Sunday, September 29, 2013

Rock n roll New Orleans marathon 2013

*i wrote this after I finished my first marathon back in February but never published.  I found it the other day and thought now was as good as ever to do so....

Poor little blog.  You only get attention when I have something to say, and apparently that's not much.  I wanted to to write about my first marathon though, and as I use this little blog as a journal of sorts, well, it's only fitting.

Okay- here is the background- Idecided, sort of on a whim, late November or early December to run this race.  I had been going back and forth on doing a marathon because I was really enjoying working on speed for shorter distances and didn't want to mess that up by adding miles.  But I was already running 30-35 miles a week with my long run around 12-14 miles so I thought I would go ahead and do it.  Training through December was uneventful.  Everything was going great.  My last run of the year was 18.75 miles and it went down without any problems.  I noticed in January that my inside foot was bothering me so I lowered my miles but decided to go ahead and do a local 10k as it wasn't really bothering me that much.  After the race, I knew something was wrong and I was pretty certain it was a stress fracture.  I rested and didn't run for 3 weeks, hoping that would be enough time.  After that, I knew I only had 3 more weeks until the race so I started to do a little running, 2 or 3 miles every few days that first week.  I did a "long" run of 7-8 miles a few times and then 1.5 weeks before the race, I did 13.5 miles.  I had no pain at all during runs, but still would feel a little achy after the run.  But that was it.  I ran 8 miles the week before and 3 miles a few days before and just decided to go for it and hope for the best!

The day before the race my foot hurt all day.  My mind was totally playing tricks on me.  I was nervous about it, but felt like it was mental and I would be okay. The expo was super cool- lots and lots of cool running junk.  We missed all the key speakers because we got to town late (I am so bummed I missed frank shorter and Kara goucher).  We also didn't eat lunch until almost 3 and couldn't find anything that we felt we could eat for dinner.  We ended up eating convenience store
sandwiches- ugh.  I will make sure I plan that better next time.

We woke up on race day at 5am, had coffee, toast and banana, got dressed and headed out for the start.  We were freezing and huddled up for about 20 minutes before we went off to find some friends and wish everyone luck.  After that, we headed to corral 4 and waited for our countdown.  When the gun went off for us, we did that weird shuffle walk run that always happens but quickly found a little ground we could run on and started gaining speed.  Eric and were running the first half together at am easy pace and no headphones.  The first 12.75 miles we ran with the half marathoners.  The road was very crowded and it was a little annoying trying to keep a steady pace and run beside each other too but it was also a lot of fun to run with so many people.  And also, since the half was an out and back, we were able to see the elite runners blazing by- I hope Mo, Kara and shalane heard me screaming and cheering for them:).  Eric and I kept a pace of around 8:35-8:50 the  whole time.  It was a very comfortable pace that allowed us to talk and laugh and really take in the sights around us- the city of New Orleans, the runners and costumes, the crowds and funny signs, the bands.  It was pretty awesome and the time flew by!  Right before the halfway mark, the half runners split from us to go down the finisher chutes.  We took a right and that's where things got exciting!  Eric and I chatted a few more minutes, wished each other luck and put on our headphones.  The music gave me a burst of
energy so I picked up my pace to around 8:15ish.  And it felt awesome!  We ran along side lake pontchartrain and it was really beautiful.  There was also a lot more room to stretch out.  I think the first half we were running with around 12,000 and the second half, around 2,000.  I was expecting it to be no man's land though and it wasn't.  The crowds were awesome and the support staff and bands were incredible as well.  Miles 13-17 were great.  I felt amazing and strong enough to keep up that pace forever.  Around mile 17, I started to look for the turn around as it was an out and back.  I just kept thinking it should be coming up soon and it just never did- it made miles 17-19 pretty long.  I felt good, but I was ready to start heading back.  Mile 19 was the turnaround and it gave me an extra boost.  I don't want to label the way I felt as a runner's high, because I don't think I really believe that
exists, but I will say that miles 19-22 were the best miles I have ever experiences.  I was super happy and just in my own zone during these miles.  I felt like I could fly and it was awesome.  Mile 22, reality set back in and I started to feel like I was actually running a marathon:).  I remember trying to calculate how much I could slow down or even walk and still go under 4 hours.  But still, I was only feeling tired and a little achy in my hips.  I knew I had absolutely no physical reason why I needed to slow too much so I kept at it as best as I could.  I think my last 3 miles, I may have averaged around 8:30-8:40 range.  Finally, I could see the finish line!  Salt N Peppa's Push It came as the next song (ha!) so I decided just to go ahead and blaze it out.  I focused in on the finish line and blew through it- I didn't see any of my family cheering me on.  I was ready to cross over!  I ended in 3:44As soon as I finished, volunteers started handing me stuff and I just took it all- I was just sort of dazed out and feeling super weird from the sudden change of movement from running straight for so long and then stopping.  I ended up with my medal, a warming blanket, a bottle of Gatorade, a bottle of chocolate milk, a water bottle, a pack of cookies and a bag of pretzels.  I know they meant well and they were super, but I could barely put one foot in front of the other and was loaded down.  I found a grassy area, laid down and waited a few minutes before panicking because I had not seen anyone else I ran with or came with- so I schlepped around on dead legs looking for everyone for awhile before I was reunited.  The rest was just fun and relaxation.  We stayed in New Orleans 2 extra days just resting, eating and enjoying the city.  My first marathon experience was really amazing.  I was worried going into it because I knew because of my recent injury, that physically I wasn't prepared.  But I didn't let it get me down and really did much better than I was expecting.  It was enough of a thrill to immediately decide I wanted to do another one.  I can't wait to start training for it!

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