Mad Marathon Race Report – THE RACE!

22 Jul

And now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for: MARATHON SUNDAY RACE REPORT!

Sunday morning, up and at ‘em at 5 a.m. Kinda. I might have hit snooze a couple of times.  I got my hotel provided coffee and breakfast, and even though I wasn’t that hungry, I forced myself to eat half of my bagel with peanut butter, and a banana. That’s all I typically eat before a long run anyway, and I pride myself on being diligent about mid-run fueling.
Blah blah blah boring stuff… I ate, I got dressed, I applied sunscreen, Vaseline, and body glide (wow that sounds dirty).
Time to go!!!! It was about 55 degrees, 80% or so humidity, and overcast.  Perfect running weather, if only it had stayed that way.
Coachy and I headed into town around 6:30 a.m. It was super easy to find a parking spot, and we didn’t even have to use the gear check, it was close enough to leave all of our stuff in the car.
There were plenty of people milling around. 
Yum yums
We wandered through the finish area (it was early, I think we were both still half asleep), checked out some of the delicious goodies being offered for post-race food, and scoped out the potty line.  
Both sets of potties had huge lines already.  I skipped the potty line, which I later regretted.  Coachy skipped it too, but being a man found an easy tree to hide behind.  Sometimes I wish I was a man, just so I could go to the bathroom outside easier.  Is that weird?
Yup, totally freaking out.
 The Star Spangled Banner was sung, and we were all told to make our way over to the start area.  It was a tad confusing, but there were some wonderful volunteers telling us where to go.  You could see flags on either side of the road; they were marking the start area.  Volunteers announced “Go to the front if you’re running this race for a qualifying time!”  SAY WHAT? Who runs a race with 2100′ of elevation gain for a qualifying time?! Well, there were people that did.
At the start
Coachy and I found our way to about the middle of the pack or so, it seemed like a decent place to start.  People watching was fun – some people were wearing gloves, others were wearing pants and/or long sleeves! I hoped they were throw away layers, for the sake of those runners, but I had to giggle a little to myself too because 55 degrees isn’t really that cold to me.  I was a tad chilly in shorts and a tank, but I knew I’d be warm by Mile 1.   I choked down a GU (hard to do on a nervous stomach) and half a bottle of water.
In the moments leading up to the starting gun I really started to feel nervous.  The reality had FINALLY sunk in.  I was mere moments from running my first marathon.  WHAT HAD I GOTTEN MYSELF INTO?!!!! I looked around at people, tried to make some jokes, but I was really nervous at this point.
And we’re off – there’s no time left for nerves.  By the time we finished Mile 1, at a pleasantly easy 10mm pace, I was indeed fine and ready to tackle the next 25.2 miles. 
 Mile 2 provided us with a 342’ climb (I love my Garmin – does anyone else love their Garmin? It’s kinda like, how did I ever run without this thing before?). We started running up this hill at Mile 2, but I slowed way down when I realized that it wasn’t ending any time soon.  The one thing I kept telling Coachy for the entire race was that I didn’t want to waste any of my energy reserves – I will finish, I will finish strong (I hoped). So that meant walking the REALLY crazy hills.
The start of mile 3 we were still climbing this crazy ass hill! I thought it might never end! And then it happened, the hill took an immediate turn down, JUST as steep as it was to climb! YAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!! I took off running like a crazy woman, hauling ass as fast as I could down the hill (and of course yelling WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE).  Garmin data says my fastest pace was 7:07 in mile 3.  SWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEET! I actually had to turn around and look for Coachy – his knees don’t like him when he tries to run downhill like a stark raving lunatic.  I’m grateful I don’t have that trouble. 
Me and Coachy! End of Mile 4 maybe?
More of this fantastically awesome downhill awaited us in Mile 4 – there wasn’t a single foot of elevation gain in Mile 4 – and it turned out to be the fastest mile we ran for the entire race.  Coachy called that one – I believe his exact words were “This will probably be our fastest mile all day.” Well maybe not the exact words but close enough.
Near disaster struck somewhere after Mile 4 – my fuel pouch opened and started spilling stuff everywhere! Gummy bears and GU littered the road! Luckily some super nice people behind me called out that someone was losing their stuff, and I noticed it was me.  ARGH! I quickly gathered up the GU I had lost, but left the gummy bears.  Bummer, I had a good pile of gummy bears and ended up losing most of them. I saved the important fuel, that’s all that matters!
It was also about this time we started hearing a voice from behind us yelling “Maniac!” every time someone in a Yellow Marathon Maniac’s singlet ran by.  I was highly amused by this, it happened a lot.  I just couldn’t help but laugh every time I heard “Maniac!” from behind me.
Mile 9 was another ridiculous hill – 353’ of gain! There wasn’t even a question that we’d be walking that one.  And then it happened – the Maniac caught up with us! We chatted with him for a while, about his 63 marathons, 7 marathons on 7 continents, his daughter running with him, Coachy’s daughter (she’s a wicked speed demon), how I came from Couch to 5k to marathon running in just over a year, it was really awesome.  The marathon for the non-elite, non-crazy ass speedy runner is just an amazing thing.  This was my first dose of how awesome it is – power walking up a wicked hill, chatting away with someone I’ve never met in my life, and enjoying every second of it.
Miles 10-13 weren’t terribly exciting.  My bladder had wanted me to empty it for a while, and I kept holding out hoping for a port-a-potty.  I finally gave up on that idea when after running for two hours I just couldn’t hold it in anymore.  Coachy spotted one of those big transformer boxes off of a side road and told me to run over there and then I could catch up to him since we were headed down a big hill.  So I did just that.  I had seen various people bolting off into the woods and side streets all morning, and every time I had a comment like “oh, somebody’s gotta go!”, now it was my turn!
I have never peed that fast in my life, or felt that good after peeing. (Aren’t you so glad I shared?). 
I had been feeling a little run down during the 10-13 mile area – 10 miles used to be my “wall” before I started marathon training.  I thought I was past that, but I had never run anything so hilly in my life.  I had made sure to fuel up with another GU about an hour or so in, and I started chomping away at some sport beans and gummy bears at this point too.
Mile 13 it hit me out of nowhere.  Having never run a race longer than a half marathon, I was used to this point being where I take every last ounce of oomph that I have and make a mad dash for the finish line.  “Not today.” I thought to myself.  “Today you are only halfway there; today you are running a marathon.”  I quickly changed that line of thinking to, “Only halfway there? Oh hell no, ALREADY halfway there!”  Coachy was behind me taking some pictures, so I was alone for a couple of minutes with my own thoughts, and I started to get really emotional.  There were a few tears. I couldn’t believe I was halfway through my first marathon.
Halfway there…feeling kind of dejected
 I got a second wind for a little while, shouting things like “I’m halfway through my first marathon” I wanted the world to know!
It was also obvious to so many of the other runners that it was my first, because every person I chatted with along the way I asked, “So, how many marathons have YOU run?” We saw an older man had run 50 states – TWICE! He was on his third time around. Texas (as we started to call MANIAC man, when we found out he was from Texas) had run 63.  Blue shirt lady (I’ll get to her in a minute) had run 17. Another older couple had run quite a few – he had more than his wife, but I don’t remember their numbers.  In any case, I was so amazed by how many multiple marathons so many people had run. It was a fun little game to me to ask everyone I could how many marathons they had run, and it took my mind off of the fact that I was starting to suffer.
The clouds had quickly burned off, and by mile 14 or so it was getting hot.  We had been running for about 2 ½ hours or so by then (maybe a little more) and the temps were rising.  I was hot, I was tired, and for some odd reason I was hungry.  Gummy bears seemed to help, but I wanted more.
Mile 15 – I had no sooner said to Coachy, “I could really go for something like an orange right now.” When we came upon a woman outside of a little shop with a table – HANDING OUT GRAPES! I was so happy I told her I loved her.
I ate my grapes, which made my mouth and my belly happy, and we continued on our way.
Another HUGE hill to climb (which actually started at mile 14 – we went up, and up, and up, for 3 miles!).  There was NO END to this hill – at least that’s how it felt. 240’ of gain over 3 miles. It wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t great. 
What really sucked was every time I stopped to walk, I didn’t want to start running again.  At this point Coachy was consistently saying, “Are you ready to run again?”, “Come on, this is a race, lets run”.  I think I punched him at least once, if not more. Apparently when I punch people it hurts, because I have boney knuckles, not because I’m strong.  I think this made him want to kick my ass and annoy me more. My breathing was off, and my throat was dry, and I was having a hard time picking the running pace back up every time we started.  I couldn’t wait for the next water stop.
We got to the top of the hill (FINALLY) at about 16.5 miles.  There was a man at the top telling us, that’s the worst of it.  You are at the highest point in the race.
Um, wrong.
Well not entirely wrong.  We were at the highest point, but it wasn’t the end of the climbing.  It was just a bunch of down, and then some more up, and then some more down, and then some more up. At the next water stop they also told us “It’s all downhill from here.” I don’t know where these crazy Vermonter’s get their idea of downhill, but it was not all downhill from there.
It was not all downhill until almost mile 22.
But, before we get that far…
Next thing I know we’re approaching Mile 20.  MILE 20! Only 10k to go! I AM “THIS CLOSE” to finishing my first marathon. 
Coachy decided that now would be a good time to play a game, to keep my mind off of what was about to happen (you know that crazy mental block that so many people hit at Mile 20, when they hit the wall, when the race “begins”).  We were going to pick off as many of the people in front of us as we could between Mile 20 and the finish line.
Starting with Blue Shirt Lady. We had been playing a furious game of cat and mouse with her for almost the entire race.  She’d pass us, we’d pass her, etc… this went on for MILES. 
Given my naturally competitive spirit, I wanted to pass her and stay past her.
We started counting people as we passed them.  It was a fun game – and it definitely kept my mind off of the fact that I was tired, hot, and in pain (mostly in my feet and toes). And mostly hot.  I was not acclimated to the heat at all. 
Somewhere between Mile 20 and 22 (I don’t recall exactly) was a man with a hose.  He was spraying it for anyone that wanted to cool down.  You know damn well I took advantage of that.  I got sprayed and then had a BRILLIANT IDEA.  Why don’t I take my shirt off? I can run in a sports bra and shorts.  I’m sure I scared some people with my white belly, but I don’t care.
I took my shirt off, soaked it down with some more water at another water stop, and wrapped it around my neck, tucking the ends into my sports bra.  HEAVEN.  This helped make the “picking off game” even more fun because I was feeling SO MUCH BETTER. It kept me cool for the remainder of the race.
Mile 23 – I’m running downhill yelling “ONLY 5K TO GO IN MY FIRST MARATHON! ONLY 5K TO GO IN MY FIRST MARATHON!”  There was no stopping me now.

 Coachy told me to draw a target on our next victims persons ass and we’d “reel them in”. We kept passing people.  One tall skinny guy that looked fast.  Another guy who was miles ahead of us at the start – I feel bad, he must’ve hit the wall hard or been injured.  Another guy who looked fast. Another girl who we had also had a “not as furious as blue shirt lady” cat and mouse game with. A couple, walking.
Mile 25 – ouch. I hit another low point.  I felt terrible.  I was exhausted. I couldn’t breathe. There was a tiny hill that looked like Mt. Everest. I stopped and walked.  Coachy YELLED. “YOU CAN’T WALK WITH ONLY 1 MILE LEFT IN THE RACE.” Like hell I can’t, watch me.  Here I go, walk, walk, walking.  I don’t think he liked that very much.  But then, the ultimate motivation came.  The two walkers we had passed earlier – THEY WERE GAINING ON ME! HOLY CRAP! We can’t have that!
I didn’t actually realize it until Coachy turned around (he was a bit ahead of me by now, I could tell he was losing patience with my walking and was trying to get me to catch up to him). When he turned around he said, “You passed those people already – DON’T LET THEM CATCH YOU!”  I was like, “Oh hell no.  I’m not letting anyone by me.” And off I went. The total count: 18 to ZERO.  Yup, we passed 18 people and got passed by NONE. ZERO people passed us. Rock on.
Next thing I know I’m turning the corner onto the grassy area that leads to the finish line. 
Now I can see the finish line (and now I’m starting to cry again as I write this).
We bust into a kinda sort half assed we just ran for 5 ½ hours sprint (10:11 pace LMAO). And before I know my arms are up over my head and WE’RE CROSSING THE FINISH LINE!
I just finished my first marathon! I immediately start balling my eyes out.  But apparently I look like I’m having an asthma attack when I cry because I was approached by a woman asking me if I was okay.  In between sobs I said, “Yes, I’m find, I just finished my first marathon.” Turns out it was the race director, Dori.  She was greeting each and every finisher as they came through.  What a sweet woman.
Sweet finishers medal
This was such an amazing experience for me.  Every second of it.  The race was very well organized.  The volunteers were incredible.  The amount of townspeople that were out lining the streets cheering for runners was a beautiful thing.
Once we finished the race we found our way into a tent that had fans in it.  We were greeted by a man we had met the day before (whose name I did not catch).  He gave us apple cider and potato chips, and made sure we didn’t need any medical attention. We were fine, we just wanted to sit in the shade and get cool.  I had to take my shoes off anyway, my toes were throbbing.  (Final tally – 5 bruised nails, because my dumbass forgot to cut them short).
We relaxed in the grass for a while, watching a local band perform.  I taught Coachy about Phineas Gage – the band name was The Phineas Gage band, or something like that, but Coachy didn’t know who that was.  Once upon a time I was a psych major in college – so I was actually able to teach someone something!
I felt incredibly good for having just run for 5 ½ hours.  I spent some time stretching while sitting there in the grass watching the band, but then we both decided it was lunch time.
Back to our HQ for some delicious lunch. 
Food is never as good as it is after you just burned 2500 calories. 
And who did we run into at lunch? None other than Blue Shirt Lady! Turns out she has a name and it’s not Blue Shirt Lady! LOL Her name is Sue, and she was with another of her friends, who both congratulated me on my first marathon finish.

I am glad I chose the Mad Marathon as my first marathon.  It was hard.  It was humbling. But it was beautiful.  Between the scenery and the people that made it happen, running this race was one of the best things I have ever experienced in my life.
Final time: 5:28:58. I couldn’t be happier.

2 Responses to “Mad Marathon Race Report – THE RACE!”

  1. donnamacd July 22, 2011 at 6:48 pm #

    Dammit! I'm sitting here bawling my eyes out – I'm so happy for you! Beautiful race report, Squeaks! I'm so proud of you – and “Coachy”, of course…

  2. Fruit Fly July 22, 2011 at 11:44 pm #

    Finally!! Okay – I haven't read a single word of it yet. I am working and don't have time – but I've marked it as “unread” in Google reader. I'll be back tomorrow to see how it all went down. I'm so excited!!

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