Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Marathon Recap

This is going to be long, but I want to write everything down about my first marathon.

I got off work Friday and went to meet Ira, my running buddy who was running the marathon with me. We met at her office and after she got her stuff squared away we got on the road to Nashville. The drive was a lot quicker than I expected it to be. We drove straight to the Expo so we could pick up our packets. I was number 21457. I picked up my bib, got my shirt and then we walked around the Expo. We randomly ran into Danny, our running coach. We also saw Catherine, a girl who was in our Couch to 5K group. Danny told us about plans to meet up at a bar (of course, if you know Danny) later. We shopped some more after that. I got a new running skirt and top from Brooks that was 20% off.

Then we went to the bar and met with Danny, his wife, and some of the other people who were in Nashville for the race. After that, it was on to dinner. We had dinner with the group and after visiting awhile eventually headed to the hotel. We spent a little while getting all of our stuff together for the next morning since we were going to have to get up super early (4:00). Ira gave me a necklace with a 26.2 pendant on it. I'll have to take a picture of it, it's really cute.
Then we went to bed. Up until then I had been super tired and was looking forward to going to bed. But once I actually laid down, it hit me. Holy crap, I'm going to run a marathon! So I was wide awake and tossed and turned for over an hour before I fell asleep. It seemed like 10 minutes passed and it was time to get up. We showered, got all of our stuff packed up, reloaded the car and drove to LP Field where the finish line is. There were shuttles from our hotel, but they cost $20. We decided to drive to save money, and because we wanted to have immediate access to the car when we were done.

There were port-a-potties there and I thought about using one, but decided against it. That would come back to haunt me in the race. We stood in line for the shuttle to take us to the Start line. We probably waited 45 minutes before we got on a bus.

After a short drive to the start, it was time to line up. There were more port-a-potties at the start, but we decided to wait and just use one during the race since there was a pretty big line. Again, bad idea.

I was put in corral 21, but because it was going to be such a hot day, we maneuvered ourselves into corral 18. I was wearing a long-sleeve throw-away shirt because we thought it would be cooler at the beginning and I didn't want to waste any energy shivering. But it was 73 degrees already when we got there so I took the shirt off and put it on the gate that kept the racers in line. There was a lady standing there and I told her free shirt if she wanted it. I actually saw her later on in the race on the sidelines and she was carrying the shirt!

So then the race started. They start the corrals in waves so that everyone gets spaced out. We didn't cross the start line until about 40 minutes after the first gun went off. I started off feeling good. It was hot, but we were running for 5 minutes, walking for 1. At mile 3 I saw the first person go down. There was a girl lying on the sidewalk. Someone was with her and I heard an ambulance coming to pick her up. The first of many. Around mile 5 my stomach started grumbling. This will be tmi for a lot of you, so I apologize in advance. All of the shaking from running seems to shake up my stomach and I get some rather uncomfortable side effects, i.e. diarrhea. If I can go before I run it's normally ok, but like I said earlier, I decided against using the port-a-potty. Every set of port-a-potties we came across had long lines, so we decided to try to stick it out until mile 11, when the marathoners broke off from the people doing the half. My stomach was warning me, but it wasn't too bad. So around mile 9 my stomach said no more and I told Ira that I needed to go, line or not. Just then, we came across some and there was no line!!! I ran straight to it, and hallelujah there was toilet paper!!! I felt much better after that.
It didn't last for long though. The heat was getting to me. Around mile 8 I had started to get tired, which worried me. From all that I've been told, the first 10 miles of a marathon should be easy. The second ten, you should be pushing yourself and the last 6.2 are done on adrenaline. Being tired at mile 8 isn't a good sign. We got to the mile 11 turn off (where there was an Elvis impersonator directing people). Ira took my picture with him and we moved on to the rest of the course. By mile 13 I had changed to a run 3 minutes, walk 1 minute because I just couldn't run for 5 minutes straight. None of my training runs have been in the heat so I just wasn't acclimated to it. I started getting nauseated and dizzy. Ira had some ginger chews that helped with the nausea. I HATE the taste of ginger, but had about five of them over the course of the marathon because it was either that or yak on the side of the road.

Miles 13 to 18 are kind of a blur to me. I remember going by a river. I remember one of the water stops where a group of cheerleaders was handing out ice cold wet paper towels. Lots of people had hoses and were spraying people down. It was that hot out. Towards the end I started taking two cups of water at each stop. I would drink one and pour the other over my head. With the way I was feeling, I probably should have stopped. I was close to passing out more than once. But I wanted to finish. If Ira hadn't been there with me I wouldn't have finished. But she really helped encourage me. I was feeling so bad that she ran ahead into a gas station and bought a cold bottle of gatorade. That seemed to help me. I also ate a salt packet at one of the water stops to try to replenish my electrolytes.

At mile 18 a blister that had formed on my little toe popped. It was the most disgusting feeling. I felt it squish in my sock. And it hurt a lot. I had to limp two miles before we found a medical tent. I stopped there so they could bandage up the popped blister and they saw that I had another on my big toe so they drained that one and bandaged it up too. This was at mile 20, so 6.2 more to go.

The last 6 miles or so are an out and back loop, which is really insanity-inducing after you've been that far. I felt like crap so we were walking at that point. Any time I tried to pick up the pace and run I would feel like passing out. So we stuck to walking even though it meant we would go over the official time limit. I didn't care at that point, I just wanted to finish the damn thing.

At two miles left to go we saw Ira's friend Marcy. She just ran the Boston marathon last week so she wasn't running this race. She walked with us for a while and gave us some Powerade. It was a nice distraction to talk to her. She left us right as we were getting to the finish line. Ira ran ahead so she could get a picture of me finishing. I mustered up all the strength I had left so that I could run across the finish line. My official time was 7:21:40. I was expecting to finish in 5 1/2 hours so this was way over that. I just wasn't ready for the conditions. A lot of other people weren't either. I saw at least 8 ambulances pass me to go pick up people. One guy actually died. He collapsed after finishing the half. After hearing that, I was glad we slowed down. I'd rather have a slow marathon time and still be alive to tell about it. I'm pretty sure I was suffering from heat exhaustion. I couldn't stop shaking after the race. That lasted all day even on the drive home. I took an electrolyte pill, drank a lot of gatorade and made sure to eat some salty food for dinner that night. I wasn't hungry at all. The thought of food made my stomach turn. I even turned down a candy bar, which is just unheard of for me.

In addition to the heat exhaustion and blisters, I got really sunburned. I had on spf 75 sunscreen, but it either sweat off or wore off, we were out there so long. I also got some unfortunate chafing. Think, inner thigh, as far up as you can go. When I took a shower is when I first felt it. I almost passed out in the shower it hurt so bad! I had to sit down and just wait for the pain to go away.

So that's my first marathon story. Even with all the crappy stuff, I'm glad I did it and will definitely do another. I'll wait until cooler weather comes though. And sadly, all of the pictures that Ira took during the race got deleted. :( Her husband loaded them to the computer (or so he thought) and then deleted them from the camera. But they weren't on the computer. So I'm kind of sad about that. But there will be the official pictures that I can get. They should be online soon, so when I get those I'll post them.

I really don't believe that anyone will read this far. This is a long post, but I wanted to remember everything about the marathon.

I can honestly say that was the HARDEST thing I have ever done.