First up: a note about how I felt early on. Physically I felt good to great. Breathing was never an issue (unless you are sub-4 hours breathing is not the issue, legs/pain are). No odd pains, no first mile (or two) of agony. About mile 5-6 my left quad kind of made some noise. This is the one that cramped after my 20(.7) longest run in training. It had hurt for a week after that, but not on my 13.1 or 8 the following weekends. I do remember thinking “Oh God, if it’s making noises now how is it going to be in 10 miles or more?”. But I found that if I ran in the center of the road when I could w/the left leg on the “uphill” part it hurt less. So I did that a lot. Eventually it went away or I forgot about it.
No blisters. No chafing issues. Neck/back got a little tight from hours of pounding. Chest muscles up high (near the collarbone) hurt a lot that night (pounding pavement for a lot of hours?) but physically I never thought “oh no, this hurts too much to go on”.
After going by Mile 7 I knew it was coming. The split off for the half marathon. The numbers for the full were 1-4,000 at the Expo. I figured we’d basically lose EVERYONE and be alone at the split. Having run the race twice before (half) I had longingly and apprehensively looked at the runners going straight. Thinking they were just getting started. With so many miles to go. And wishing (dreading) to be one of them. I was actually really excited about this point in the race because the course was “unknown” to me then.
By chance my iPod (Nano, set w/75 songs, set to “Shuffle”) switched as we came up on the turn. LeeAnn Womack and “I Hope You Dance” came on. I literally laughed out loud a little and tucked that away because it felt SO right and SO appropriate. Huge smile on my face, I continued north while the half-sies turned left. We lost some people, but I was *amazed* at how many continued on. I kept forgetting about the Relay folks, there were some of them and they made me mad at time because at each exchange point people would RUN fast (because they had been waiting HOURS and were FRESH and were running a 10K maybe). I wanted to yell “I’m 46 years old and running the whole damn thing!”. Tee hee.
Another note on music. I loaded my iPod with about 65 songs, repeating some personal favorites a few times. I set it on Shuffle on purpose, knowing it wouldn’t help me through every minute but hoping random songs would help. The first 2 hours the music was AWESOME and I enjoyed every song. I had it LOUD and it was motivating. After that, occasionally songs would come on that would make me smile and or pick up my step (“Theme from Rocky” anyone?) but it wasn’t as great of an influence or distraction after that. Still glad I had it!
Um. Is the whole damn course uphill? And, in the meantime, the storms from the radar before the race? Up ahead. It was BLACK.
We approached the next Relay Exchange and I was reading signs and seeing the excited people about to run. Of all things I noticed a friend from work that had a sign “Team K”. I yelled “hey Ken!” as I ran by. Pretty sure he was surprised to see me.
Kept going and within 100 feet it was pouring. OH no. But it was much cooler!! That was huge. I was trying to wrap a rag around my watch because I didn’t trust it in pouring rain. I knew that Cindi and Chris were up ahead around mile 10 too and I felt great overall. The rain lasted probably 5-10 minutes? I felt badly for them, they came out to meet me and had to stand in the pouring rain.
I turned the corner towards Mile 10 and there was Cindi. She gave me whatever I had told her I wanted (it’s all a blur, I’ll do a food recap at some point) and ran ahead w/me to take a photo. Insert selfish thought here “why did it have to rain and my hair look like sh*t?”. I know the marathon is so much more than that, but I don’t look good w/my hair slicked back (and it wasn’t even slicked, I had a couple of small clips up there). Argh.
At the same time one of my ears on the headphone kind of went out. Rain. Argh. But that was minor and I just listened w/half an ear.
Turned the corner towards and 11 and then was heading out towards 12 before I knew it. I honestly remember thinking “this is the way to do it, slow and steady, I am TOTALLY running another”. Then “I bet I regret that thought later”. Lots of giddiness that it was almost “1/2” over. Somewhere along her I hit the 2 hour mark and was still on pace for the 23.2 at 4 hours. I didn’t have a specific goal in mind finish-wise-time but I wanted to be ahead of where I was training run wise (20.7 took me about 3:49 so 23 would be GOLDEN at 4 hours). Speaking of goals, mine were:
b) Finish under 5:00:00
c) Finish under 4:30:00
d) Finish at 4:22:00
And then a mental challenge to myself to be in the top 50% for my age. More on the results later
At Mile 12 I saw Cindi/Chris again – we hadn’t planned out exactly were but they were going to try and see me along this route. I knew that the lake was ahead and really no spots to meet up. I told them to wait after the lake. Cindi said “but that’s like mile 17 and 5 miles away, are you sure?”. I told her I was and would need her then and in the 20’s so just find a spot.
I had read a lot pre-race (too much I’m sure) and had really searched for ways to make sure I could make the 20-26.2 leg. The unknown, that you’ve never done, is the hard part. There are so many stories of hitting the wall, boinking out, etc. I tried to be as mentally prepared as I could. The things that popped into my mind again and again during the race were really just 2:
1) Don’t think how far you have to go, think how far you have come. Early on I would do tricks w/myself.
- At the 1 mile mark I though “ok, run back to the start and repeat 12 more times, you can so do that”.
- At 8.75 I thought “you are a 1/3 of the way there. Run back to start and back to here, you got this”.
- At 13.1 I thought “start counting it down”.
- At 17 I thought “it’s less than a 15K away, you’ve done that (Tulsa Run)”
- At 20 I though “it’s 2 5Ks! 5Ks are short!”
2) Somewhere in the weeks leading up I read a quote as follows: “Ask yourself: ‘Can I give more?’. The answer is usually: ‘Yes’.” ~Paul Tergat, Kenyan professional marathoner
I know I posted it (and 2,879,343 other quotes) on Facebook in the weeks prior. I didn’t pick this one to repeat or use, it just kept coming up.
Every mile or so I would think “do I have more?”. Pause. Then, “HELL YES I DO!”. It started that way and eventually it was “yes, I do” (no screaming but always a positive, yes, I have more) and never was it “No, I can’t”.
Tip: write down lots of quotes. Read lots of positive messages. Think about them running and let them decide which one works!
Halfway point! After I left Cindi and Chris again, I knew the half was up ahead. They had some signs (You are absolutely positively half way) and a big banner and a mat. I was not at any stellar pace for me (in fact my slowest recorded half ever at 2:14:??) but I was on course, on pace for what I wanted and not feeling badly!
Up next: the 2nd half!