My first Marathon

As Wayne drove the kids and I to the race start, it was already raining and about 39 degrees. It was chilly out, but I was excited and determined to do this no matter what. My buddy, Bertha, texted me just as we arrived saying she’d forgot her Garmin and was running home for it. I worried a bit that she’d be late! I used the bathroom (which I would do three more times before the start) then met up with two of my other running friends, D and E. My parents and husband took some photos of us together looking nervous and eager for the race to begin.

Just as the sun came up (though I never actually saw the sun at all that day – just the lightness through the clouds) my best running buddy, Bertha ran up and hugged me! She was here! We were about to start! I set my Garmin to the “marathon quick workout” and told the virtual partner to go for the “dream goal” time of 4:45 (10:53 pace) that I’d trained for. I realized with the rain and the cold, that time was not very likely – but I figured it would get me closer to my second goal of beating 5 hours. I’d have been happy, to tell the truth, no matter what my time though, since finishing a marathon was my REAL goal!

We lined up towards the back of the group and waited to start. My chosen marathon was pretty small. No more than 160 runners. I’m not really a big crowd kind of gal – so it was a great fit. I don’t remember hearing a gun, so maybe someone yelled “GO!” I just know we started moving. Families and friends and race volunteers lined the sidewalk and started cheering for us as we ran. I felt like a rock star! 

The first mile is pretty flat. I felt really good – no aches or pains at all. I felt strong, elated and ready to see what I had in me. Running next to Bertha I could not stop smiling! She just brings out the best in me! I felt so blessed to have such a great friend along for this crazy ride.

Within a mile, my shoes and socks were soaked! And though I’d made sure to hit all the usual chaffe spots with deodorant (which usually prevents chaffing for me if I rub a bunch on), I knew the rain would likely wash it all and I’d be a sore mess when this was over – but I felt positive. I figured the rain would let up after a few miles and we’d have easy sailing for the second half of the race. I was SO naive! 

Mile one pace: 10:49 (doing great)
Mile two pace: 11:00 (holding back just a bit and took an ibuprofin that Bertha gave me)
Mile three pace: 10:49 (Virtual partner is behind us!)
Mile four pace: 10:09 (I start feeling really good!)

After mile 4, my Puma running tights were soaked and had started to sag down at the hem. The result was I was running ON my pants and it was really uncomfortable! I saw Wayne, the kids and my parents waiting on the side to cheer me on – so I veered off course and told them I needed to get those tights off quickly! They helped me pull them over my shoes and I was down to my bike shorts and tank. I gulped down a sip of Gatorade (my race didn’t offer a brand name drink so many of the runner’s avoided drinking any at the aid stations) then I headed back on my way towards the BIG hill I’d feared in my nightmares for the last 3 weeks!

Mile five pace: 10:54
Mile six pace: 10:13 (the big hill is slowly building and I’m powering up it)
Mile seven pace: 9:54 (I summited the hill and felt so proud of myself! I was ahead of my three buddies which was a surprise) My buddy, B quickly caught up with me and we ran side by side for another couple of miles.

At the top of the hill, I could look out over Boise. It was beautiful… covered in a hazy, gray rain — but beautiful!

Mile eight pace: 9:53 (my best pace for the race) There was this guy I’d caught up with. We chatted for a bit and ran side-by-side for about two miles. He seemed determined not to be passed by a girl! I’d guess his age to be around 30 and he was breathing really hard at this point, but I felt fine and wasn’t breathing very fast. I could tell he was holding on for dear life. I finally dropped him around mile 10. 

Mile nine pace: 10:36 (Totally ahead of my goal and feeling good.) I ran up to this very fit gal, who I was guessing from the back was around age 25 – 30, when much to my surprise, she was closer to 60! She looked amazing!!!! I chatted with her and found out she’d ran 37 marathons in her life. She said she was from New York and that her goal was to run a marathon in every state! What a cool ambition! She inspired me with her grace, her strength and her beauty!

Mile ten pace: 10:24 I’d hit a downhill section that goes towards downtown Boise. The beautiful old train station is in the background at this point and I saw the photograher at the bottom of the hill. I grinned. I felt so great! I was ahead of my pals at this point and ahead of my target dream goal. I was also taking the advice of the wise, beautiful older woman who said “There’s still a long ways to go. She was reminding me to “hold back” a little. Good advice.

Things went a little kooky after that. I’d driven the route and gone over the map and suddenly there was a volunteer steering us the WRONG WAY! I knew she was telling the marathoners to turn towards the HALF MARATHON course and I panicked! My buddy, B, caught up with me and she and I kept asking the gal “Are you sure?” thinking she was wrong. We reluctantly did what we were told and our buddies, E and D caught up to us, also complaining that we were on the wrong path. We grumbled but kept moving, hoping it would work itself out. (It turns out, they did not have enough volunteers turn out because of the rain, so they had to reroute part of the race along this course. That means we ended up seeing this same section twice by the end.)

Mile 11 pace: 11:38 (the grumbling had stalled us a bit, but we were still 1/3 a mile ahead of the virtual partner so it was ok)

Mile 12 pace: 10:22 (The path we were on is actually the one Bertha and I run on our long runs, so I relaxed and settled back into my race – still feeling strong.) The four of us ran as a pack for a bit. That was really fun!

I realized we were getting closer to the halfway point. I got excited! I felt like I could run all day! I was cold!! My legs and arms were totally numb from the rain and low temperatures — but I could not wipe the grin off my face! I was in awe of the fact that my average pace at that point was about 10:30 still. My shoes were seriously sloshing by this point, so I took the chance to veer off course towards Wayne, my kids and my parents when I saw them around 12.8 miles. I jogged up and said “Shoes and socks please!” and they leaped into action! My hands were frozen in the gloves I had on and were useless. My Dad and Wayne got my shoes off, my Mom got my socks off and they grabbed my backup pair (my oldest paif of Asics) and a dry pair of socks and got me back on the road in about two minutes. It was worth it! My buddies, E and D had stopped at the aid station and were drinking there when I took off.

Mile 13 pace: 11:53 (the shoe change took a bit of time, but it was worth it!) My feet felt great again! I knew with the rain continually coming down, they’d be wet again soon, but figured it would still help!

In mile 13, I came around a corner and saw the hospital Savannah had stayed in for a month in 2007 when she was 5 months old and very, very ill. We almost lost her in that hospital. I lived there with her during the whole frightening ordeal and her room faced the park I was now passing. I was suddenly overcome with emotion. I started counting my blessings. — My baby girl was healthy! She’d recovered from such a terrible illness. I was healthy too. I was running my first marathon. I had 4 other wonderful, healthy children. I have a great husband. I have two wonderful parents who were here cheering me on today. And so it went… counting my blessings. I teared up a bit and just hugged myself with gratitude towards my life. I devoted this mile to Savannah most especially. 

When I’d reached the halfway point exactly (13.1), I looked at my watch. It said 2:17. Not half bad! If I could have maintained that pace for the rest of the run, I’d have achieved a 4:35 marathon! Impossible to imagine! But, of course… I could not hold on that long at this pace it turns out.

Mile 14 pace: 10:39 – Still smiling and feeling great!

Mile 15 pace: 10:50 (My stomach had been growling out loud since mile 10. I was starving!!! And, I had to pee so bad! But I held it. It was starting to hurt, but mentally I felt great.)

Mile 16 pace: 11:26 If I remember right – I was ahead of my pals at this point. It’s all kind of fuzzy now, but I think I held that lead until mile 18 when I stopped to use the bathroom finally and they zoomed ahead.)

Mile 17 pace: 10:57
Mile 18 pace: 11:10 (I’m starting to hurt even worse here. I was having the hardest time NOT wetting my pants and seriously considerd it!) My pal D caught up with me. She said she’d been trying to catch me for quite a while and that made me feel so good!! I consider her one of my fastest friends. She was my training buddy all last year.  I decided to look for a bathroom and to stop as soon as I saw one. I could not hold it any longer!!!!!

Mile 19 pace: 11:21 (I saw an aid station set up under a bridge and headed straight for that beautiful porta potty!) Once I sat down I swear, I suddenly just wanted to sit right there and not move anymore.  It was THAT bad by that point! I was so tired. I was starving. I just wanted to rest. I made myself get back up and had to fumble pretty hard to get my shorts back up. My hands were so frozen from running in the rain for so long! When I got out of the bathroom, I saw my buddy, E who was at the aid station. She and I ran together for another mile. She was awesome and kept me from taking a wrong turn! Whew!

Continued in next post

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