This weekend, I ran my first marathon in twelve years. (You can read about the first experience here. It wasn’t terribly pleasant.)
I was hoping this one would be better. I picked a training schedule and stuck to it through sore knees, exhaustion, and probably anemia.
The day of the race started pretty well. It was a little warmer than I was hoping for, but not 80 degrees, so that was good. I found several running friends as soon as I got to the starting line which boosted my spirits immensely. Then as we are waiting for the starting horn, I go to prepare my watch and it flashes a warning that it is locked. WHAT?! I have no idea how to unlock it. I am frantically pushing buttons and combinations of buttons as it beeps at me with irritation. Just seconds before the starting gun, it unlocks. Whew!
The raced started and there were tons of people. This is a small race, so I expected so be on my own for a good share of it. I was okay with that. I do most of my runs alone anyway. It was great being near other runners. At two miles, my family was waiting to cheer me on. Things were going well.
The course consisted of a 13-mile loop around the lake. The half marathoners did one loop while the marathoners did two. It was shady with gently rolling hills. Most of it was on a bike path, but I preferred that because it is easier on my hips.
I made it around the first loop and saw my husband at one corner. He biked around the course, taking pictures, refilling my water, etc. He was looking the other way as I went passed him, but I didn’t shout to him, thinking that he would turn and see me. This was probably the mistake that changed the rest of the race.
Shortly after that, the half marathoners turned to their finish and I headed into the second loop. The crowd of runners around me drastically diminished. And that was very hard mentally. I had lost all their energy. I knew I would see my family again in two miles, so I kept plugging along, but I was starting to get nauseated. This can be caused by dehydration, so I sucked down my water.
As I passed my family, my nephew was playing “Eye of the Tiger.” It was awesome. I perked up. The next mile or so was good. Then my water ran out. The next aid station was over a mile away.
I kept going, taking walking break here and there when my stomach got dangerously swirly. I refilled my water bottle at the aid station and kept going. My husband caught up to me shortly after that. He had missed me completely on that corner, but now the field had cleared enough that he could ride beside me the rest of the way, keeping me supplied with water.
Parts of the those last miles were brutal. The nausea would come and go. My legs felt good, but my stomach was twitchy. I leap-frogged with runners in front of me as we each took walking breaks.
With about a mile to go, my mental vocabulary had devolved into four-letter words.
As I finished–sprinting in my head, at least, wanting to get this $%^$ over with– the announcer said I made it look easy. Ha!
My time was 4:03. So close to breaking four hours.
As of now I’ve limped through two days. My legs scream at the thought of stairs and my chest hurts. I’m probably still dehydrated. But it was better than my first one.
Would I do it again? Probably. I know I can shave those three minutes off.