Sunday, October 30, 2011

I Am A F'kin Marathoner, Thank You Very Much!

And just like that, I am a marathoner. Well, ok not just like that...

Where to begin?  Please excuse me for boring you with a million MCM posts from here on out, but can you really blame me?!  I think we should just start off with a basic recap and see if I have anything else to say from there (who are we kidding, there is always more to say right....).

Sunday morning I woke up bright and earlier - 3:30 a.m.  I actually could have slept until 5:15, but who can sleep when you are going to run a marathon.  Not this girl, who I received a message from around the same time I woke up.  She had some great advice....

-If it bothers you even a little now, it'll bother you a lot after 26.2, so fidget until you get it feeling right
-Even though its cold, you can still get a sunburn (oops my suntan lotion remained in the car by accident)
-Remember that a positive attitude can pull you a lot of miles.  Don't get overly caught up in goals.  If you see a goal slip away, accept it, adjust it and move" ( I LOVE THIS)

We were in the car by 6:00.  It was a cluster f**k getting there.  I was soo stressed.  I was told to drive and park at Arlington Cemetery.  We could not get anywhere near there.  Maybe it was normally ok, but from where we were coming from, not so much.  I don't blame anyone who gave me advice, apparently the Metro was no fun either.  Either way, I was freaking out, my Dad and Aaron were stressed too, everyone was trying to do there best, but  it was BAD.  At one point, we got to a blocked off point where a cop was.  My Dad asked the cop what to do.  His response "Good luck, there are 30,000 runners, you can let your runners out."  I was like see you.. thanks coppie..uhh not.  Overall, not knowing the area really sucked and the paper and website totally lied about road closures.  End result - Aaron and I jumped out and Dad had to park soo far, I am sorry Dad!! But I am glad I got out, because I would have never made it in time if I had not.

So as Dad parked (a.k.a drove and parked way far away), Aaron and I attempted to find the start.  However,  what we soon found out was that we had been dropped off at the finish = FAIL.  No one seemed to know where they were going.  We thought we had to go over this muddy area to get to the start.  Uhhh nope.  At least I got not one but two piggyback rides across the mud to save the shoes.  haha. Seriously, muddy shoes on race day, no thank you!

I will save you any of the other drama, but mainly the rest of the morning went something like this.  Walk a mile to the start, shiver, get to the start, shiver shiver, open up hand warmers, freeze some more because those things take forever to work, go to the porta potty (partly to warm up,  take shoes off to put on Vasoline, feel even colder, go back to the porta potty, find Erin (this girl ran 17 miles with me!), go to the porta potty (take a picture), shiver shiver, use body heat of other runners in corral, run!

Yay it is 35 degrees out! Actually ended up being perfect!

The start was great.  We crossed the line 6 minutes after the gun went off.  My only major complaint was how truly crowded it was and not just at the start.  This race was jam packed and felt pretty congested until we got out well into the 15 mile marker.  And when you are not feeling good, it feels pretty bad to be so up close and personal with others.  It did break up at times but there was some unneeded weaving which made my Garmin blink about 26.62  by the end of it all.  Notice the about here.  I just checked my Garmin, I don't know how but the whole freaking race got deleted from the Garmin, c'est la vie!! I have a general idea and maybe Erin and Liz can send me theirs and I can make a general guestimate.   

At the outset, the coach had told me that I should try to do the following - first three miles the slowest, go three to six fairly even, 6-16 at a comfortable pace, race 16-23 and the last three you will just do it because you will get there.  Erin was awesome and came up with some great times - we decided to go for:

Mile 1 - 10:00 Mile 2: 9:50 Mile 3: 9:40  Mile 4-6: 9:30-9:40 Mile 6-16: 9:00-9:20 Mile 16-26: 8:45-9

From what I recall and the mile splits I do know, I could not be happier.  At the 10K mark, we were at a 9:48 pace, by 20K we were at 9:35, 30K we were at 9:27, 40K 9:24, and at the finish it was a total of 9:26 pace with a time of 4:07:28 - TAKE THAT MARATHON.  No it was not as fast as I had hoped, but I honestly could not be more thrilled.  I did not leave anything out there.  I gave it my all and I am so proud.  And I will be back, see you there 3:59:59 ;)

So here we go back to the long ordeal.  As you may have heard, my ankle and I have not been cooperating this week.  Well, it was not excited about the run and it told me that from the start.  It kept trying to talk to me.  But I remembered what some wise ladies told me as well as my coach, I just ignored it.  Every time my ankle wanted to talk to me (and it was often) I told it that I was not talking to it.  In fact, anytime, anything bothered me, I just said, I am not talking to you right now.  And moved on.  It helped a ton!  Yet, I am not going to lie, it made me very nervous that at an "easy for me pace" to start, I was not feeling good.  How was I going to pick it up if it did not feel good so early?!?  But I did not dwell, I just went with the flow.

Erin and I settled in as we tried to make room for ourselves in those first six miles.  We did not talk a ton but did have little bits of conversation here or there, which was great!  Just knowing she was there and we were in it together, made the world of difference!  We also had our own dialogue going on in the form of pointing - you know what I mean, point when you see people peeing on the side of the road (every two seconds), point at beautiful scenes (abundant), and point out fun shirts and funky outfits (a.k.a Batman!).  We also started off drinking a ton of water.  Erin was awesome she carried her handheld and this saved me.  My shoulders are awful and can't do this (I am working on the belt, right Robin?).   Not only did she carry and remind me to drink, she was a pro at refilling at water stations.  I did not dehydrate because of her, Liz, and Aaron (as displayed by my six very slow trips to the bathroom at dinner lol).  At about Mile 5.50, I took my first Vanilla Gu as well and we continued on up a pretty steep hill, we love hills, I reminded Erin, no walking, right?!?

Once we got up the hill, the crowd support really started and never gave up!  People were out of control!  They screamed my name the whole time, and I fed off it.  It empowered me.   People had amazing signs, their were bands, fun costumes, and kids to high five.  It is not easy being a spectator.  But I appreciated it so much.  We headed into the Georgetown area, at this point, (I believe) and the support continued.  I had run this portion of the run with Liz in September and I totally bonked and my ankle killed.  I refused to allow this to happen again. I kept my head up and let the experience take me away...

Finally, at Mile 11.50ish, we saw Aaron. Poor Aaron, he had all of our stuff still from this morning, my backpack gym bag and my food bag for mile 12 in his hands.   It was crazy!! He was running with us as we gave him clothing we wanted to discard and grabbing granola bars and Nuun water bottles from him. What an amazing guy!!!  Like I said, spectating is hard.  Spectating and being a pitcrew is even harder.  Thank you hun!!!  So Erin and I split a granola bar and continued on.  I also ate two shot blocks a mile or two earlier.  Every time, we ate, I slowed us down (poor, Erin, I was barking orders left and right, hopefully it was not too bad, sorry girlie).  But I wanted us to slow down and digest.

As we rounded the corner for 13.50, I told Erin, let's try to start picking it up at Mile 14.  We had been holding 9:15/9:20 and I wanted to get us down somehow.  So we started conservatively with 9:10/9:12.  At about 15 point something or other, we actually got to see Aaron. This time he was taking pictures.
Two thumbs up for marathoning at Mile 16 something
Kisses for marathoners!

Dad had the bag ready (thank you Dad!!!! You were amazing), I took two granola bars and handed one to Erin and shouted nuun at Aaron.

Read my lips Nuuuunnnn!!

 CRAP he yelled.  But like a trooper soon there he was racing up to us with a bag full of goodies.  He handed me a 8 oz bottle of nuun which I downed and I beamed with pride when Erin asked for Gatorade and out it came.  I ate the Granola Bar like a champ and continued to drink.  My quads were killing me by then, but again I was not letting them talk to me.

After that, I started to feel good and I believe we began to get close to the 9:00 min mark, if not lower.   This is awful, but somewhere it clicked to ask Erin how she was doing.   I know, I am sorry lady.  I am soo selfish and then felt bad that she was feeling not so hot.  But encouraging her, helped me go further. I wanted to see her do great. She is going to rock Philly! I can't wait!!!  Erin said her goodbyes at mile 17 (she finished another 3 and is now at taper, CONGRATS lady you made it. Thank you again).

After we parted ways, I felt GOOD!  I would look at my watch and see 8:30/8:45 and was feeling STRONG!  I was passing people and could not believe how good I felt at Mile 17, 18, 19.  I was smiling for the camera and enjoying it.  Taking it ALL in!  I took another Gu and continue on the high.  I was to meet Aaron at 19 with Liz and she was going to jump.  Aaron ended up going right to the finish so  I did not see him and I almost missed Liz.  All of a sudden, she came running up from behind, just in time for the bridge! Liz was unstoppable.  She was full of great words and encouragement.  She kept telling me how great I looked and how fast I was going.  And I felt it!!  I started rocking out to my music and told her that this was a cursing, dance party type race.  We hit Mile 20.01 and I said "wait for it, ok this is the furthest I have ever run!"  She responded by yelling at the crowd "CHEER FOR STEPH THIS IS HER FIRST MARATHON."  I grinned from ear to ear.  She continued to yell, I continued to smile.

So then came the famous MCM Bridge.  It was long, like over a mile, I think.  I was ready to crush it and told Liz that.  We passed a ton of people and I kept telling myself, I would not walk,  I would not listen to my quads, I would get over this part.  Liz, at some point told me, get through this part and then glory, everyone will be there cheering.  That took me so far!  I loved that and used it for the rest of the race.

At Mile 22, we came off the bridge, and I had about had it.  My quads were sooo done.  Liz got me Gatorade and it helped but my stomach had, had it.  In Mile 22, you go through a portion where you watch the Mile 23 people going the other way, I just wanted to be there.  As I got almost there, I smelled hot dogs.  UGH really people!?!  I know you are cheering and want to eat.  But do you really have to do this to me YUCK! It was awful.  But when I finally, got to the turn around point, and was at Mile 23, it did not feel much better, of course right?  I kept powering through though.  I kept up my mantras, remembered that this was my time and moved forward.  Liz ran this race last year and she is crazy knowledgable and she would tell me what we had to do.  Well, the Reader's Digest version that.  Just over this part Steph, then you will round the corner to the finish portion.  I tried to translate.  What did it really mean?  This really meant soften the blow of another bridge for ooh another half mile.  Just a little up hill at the end = get ready to die.  But I loved it!  It was perfect.

The last 3.2 were slow.  But amazingly not that slow.  When I looked at my watch, I never saw 10:00, I saw 9:30 mostly and I am sure some higher (choosing to block those out, thank you very much).  The last .2 was up a big hill.  Ok, well maybe a was short but steep and crowded hill.  People were stopping and walking.  Yes, I admit it, I had to push my way through to continue to run.  But there was no walking for me on this hill.  I had come all this way with no walking or stopping breaks (minus one moment to fix my shoe before Mile 1), and I was NOT stopping now.  In fact, I continually told myself that I was going to crawl before I was going to walk.

And then there I was, I did it.  I crossed the finish line.  26.2 Miles, 2 Gus, 2 Shot Blocks, 1.5 Granola Bars and countless hours of work and efforts and we had done it to help me become a marathoner!!! I could not be more proud, happy, and thankful to have had the opportunity to tackle 26.2 and I can't wait to see her again!
A very very very special thank you to all those who got me here, especially Aaron, Dad, Liz, Erin, Robin, Samantha, Colleen, and the PT/Coach. I am sorry, I can't list everyone.  You all helped so much. Thank you!  I can't wait to hear about everyone elses' experiences.  And thank you for all the wonderful encouragement.  It means sooo much :)

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