Marathons teach you lots of lessons. These lessons are learned during the long miles and months of training and a lot of lessons on the actual race day. My first marathon was hard. And wet. And cold. And honestly? Miserable. But I did it. Here is how it went for me (if you don’t have a lot of time, just look at the pretty pictures because it’s going to take you a while…)
On Saturday we ran a few errands (I LOVE your REI for carrying the Brooks jacket I wanted) then went home where I was treated like the goddess who couldn’t get up for her own water. It was awesome! Thank you honey! Later in the evening after I did some laundry I laid everything out from my list and took a warm bath. I started to feel a sore throat coming on, but I drank some orange juice and yelled at it to GO AWAY. After the bath I pretty much went straight to bed around 8:30-9. It’s a little earlier than I’m used to but put me in a warm bath and I sleep like a little baby. Well that night I slept pretty good – except for waking up on the hour starting at 2. What? I didn’t want to miss the race!
Alarm clock went off and we all got up and got ready. Sore throat was still there so I pounded some more orange juice and had to keep going. I wasn’t going to let something like a sore throat ruin race day. My friend Jeanette came over and we all headed down to the marathon start. Race day weather was not super fantastic. Low in the high 30’s and a high of 45 with rain all day. I knew this day was going to suck. There was no way around it. The cold was nice, but cold and wet was going to be miserable. I kept telling myself the day before and on the way to the start that there is no way around it, this race is going to suck, but it’s not going to be forever. I will be able to get warm again and I needed to get through this race so just suck it up and get through the suckage. Complaining about the weather and the situation will not change anything. So put I made sure to put on my big girl panties that day.
We got to Fair Park in Dallas easily and I put on my poncho and headed to the runner zones. We ended up running into my running group by accident shortly after we got there. After walking around like crazy people it was time to head to the start. Here is a few pre-race pictures! Love how blurry the single one of me is – that’s two ziploc bag layers! Didn’t want to chance my phone getting wet 🙂
To battle the elements, I was wearing my Newton Neutral Distance racers with socks, Lululemon capri pants, Under Armour shirt with Brooks running sleeves, a Brooks basic running jacket and a Luke’s headsweats hat along with cheap throw away gloves purchased from Target.
It was hard to get in our corral, but luckily we squeezed through and heard the national anthem and the gun go off. It only took about 11 minutes for us to start after the gun, which I thought was pretty awesome. I ditched my poncho at the start because I thought I’d be okay without it, after all it wasn’t raining right then. I later learned why Corina and Marci say “Never take off the poncho.” Ouch.
The first few miles went pretty good. I was in a good rhythm for the first time in a while and I was definitely high on adrenaline. Mile 3 is when is started to rain, and I don’t mean sprinkly rain, but rain on us. Almost to a pour. I had been able to keep my feet pretty dry until then – but when the downpour happened and a few puddles mixed in, it was all over. My feet did warm the water in my shoes though and actually the only time they got cold is when I splashed in a new puddle, so I had that going for me.
I was trying to keep up with my running buddy Jeanette for the whole race but I knew in my heart that on that day, I couldn’t do it. Around mile 4 for my first Gu is where my stomach made itself known. And by known I mean it tried to kill me. My stomach apparently rejected the G2 I was packing as well. Once I realized that is what was giving me issues, I only drank Nuun and some water. At that point it was too late, I was pushing too hard and my stomach was revolting. I forced down another Gu at mile 8.5 (I knew I’d regret it if I couldn’t get SOME sort of nutrition) and tried to keep up with Jeanette. About that time I also realized that my arms were collecting water. There was no way with the torrential downpours and wind that I was about to take my jacket off – so the water actually collected in my forearms. When I straightened them out on the run water came gushing to the ground. I knew that was an awesome sign.
Come mile 13 I forced down another Gu and that would be the last Gu I tried to get down. A mile to mile and a half later I let Jeanette go. She’s been an awesome running buddy, there were days I’d be good and keep going and days that she’s had everything going right and would keep going. I wasn’t about to hold her back but it made me sad that this last part I knew I’d be conquering alone. There is a straight stretch along Mockingbird right at mile 15. I was feeling sorry for myself, sick because of my stomach and needing to walk. Then I saw Lauren and Matthew. Awesome and amazing friends who had come out to support me at multiple stops. Little did they know I was on the verge of tears – literally if I had not seen them and needed to put on a brave face, I would have cried pity tears.
The second half of the lake was brutal. And I mean brutal. The wind whipped up at you and if you got caught in another torrential downpour you not only had to fight the wind but the rain that was whipping up at you sideways. I stopped at mile 17 to pee thinking maybe if I could go ahead and get everything out and try to poop that I would feel better. As I was in line an olderish woman looked at me and asked if our relay exchange point was coming soon. I looked at her (okay, I glared) and responded that I was doing the full ON MY OWN and did not care about her relay points. She then half apologized and realized it was no longer in her best interest to converse with me. After the bathroom break I was only able to pee but thought that I had stopped long enough to settle the tummy and forge on. Ha. I had to walk/run the rest of the race. Looking back it was the walk/run that killed me – when I ran I kept warm enough but when I had to stop the cold settled in and took hold of me. I was chilled to the bone, there was no way around it.
At the end of the lake coming up Garland around mile 20 I saw my bro-in-law and cousin huddled under an umbrella waiting for me on the uphill. I was SO happy to see them! They were yelling at me that I was killing it and looked awesome. I stopped and told them that I just needed a hug. It was awesome to be touched by warm people even if it was briefly and they made me smile. So excited to see them! Also yelled that I HAD to have my extra shoes at the finish. No more squishy for me please. Right at the turn after seeing them my good friend Jarah was waiting for me! She yelled how proud she was of me so of course I stop for another hug. Heck YES I’ll take tons of hugs! That was the last time I would see a familiar face till the finish.
At that point I came through a water stop that made me want to vomit even more with the smells of things they had. Apparently it was the Hooters stop, which should explain the smells. I was looking for orange slices because I survived the second half on orange slices and water but I couldn’t find any so I forged on. I really wish someone would have had a banana or a bagel. I really think it would have settled my tummy a little, but alas, there was none to be had. I’ll have to pack that for next year.
Anywho, right after the gross water stop there was beer. Yes, glorious beer! Nothing else had worked, so I grabbed some beer and drank about half of what they gave me. I felt MUCH better for about 10 minutes. I just kept plugging away at the miles and having to walk/run to keep the nausea at bay. Based off of the first half I was set for a good finish time. Once I realized that a 4:20 was gone I was okay with it but shooting for a 4:30. With all of the walking I did I knew once I missed that time, too and I got really upset and frustrated. My legs wanted to go, my heart wanted to and my head was still in a pretty good place. My stomach, on the other hand, refused to do anything but be grumpy.
That last mile was so frustrating. I knew I was close and I wanted to run but it was such a struggle. Finally that last half mile I took off. I had a good pace and I wanted to finish as strong as I could. As I crossed that finish line I was so happy I was done and SO pissed that it was such a bad second half. My husband had run the half marathon and was waiting for me in the area between the finish and the runners building. He waited there for over two hours because once you left the runner area, you couldn’t get back in. He just hugged me and told me how proud he was..
I cried very angry tears.
I hobbled my way to the runners area trembling. It was cold inside as well and I got my MUCH deserved medal and faked another smile for a picture. Lord knows it’s the last thing I wanted to do but I didn’t want to regret not taking it. Yeah. I didn’t buy this one.
I ran into a few people in the runners area and I’m SO sorry if I was rude. I love all of you, I just wanted to go home and warm up. The runners area didn’t feel heated and I was just so miserable. It literally took hours of heat on me to finally warm me up. A LONG shower, warm clothes and beverages and I was just starting to calm down. It doesn’t hurt that I turned the temp in the house to 80. My poor fur kids must have died.
I don’t regret running the race. I learned a lot. First and foremost I’m a marathoner. I am also a badass and a survivor. I know I can run in less than idea conditions and still do well and finish. That’s not to say I wasn’t traumatized, I won’t be running in the rain anytime soon, but I can do anything that I put my mind to.
Also? I can’t wait to run another one so I can crush my time and put this behind me!