My First Marathon
May 2, 2011 § 14 Comments
Well, the day came and passed in a blur. The process began on Saturday evening as I tried to fall asleep at 6pm in order to wake up at 2am for the 1 hour drive to the North Shore. I wanted to leave the house by 3am, giving me plenty of time to eat breakfast. Let me add that consuming 500 calories of bagel, almond butter and banana is pretty difficult to stomach first thing in the morning. The evening before my stomach was in knots. I was tossing and turning imagining the various scenarios that the next day would bring. Race morning I woke up filled with adrenaline (no real need for coffee) and and nerves.
It was a beautiful course on a country rode that included both views of mountains and shoreline.
The race was the inaugural North Shore Marathon so there were a few things that could be improved upon next time, the first issue being the starting line and corrals. There were about 600 participants, no corrals, and the starting line with the chip timer was only about 6 feet wide. Needless to say, we looked like cattle being herded, trying to fit through that tiny starting line. Once through the start I maintained a pace of about 8:30 for the first 3 miles and then realized I was going to fast to sustain a good pace so I slowed down a bit. My plan was to maintain 9-9:30 until the halfway point, slow down to 10-10:30 for a few miles and then kick up the pace again around mile 17.
At mile 6 I diverted to a public bathroom around the course route which I was worried would hurt my time, but I didn’t really have a choice in that matter.
Other than that I was feeling on top of the world up until the halfway point. I was on pace, happily running, cheering fellow runners, just feeling good. The course was an out and back so for the first 13 or so miles it was either dark or the sun was at my back.
And this is where it got ugly.
The sun was high in the sky at around 7:30, no clouds and no wind. I consumed gels at mile 6 and mile 13 and was saving my last gel for mile 20. There were water stations every 2 miles so I began to walk through every station, filling up my water bottle almost every time.
It was getting extremely hot and at one point an ambulance sped down the course. I’m not sure what happened, but my first guess is that someone had a heat stroke.
By mile 17 my pace had slowed down significantly to 10:30-11. I wanted so badly to pick up the pace so I used my last gel at mile 17. I tried so hard to convince myself to run faster but my legs felt like lead and my face was burning from the sun. Around mile 20 things got even worse. I expected that I’d get a second wind, knowing that I only had 6 miles to go. Heck I run 6 miles almost daily! But to add to the challenge there were hills! Not big hills mind you, but at this point I was just trying to maintain a pace on flat ground. I saw that first tiny hill and seriously considered throwing in the towel. All that was running through my mind was getting out of the sun and into the shade. I somehow managed to convince myself to jog to the end. I just wanted to finish.
And there it was. 4:37
You can tell by the look on my face I was not a happy camper. I crossed that finish line, got my finishers medal and burst into tears. I was exhausted, sick from the heat, and I hate to admit – disappointed. Looking back I wish I’d finished with a smile.
Finishing a marathon is a huge accomplishment, but it’s also a hard pill to swallow when you are so far off of your goal time. There were a few contributing factors that were out of my control like the heat and the course, but I ended up feeling like I could have trained harder, maintained a healthier diet and done better. With that self criticism out of the way, I am proud to have finished a marathon. It is not easy by any means. It takes mental stamina and physical capability and no matter what my time was, this was a new experience for me and I accomplished something that a few years ago, I would have never dreamed of doing.
The best part of the morning was walking a few feet from the finshline to the shoreline! What a way to cool off and conclude a race that I’ll never forget.