Meredith (my friend running her first marathon), her running buddy from home, and I started out fine. We were watching the Garmin closely and slowing down to stay at about a 10:00 minute mile pace since our goal was to get in below 4:30. This was my first long distance race with the Garmin and I was a little afraid I'd be glued to it.
First hills started. I really thought I was not going to be able to keep up even that early in the race and first started to realize these hills were going to make a huge difference in my performance.
Really nothing to report. Scenery was nice, chatted with a few other runners (including a guy running his 75th!), kept an average 10:00 pace by going a little slower up the hills and faster down them.
Halfway Point- Mile 16
We hit another hill and I told my running buddies to just go on. From that point on, I was walking up the hills and then just leaning forward and rolling down them.
The runners were pretty spread throughout the course and I was alone without another runners visible at several different points. I might have made a detour into a ditch at one point.
At one point, there's only one runner visible in front of me and I see her take a right onto a dirt road. I thought she was lost, but there was a guy in a truck sitting there so I asked him. He just nodded his head towards the dirt road and it was then that I realized this particular dirt road was straight up the side of a mountain. There might have been some four-letter-words and there definitely was some walking.
My quads are not happy about all this incline walking and sprinting down hills, but I've still managed to hold a decent pace overall. I hit mile 20 at a little under 3:30 and had the ridiculous thought that if I just pulled out a 10K in an hour, I could still hit my 4:30 time goal.
After the Mile 20 water station, I knew 4:30 wasn't happening. My legs (especially my quads) were screaming. I don't really feel like I "hit the wall" because I knew I could still finish and beside my legs I felt pretty okay, but I did really start to struggle. (There was a poster hanging in the woods that said, "All walls have doors," which I thought was pretty poetic.)
There was a lot more walking than running. There was self-pity, whining, and frustration. My mom and sister biked by and offered some water and encouragement which was helpful. What was not helpful was the woman who I ran with for a little while who kept saying things like, "When I get tired, I just try to keep running to a goal- like that tree up ahead!" I know she was just trying to be nice and keep me going, but I didn't appreciate being talked to in the way that I talk to my 3rd grade beginning runners. I just wasn't in the mood for being pushed.
I know my body and its limitations and that I was going to be doing a great deal of walking between little stretches of runs to get to the end of this race. My new goal was just to make it under 5:00.
This is when my Garmin turned on me.
From the beginning of the race, my Garmin was a little bit ahead of the mile markers. For example, my wrist would say we hit Mile 12, but the Mile 12 marker was 20 seconds later. This was not a big deal at mile 3, but at Mile 23, this was a very. big. deal. I was running with that enthusiastic lady when Garmin beeped for the 23rd time, but the mile marker was nowhere in sight. I finally scared her off when I yelled, "Where is the &$*#$@* Mile 23?!?!" We were going around a never-ending curve in the road and it felt like we were just going in a huge circle.
Mile 23, and then 24 eventually appeared, but that Mile 25 marker almost cost me a mental breakdown. When Garmin said "25.00," the road was straight ahead, but I still didn't see the marker. I was literally crying, whimpering, and begging to see that mile marker. It was a good thing I was alone.
The Mile 25 marker finally rolled around at "25.34" and I knew if I was to preserve any diginity at all and make it under 5:00, I was going to have to get it in gear.
Then I got passed by a girl in a cowgirl costume. That was demoralizing.
I saw my mom, sister, and friends cheering at the end and pulled out what I had left to push the last little bit. Unfortunately, I had no idea where I was going. They did not have the last section where you had to go around a curve marked well and I may or may not have shouted angrily at the volunteer, "Where am I going?!" (You shouldn't have to think after running almost 5 hours- the last stretch should be pretty clear.) I rounded the last little field they had marked with cones and I was crying, frustrated, and sprinting with every little scrap I had left when I crossed the finish line.
I was pretty discouraged about my time right after I finished. (It didn't help to hear that the cowgirl runner who passed me had apparently been drinking along the route...that made me feel pretty pathetic.) After a little bit though, I was okay with it. I finished my second marathon! It was a mountain marathon! I had only had flat land training! (Which was stupid...)
Anyway, I learned a lot of lessons from this race and it makes me excited for the next one!
In other excitement, I graduated from my master's program yesterday and the 5K I'm planning will be this Saturday! (Which might help to explain my blogging absence.) I hope to get a little caught up soon though and catch up on all y'all's excitement too!