I never wanted to run a marathon.
Despite what you read in a previous post about my "bucket list", I never had a desire to run 26.2 miles. I thought those people were crazy (just like a lot of people now think I am, I'm sure). But then, something changed...
It'd be difficult to pinpoint it exactly, but I know it started when Brian and I moved to Dallas last summer and I met my amazing friend, Melanie. Her husband works for Bank of America so she mentioned maybe flying out our way in the fall of 2009 to run the Chicago Marathon. She inspired me with her running regimen, but I was pregnant so I didn't think too seriously about running a marathon (nor did I really want to).
Then, when I read this post about my super runner bro-in-law, Kevin (who I actually always thought was crazy for running as much he did, by the way) and his cousin Jennie finishing the St. George Marathon in October 2008, I was a bit more inspired.
Then, I decided to sign Brian and myself up to run the Holiday Hustle 5k in the middle of winter. I think that's when I decided I could run a marathon. I'm not sure why, honestly. I couldn't even run the whole 5k! But the real turning point was when I mentally committed and started telling people I was going to run a marathon.
Then I bought some running clothes and my Garmin GPS watch and Brian got me this book for Christmas to help me with a training plan (which worked great, by the way). And one key, I started running 3 days a week (only about 2 miles though, which was hard at the time).
In January, I found a weekly babysitter and signed Brian and myself up for a 5-week Running 101 class at a local running store. I also finally got fitted for running shoes and ran 4 miles for the first time in my life (it was hard, but I felt awesome).
On February 1st, the day registration opened for the Chicago Marathon, I signed up and I recruited Brian and Kevin to sign up with me.
On June 22nd, the day after I got home from a weekend with Brian sans kids in New York, I began my 16-week countdown and training until the Chicago Marathon. Thanks to the inspiration from running buddies, other runners, friends, family, blog comments, and running other races, I kept it up! (Shout out: Brian, Jonelle, Angie, Kathleen, Melanie, Lisa H., etc...)
So if you want to know how one becomes a marathoner...that's the way I did it! And yes, you can do it if you want to. Or maybe you'll do it despite the fact you never really wanted to.
PS: Melanie didn't end up coming to run the Chicago Marathon, but she's running her first marathon on November 15th! Go Melanie!
And now on to my experience...
Brian and I drove with the kids to Kevin and Naomi's place on Friday after celebrating Sydney's birthday at home. On Saturday, we headed downtown to pick up our bib numbers, chip timers, "swag" bags, and t-shirts at the pre-race expo.
We struck a Hanks-style pose in front of the countdown clock, anticipating our finish the next day.
Naomi was able to navigate through the crowd with Sydney and Wes in tow (thanks Naomi!) to snap some running shots of Kevin. (They couldn't quite make it back to see me and Brian finish.) Might I mention Kevin's finishing goal was a 3:30:00 and he came in at 3:13:26! Wow! That means he finished in the top 5.3%. Wow again!
This is Brian and me walking back to the apartment after the race. We stayed at the same place he lived in over the summer which was only a couple blocks from the start and finish lines. It was a perfect location.
But starting from the beginning... I randomly woke up at 4:15am so I decided to drink a 20 oz. water bottle to help hydrate me before the race and then I went back to sleep. Then we all woke up (the kids too, unfortunately) at 5:30am. I had a half bagel with strawberry cream cheese, a banana, a swig of Naked Juice, two Tylenol, two Ibuprofen, and a little bit more water. Then I got in my shorts, tank, and throw-away jacket I had bought the day before at the expo.
We headed out the door just after 6:00am and it was cold. It was still dark out and the temps were in the 30s and it was windy (of course, it was Chicago).
This being my first marathon, I learned a couple of good lessons for my next one. Here's one tip for you that I learned: if the temps are in the 30s, at the bare minimum, go to Goodwill and get some warm clothes you can toss before you start the race if you think you'll get too hot during the race. There were clothes flying across the starting shoot in the moments before the race began. Brian and I didn't have enough layers. We were holding each other and shivering for a full hour before we began running. I never actually got warm enough and thus, never shed my "throw away" jacket. My hands were still cold when I crossed the finish line...
Before the race, I had committed to run with Brian and simply finish. I didn't worry about time or anything, which was actually really nice! It made me a lot less nervous for the race than I thought I'd be. It felt like any other race to me which I always get a little nervous for, but not too bad. Brian, unfortunately, had come down with a little bit of a cold on Friday and was having sinus issues. Not a good way to start a marathon!
The race started just before 7:30am and it only took us (Brian and me) about 5 minutes to cross the start line. This was surprising, because I thought it'd take longer. Interestingly, the race cap is 45,000 participants, but only 34,792 showed up to run (33,419 finished). Because I was so cold, I already felt a little achy - specifically in my knees - starting out.
We went on our merry little way and thoroughly enjoyed the hundreds of spectators and a bunch of hilarious signs. At the 10k mark, I commented to Brian that it may not have been my fastest 10k time, but it went by the fastest!
At one point, in the middle of the race, we were running near a girl named Natalie and she had her name written on her shirt. As she ran by everyone would say, "Go Natalie!" so I felt pretty cool. :) That's another good tip: put your name on your shirt, people will cheer for you! Or you could put something funny on it like one I saw on the back of some guy's shirt: "Why run faster when you can follow these calves?"
I used my GUs, etc every 4 miles and we drank Gatorade and/or water at every aid stop. Randomly, I had to stop to go to the bathroom about 4 times during the race. Apparently I drank too much water! At the halfway point, I took a couple more Ibuprofen and Brian and I put in our Ipods (which I actually thought weren't allowed, but we found out the day before that they revised the rules). I listened to my book club book. Sometimes I was really into it and sometimes I got distracted reading all the signs of the spectators.
Throughout the race I was following Brian's lead since he wasn't feeling well. The rest of the race felt basically the same for me as the first half. It never felt really hard for me. My legs, feet and knees were tired, of course, since we'd been running for hours, but otherwise I was totally fine. My average heart rate was 137bpm compared to 160bpm at my last half marathon. I was running about a minute or so per mile slower than my normal pace on a flat course, so I wasn't feeling overly extended at all. Brian felt bad that I was sticking with him, but I didn't think it'd be fun to go on by myself! He was sick and then his thighs started cramping up so I wanted to be there to help him stay motivated. Especially since running a marathon wasn't something he ever wanted to do either. (I did feel like sprinting once we got toward the end, but I restrained myself.)
We crossed the finish line with a time of 4:40:50 (yep, we had the exact same time). My places:
Division Place: 2,019 out of 3,725
Sex Place: 7,547 out of 14,613
Overall Place: 21,193 out of 33,419
It was actually a great way for me to run and finish the race. Especially my first marathon. I was tired from waking up at 5:30am and then running for just under 5 hours, but I wasn't wasted. I've been sore for sure, but it's manageable. After the race, we hung out at the apartment for a bit, ate some food (I burned approximately 2,725 calories on that run, FYI), packed up the car and drove back to Ann Arbor in about the same amount of time it took us to run the marathon. Kind of interesting!
You may have noticed that I said "when" I run another marathon. I'm not super addicted or anything, I just think it'd be nice to run one to see what I'm really capable of. Run it the way you do when you're exhausted at the end. I know that doesn't sound like much fun, but I want to know how far I can push my body. I'm still trying to pick a date for that race. It probably won't be as fun as Chicago though, since all the spectators make the race so awesome, but that will make it even more of a challenge! Until next time!
Tuesday: 3 miles
Thursday: 3 miles
Sunday: 26.2 miles!
Total for the week: 32.2 miles