Sunday, December 12, 2010

Journey to my First Marathon- ThunderRoad 26.2

The day I began training for over 8 months ago, finally arrived Saturday the 11th at 7:45am sharp. It was around a brisk 30-35 degrees which was a vast improvement over the week temp's we had been having (around 18 degree mornings).

The week prior I was tapering (mileage is cut way back) and I began to feel like a small hippo. It felt strange to run a few short runs and eat carbs. I felt sure there was no way this was going to get me that 6.2 extra miles that I would need on Saturday. I felt so many different things- I was anxious of the unknown, nervous, excited, emotional, hungry...I was hungry all the time.

Training for a Marathon really does consume your life. So, if you ever hear someone talk about it ALL the time...its not that we really mean to, its really all that is happening right now. We eat, sleep, work and run. Thats it. There really is no time for anything else. When we aren't running, we are thinking about it. When doing other activities we are thinking, now- will this affect my run? Ie- going out with friends the night before a 15miler, playing basketball which could irritate my ITband, etc. Sounds fun, right?

Back to the story:

We wait in the warm convention center in anticipation. My running buddy- and our husbands/coaches/superfans were there with us too. We notice its 10 minutes til GO TIME, and we wanted to make one last "pitstop" before we headed out...but apparently everyone else felt that way too. I would like to thank the gallons of water I was consuming that week for this moment. So, we left without our stop, knowing it was going to be something that had to be taken care of soon.

The start was a cluster. We were herded like cattle around a gate- to then finally begin our long journey. They (as in the organizers have got to get better about this) I believe we started 4 minutes after the gun time. Eventually we got started and settled in. Here begins the count of the miles...

1-6 My running buddy and I ran together. She has a faster pace than me, but we stayed together for the first half. I think she stayed with me because I keep a very even pace and she was staying true to her word. She tends to get excited and go bananas in the beginning of races, so since we refer to me as "Turtle" I can lend her that support. Though we ran together we really said nothing. We listened to others (most half-marathoners) chatter amongst themselves. We pass a girl who is sobbing at Mile 4. My heart hopes that she was only a halfie, because if not- she has a long way to go. I feel awesome, but am searching for a portapotty.

7-10- I am finally warming up and still feeling good. I have had one "feeding time" by now and am good. I am by myself now...just trotting a long, still listening to those chatterbugs. At mile 8 I stop by a potty at a construction site as there was no wait. I know, right? Add another thing to the list of improvements- more bathrooms.

11-13 - Doing well. Since I haven't mentioned the amount of hills Charlotte is blessed with, insert that here. Thinking back, the hills didn't bother me one-ioda. In training, we ran some SERIOUS mountains of hills on the backroads out in the country- where we live. Shout out to the RB- Maghan- thanks for the Peach Orchard Road, Pine Grove Church and the Death Hill runs in your neighborhood. At mile 12.5 or so, the halfies head out to their party that I can hear. For a moment I am jealous. My time at this point was 2:19 (11 minutes faster than my half in VA Beach in September). It gave me a boost knowing that I would have PR'd if I would have been only doing the half.

14- This was where my demise begins. After being handed a coupon from the Chik-fil-a cow for a free sandwich ( What the heck am I supposed to do with that right now?) I began to notice my right IT band wanted to make itself known to me. I have NEVER had an issue with the right one. Its always been left. ALWAYS. Well, apparently all of my doctor appointments and foam rolling did nothing for the side that was "fine". Because here I was, 14 miles in with an IT band that began to hurt. It was at this point, I began therapy with myself. Telling myself that this is when the months of discipline and motivation come into play. That yes, even with a throbbing IT band I will run and finish this marathon. No matter what.

15-19- I am pretty much alone at this point. I have no clue where, I just follow the cones. I stop to stretch every mile and try to ignore the throbbing pain. I find comfort in my headphones. Sending another shout-out to DiddyDirtyMoney (or whatever the hell P Diddy's name is this week) and his new Coming Home song. I cranked the volume and was mouthing the words, eyes closed at some points and literally just running along. I am sure people driving by thought I was crazy. But what did I care? I left my self-consciousness at mile 10. Despite the pain- I was really happy. I am pretty sure this is as close as I get to a runners high. I was eating and drinking on schedule and checking that I was on pace, even with an issue.

20- I had been waiting for this mile since the race started. My friend- JW- was waiting for me, as expected , all smiles -to support me to the end of this 26.2. She donates one of her knee braces to my hurt ITband foundation and I roll it up to concoct some sort of pressure to put on it. It seems to help. A little. Stop and stretch.

21-24 She chatters along, which helps me forget that at this point...I'm kind of over running. I haven't really mentioned the lack of crowd support or entertaining things during this race. Lack was the operative word there. I could be spoiled by big races like the Rock N Roll series...but I knew going into this that there would be a lack. We are now running through Noda- a cute part of town, with friendly gatherings who cheer you on- and call out your number. I do love the fact that my name is on my bib- as I pass water stations- the volunteers are saying "Sheena, you look awesome!" That was nice. My body is now aching. I feel everything. I thank the officers for keeping us safe as one of them looks at me as we are going through an intersection and says "I hope your legs don't hurt as much as my arms." I say, "Seriously??" I get it was an attempt at a joke- and at one point may have gotten a chuckle out of me. Thankfully he didn't hear me call him a jackass, as I started up the next hill with my poor aching body and hurting IT. We pass a cute little neighborhood party- and my buddy grabs me a banana. Yum. For a moment, I revel in the fact that I didn't hit the "wall". The wall that sometimes shows up and shuts down your run. Stop and stretch.

25- The longest mile of my life. It is here that I have a major moment of weakness. My breathing- which has been steady all day- becomes short and ragged followed by crocodile tears. I can't explain why. I am guessing the inability to see the finish line, the new & unexpected injury and the journey in and of itself. That here I am, a girl who used to loathe running, on the way to finishing my first marathon. As I turn my final corner, I see my #1 fan- in running and life- standing at the top of the hill- camera ready. I try to pull myself together, while climbing hill #543 and I manage a smile to my camera-man. My friend leaves me and meets me at the end.

26.2- There is that line. The big one I have been searching and waiting for. And there is my running buddy- cloaked in her silver blanket, medal around her neck and smiling ear to ear as she joins me on my final quest. We are delirious. Chattering and exclaiming that we cannot believe we just did a marathon. I really can't feel my body at this point, so I push through to the finish line- my arms are up and my smile is huge. I have my medal, my silver cape and a smile. I, dammit, am a marathoner.

Saturday night my body was angry. My toenails, feet, ankles, calves, shoulders, legs- do you get the picture? My muscles would spasm and I was so uncomfortable. The next 2 days, I waddled around very slowly. Stairs were a 10 minute ordeal. Add in the fact that I think I am losing a toenail.

I finished my first marathon in 5hrs and 28minutes. Truthfully it was 29 minutes longer than I had hoped, but barring the issues I had- I feel okay about it. I am not fast but am improving. Thats all I can hope for.

I've enjoyed resting this past week and am looking forward to putting on my shoes again. No big plans yet...just taking a small hiatus from training.


Michelle said...

Congratulations, Miss Marathoner!!! (yes, yes, to everyone else... I KNOW she's married - but it just sounds better.)

Goal Numero Uno COMPLETE - Cross the finish line!!!

The only thing missing from your blog is which marathon is next??? It's only time when you start to get that itch... it's a crazy kind of addiction!!!

Awesome job!!!

Love and hugs... Michelle

diana said...

Great writing piece, again, what a journey! Very proud of you sweetheart.

Jeff said...

That is really an incredible accomplishment. What a great read, I was almost crying for you at the end, and I know you made it. Great job!! I can't wait to hear about the next one where you make it under 4 hours. :-)