I did it!

I'm so happy to be finished.

I’m so happy to be finished.

I ran a marathon yesterday! I’m so happy to be done. It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining and it was hot. It was 17C at 8am when the race started. By the time I crossed the finish line it was 23C. It felt hotter though. A lot of the race had no shade so it felt like the sun had been beaming down on me for hours non-stop.
The day started for me at 4:50am when my alarm went off. My friend, Becky, came to pick me up at 6 and we drove to her workplace where we parked her car and used the (non-porta-potty) bathrooms. My dad picked us up from Becky’s work and drove us to the start of the race. We checked our gear and met up with another friend of mine who was also doing his first marathon. We then walked to the start and split up because we were all in different waves to start. Everything started right on time and soon I was beginning my run. I felt pretty good. At around mile 5 I saw my dad for the first time. It was nice to have someone cheering me on. I think that it gave me a burst of speed. Then I kept running, and running, and running, and running. I wasn’t sure when I would see my dad again so I was always looking around me to make sure that I wouldn’t miss him. Normally I don’t look around much when running because I like to just zone out and listen to my audiobook and not think about how far I’ve gone and how far I still have to go. It was nice to see all the beautiful scenery though. It really was gorgeous. I also read a lot of the signs this time. One of my favorites was “Smile, no more long training runs”. It really did make me smile.

The first 16km + elevation chart

The first 16km + elevation chart

Evidence of how hard the end of the run was for me.

Evidence of how hard the end of the run was for me.

I kept a decent pace for the first half of the run. At the halfway point my time was 2:19:36. I had been hoping to finish between 4:30 and 4:45 so I was right on track. I didn’t actually know that at the time though because I wasn’t paying much attention to what my time was. I slowed down slightly between the halfway point and 30k but was still running under 7min/k. I saw my dad again around 31k. I was walking at the time because it was right after a water station and I was getting tired and hadn’t started running again yet. After 30k everything got a lot harder for me. I was tired. My right knee/leg was killing me and every single step was painful. I tried to tell myself that I only had 10, 9, 8… kilometers left but it wasn’t helping. Even 2k was further than I wanted to continue running. I took more walk breaks but found that they didn’t really help much so I just slowed down and kept putting one foot in front of the other. When I had about 5k left my stomach was bothering me enough that I had to take more walk breaks so that it could calm down and I could run again. There were no bathrooms for the last few kilometers so I was pretty careful not to aggravate my stomach too much. But I ran when I could. Everything hurt. My feet felt swollen and were uncomfortable and painful. My right knee/leg and stomach were killing me. With 2k left I was really struggling. I was breathing strangely and I was desperate to be finished. I knew that I could do it but I hardly cared at that point. I was tired and grumpy and in pain. Finally I turned the corner towards the finish but it was still a long way off. My stomach was still really unhappy and I knew that I wanted to finish strong because I had people that were going to be cheering me on. I didn’t want to be one of those people who are walking on the way to the finish. But my stomach needed a walk break if it was going to let me run to the end. I walked for a minute and then started running (very slowly) with just under 1k to go. At about 700k I saw my mom and her step-son and his wife. It was exactly what I needed to get me going again. My slow run changed into a faster run (because people that I knew were now watching me and videotaping me) and I ran strong to the finish line.
A final burst of energy to pull me through to the finish.

A final burst of energy to pull me through to the finish.

My dad and Becky were cheering me on shortly before the finish as well. I crossed the line with a time of 4:58:26 and got my medal and then proceeded to fight back the tears and sobbing. I partially succeeded. We had been talking on the way to the start line about how people often cry after their first marathon. I confidently said that I didn’t think it was likely that I would cry. I’m not very emotional and I very seldom cry. Apparently running for almost 5hrs and being completely exhausted will make me cry. I was glad that there was no one around to witness me fighting back the tears. I really am glad that I did it. It was tough but I never gave up. I wish that I had finished a little closer to my goal but I’m really happy that I managed to stay under 5hrs. There is a small part of me that is dissatisfied enough with my time that I may need to do another one some day. But I’m in enough pain today to know that IF I ever do another marathon it won’t be for a while. My right knee/leg was sore all night last night and it doesn’t feel any better today. It needs a good rest. I’ve been icing it but I think I’ll take this week completely off of running and stick to something easier like spinning if I want to get some exercise later in the week when I’m not in so much pain. My other muscles are all sore but they are more of a good sore. I probably could have pushed myself a little harder if my right leg and stomach hadn’t been bothering me so much.
I have been amazed by all of the support that I’ve had on facebook. I posted about the run on Saturday evening and got a lot of comments offering support. But the number of congratulations after completing the run has amazed me. I didn’t realize that I would appreciate the facebook support so much. I also really appreciated having both of my parents there to encourage me and cheer me on. My mom gave Becky and I each a little bouquet of flowers and my dad took us out for lunch. Becky and I treated ourselves to ice cream later that evening. Ice cream is the one thing that I often still kind of crave every once in a while since I stopped eating sugar. I figured that yesterday was a good day to indulge. It was really good.
My friend Becky got a PB with a time of 4:03:10. That’s 9 minutes faster than her last marathon PB. My other friend, Walter, who ran his first marathon yesterday, came in at 5:02:35. He also struggled a lot at the end. But I think that’s pretty good since his longest training run had only been 30k. Walter and I are doing a half marathon on May 26. I hope my right leg feels ok by then! I have no goals yet for that run. I’ve slowed down so much with the marathon training that I have no idea what to expect. Becky and I also signed up on Friday for a half marathon in October. I’m hoping to get a new PB at that one. I guess my goal of 5 half marathons and 1 full is going to have to change a little bit since October’s half will bring me up to 7. Now that I’ve done a full the half just doesn’t seem like as big of a deal. I almost feel like I could enjoy the half distance now.

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