. :)
I kept slugging Gatorade and water. 2 Gatorades per station, plus 1 water. In retrospect, this was too much. I had to stop and pee way too often. On the upside, I didn't have any muscle cramps that plagued my training runs. Good data point to have there.
I didn't really talk with too many people.. I was just taking it in and having fun. I did talk with one runner who said this was her 10th marathon or so.. She informed me that "they all hurt". Sigh.
Around mile 19, things were really tightening up. I had adjusted my stride and gait a bit to compensate for my ITB/knee area.. As a casual observer might suspect, that leads to other issues. My hip flexor hurt. Like hell.
I kept it up... Around mile 20 was the last time I'd see Mrs. Raul. This was the point in the race that I call "The Darkness". There's a picture of me, and it's me heading into the darkness. The ache, the delirium. Wow. I remember giving Mrs. Raul a low-5 before heading down a slight hill.. that's when the wheels fell off.
The downward bit was enough to seriously aggravate my flexor, and I started some serious walking.
Over the next few miles, there was major walking. There was a public park we ran through around mile 23.. I was looking forward to this before the race.. I thought that would be a nice break from running along the roads, etc. O.M.G. The Darkness.
I was pretty nutty around mile 24.. I thought my watch had turned off, and I had no idea what time I had, if I was on track for anything, etc.
In all seriousness, I did realize around mile 22 that I would finish. I was having serious running issues, but I could walk at a pretty decent clip. It wasn't going to be a stellar 10K to finish it out, but I would finish this beast.
I got to the last mile and did my best to do more running.. some of the spectators were encouraging me to go for it.. I had to tell them that I had one last dash left, and I was saving it for the finish line.
Ah yes, the sweet finish line. There was a quarter mile or so stretch down the main street in town. When I saw that big inflated finish chute, I was stoked. I was here. I had enough to finish, and finish strong.
Bam! Done! 4:38. Turns out my watch was never stopped.
Miles 1-9: 9:46, 9:48, 9:31, 9:33, 9:39, 9:39, 9:28, 9:39, 10:43 (pee break)
Miles 10-14: 9:34, 9:43, 9:30, 9:40, 10:03 (another pee break)
Miles 15-19: 9:28, 9:26, 9:37, 10:29 (way too hyrdated pee break), 9:28
Miles 20-26+: 10:44, 11:16, 12:15, 11:34, 13:47, 14:17, 13:09, 10:44 (The garmin was .4 miles off by this point)
It took about a month for me to feel 100% healed up. I feel fine now, and am back to training.. I've lightened up the running, but started mixing in some biking and swimming.......
Was I prepared enough? Probably not. Am I glad I did it instead of waiting? Absolutely. Would I do it again? Absolutely! I learned a ton, not only about how I should prep for a marathon, but about myself. It was a terrific race, and a terrific experience. I appreciate the support of my family and friends. What a blast!
Keep on rockin!