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That’s the second and last time I fall for the “gently rolling hills” trick, or, The Official Race Report

10/10/2011

WARNING: This is very, very long. One might think I ran 26000 miles instead of 26.2.

Mostly everyone knows via the stalker social networking site Bookface that I ran my very first marathon yesterday. I have a bajillion (real number) jumbled thoughts about it and I tried to keep this simple and not get all long-winded and blah blah blah, but of course I got all long-winded and blah blah blah.

We left the house a little before 5:00 AM. We didn’t need our alarm clocks because Tonks puked on my bed to wake me up. Puppies are awesome. Brian drove so I could sleep. I even brought a pillow (thank you Kara Goucher for that tip!). At 6:00 I woke up to eat my peanut butter sandwich but I was so nervous I had a really hard time choking it down. We arrived at Bullhead Point, a pier on Lake Neatahwanta where the start, halfway point, and finish line was, about 20 minutes later.

It was totally dark and freezing as I waited in line for my number and packet pick-up. We got black UA shirts that actually fit! How very nice to not get another ginormous cotton t-shirt I’ll only wear to bed and when I am trying to repel My Lovah. In between trips to the porta potties (TMI?), I sat in the car to keep warm. At 6:55 they called all the runners to the pavilion for pre-race announcements so I put on my arm sleeves, clipped on my iPod, pinned Honey Stinger Waffles into my pockets, and grabbed my Nathan Sprint filled with 1/2 Gatorade-1/2 high quality H2O. I lined up at the start with the walkers because I was afraid I would go out all batshit crazy like I usually do. But then I realized that I was with the 80-year-old walkers and moved up a teeny bit.

The gun went off a just after 7:00 and we were on our way. About 2 miles in the “gently rolling hills” started. They weren’t mountains, but there were a lot of them–it was a constant up and down. During the climbs I just kept my head down because hills can really psych you out and I didn’t even want to look at them. I locked into a pace and felt really good and the mile markers seemed like they were coming up so fast! 

Because it was such a small race (stay tuned for stats) the roads were not closed to traffic so the entire race was run on the left shoulder facing traffic. This can be a little uncomfortable when roads slope at the sides, but I tried to stay on the white line where it wasn’t too bad. Around mile 4 we started running through farm country. There were corn fields and silos everywhere! The second loop around one of the fields was filled with cows–I swear, there were at least 100! It was so pretty with the early morning sun that I didn’t even mind the smell of manure. There were so many guys in pick-up trucks that slowed down or stop to shout  words of encouragement to the runners. It was like the Footloose town except everyone was really nice and not under the repressive thumb of John Lithgow.

During miles 6-11 (or later, miles 19-24) the hills got BIG, but I still felt great (aside from some left calf pain). The course flattened out at the 11 mile mark–just as my dad drove past waving! I was so excited to see my family in 2.1 miles and get rid of my arm sleeves. It was chilly at the start but warming up quickly.

I came into the halfway point at 1:58:41 and it actually thought that a sub-4:00 marathon was possible. I dropped my sleeves and handheld and grabbed a new one from Mady and with a big wave, set out for the second loop. Immediately I started to panic. All the runners around me peeled off at the 13.1 mark to cross the finish line. I was completely alone. I saw my dad at mile 14 and told him I had no idea where to go so he drove ahead on the course to make sure that all the turns still had volunteers directing the runners. Luckily, all those wonderful, wonderful people were still there waving and cheering for the 25 of us that continued on to run the full. Race volunteers might  just be among the most selfless people in the world.

At mile 16 I started to feel pretty uncomfortable and those “gently rolling hills” (cough bullshit cough) were A LOT tougher the second time around. At one point I felt like I wasn’t even moving. It didn’t help that I hadn’t seen another runner in 3 miles or even the guys patrolling the course on bike. I tried to distract myself by thinking of the article on Grete Waitz in this month’s Runner’s World and how she never ran anything longer than 12 miles before winning the New York City Marathon and setting a World Record. When that only mildly helped, I thought of ultrarunner and mom Katie Ogelsby who recently completely the Leadville Trail 100 and had to go over Hope Pass twice (check out the pic!). That helped me get the hell over myself and over some of those hills.

My pace was slowing a lot but I kinda didn’t care. I knew I had a little bit of time in the bank to still finish with a time I would be happy with (even if it wasn’t sub-4:00). The course was tough, and I just wanted to finish. At mile 6 my left calf that was bothering me 2 weeks ago had started to tighten up pretty bad. I decided to ignore it–the only way I was leaving the course was if I was dragged off by an ambulance. I had stumbled on a loose piece of asphalt at mile 11 and now tackling the hills for a second time, my calf was screaming by mile 21. I was so excited I only had 5 miles to go but I was hurting.

As I crested a(nother!) hill, I saw my parents, Madylin, and Sean at the next water stop. I almost started crying but then when I saw Sean trying to watch me through binoculars he was holding backwards, I started to laugh. It was just the boost I needed!

I had passed a runner around mile 20 and as I approached mile 23 I could see a runner up ahead really struggling on the hills. He kept walking and stopping and walking and stopping. I knew that if I broke my stride and started walking the hills, I would have a tough time getting my legs going again too. I just kept my head down on the inclines and kept chugging away. After passing him I reached the top of the final hill and closed in on another runner who had also started walking. I think the heat and the hills were making everyone cramp up, but I still felt secretly proud I was chicking all these dudes.

My dad was at the water stop at mile 24 which was another big boost. The course flattened out and I couldn’t believe how close I was! A little further up the road I passed another runner who was laying across the top of a mailbox. Just before the 25 mile marker I passed one more runner. He saw me and tried to sprint passed me but then dropped back and ran right on my heels for the rest of the race. I had no idea how close  he was until I saw the finish line  pics.

Surprise, surprise–my dad was waiting for me at mile 25! He was shouting “You’re killing it! You’ve got this!” and it made my eyes all wet with wet tears. I kept chugging along and at mile 26 I could see the finish line flags waving in the breeze. Oh. My. God. I had 2/10’s of a mile left. I reminded myself that that is the same distances as my driveway to the end of block and back which helped me to pick up the pace and finish really strong.

 
As I crossed, the timing company, race director, and several volunteers were all clapping. My family was waiting at the end of the chute and Madylin gave me my finisher’s medal. It was a really touching moment!

After a round of pictures, the race director gave me my award (I was the 2nd female and the 6th finisher overall–I told you it was small race!). The award is really nice–it is a framed picture of the Lake Neatahwanta instead of plaque I’ll never hang or plastic trophy of a woman running. (Click here for full race results.)


I hobbled over to the pavilion and grabbed 2 chocolate milks. They had a nice post-race spread–chili, bananas, apples, pears, bagels, and homemade cookies and brownies. Around noon we packed up and headed out. I was really having a hard time walking but nothing could wipe the smile off my face. Getting out of the car after the 80 minute drive home was pretty tough though. I felt like an old old old lady coming home from the hospital after breaking my hips, legs, and pelvis falling from my old lady sofa. After a hot shower, some eats, and a slice of leftover birthday cake, I was feeling more like myself again. And my dad, being the awesome rock star dad that he was all day, brought home a 12-pack of Michelob Light bottles for me and made spaghetti and meatballs for dinner. He’s the best!

I will definitely run a marathon again and I wonder what I could do with a few more weeks of training and a flatter course, but yesterday really couldn’t have gone better. The only thing I was really unhappy with was my iPod. There are 95 songs on it but it kept playing the same 10 songs over and over and I had to keep skipping ahead. I didn’t want to have to fiddle with it at all during the run so this was frustrating. It’s probably haunted  by the ghost of Steve Jobs. iAnnoyed.

And now it’s time for the stats!

Splits:
Mile 1  9:52
Mile 2  9:09
Mile 3  9:24
Mile 4  8:57
Mile 5  9:12
Mile 6  8:56
Mile 7  9:00
Mile 8  8:54
Mile 9  9:00
Mile 10 8:59
Mile 11 8:50
Mile 12 8:42
Mile 13 8:48
Mile 14 8:52
Mile 15 9:08
Mile 16 9:34
Mile 17 9:19
Mile 18 9:50
Mile 19 9:37
Mile 20 9:57
Mile 21 10:12
Mile 22 10:15
Mile 23 10:41
Mile 24 10:12
Mile 25 9:50
Mile 26 9:59
0.2  1:48

Official Time 4:07:09
Fastest Mile 8:42
Slowest Mile 10:41
Average Pace 9:25

Marathon Finishers 25
Half Marathon Finishers 45
10K Finishers 21

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. 10/10/2011 9:23 AM

    I was up all night waiting impatiently for your marathon recap. It was worth the insomnia! Your dad is the best…can’t wait to eat his ribs when I invite myself to their house when we run another race together! Holy mile 12, Speedy Feet! 8:42 is in-sane. You totally rocked this race. Give yourself two thumbs-up for doing such a great job. Then find a flat marathon for us to run together!

    • Suzanne permalink*
      10/10/2011 12:37 PM

      I actually wrote the bulk of it last night but was too tired to links and pics until this morning. So sorry to make you wait ;)
      I’m thinking we should both go in the NYC lottery for 2012.

  2. 10/10/2011 12:41 PM

    Are there gently rolling hills in NYC? And what if one of us makes it in but the other doesn’t? And I forgive you for making me wait because now, as I’m sitting here stuffing my face with a super-delicious homemade chicken salad sandwich from the recipe book of Bethenny Frankel (go figure), I am being entertained by yet another post. Win-win!

    • Suzanne permalink*
      10/10/2011 1:08 PM

      Actually, once you enter Central Park there are some pretty killer hills to the finish. But we’ll be all smart and do hill work during our training. If one gets in, we defer until we both get in. After 3 declines you automatically get in anyway so yay 2015!

  3. 10/30/2011 2:17 PM

    Reading this made me all teary. It was like I ran the marathon instead of sitting on my ass reading about you running the marathon.

    • Suzanne permalink*
      10/30/2011 2:20 PM

      I was all teary. Dad was a total rock star that day!

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