I did it! I ran my first marathon!!!
I had an amazing time and it was such an insane ride. But let me start from the beginning.
Saturday morning Sam and I woke up at 5am and each had a pb+j bagel thin with black coffee. If it ain't broke...
After loading Sam up with gatorade, orange slices and extra GU, we headed to Traverse City for the start. The weather was cool, about 55, and raining. We got to the race and headed to the start. I was incredibly nervous at this point! The rain picked up and with the call for marathon start, I headed into the fray.
The Bayshore Marathon is unique in that it's capped to only 2,000 runners (compared to Chicago which boasts over 45,000 slots!). The course is scenic and absolutely beautiful, and the people who come out to cheer are locals. The small size of the marathon makes for great camaraderie and most people run without iPods and spend the race chatting with fellow racers.
Within the first 30 seconds, I found two fellow runners who were going at my same pace. We linked up and ended up running the first 13.1 miles together at about a 10:00 min/mi pace.
Mile 1: 10:09
Mile 2: 10:14
Mile 3: 10:15
Mile 4: 10:04
My strategy going into the race was to take the first half slow, fuel early and just enjoy the ride. I didn't want to burn out or 'hit the wall' post-20 miles. So we took the first 13.1 slow.
Mile 5: 10:02
Mile 6: 9:58
Mile 7: 9:51
We ran into the woods and along the bay. At mile 5 I saw Sam and I couldn't believe how quickly this was all going. The miles flew by as I chatted with my new running buddies about everything from bacteria to Nixon to jet engines.
Somewhere around mile 8 I began to think about how many miles were left. I turned to one of my running friends and wondered, "Do you think we're going to make it?" and everyone around us chuckled. We pressed on.
Mile 8: 9:51
Mile 9: 10:08
Mile 10: 10:20
Mile 11: 10:05
Mile 12: 10:15
I took a GU at mile 5, then accidentally loaded up too much with Gatorade. I switched to water and took another GU at 13.1. Before I knew it, we were turning around and headed back to the start. It was at this point that we took our first walking break, for one minute. This refreshed the mind and legs, and we pressed on.
Mile 13: 10:04
Mile 14: 10:31
Mile 15: 10:20
Heading back, it hit me how sore I was. Even though I had run many a long run with no soreness, in retrospect I realize nearly all of them were pretty flat. The banking and rolling hills of Bayshore left me sore earlier than I expected and with over 10 miles left to go, I backed off a bit on pace.
At this point I had lost one of my running friends but pressed on with an awesome guy named Russ. This was his second marathon and he was pacing me and just great. He kept my mind off of the pain and had lots of encouraging words to say. We saw Sam again at mile 15 and he passed us orange slices. So. Damn. Good. I had another GU around 16 and 21 miles.
Mile 16: 10:51
Mile 17: 10:19
Mile 18: 10:54
Mile 19: 12:35 (bathroom stop)
We began to take short walking/stretching breaks every 2 miles. Each time we stopped, it was so much harder to get going again. By mile 20 I was in shock as to how much pain I was in. It wasn't specific pain (like an injury) but all over soreness. This was much, much harder than I expected. Our walking breaks increased to one minute every half mile. Our running pace without walks was around 9:45 min/mi. The rain, which had stopped earlier, picked up around this point and continued until the end.
Mile 20: 11:26
Mile 21: 11:28
Mile 22: 11:45
Mile 23: 12:16
It was about this point I completely stopped caring about my time. I had made a somewhat lofty goal for myself (that I fell far short of) and realized it wasn't about time. It was about the journey and finishing the ultimate race. I began to try to zone out but every mile marker I passed had me excited. I had never been in so much pain in my life and didn't believe we were actually going to finish until I saw the mile 25 sign.
Mile 24: 12:23
Mile 25: 13.26
With more encouragement from Russ (seriously, I could not have survived without him) we pushed through to the finish. As soon as my feet hit the track, I was so elated to be done that I sprinted to the finish. I didn't hear anything during that time-- just focused on that finish line and powered through.
Mile 26: 13:13
Mile 0.27: 3:10 (11:36 pace with 7:30 sprint at the end!)
And with that-- we were done! I had completed my first marathon in 4:46:06. I was elated.
Special shout-out to Russ-- I could not have done it without you! Marathons are such a journey and true friends are made out there on the course.
After some photos, I hobbled to the food tent I was most excited about-- local Moomer's ice cream! So delicious.
The marathon was the most amazing, painful, difficult, life-affirming and incredible thing I have ever done. I couldn't have picked a more beautiful course, better people or a stronger support crew. After 5 months and over 400 miles of training I am so happy to have achieved my goal. I can't believe that this time last year I had just completed my first 5K at an 11:40 min/mi pace and this weekend I completed a marathon. I'm so, so happy.
And I'm definitely coming back for Bayshore 2012. :)