I know, I’m super late in posting this, but I still had to do it. I ran my first marathon in February and I STILL can’t believe I did it. It was definitely the toughest thing I’ve ever done.
RACE WEEK: I was basically carb-loading ALL week. The night before the race, a group of us gathered at Buca di Beppo for dinner. The IMTX group (Eric, Casey, Kevin, Patrick, Frank, and Phi), me, and my friend Alison (who lives in Austin). The IMTX guys (minus Frank) were running the half, so I was the only one in the group running the full. Not gunna lie, as I was getting my stuff ready later that night, I thought to myself, WHY DID I PICK AUSTIN AS MY FIRST MARATHON?! WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?! But I already told everyone I was running it, so, no backing out now. I didn’t get to bed until 11:30pm-ish since I took forever setting out my stuff.
carb-loading at Buca!
I was up at 4:30am so that I could make my breakfast of toast, peanut butter, banana, and honey with a side of green tea. The forecast for 7am was 39 degrees, but for 12pm, it was 63 degrees. I wore a sleeveless top, shorts, sleeves, gloves, compression calf sleeves, and a cap. Jamie was super sweet– she and Sam came down from Dallas to support me for my first marathon!! Jamie helped me apply my super coolTaz Running pace tattoo, and we were out a little before 5:30am. She dropped me off around 6am with me in my pj pants (forgot my sweats). Of course, the guys were still in bed, so I didn’t meet up with them before the race. I, did, however, find Natalie, who was running her fast half marathon!
PRE-RACE: 15 minutes before the race start, I drank my Gatorade Pre-fuel juice. Natalie and I waited until 5 minutes before start to leave the bank lobby (hey, it was really cold!). It was 41 degrees at that time and there was some light in the sky. We snapped a bunch of pictures from the back of the pack. Natalie’s goal was to go under an 11:00/M pace.
MILES 1-12: The first 12 miles or so were enjoyable, running downtown, going into south Austin, back up across the bridge, and headed west of Mopac. Running with Natalie, I didn’t really notice the incline and just took in the sights, chatted, and ran at an easy pace. We pointed out cool restaurants and shops, read funny signs, snapped pictures (okay, she did that– I just slowed down a little to let her catch up). There were free mini cupcakes that I really wanted but for the sake of my stomach, I had to pass, lol. I took a Gu around mile 5. The first time I had to fill up my hand-held, I realized that it would take a little longer than I thought– I had to grab 2 cups of Gatorade and 1-2 cups of water to fill my hand-held, and then I had to make sure I secured the top so I wouldn’t spill all over myself (I spilled on myself many times). Although I had applied Body Glide, I started chafing a little at the edge of my top just under my left armpit. I had guessed they were handing out Vaseline by the aid stations, but just to be sure, I asked “WHAT IS THIS?” to the volunteers. It came out a little more demanding than I intended, oops. Grabbed some of that, messily applied, and ran on. The course split for half marathoners and marathoners around mile 11. Natalie and I hugged, wished each other luck, and went our separate ways. The gradual ascent begins…
MILES 13-19: By the half-way mark, I knew my 4:30 goal was only possible if I were able to pull off a faster second half. There aren’t any crazy hills in this portion of the race, but there are some rolling hills with a gradual ascent pretty much all the way to mile 20. Unfortunately, around mile 15, I started to notice this growing tightness in my hips and quads, inner thighs, and my Achilles tendon. Crap. My body just hasn’t been used to running these types of inclines/declines. I started to worry about potential injury, but there was no sharp pain, and I figured if I could just keep an easy, slow pace, I should be able to get through it. Only another 11 miles…yikes! I threw out my 4:30 goal and thought either 4:45 or 5:00 goal, depending on how I felt, and assuming I didn’t hit a wall. I stopped and stretch a few times to see if it would help, but it didn’t really make much of a difference.
MILES 19-24: I had done my homework previously and read up about the race. I knew that mile 20 on would be mostly downhill with a little bump in mile 25 before the finish. I really had wanted to gain some speed on the downhills, but at this point, my body just ached and I knew I wouldn’t be able to. I reminded myself that anything after 20 would be distance PR for me and to enjoy it!! I was so grateful for all the spectators with their encouraging words and signs!! Trying to save my energy, I flashed smiles and thumbs up at them. It was really cool whenever they would specifically call my name out. <3 the support!!
I walked a little in mile 20, eating my favorite Triple Espresso gel and just feeling out my legs, seeing if walking would help ease pain but it didn’t make a difference. I decided the best thing I could do for myself is to just try to keep running. Only a 10k left. I feared that the pain might catch up with me if I kept walking or stopped anymore. I slowed to refill my water bottle in mile 21. From there, it was time to finish the race. These last 6ish miles were tough. I was determined not to let myself stop because I wasn’t sure I’d be able to start again. Somewhere in mile 22, I came across a crowd of people cheering and I saw Kristin!!! AHH!! I was SO happy to see her! She had planned on cheering for me at 2 other points earlier in the race, but had misjudged the distance and missed me. She ran alongside me for a minute or two and we briefly chatted. She told me she was so proud of me and I was seriously about to cry, I was SO happy to see her. My ankles hurt and at that point, 4 miles seemed SO LONG. I ran out of water probably 3 miles out (a little less than 5k left!) and attempted to grab a cup water while running through 2 of the water stops (spilling all over myself again).
MILES 25-26.2: Just before the 25th mile, we crossed Dean Keaton and entered UT campus. It was familiar territory and I envisioned the rest of the race to the finish. Just past campus, towards downtown, past the Capital, and through the FINISH! I told myself it was less than 1.5 miles. I did NOT train to walk, I trained to run! The distance was only half a loop around Memorial Park! I was my own cheerleader all the way to the end. The last hill, as anticipated, was short and once at the top, it was a short distance downhill to the finish. As I approached the last 0.2 miles, the crowds were lined up along the barriers at the last stretch, spectators cheering and snapping photos. I ignored the pain and gathered up the little bit of strength I had left– I didn’t go into a full out sprint but I picked up my pace. I saw/heard Kristin and Rachel in the crowds cheering for me, then Phi, and then Eric, Casey, and Kevin. I felt SO happy and motivated, seeing all the familiar faces! I somehow was able to flash smiles and ran on– time to FINISH STRONG!!!
Moments after gloriously crossing the finish, I felt a rush of emotion and tears came to my eyes. Thank goodness for the sunglasses, haha. I also felt the pain that I had been trying to ignore and slowed waaay down. That was, undeniably, the toughest mental challenge I had ever faced.
POST-RACE: I knew I had to keep walking, keep moving. I slowly made it through the finisher area, grabbing a water, a recovery shake, and a banana before taking a finisher’s photo. I saw Phi as I made my way to the exit, and he walked (slowly) with me to grab my gear and step into the bank lobby again so I could reorganize and hide from the wind. Agh, my body was not feeling awesome (specifically, glutes & Achilles tendons) and shortly after, he walked with me to the massage tent.
SO GLAD I pre-paid for the 30-min post-race massage with Massage Envy!! There was basically no wait. I told Dan, my massage therapist, what hurt, and he did his thing. By the time he finished, while I was still walking very slowly, my glutes felt MUCH better. My ankles and feet were still hurting, but he had told me that my Achilles tendon was crazy tight and to ice them soon (20 min on/off). I highly recommend post-race massages. Release all that lactate acid build-up and you’ll feel a million times better.
I met up with the guys after that and I was ready to gooo. TOTALLY forgot about the cool food trucks and what not that were past the gear check area!! It felt nice to just sit down in the car. We eventually (hours later) made it to Salt Lick for some good ol’ BBQ to celebrate. =) Would I do it again? Absolutely. I have every intention of taking advantage of my deferral for the Houston Marathon!
Salt Lick & my beautiful medal!
7.00 9:29 –> Fastest mile, all downhill.
20.00 12:25 –> Slowest mile (walked some).
26.49 10:14 –> At that point, that was me picking up the pace!
Official Time: 4:45:06
Division Place: 173/278
Gender Place: 791/1411