Optional title the Pros and Cons of being a SLOW Full Marathoner
Just to give some background I am new to running, didn’t really start until October of 2009. I am also a very slow runner, one of the reasons why I went for distance/endurance opposed to a shorter race based on speed. I also chose one right by my house. The start was about 1.5 miles from my front door step and I had run many of these areas while training.
Another fun fact, I had a chest infection for about 5 weeks. I did an 18 miler while sick (when I thought it was just really bad allergies) but missed all of my other long runs (20 and 22 milers). But after two rounds (totaling 15 days) of antibiotics and a month of a steroid inhaler two weeks before the race I thought I was ready to go. Being a slow running my goal was to finish before the lag wagon could remove me from the race (if you are too slow they drive you to the finish and you get a DNF and no metal).
I also broke some running runs, such a rebel.
I also want to thank GAELENEC, she texted me the whole way. So when things got slow I could have instant motivation. Thank you!
Lastly, my brain is still a little tired (though I woke up naturally at about 530am this morning) so please forgive any errors you might find. If you point them out I will gladly fix them. Running makes my brain so tired.
Now to the report!
So the day before the race (October 15) I left work about an hour early so I could be home by the time my mother-in-law came into town. She drove from northern Indiana to Indy just to support me in my run. That’s about a 3.5 hour drive. Isn’t she a sweetie! Her youngest son (I married the oldest) does marathons, is an iron man, etc so she is actually more familiar with race day stuff than I am, so good to have around. We went out to get my race packet and then out for steak (I can eat just about anything the day before as long as it isn’t only cookies and ice cream) were I mostly had salad and baked potato. I brought most of my steak home as leftovers. We then hung out that evening; I got all my stuff together and filled out my bib info etc. Bed around 830pm. I slept okay, strange dreams (figuring out the logistics of aid stations using people I work with…).
Woke up at about 520am on my own, about 40 minutes before my alarm. 520 am is my workday alarm time so getting up then isn’t too odd. So I got myself put together (tag on shoes). The clothes I chose were the ones I had done all my long training in earlier. What makes that funny is, when I started running I traded in my cotton socks for those fancy wicking socks. You know $15 for two pair. Well those special socks caused my feet to slip around in my shoes. So while training I started wearing my old cotton socks again. So that means come race day the socks I had trained in were my old white ankle high cotton socks. DADA DA. Well today wasn’t a day to switch back to socks I know I don’t like so cotton it was.
We got to the starting area around 700am. It was about 38 degrees. My DH wanted to dress up for the beginning to show support.
Yeah he drew a lot of attention. I didn’t really know anyone else at the race so went to my corral were my M-I-L snapped this picture.
Yep, Corral G, it was a big group. It is for both marathoners and half marathoners. I stood kinda in the middle. Made small talk. The announcer said we had a sold out race of 6200 people. That made me feel better, less likely I’d be last .
The anthem, cheering, the gun went off. About three minutes later I crossed the start line. HUGE mass of people. I feel pretty good because there are about 300 or so people behind me.
I did start off a little fast at the beginning about a 1230 pace or so. But I know I can hold that for miles and still be okay. Head through the State park and it is beautiful. Fall leaves are gently raining off the trees, so many colors! After exiting the park, ~mile 3 there is a hill. I know this hill, I did it three times on my 18 miler. So I just go right up the hill. No problem. Then a left turn to 56th st (if I went straight I could have just gone home ) Then back across 56th st. It is sloped up slightly but for about a half mile. I’ve done this before so no problem. I think I walked a little here but only a few steps. There were lots of cheers, cow bells, signs, high fives from kids. It was great! My DH and M-I-L were there too, she was ringing her bell!
Then back and north again. There was a band playing on the corner (a nice treat). This was a two way area so I was rooting on the people that would be finishing his/her 2-3 hour marathons. A few of them gave me thumbs up as I yelled encouragement. In fact, I yelled encouragement to people that were in and outing from mile 5 to about mile 8. My throat started to hurt. I got some high fives and encouragement from some of them too. Then back and around, into the park on the bike trail. Very beautiful. The aid station people were excited. There was this hill. I walked most of it, but made it still feeling okay. Walking gave me a good chance to read my Spark encouragement from GAELENEC. Then around mile 10 back out of the park I start to realize all the people I am talking to and encouraging are halfers, and they were really starting to complain. Turns out the band was now packing up so no live music. I see my cheer squad again right before the split off.
Signs read "don't go dragon your feet"
And "run faster it's gaining on you"
Later on my DH was dressed like a dragon making the sign even funnier!
The halfers turn left and the full go into the park again. All the people in front of me turn left. All the people around me turn left. There are people coming towards me and they have about a half a mile before them finish their full. I root them on, they look really tired. This pre-teen girl sitting by a pond looks at me and says “you are going to be a real marathoner.” So Sweet. I told her thanks and kept going. When I hit the next set of time mats I look behind me and see one person, and she is gaining. On long stretches I can see someone in front but they are far off. At this point I start to wish I had brought my mp3 player. I spent miles ~12-16 all by myself (over an hour at my speeds), with the exception of the aid stations and that girl that passed me. Most stations really only had one person by then now and they would ask what you wanted (Gatorade or water) and then bring it to you. So nice. I just kept slowing down, more walking then jogging. Almost all the cheer squads were gone, there were volunteers that would root for you but they were sporadic. Then these two ladies started speed walking up behind me. Julie and Linda. They knew each other from a hike club and happened to meet on the path. I asked if I could join them. They were very nice. I could slow jog their walking speed because my calves hurt too much to walk. At this point I was having trouble talking and some trouble hearing/understanding what people were saying. This many have been my wall, but it wasn’t like anything I’ve heard others describe. I passed my mobile cheer squad again (THANKS) they were on a hill (Here is a pic they shot of me and my two new friends )
with a few other cheerers and headed for the turnaround point mile 19 (which for us is over an hour and 45 minutes left to go). On our way back my cheer squad were the last people out there and the last non-volunteers we saw until mile 25ish. Julie told me, after you reach mile 20 it really does get easier. Just say ahead of the lag wagon! I was always told the last 6 were the hardest and I was having a really hard time already. At about miles 20 I broke some more rules. I had some Gatorade (the first time I’ve had it in my life) some BOOM gel (first time ever) and took some pills (ibuprofen, first time for running) from a woman I just met . It really helped. I hadn’t been hungry the whole time (very odd for me) so I hadn’t been eating my snacks.
After a while I couldn’t keep their pace anymore, my muscles hurt too much, I needed to speed up. So I did. I wasn’t much faster than them (they were going about 4 mph me about 4.1) but my new gait kept my legs from hurting. At this point my shoulders kept collapsing and I got a very special text from my spark friend GAELENEC that reminded me to pretend there was a string pulling my chest forward. That really helped. I kept telling myself that until the end of the race.
After a little while I saw some in front of me. At about mile 23 I decided to catch her. She was slowing down and I wanted to encourage her (and I was lonely). That is when I met Windy at about mile 24. It was her 3rd marathon, but she was really feeling it. But we decided to jog to mile 25, our similar paces made travel easy. This is about when my right foot got some kind of funky cramp, but no time to deal with it. Then after the 25 marker her friend and friend’s husband with baby meet up with her. She really slowed down then. I asked if she wanted to run to the finish and said go ahead.
I ran until I meet a volunteer that told me 0.5 miles left. I told him he was my new best friend. Then I heard M-I-L’s cow bell. She came out to tell me they had extended the close time to let us last slow people finish and the next turn was the 4/10th. At this point I was going pretty fast and she couldn’t keep up. I walked one more time briefly and then sprinted to the end (yes, I could still sprint) and hopped on the time pad thing, just to make sure. I felt great. I had been thinking about laying in the grass since mile 17, but now that I was done I just wanted to smile and wander around and thank people. This is me waving my arms at the finish, no official pics yet just the ones from DH.
Official time: 6h40m29s
Yeah a FREAKEN long time but I finished!
4328 calories burned
Place 895 out of 900 finishers. So of the 6200 people that came to the race only 900 did the full marathon, no wonder I was alone.
The people grilling food for the runners had stopped about half an hour ago but there was still food in the tent that was almost warm. They even let my family have some for free. Linda and Julie came and ate with us. I thanked them a lot for letting me tag along with them for so long.
Then I drove us all home. Took my shower, ate eggs with that leftover steak mixed in. Then around 7 went to bed.
Sunday I’m feeling pretty good. My right foot where the cramp was is kinda sore but okay. My shins feel like they had a work out, and my quads feel like I just got out of a good weight training session. I think I am going to live!
So about the second title, about being a slow runner:
Personal attention at the aid stations
No wait at the porta potties (everyone else already finished the race)
Volunteers feel sorry for you and root you hard
The first aid golf cart keep going by to make sure you aren’t dead
The volunteers at the end really like you
All the cups are already cleaned up
They let you take all the gels, and food you want. Your family too
There are VERY long times with no other people
All the good stuff is gone by the time you finish/get there
IT TAKES ALL DAY!
You can’t find trash cans to throw you trash in (I gave my trash to my family to throw away)