Monday, April 22, 2013

Marathon in the Land of Oz Recap.

April 20th, 2013- Marathon in the Land of Oz.

I have read a million and half articles and blog posts titled "before you run your first marathon" but not one of them prepared me for the fireworks going off in my stomach! I was so nervous and excited!! It was pretty crazy stuff!! I want to give a huge shout-out to my blogging/running friend-- Katie!! She ran (and totally dominated!) her first marathon on Saturday as well, so we texted our night-before-the-big-26.2 jitters to each other. It was such a huge blessing to have her support and encouragement! Thanks girl!

Packet Pick-up was Friday night, and the expo was open until 8pm. I didn't get to there until nearly 7:30, so it was starting to wind down for the night. Because it was late, there was no line and I was in and out in less than 4 minutes. My race # was 420 which I thought was super cool because it was the same as the date I was running.

Walking by the finish line was almost eerie. In just a few hours I would be crossing that finish line!

 My pre-race supper was steak with sweet potato fries. My go-to pre-race meal is pancakes, but I'm not eating wheat right now so I had to deviate. I was so nervous I didn't feel like eating whatsoever, but I knew I would suffer the next day if I wasn't properly fueled.

My wonderful friends in KC let me crash at their house for the night, so I got settled in and got all my gear laid out for the next day. I brought throw-away clothes because it was only supposed to be about 27 degrees at the start.
I never sleep well the night before a race, but when I fell asleep at 10, I didn't wake up until my alarm went off at 5am! Having a good night's sleep under my belt was so, so helpful!!

On the way to the race I had my breakfast- a Cliff bar and an extremely ripe (read- BROWN!) banana. I was really nervous and it did not sit on my stomach very well. I got to the start about 10 minutes before 6 and it was chilly. I parked and sat in my vehicle instead of waiting out in the cold. Mentally prepping and praying and watching other runners arrive!

At 6:30 I started moseying over towards the start area, and went to use the portapotties. There were no lines at that point so I didn't have to wait at all, but when I came out- there were some pretty long lines forming. I just barely missed getting stuck in a line!

The Tin man and some homeless weirdo.

A couple of weeks ago I found out that Lauren from The Unlikely Runners was going to be running the marathon! We decided to meet up and run together. I was so excited to meet her! We met up and took a few pictures while waiting for the time to pass before the start. Lauren was super nice and so calm, she helped calm down my jitters!

At the start we lined up with the 5 hour pace group. They had a moment of silence for Boston and I started to tear up a little bit. I prayed and thanked the Lord for this amazing experience and for everything that had brought me to the marathon.
The weather was basically perfect and there was very little wind. It was cold, but I knew once we started running I would warm up.
After the start we started moving forward and got on pace pretty quickly. There were no corrals, but it didn't seem to be congested. (Note- if you are a competitive runner, it might be a totally different story!!)
As we stood waiting at the start, I was a complete emotional wreck. My stomach felt off, I was nervous and I was having a really difficult time dealing with my nerves. As soon as we started running, something in me switched over and suddenly- everything became clear and calm. I was running- and it was good. It was like my body said, "I'm here to run, and I'm good at it, so just take a chill pill."

Miles 1-3 I felt really good and it was so tempting to gun it and just take off at whatever speed felt right. Lauren did an awesome job holding us on pace. I was SO grateful to have her there, because otherwise I would have gone out far too fast. She runs a very smart race!
At Mile 3 the half  split off from the full. No turning back now-- we've got 23 more miles!

We were running on streets, through a few neighborhoods and some businesses. There were a lot of people out working the course and a fair amount of spectators. A lot of people in bathrobes and slippers.
The course was advertised as a 'flat and fast' course, but the first 10 miles were loaded with hills. Nothing too terribly steep, but there were some pretty significant inclines. I did a lot of training on hills, but I wasn't really prepared to race hills.

It was still pretty chilly and we were starting to pick up a fair breeze. I had expected to shed my sweater by then, but I wasn't ready to part with it so instead I just kept running looking like a homeless person. I dropped my hat and gloves at Mile 4.

Despite the hills, the first 10 miles really flew by fast. I was feeling really good, and it was great to chat with Lauren. The 5 hour pacing group was running a run/walk method, so they kept passing us, only to fall back behind us. Every time they would pass us, it would get in my head that I was running too slowly and it was hard to fight the urge to speed up. I really had to work to not let the pace group mess up my mental strength.

At Mile 8 I got some Gatorade from the aid station and took my first GU chomps.
I was still feeling pretty good, but those hills were getting rather old.

I didn't have a watch or timer on this race, so I have no idea what my splits were. We hit the 13 mile mark right around 2:30. We had cleared out of the hills, which was a huge relief!! At mile 13, Lauren needed a quick walk break, so I kept on ahead.

Miles 15-20 I was still feeling really good, but I kept my pace moderate. I knew that I still had a lot of miles ahead. My mind kept trying to jump ahead and say "okay, now how many miles left", but I knew that would be mentally defeating, so instead I focused on how many miles I had already run.

Prior to race day, I decided to dedicate a mile of my marathon to each family member because I currently have 26 immediate family members. I started Mile 1 with my youngest niece and worked my way up through my family in age order. During the mile I would pray for that family member, and remember all the good, bad and crazy memories I had with them. I really loved this, because it helped me feel like I was not running alone, but that they were with me and cheering me on. I loved dedicating the miles to my family, but I'll have to admit- it did make me pretty emotional!

At Mile 16 we switched to paved trails for 3 miles that we would loop back and then return to roads at Mile 22. The trails were pretty, and I really enjoyed the scenery, even though there were a couple little hills thrown in there.
At Mile 17 I started taking a water or a Gatorade at every aid station. I would one GU chomp every mile, because they sit better on my stomach individually rather than in the regular serving size. I don't normally drink any water when I run, but I was thirsty and really wanted to avoid dehydration issues. I definitely didn't feel awesome after drinking the water or Gatorade, but I knew I needed it.

At Mile 19 I finally threw off my sweater. I had intended to throw it away, but when I finally did; I kinda wanted to keep it. I did the majority of my training runs last winter in it, so it held some sentimental value to me.

At Mile 20, I started getting really emotional. I had not stopped running at all at that point, and I was at a distance PR because my longest training run was 16 miles. I was still feeling okay, but I was getting a bit tired. The 5 hour pace group had been behind me since Mile 12, but they had gained on me again and we had begun to play leap-frog again. They started getting in my head mentally again. It was a stupid little thing, but it was really annoying me.

At Mile 21, Lauren caught up with me!! It was good to see a familiar face! We ran a little bit more together. We were still in the trails and the little hills were starting to really bother my left shin. It started to hurt, manageably at first, but the pain started growing!!

Mile 22- 24 were tough. I was slowing down, the pain in my leg was startin to intensify and I was mentally struggling to stay focused. The pacer was pretty chatty and she was giving everyone updates on how much time they had banked, how many seconds they were ahead of pace etc.....she was doing a great job pacing, but I was not interested!! As we left the trails and got back on the road, the 5 hour pace group started to pull away from me, and I knew it was probably for good. I knew my goal time of a sub-5 hour was slipping away with them,  and it made me want to cry.
At mile 24 I needed a walk break so I told Lauren to go get her sub-5 and I would see her at the finish!!
Mile 24 through 26 were very tough. I was so close, and mentally still strong, but my leg was talking to me. As I ran, I could not stop crying! It's very hard to run and cry at the same time! During Mile 24, two super nice gentleman and I were running on pace together and they very nicely asked if I was okay. I told them I was fine, and that I was crying because I wasn't going to finish in under 5 hours. When I told them it was my first marathon, the one guy told me "don't you dare keep crying or I will break both of your legs off!! You aren't allowed to set a goal time for your first marathon- you just finish!! Don't beat yourself up!!" He was so sweet and encouraging. He had run 33 marathons and was helping pace his friend through his first. They helped push me on through to mile 25.
I was taking frequent walk break throughout mile 24, but once I got to Mile 25, I was ready to finish and started running strong again. I was still in pain, but I was getting so excited- I was going to finish my first marathon!! The very thought made me cry. The last 2 miles were also dedicated to my parents, which made me even more emotional.
At Mile 26, you could see the finish line and hear the spectators. I have NEVER been a sprint to the finish runner, but I totally sprinted up to the finish line!! I was SO excited! I was smiling and crying at the same time!!
Post- race happy face!
After the race, I got my medal and stood for a few minutes trying to regain my composure. They were giving medals to some Boston Marathoners at the finish, and it was an incredible moment. It was very surreal thinking that I had just run 26.2 miles-- I was a marathoner!!
None of my family was able to be there at the finish, but they were all there with me in my heart. My phone started vibrating like crazy with encouragement and congratulations.
I met up with Lauren again, we took some pictures and got our results and finisher shirts.
Finishing a race- regardless of the distance, is an amazing experience!
 Lauren- it was so great to meet you and race with you! You're amazing!!

I have a few other thoughts that I want to share about running a marathon, but I'll save them for another post.
 Official Finish Time: 5:06:23
587/685 runners.
219/317 females.


  1. ARE a marathoner! Great race recap, and I love what the guy told you about not setting a time goal for your first marathon. He was right, you should just enjoy and bask in your accomplishment. Way to go!

  2. That's awesome that you dedicated each mile to a family member. I love that! I definitely would've been crying throughout the whole thing too!! I'm so glad you got to run with Lauren for awhile too. I am so glad we got to share our first marathons together, from a distance! You were more help to me than you know! You're amazing!! :)

  3. So, so proud of you!!!! And yes, Lauren is amazing. She's the only reason I survived my last half marathon! Your pace was GREAT, and you ran an amazing race. You look fabulous in every one of your pictures as well! I've been looking forward to reading this recap all day, and it didn't disappoint! Congratulations, marathoner!!!!!!

  4. AHH Congrats! Such a great recap! I was getting emotional as I read. That's seriously so amazing!

  5. So, so happy for you!!! It was a pleasure to be able to meet you and run with you! It was an honor to be there for your first marathon and girl I am super impressed with how well you ran given all the things you have battled this training cycle - you were fantastic! I couldn't have done it without you for sure so I'm glad we were able to help each other out!! :)

  6. congratulations, that is such an accomplishment!! Awesome recap. too, I loved it! The longest I have run is a half marathon. I hope one day I will muster up the courage and strength to run a full. Awesome job!

  7. Congrats!! I thought of you as I crossed the finish line and was in totally awe of the fact that you were doing double what I did!! I thought the same thing you did about the "flat" course description. Totally not flat!! Loved seeing all your pictures!!

  8. Your hair is ADORABLE!!! :)
    Congrats on a great race!

  9. wow wow wow. Incredible race report. I read every single word. You are AMAZING. No way could I have pushed thru pain like that for 3-5 miles at the end! You're a machine!!!! I hope we can meet up at a race some day!

  10. Congrats!!! Loved your recap! Great idea to dedicate each mile to a family member. I am running my first marathon in November so I am always on the look out for good tips and tricks.


  11. Awesome! I loved reading your recap. Congratulations for finishing! This makes me even more excited to run mine tomorrow!

  12. This is such an accomplishment! Congratulations, I hope one day to get the balls to run a marathon!