I received the BEST news last Sunday! One of my clients, Dominique, finished her first marathon in an awesome 4:27:18! That alone is great news but even more impressive is the fact that she’d never raced more than 10 miles. A former college track runner, I don’t think Dominique will mind my disclosure that she goes out way too fast in races. She hears that gun, thinks she’s on the track, and just books it. As a result, her first mile is always her fastest. In racing and in training. It took a long time and a lot of reminders to get her to slow down. I’ve always felt that you can get away with starting out too fast up to the half marathon. After that, you’re asking for trouble.
So we worked on that. A lot. Because I was very concerned that she’d blow up in the marathon. Did she go out faster than I told her to? Of course. But I knew she would, so I gave her an overly conservative pace. Of greater concern, however, was what she was going to eat during the race. Dominique doesn’t like to eat when running or even before running. Everything bothers her sensitive stomach. I listed numerous options, consulted running friends (thanks for all your suggestions!) and finally hit the jackpot when I suggested Honey Stinger Waffles. Except she decided to wait until the day before the marathon to try them! Thankfully they agreed with her.
Two days after the race she sent me a very detailed race report. Actually, she sends me detailed reports for every race which is great, because it gives me great insight into her race psyche and what affects her. I learned from her first race that other racers can really affect her, that she runs with music (I hadn’t thought to ask), that she can blow up her race with negative thoughts. We worked on that one a lot, as I’m a huge proponent of positive thinking. What impressed me the most in her race report was how she didn’t let in any negative thoughts, even when things got really tough. As anyone who’s run a marathon knows, it’s hard work keeping the negativity at bay.
Anyway, I asked Dominique if she’d allow me to post her report because it provides such a great insight into a typical first marathon experience. I think I should hire her to write my blog. 🙂 She agreed and so here is the complete recap of Dominique’s first marathon. Watch for the confession near the end that had me horrified!
Okayâ€¦I think I am ready to talk about itâ€¦.I worked from home the last two days, stairs weren’t happening. Â Here is my marathon story:
We pulled into the parking lot designated for marathon participants and boarded the school bus that would be shuttling us to the start line (which also served as the half-marathon finish, mid-point for the marathon, and finish line for the marathon). Â My dad (drinking a Pepsi at 6:30AM), John and I proceeded to exchange looks and smirks listening to some intense passengers boast about how many marathons they’ve run over the last month and how many miles they’ve put in at a very high volume, glancing around to make sure the entire bus heard them. Â Once at the start, we found some shelter and John and my dad held down fort while I jumped back and forth between stretching and hitting up the porta-potty in an attempt to make some magic happen pre-race.
The horrible thing about porta-potties is not even the smell or the fear that it may tip over with you in it, but that moment when you first enter the porta-potty. Naturally your eyes drop to inspect the seat to make sure that there is no pee on it, so you can’t help but look at the hole. Â Once your eyes are at the hole, there is no way to stop yourself from seeing someone else’s poop starting back out at you from the darkness. Â You just don’t come back from that moment of absolute disgust of seeing a complete stranger’s filth. Â From there you just tense up, and suddenly the smell is so much more intense, your senses are heightened because you are alarmed, and afraid, and disturbedâ€¦and its just awful. Â But I digressâ€¦
At 7:30AM I am starting to feel impatient as to why there has not been a final call to get on the start line. Â I stop a passing official to ask them what the hold up is and find out that the race start is actually 8:00AM. Â Pardon me, sir? Did I hear you correctly? Â I could have sworn the website said 7:30AMâ€¦
â€¦30 minutes later, the crowd is making its way to the start line. Â I did not realize that the half-marathon and the marathon would start together? Â I glanced to my left and see one of my former college teammates. Â She was with her father and they were running the half-marathon together. Â Finally the horn goes off and it takes a little while to get to the start. Â And I’m off!!!
I kept it slow, kept it slowâ€¦.I thought anyway. Â I really stayed very very relaxed. Â There really isn’t much to say about the first half, really. Â I just casually ran. When I felt myself putting in any kind of effort, I slowed down. Â I tried not to let any half-ers carry me because I knew they would be running a faster pace since they only had half as far as me to go. Â Around mile 8 I ate my first waffle. Â The great thing about the waffles is because of their flat shape, I can stuff them in between my sports bra and upper back and not notice they are there. Â I have tried fanny packs, fuel belts, etc with no luck. Â I am hourglass shapedâ€¦awesome for clothes and cute dresses, not so good for fuel belts. Â They always want to pop up and its super uncomfortableâ€¦no matter how tight i adjust them. Â So the waffles not only taste great, have a great texture, but also can be stored very convientently in the back of my sports bra.
So the first half was pretty straight forward. Â Newport is so beautiful and it was great that the course went around the mansions. Â I crossed the half around 1:56. About 200 meters later, I met up with my dad and John who handed me off one wrapped waffle and one unwrapped waffle. I was baffled by the unwrapped waffle and told them they were the worst supporters ever while they laughed. Â I would find out later that they had quite a few adventures throughout the day themselves. Â Boys. Â So about 800 meters later I realized that the waffle in my hand would get sweaty so I just ate it since saving it was not an option.
I felt UH-MAZING. Â No shortness of breath, no dead legsâ€¦just glorious. Â I couldn’t help but smile that I may just finish this marathon in 4 hours. BAM!!!! Mile 15 hit me like a freaking bus! Â I have never, ever in my years of running ever hit the wall like that ever. Â There were no signs, no indications that it was going to happen, it just happened. Â Seriously. Â One second I am fine, the next second my body rigs from the hip flexors down to the tip of my toes. Â My quads, my hammies, my knees, my hip flexors, EVERYTHING seized up.
By mile 16 I am starting to find Jesus. Â I am just praying for salvation. Â I am in pain. Â By mile 17 I am telling myself just make it to mile 20 and then it is easy from there, just the last 6 to go. Â For the next three miles I am running so slow and kind of walking in between. Â I notice everyone around me is doing the same, people are just crumbling and breaking down around me. Â IT.IS.SO.SCARY.PERIOD.
Just as I make the decision to just pee my pants and deal with it during mile 18, I spot a porta-potty in a parking lot to my left. Â I keep my watch going as I jog across the parking lot to relieve my bladder and jump back on the course.
Mile 20, oh my god. Â Please please let me find something within myself. Â It is getting so dark. Â I am so scared. Â I may die and collapse into a sand dune or a bush and no one will find me. Â I will never see John again, never get married, never get to tour one of those mansions as a possible wedding venue. Â I will never see my dad againâ€¦my dogs! Â My innocent Shih Tzus will never see their mother again. Â The thought of Nelson and Daisy’s confused faces as John tells them their mother died on the marathon course and the body was never found is the worst. Â Okay, let’s try some tricks. Â It is only 6 more miles. Â I have to live to see another day. Â My legs are breaking off, but I can still live a full life. Â I’ve still got my arms and my head. Â During the last half of mile 20, there is a Golden Retriever laying in his driveway watching us run by. Â He has a tennis ball and looks so relaxed, so I smiled at him. Â And I felt a little better. Â Okay, smile. Â Let’s get optimisticâ€¦a smile can turn the world around.
Smiling worked for about a mile and a half and then the glow wore off. Â So I am walking, and running, and jogging, and crying. Â By mile 24 I am counting to 100 running, counting to 20 walking. Â It seems to be working to keep me going. During one of my walking breaks a woman runs up beside me and walks with me. Â She says “I wish we were at the finish.” Â In my head “no shit Sherlock,” out loud “we will get there, don’t worry,” in my head “but seriously I really don’t know were I am finding the strength to give you words of encouragement right now,” out loud “we just need to keep going.” Â So I start running again and leave her behind.
It is the last mile and I feel frantic. Â I know the finish line is coming, where the hell is it?!?! I can’t hear anyone, I can’t smile at anyone, no hurrahs, I have nothing to give anyone. Â All I have is the finish line, and I just need to make it there. Â I cross the line, am handled a medal and a bottle of water. Â Two steps later my dad is standing there laughing and taking a picture and I just fall into his arms and cry. Â John comes running up a moment later and I am so happy to see him.
I have to admit, I felt like one of those brides on Say Yes To The Dress that complain when they don’t cry when they find the dress. Â I didn’t feel accomplished or euphoric. Â I felt like my legs were broken, my spirits were broken, and I just wanted to sob until my eyes were broken. Â I made sure to roll my legs, have plenty of protein and elevate my legs while I slept on Sunday night. Â Monday morning I couldn’t really walk. Â I ended up working from home. Protein, elevation, rolling out my legs. Â Tuesday and I just feel normal sore. Â I think I will be A-okay by tomorrow. Â Protein, elevation and rolling were very essential in making my recovery very speedy.
Today, I feel accomplished and kind of like a bad-ass for running a marathon. Â I will definitely be doing another one next Spring! Â All in all I do not think 4:27.18 was too bad for my first marathon ever.
Confession: I forgot to drink water and gatorade during the race. Â Which is probably why my muscles completely seized up on me so early at mile 15. Â It did not even occur to me to drink something until mile 21 when I happened to be taking a walk past one of the gatorade stations and decided to have a cup since I was walking anyway. Â I think failure to hydrate cost me a lot of time.
Wow. Â I ran a marathonâ€¦