…this is a continuation of the telling of my FIRST marathon experience – part I here…
We headed out to the starting area. The corrals were getting assembled, and there were gate barricades which made it kind of confusing. Lots of people were actually jumping/climbing over the gates, but since I am very clumsy, I thought it would be a terrible thing to get injured before even starting the race! Hah! So, I did the square thing, and walked all around, then tried to work myself up to the front part of Corral 3, which was basically a grouping of expected finish times of 4-4.5 hours.
The temp was low, probably mid to upper-30s by this point, but I knew that I would warm up as soon as we got running. Besides, being huddled up around my fellow Marathoners, it was hard to be too cold anyway.
Soon enough, the race began – no Disney fireworks, or anything, just quick start! 😉
The beginning of the race was much different than I would have anticipated! There was already IMMENSE crowd support in that downtown area, along with entertainers (taiko drummers!) and spectators lining the streets! In fact, as soon as I broke from the masses after a little weaving, I found myself really emotional…I WAS RUNNING A MARATHON. Me, the person who found it to be a huge achievement just a year ago running a 10K. It all caught up to me and that fueled me through the first few miles.
Glancing down at my Garmin, I began to realize I was running too fast. I tried to slow it down a bit, but it proved to be harder than I would have imagined. Especially when I realized I had totally lost the 4 hour pace group.
Around Mile 7, there was a long gradual decline as we headed down River Road. I was coasting and felt so great. I posted under 8 minute mile times then told myself that it was okay to slow down after that!
Then, I realized that all that water and those sips of coffee were catching up with me…I needed a portajohn! Haha…
So, the next stop, I popped in and out quickly, and still posted a 8.5 min/mile. I was moving along, taking in the wonderful views and was pretty much on pain-free autopilot…
UNTIL MILE 14!
See, I had brought my Sony Walkman wraparound mp3 player, that had taken me through several races in the past. It’s a pretty solid device, EXCEPT for the fact that you can’t really gauge its power level. So yup, you guessed it, I lost my carefully crafted playlist at that point.
Running without music really wasn’t too bad, since there were fun bands and DJs abound, and I could hear the spectators yelling my name…but that LEE BRIDGE. Now, that was THE mental challenge for me! LONGGGGGGGG and silent. All I could hear was my breathing.
After that, I kept reminding myself that the worst was over! Only 10 miles to go…10 miles to go…um, ONLY? Who was I kidding?
Nevertheless, I went on, still feeling pretty good. Passing on from mile 18 to 19 was kind of hard, because I knew that we were physically near the finish, but we still had a pretty good loop around before making it back.
Mile 21: pain! I started experiencing muscle spasms in my left calf. I slowed it down. I made sure that each water stop was a walking break. But the crowd kept me going! I gave out tons of high 5’s, that made me smile, especially when it was little kids! I smiled through the pain. I never STOPPED.
I laughed when we crossed into the Bellevue area and we saw the Hash House Harriers beer stations. I thought of how good it was going to feel when I got back downtown.
Cramps started hitting my right calf. I took long walking strides, taking a minute every mile to slow down and assess. I checked my time. As long as I was putting in less than 10 minute miles, I’d still sub-4.
Mile 23: A woman, who must have been a coach of some sort really helped me through (thank you) by looking back and smiling, shouting encouragement to everyone around. I think she was with another runner, as she’d move up, then fall back and smile and cheer. She kept me going.
Mile 24: No looking back! I saw that the last mile was over 10 minutes. I still listened to my body, but amped it up. My feet no longer hurt, I picked it up…hit 25…yes! Heard people shouting, “You’re almost there!”
I gritted my teeth…I wasn’t almost there until mile 26…when I had .2 to go, if you ask me, but then I heard something concrete:
“Keep going! Just two turns and it’s DOWNHILL from there! YOU CAN DO IT!”
Yes, NEWS I could use just about then! I turned the autopilot back on, could hear the finish line music and announcements…and after those turns…I could see it! The FINISH!!
As soon as I hit the finish, I threw my arms up! I imagined how great I was going to feel when I saw that picture (can’t wait to see them!) and walked through the chute, got my medal, shiny blanket and downed a bottle of water.
There were food stations – including bagels, bananas and even pizza but that all sounded not-so-good to me at that point. I just wanted ice ice ice and then a shower. I called hubs and we met at the end of the chute and walked the few blocks back to the hotel.
This experience has taught me that you really CAN do anything you put your mind to. I am strong! I am crazy! AND most importantly…I AM A MARATHONER.