I did it! I can officially call myself a marathoner! When I got back into running in 2011, if anyone told me that I’d run a marathon in 2015 I’d have thought they were bonkers. Heck, I didn’t even start considering a full marathon seriously until 2014. The months of training have been painful and long at times, but I crossed that finish line! I am so glad to have finally found my running flock and loads of support from the different runners in the various running groups I’ve accumulated miles with since April. I am definitely grateful to my sole sisters: Sara, Megan, Heidi and Ann. They are such inspiration with each of their own running journeys, are awesome cheerleaders, share my love of cute running clothes and support each other through tough times and fantastic accomplishments. I love you gals so much!
Race weekend started out in a whirlwind. I got up early on Saturday morning to cheer for Megan as she was running the 5k. I stood about a block from where the course turned down the final stretch to the finish line, ringing my cowbell like a maniac. I saw so many running friends whiz by me! I stood there until the last walker and the course support passed by me. I got several comments on my enthusiasm from walkers as they passed by. I had a great time cheering and releasing some of the anticipation I had for my race the next day.
I had a little downtime before I headed out to the expo for packet pick up, to volunteer at Kathrine Switzer’s booth, work a couple hours at the Running Room both and then attend the pasta dinner where Kathrine was speaking. Working at her booth was a lot of fun. I took pictures for fans that lined up to meet her and get a personal message and autograph from her. She didn’t let anyone just get her signature, she asked about their running and engaged everyone that came to speak with her. She is a truly amazing woman. And having flown into Des Moines from Spain on Wednesday evening and having a lot of press engagements and appearing at the expo on Friday, she was still lively and awesome on Saturday afternoon. I really enjoyed the experience and as I was finishing up, I got an awesome message in my copy of her book, an individual photo and a group photo with her and my sole sisters, minus Ann. (She was running her 103rd half marathon in Detroit that weekend.) She was also an amazing speaker. If you ever get a chance to hear her speak do so!
Sunday was quite a few firsts! My first race at age 33, my first race in my Oiselle singlet and my first marathon…plus my first run with my new Jaybird X2 Sport headphones that Kyle got me for my birthday. I had already worn the singlet for a track work out so I knew that wouldn’t be an issue as the old adage is to do nothing new on race day. The Jaybirds were awesome, aside from the fact that I had forgotten to put the medium size cover on one of my headphones. But I didn’t realize that until about mile 18 and it wasn’t a huge deal.
I was a tiny bit scattered as I was getting ready to start the race. I parked my car at AJ’s which was really close to mile 1 on the course. I dropped my warm up pants at the gear check and tried to make my way toward the start line. I got clogged and ended up starting with the pack that was aiming for 8:00 pace. Just as I started I realized that I’d left my sunglasses in my car. Luckily, my car was on the course, so I hopped off the course, dropped my sweatshirt and grabbed my sunglasses. Shortly after that, Heidi caught me on the course and wished me good luck and then sped on by me.
I was definitely still running a bit too fast a pace by the time I got to where the half marathoners split to head for Water Works Park and the marathoners headed up Grand Avenue and the long, slow hill of torture. That hill definitely starts to spread out runners, as does the hills through the south of Grand neighbourhood. I caught up with Elena at that point and we ran together for a bit. She took off on me on the side street off Polk Blvd that had the roundabout. Mandy was cheering for me by the Art Center on Polk Blvd and that was awesome! As I was heading down Kingman at mile 10 for me, I saw Sara kicking ass and yelled encouragement. She actually heard me and smiled and that gave me a bit of energy.
I definitely was still a bit fast going into the loop around the Drake track and had to remind myself not to speed up on the track. My 10k split was slower than my PR, which is where I wanted to be. My half split was only slightly slower than the half I ran at the end of May, which was Dam to Dam. A bit fast, but I didn’t think much about it. I did get a bit slower going on the bike trail where people really spread out more. I had to dig a bit going into the loop at Water Works Park, but I knew that Jared and Megan were back there cheering. Also, kudos to the race committee for having a bit more entertainment and water stops in the back loop of Water Works. As I came up on Megan, I peeled off my arm warmers and tried to settle back into my groove.
Once I hit 20 miles, my scum bag brain reminded me that I’d not run over 20 miles before. So I definitely had some mental fighting going on in my head and near mile 21, the pacer for 4:55 caught me. I stayed with him until just after mile 22. We were in Gray’s Lake and the wind just trashed me. I slowed down to a walk over the bridge and slightly struggled to get back to a steady rhythm. Just as the course leaves Gray’s Lake and follows the trail by MLK, I grabbed a bottle of water and a tissue from the course support cyclist, and fell into a conversation with an older gentleman that was doing roughly his 100th marathon and is also an ultra marathoner. He imparted some words of encouragement for my first marathon and I tried to pick up my pace to chase that 5 hour finish time. He told me that I was definitely close to that mark.
MLK was a real struggle. I was very grateful that I didn’t have to do that small out and back that the half marathon course requires. I got a tiny wind when I turned to head toward Locust for the finish. I saw a race official at the corner of Locust and I knew that I was almost done. As Kathrine said the day before, “261 is when you know you’re going to finish the marathon.” It’s a reference to her infamous bib number from the 1967 Boston Marathon. I wish I could say that I finished my marathon strong, in actuality, it was a shuffle. I did at least get my arms up as I crossed the finish line and got some descent finish line photos. However, the photo immediately after I was handed my medal and the asked to pose for a photo, I am one hot mess. I did recover for my official finisher photo and I look better in that photo with my finger up to signify #1. Now Kyle says that for every marathon I finish, I have to hold up my fingers to show which number it is. We’ll see about that one.