Monday, April 27, 2015

I Ran My First Marathon - NJ Marathon Recap

I DID IT!!! 16 weeks of training and a whole lot of worrying/anticipating/praying/talking incessantly all came down to Sunday morning, and I did it. 26.2 miles. I am a marathoner. 

It was without a doubt the hardest, most rewarding experience of my life thus far. I'm in A LOT of pain today, but all the hours of hard work and the Friday/Saturday nights staying in were all worth it when I saw that finish line.

Let's recap - sorry, it's a long one!

The morning of the race, I woke up at 4am to eat some oatmeal and drink coffee and lots of water. I was so excited that the early wake up time didn't bother me one bit. I ate the other half of the banana in the car on the way to the race start at around 7am.


My wonderful parents and my mom's cousin picked me up at 6:15. The race start is only 20 minutes from my apartment, but there was a ton of traffic. We pulled into a parking spot at 7:15ish - the start was at 7:30. I waited in line for the bathroom (I find there are never enough porta potties at big race events), but they stalled the race by about 10 minutes because there were a lot of cars still waiting to come into the park. I was corral E, so I quickly walked with my family over to the start, hopped right in my place and was on my way. It actually worked out nicely, because there was very little "nervous waiting" time. I started around 7:45.


I am very happy with everything I did during the race even though to many people I made some rookie errors. First off, I had a huge positive split (ran the first half faster than the second - you want to try for negative splits). But I was very aware of what I was doing. My first mile clocked in at 9:04 (my goal pace was 9:09), my second mile was 8:53. I kept up similar paces until mile 10. It was then that I knew I could PR my half marathon time and possibly get a sub 2 hour. I basically sprinted to the 13.1 mark and my watch registered 1:59:39. The timing chip for the race registered 2:01:06 - either way, I PR'd. 

After the 13.1 mark, I told myself to slow down and just make sure to finish. That was the goal. I had some added motivation because my family and friends were waiting at the 17/18 mile marks. And I was able to pass them again at miles 19/20 since there was a loop at that point that sent us back up north to the finish line. 

Mile 18-19 was my worst mile. It felt like 3 years before a water station appeared, and when it did, I took way too much water/gatorade/fuel. They had bananas and I ate half of one + took a gu packet a couple minutes later. I hoped it would make me feel better, but instead my stomach was overloaded quickly. I was able to work through it and find a groove again, but I ran that mile in 10:48 - my slowest mile of the race. 

Start of mile 18

I can't really put into words what miles 21-26 felt like. I was in a lot of pain, but didn't stop because everyone says if you stop, there's no running again at that point. So I shuffled all the way to the finish line shoot on the boardwalk. My quads were done. My right knee started aching, but I kept going. Then I saw the finish line clock. I sprinted as much as my body would allow and finished in 4:14:41. The morning of the race, my official goal in my head was 4:30, and after realizing what my body had accomplished, I was so happy. There were definitely tears. 

Right before the finish! 

My watch was a little off the race course, so let's just pretend I ran almost 26.5 miles :)


I can't thank everyone enough for all the support! It was so wonderful to have my friends and family both at the race and from afar cheering me on. I honestly couldn't have done any of this without you. And a special shout out to these two ladies (and a growing baby) who drove all over NJ to cheer me on yesterday! 


After the race, my only request was a necessary shower and pancakes. I received both. And the chef made mouse-head pancakes for us... 


I'm so happy to say nothing really went terribly wrong. I didn't even hit the dreaded wall everyone talks about. There were people that were walking sideways from dizziness who definitely hit it. I was just in pain. 

Here's went went really right...

It was the most beautiful day. The temperature at the start was around 46 degrees (my ideal temperature), and it was about 60 when I finished. There was very little wind except along the ocean.  The sun was hot, and there wasn't much shade, but there was a cool breeze coming from the ocean. I made sure to pour water on my head at every fuel station to keep myself cool. 

Fueling! For the most part. The banana + gu at mile 18.5 was a mistake, but my fuel the rest of the race was great. I had one gu packet at mile 5, 9.5, 13.5 and 18.5 + half a banana. I had planned to take another at mile 22, but from 18.5 onward, I couldn't put anything in my stomach. I had a few last sips of water at mile 24, but that was it. I drank water and gatorade at almost every fuel station until mile 20 (and I skipped the first one at mile 2). I did also walked through the fuel stations from mile 15 onward to make sure I was getting enough liquids. 

I'll chat more about my thoughts on training in a later post, but that went really right too. Have a great start to your week, everyone! I'll be wearing this snazzy medal for the next two weeks!  


Did you race this weekend? How did you do?! 

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