My First Marathon Recap #tbt

Written two weeks after my first marathon (Seattle Rock N’ Roll) in June of 2009 in the form of an email to all of those who supported my fundraising for Team in Training. Re-reading it brought me right back to that day. As I upload it here, I’m looking at the shadow box hanging on the wall in our office with my medal, bib and picture of Meghan and I crossing the finish line, hands in the air, smiling. 

I did it, I ran a marathon!  It was by far the most physically challenging thing I’ve ever done.  The weekend was a whirlwind of hilarity with my teammates, inspirational speakers including the head of The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and Runner‘s World’s The Penguin, and tears.  Tears of pain (mine), tears of remembrance, tears of happiness, and relief.

So here’s a little recap of my race, to give you an idea of what it’s like for a novice to run a marathon.  Sorry…it’s a bit long.

2:45 am

Time to get up and start getting ready.  It’s not like I had really been sleeping, but this time I was up for good.  I made my peanut butter and jelly toast (untoasted…boo) that I always have before a run and nervously paced the hotel room.  Once I had gotten dressed and put on plenty of sunscreen and Body Glide to prevent the dreaded chaffing, it was time to meet my team to go to the starting line.

4:30-7:25 am

We arrived in Tukwila.  We waited to check out bag and I hung out in a plastic trash bag to keep me warm.  After about a dozen trips to the porta-potties (just in case) it was time to get into our heats.  It didn’t really hit me until Meghan (the best mentor ever!!!) and I were standing at the start line waiting to hear our start that I was actually going to do this.

7:30 am

Here we go!  The Penguin sends us on our way.

Miles 1-5

I was feeling great!  Cheering and yelling out to fellow Team in Training teammates. I even sang a little Michael Jackson on the way. The sun was shining and I believe that Meghan put it just right when she said that it felt glorious.

Miles 7-14

Still feeling good, we broke from the half marathoners for an out and back over the water. We had a beautiful view of Mt. Rainier.  At this point I knew that there was no wimping out.  I couldn’t just do the half marathon anymore because when we met back up with them I’d already have run 14 miles.  After a quick porta-potty stop, we were on our way.  I was still feeling good but my tendons were starting to flare up a bit.  We saw Meghan’s boyfriend Adam who was cheering and capturing our excited smiles.

Miles 15-19

Now I was always told I’d hit the wall sometime around this point. Being positive, I though, eh, I’ve run 17 miles before, I won’t hit the wall this early.  Hit the wall I did not, but I sure did hit something.  This was a vicious out and back.  I was still smiling and feeling good when I saw Josh at mile 15.  I was shocked that I heard him yell out my name.  It pumped me up…until a two mile long hill hit.  That was the worst out and back of the entire race. I could see the Space Needle and Mt. Rainier but what I couldn’t see was the end of the hill.  It was shortly after we hit the turnaround point and headed towards the last 7 miles, that I shed my first tear. I tried to be tough and Meghan was cheering me on and staying by my side, but man exhaustion and pain were starting to set in and my GU was not helping.

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Mile 20-24

At this point I was in full blown tear mode.  Being tough went right out the window.  At this point it took everything I had to not to jump off the viaduct into the bay.  I was hot, tired and in excruciating pain.  So what do you do when you’re feeling like crap?  Stop? No way, Cry? yes. Yell and scream? Absolutely!   It’s amazing what some good yelling can do for you.

The Home Stretch (Miles 24-26.2)

This was my low point.  It took me an entire 31 minutes to get through these last 2.2 miles.  When I saw that I was so upset, 2 miles in 31 minutes?  Seriously, that is how long it usually takes for a 3.5 miles.  I walked up the last hill…who puts a hill in the last 1.5 miles?  That’s just mean.  It wasn’t a big hill, but you may as well had me running up Pikes Peak.  Meghan and Coach Jen were running and walking right besides me.  Cheering me on and telling me how tough I was to keep going even though my knees were barely bending. We all let out yells together.  Meghan and I crossed the finish line together, hand in hand.  I could not have done it without her.  If anyone wants yet another reason why TNT is such an amazing program, there is it.  Team Mentors really are there for you.

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Five hours later, I was at the finish line.  It was about a half hour slower than I wanted to run the race, but I finished which is what really matters.  It was exhilarating and sad at the same time.  I had worked so hard to get to the start line, ever harder to make it to the finish line and it was over. Once I got my medal, I went straight to the medical tent where they promptly plastic wrapped ice to both knees.  I grabbed my dry, plain bagel and devoured it.  Josh greeted me at the TNT tent with beautiful flowers from Pike’s Market and a big smile. We met up with the rest of my teammates who did the half and took lots of pictures before Josh had to lower me to the ground.

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Here I am almost two weeks later.  I’m walking normally again, with some nagging aches and pain. I’m taking the entire month off of running (killing me) as per my great physical therapist and really taking in what was just accomplished.  Yes, the marathon is my personal accomplishment but I could not have done it without all of your love and support. It got me through the injuries, pain and exhaustion.  More importantly, we raised $5000 to help find a cure for cancer.  As I ran beside people who had names and pictures of ppl that they lost to cancer it really hit me how important Team in Training is.

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25 runners came from the Rocky Mountain Chapter to run the Inaugural race with $109,000 raised to support important research and patient programs and we all came back with so much more than medals to show for it.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.  You are all amazing.

Marathon Interrupted

Race morning came way too early.  Late Friday night we heard they may start the race early so instead of meeting at 4:30 we had to meet at 4 am.  Which means I needed to get up around 2:45.  Of course I woke up at 2 and let myself get out of bed about 2:15.  I didn’t want to disturb Deanna so I went into the bathroom to start my prerace routine. 

Mini coffee pot was awesome for boiling the water for my oatmeal.  I forgot to bring  a spoon so my toothbrush stirred it and I tried to pour it in my mouth.  Needless to say I was a mess.  I taped the crap out of my leg and ankle with hopes of a pain free race. 

As you can tell I was having some race day nerves. It was time to get dresses and head out the door but not before a few more pictures…

Yes I know I look silly. I got lots of stares and looks, but a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do to hold the legs together. I was determined not to let my ankle tendonitis or calf strain slow me down!
When we got to the starting line it was already pretty warm out and cloudy but not raining.  We dilly dallied for a while but then it was time to head to the starting line. I got right behind the 4:30 pacer who looked all of 18 maybe.  But she sure could run.  About 25 minutes after the first group headed out at 6:45, I crossed the starting line.  Holy hills and humidity.  Remember when I said the course is fairly flat?  Ha, dead wrong. No the hills weren’t big but they were long and steady inclines one after another.  The humidity was killer.  Apparently 95-98% humidity negates any sort of altitude advantage. 
Regardless I was sticking with the pacer who was actually moving quite a bit faster than the goal pace.
By mile 6.5 I had to start pouring water on my head.  Every water stop, one down the throat, one down my shirt. I could not get my temperature down and it was starting to hurt my pace.  I held on and decided well small change of plans, I’ll run/walk…no biggie.  So that’s exactly what I started to do.  I passed the 11.2 half marathon turn off and it finally started to get a bit cooler.  The wind picked up and the clouds really moved in.  A few miles down I heard from some other runners that they had closed the course and were making all of the people behind us do the half regardless of it they were registered for the full. I was so happy that I had made the cut!
Three port-o-potty stops later I was almost to mile 16 which means yeah only 10 miles left!  It also was when my calf, ankle and IT started really screaming. I had been stretching my calf every few miles but it just wasn’t enough.  I think I must have changed my gait which inflammed my stupid IT band.  A very nice TNT coach from Tennessee was nice enough to hang with me for a few miles and even refill my water bottles.
We were hurried off the greenbelt by the river as the lightning started.  A few minutes later it began to rain. Rain really hard. It was hurting my body when it hit.  It was coming down so hard that it was washing my sweat into my eye which caused burning. So I’m sure I looked ridiculous trying to waddle in the rain with my eyes closed.  Actually it makes me laugh to think about it now.  The police were shouting “Take cover…or you can keep running.” I was thinking well which one is it? 
My shoes became cotton and rubber pools.  It got more and more difficult to hold a steady pace at all.  Many runners ran into gas stations and entry ways to take cover from the rain.  Not going to lie it was getting scary out. Between the rain, thunder and lightning it was nasty.  I was definitely looking around for the nearest ditch just in case the tornado sirens went off.
Around mile 18 I was told that we were all going to be taken off the course just before 21 miles.  At this point I just started walking.  My time wasn’t going to count so why should I be pushed myself and giving myself blisters for nothing?  I don’t know if I’ve ever felt so many emotions at the same time. I was mad that they let me get this far just to cut me short, sad that I even though it wasn’t my best race ever that I was going to be given a medal that I didn’t really earn, relieved that I wasn’t going to have to run 5-6 more miles in the nasty weather especially since I was about 15 minutes behind my goal time…so much was running through my head.
I was really excited when I saw Deanna at mile 19.  We walked and chatted about the adventures on the way to the half marathon finish line.  She had helped people that had gone down on the course and saw the AT&T building get struck by lightning twice.  Apparently between the heat and humidity of the morning and the severe weather of the afternoon there were a lot of people who needed medical attention.  I crossed the finish line and did my best to force a smile on my face.  Medal in hand I went to check in at the TNT tent.
I didn’t bring my camera or phone with me so we’re going to have to wait until the official photos come out for you to see what a wet dog I looked like. This is a picture from out the window in our room.  I had to immediately hop into a hot shower when we got back because I could not warm up. Every inch of me was drenched.  Taking off my clothes was like peeling off a wet swimsuit.  Awful. This race goes down as the WORST MARATHON EVER!
I don’t even know how I feel about this medal I have.  Techinically I didn’t earn it. Was that my fault or something I could control?  Nope.  Do I feel like I can say that I’ve done two marathons? Nope.  Did I suffer through extremely shitty conditions to get it? Yes sir. So I suppose I’ll say I’ve done 1.79 marathons? 

I’m in Music City

Well getting here was a bear.  Somehow in between the time I left my office and arrived at the airport just a half hour later my flight had been delayed. Ugh. At that point it was only delayed about a half hour which wasn’t bad at all. 6:35 came and went, 7:10 came and went as did 7:30. Finally a quarter to 8 we finally boarded and took off for a bumpy ride. We landed in Nashville just after midnight.  I picked up my very wet (they must have left it on the tarmack while it was raining) bag and head to the hotel.  My head finally hit the pillow around 1 am.

I woke up way to early this morning around 8ish.  Of course I couldn’t fall back to sleep so when Deanna called to say she was down the street at Panera around 9 I was all over it.  The expo opened for the day at 10. I was looking forward to getting some free swag. Love expo samples!

I picked up my bib and headed over to get my t-shirt and goodie bag.  I noticed this little countdown they had going on.  Looking at this picture now I notice that it was off by about 12 hours. Someone doesn’t know how to tell time apparently. Or maybe they got confused and thought it was supposed to be the countdown to when the expo closed. 

Last year in Seattle I didn’t really purchase anything which was kind of a bummer. I missed out on getting a regular t-shirt to wear around which I didn’t want to do this year.  I got a cute little Rock Star t-shirt amongst many other things. 

Including:  more KT Tape (why can’t I find a store in Colorado that sells it?), Bondi Bands (one of them is for Nancy), and The Stick. I’m pretty excited about all of my purchases. I’m definitely trying out The Stick later.  I also got an awesome reuseable bag courtesy of Publix and misc samples. Overall I was kind of disappointed with the expo. There were really not many samples or freebies. Clif wasn’t there which made me sad. Love Clif Bars.

Anyway, after the expo I was finally exhausted and headed to the comfy hotel bed. Two hours later I was refreshed and headed down to Broadway to check out all of the music joints. 

Deanna and I met for lunch shortly thereafter then it was off on a trolley tour. Totally cheesey I know but it was the only way I was going to get to really explore Nashville (well other than the race). I was the only single person on the tour and it was actually kind of lame. Here are a few pics from it.

As was the norm for my weekend, the trolley tour ran late which made me late for the Inspiration Dinner.  I was so frustrated at this point. I hauled ass to get there, hurting calf and all. The Penguin spoke again. Even though I heard the same speech in Seattle I still laughed. He’s a good speaker.  I was so ready to head back to the room after dinner. 

I got back to the room and had a mini breakdown.  All of the doubts in my head coupled with not having any of my loved ones with me at the race just got to me. After talking to my mom and watching Deanna burn a huge hole in her TNT Coach shirt I felt much better. So funny!

Everything is laid out and ready for tomorrow. Time to try to get some rest. Oh yes and the latest on the race.  Runners of the full marathon must reach the 11.2 mile point by 10:40 am in order to be able to stay on the marathon course. Runners not there by that time will be diverted to the half.  I don’t think I’ll have any problem with that but it certainly puts a lot more pressure on me.

Leaving on a Jet Plane

I’m packed and ready to go. Last night was a very busy night. I stopped by the store and picked up a new ice pack that I can strap around my leg…awesome and some Tylenol since IB Profin is a no no. As soon as I got home I was running around and talking to myself like a crazy person. After wearing my compression socks for basically 3 days straight it was time for a wash. No I do not have stinky feet. Load of laundry in, it was time to get together all of my race day stuff.

Race Day Gear:

TNT Singlet
• Running skirt
• Sports bra
• Moisture wicking sock
SHOES
Garmin (fully charged)
• Fuel belt (don’t forget the water bottles)
• Gels, Nuuns and Oatmeal
• Gatorade mix
• iPod (fully charged w/ new earphones)
• TNT information packet
• Josh’s Speedo sandals for post-race
• Throw away jacket

But let’s not forget the most important things. I’m going to go ahead and call this my injury repair kit. I should market this idea…seriously. Mine includes:

• Travel foam roller
• Compression sleeves
KT tape
Shaklees Muscle and Joint Cream
• Herbal tendon and muscle recovery gel
• Extra Strength 8 Hour Tylenol
• Warm around ice pack (Not pictured because I was wearing it)

Oh how I love you all! Well not really the foam roller because it hurts me until I have tears coming down my face. But you know it hurts so good.

After packing the important things it took only a few minutes to pack the rest of my gear for the weekend which was great because I still had work to do at home. The camera is charged and ready to take pictures in Nashville. Maybe I will pick up a disposable to carry with me at the race. Eh, I’ll probably get sick of holding it and toss it. I may as well save myself a few bucks for some ice cream.

Calf/Ankle Status Update: Both still a bit sore but feeling 10x better than they were last week. Currently sporting my nice, clean compression socks and icing with the new ice pack for 20 minutes at a time. Fingers, arms, legs and toes still crossed for race day.

P.S. Totally hoping to bump into some stars in Nashville…like Keith Urban (hot) and Nicole Kidman.  Just casually getting coffee.  I’m sure all famous people are hiding out during the crazy weekend but a girl can hope right? I will be armed with my camera while exploring the city just in case.

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

Just a day until I leave for Nashville which means I’m only 2.5 days out from the race. I would say three, but its lunch time on Wednesday so technically I don’t have a full 36 hours until race time. I’m not going to lie, I am totally FREAKING OUT. My calf is still hurting, not all the time but when I jump up and down I can definitely feel it. If I can feel it jumping up and down, I’ll definitely be feeling it while I’m running. I tried to get into PT but of course no available appointments in either of the offices. I’ve been wearing compression socks for days and the past two nights I tried my hot rice pad on it. I’ve been rubbing my herbal gel on it as well. I even brought it to work with me today. It doesn’t smell the greatest, but eh, I’m not impressing anyone. There is not bruising or swelling, I can stretch it without pain and I don’t remember ever hearing a pop so I’m sure it’s just a strain but eek. Isn’t this just my luck. Seriously, ugh.

Last night after work I headed to Road Runner Sports to pick up some compression sleeves which are basically the sock without the foot part. Didn’t find them there but I did find a travel size foam roller. I was all over that! After an appointment I stopped by The Boulder Running Company. They had the sleeves! So on race day I’m planning on taping the calf as well as wearing the compression sleeves (mine are white…not pink). I’m hopefully that once I’m going I’ll be just fine.

From now until race day, I’m wearing my compression socks nonstop, icing, rolling on my foam roller and downing anti-inflammatories. That’s really all I can do now. It will be fine right? I keep trying to visualize myself crossing the finish line strong but right now that image keep getting rudely interrupted by flashes of me being hauled off by a medic. In my heart of hearts I know I can do this race. I did a marathon with tendonitis before right? I need to learn to stop Googling and freaking myself out. Half of the information online is not accurate anyway. They guys at the running stores didn’t seem to be too concerned when I told them what was going on and that I had a race on Saturday which made me feel better.

Fingers, toes, legs and arms crossed for a good race. One thing is looking up, the expected race temperature has decreased from 79 to 74. Rain is still in the forecast but maybe it will just be cloudy.

P.S. I haven’t packed a thing. Tonight I must eat, pack, clean, work. It’s going to be a long night!