So finally home and able to share my big weekend with you all!!!
We dropped the kids off at my folks on Friday morning and meandered our way down to Newport, Oregon - taking the scenic route, showing my husband one of my past colleges (which was much tinier in reality than my memory!). We arrived in Newport with plenty of time to pick up the race packet and explore the course. On the ride down, I realized I had forgotten my salted caramel gu, so I was super pleased to see them have it at the mini expo there and was able to pick some up rather than use something different. I wanted to buy some more memorabilia but honestly, it felt wrong buying anything without having actually finished it yet, so I passed (sadly).
We drove the route and my nerves started kicking in. First off, 26.2 miles, even driving, takes awhile to navigate! Also, a few more 'hills' at the start than I imagined from the elevation graph on my computer. The hill I had heard about at the end is actually the entire last mile! I'm glad we drove it because coming down the hill (at about mile 5ish) seemed a lot steeper than we drove back up at mile 25. I knew it was a doable hill, but still unnerved by the fact the whole last mile is uphill - with a great .2 mile downhill jaunt to the finish. The course starts off at a lighthouse, wanders around the coast for just a bit, shoots through town and then is out and back on a road wandering through the bay. I was a bit bummed as there wasn't a whole lot to see on the majority of the course but road, water and trees, but at least it was a pretty course! :D
So we ordered food in at the hotel room simply because every restaurant we were driving by seemed to have quite a bit of wait and frankly, after driving all day, we wanted to relax. It was the PERFECT thing to do! Our room at the Hallmark Inn was gorgeous, right on the beach and large open windows and balcony to the coast. I had the obligatory pasta dinner (mostly because I eat low carb and I figured some carbs would actually be good for me!) and then we basically crashed and read until I fell asleep.
I kept having race related bad dreams- things like I forgot to put on Bodyglide to avoid foot blisters, or that I got lost on the course, or that it was taking hours longer than I predicted it to be!
So marathon morning! I had some toast with PB on it- my typical morning pre race meal. I walked the short distance from our hotel to the lighthouse and waited. They had a lot of porta potties, but the lines were insane. I did go right before I left, but nerves made me think I could go again- I opted to go along the course rather than wait in the line I didn't think would end in time. At 7 am, the race started without too much pomp and circumstance.
I do the Galloway method of run/walk during longer runs. I opted to run the first 2-3 miles of the race in order to feel like I was going with the flow and knew I shouldn't push it. At mile 2, I decided to switch to my intervals because I was going a bit faster than I really wanted to, but not too far off. Mile 3 wrapped us back by the light house where instead of using the porta potties, I used the park's restroom. What I wasn't quite prepared for was the humidity, so already everything was really sticking to me!! It took some maneuvering to to get everything back up and on as I was wearing both a hydration belt and an a SPI belt for carrying my gels. (Ideally I should have bought another little pouch for my hydration belt.)
My hydration belt was a love/hate relationship. It kept wanting to either ride up or down and I had to keep it tight to minimize that. Eventually I was feeling that pressure on my hips and adjusted it to just simply wear around my waist. I had it around my waist for my long training runs, so I knew this was manageable, but just not where I ideally like it. I probably could have gotten away with not having it on, but I did drink my Nuun I had with me (and sometimes didn't drink at the aid stations as a result.) The only 'snack' I accepted from the aid stations was an orange slice- I avoided the oysters! *yuck*
I was prepared for the steep hill at approximately mile 4.5 and went over it just fine with a tad more walking than my interval called for just to finish cresting it. I knew from there it was downhill and flat except for that last mile.
This course didn't turn around at 13.1 miles but rather 15.2. I was excited to hit 13.1 and felt good. I was even more excited to hit the turnaround point because I knew it was less than half way back.
At this point- my timing came into play. I was really debating between trying for a 5 hour race and a 5:30 race. I eventually decided on doing what racers don't recommend and instead of planning for a negative split - I planned on starting with the 5 hour pace in mind and slowing down at any point it felt it was going to be too hard to continue. I was ahead of the 5 hour pacers and they were behind me even at the turn around point. At mile 16, because of my run/walk strategy, I kept going ahead of them during my run and then they'd pull ahead during my walk. At about mile 17, they pulled ahead. I realized I had a choice to make- push and keep up, possibly being frustrated the rest of the way with that ahead/behind problem, or slow down and keep enjoying my race. I adjusted my intervals at mile 17, allowing for a lesser run time, keeping the same walk time. Mentally, I had a big struggle with this and that mile was my longest of the race. My pace slowed down both in running and the walking parts.
**Edited to add: This is also the time I realized my GPS watch had become about a half mile off. It said 16.5 when I hit 16. I reset it then as I didn't want to continue to math. I was a little irked by that because you can't really tell if and when it gets off - is it running around the course, did it take a quick jaunt you didn't actually do? So I got a little ticked at the watch during the race as it wasn't accurately doing what I wanted it to do!
Mile 20 I knew was the 'wall' for many but after I hit it, I knew I was definitely going to make it and probably clear my 5:30 no problem, dependent on that last mile of course. So I got a good wind for that mile! (Speaking of wind, it felt like I was getting headwinds I was pushing against both out and back on that bay!)
It's funny- the first 17 miles of the race- the miles just flew by almost unexpectedly, but the last 9 seemed to drag on. I actually got a little bored. I had music playing but the scenery doesn't change a whole lot, despite being naturally pretty. If I didn't have my intervals playing in my ear telling me when to run and when to walk, it'd have been easy to just turn it into a walk. I wasn't having any 'pain' persay, no blisters or IT band issues (surprising on the IT Band thing!) but my legs were definitely just wearing out! I had heard the course was on a cambered/sloped road but it was much more than the slope I have in my town. I think that angle was definitely affecting my butt muscles and for some portion of the run, I would run right in the middle of the center 'do not cross' double lines!
Each mile post after 20 was exciting to hit. I tried to take a picture of mile 24 to send to my husband in a text but I honestly had a hard time standing still for the photo! I'm surprised it came out clear!
And mile 25, I knew it was an uphill run and honestly, I really pushed it (hah, well with what I had left!). I knew I had plenty of time to do this last mile and finish under 5:30, so that helped. There was a gal in front of me as I started cresting the hill during a walk interval and she was walking too. I was walking faster than she was and knew I would past her if she didn't start running. I also planned to run the last .2 which was downhill to the finish but wanted to give her that option to start running as to not make it look like I was trying to beat her specifically. As I started passing her, she asked if we should run it down..and I said "Heck yeah, that's my plan" and we ran it down to the finish!!
The finish! Yay!
A bit anticlimactic actually. You run into a runner's only area where they give you your medal. But you have to leave and walk down the road to where you can pick up your shirt and some snacks after. (Seriously? You expect me to walk a good block down the road to pick up my shirt - there is the real devilish moment!!!) My hubby picked me right up after I got my shirt and we took straight off to Dairy Queen for a well deserved blizzard!
My official time was 5:17:43 and I ended it exactly how I had hoped - finishing with a smile and knowing I couldn't have done any faster or better! It may not have been my ideal 5 hour time, but it was my ideal finish. I'm very glad I ran the race exactly as I did. I gave the 5 hour a chance but mentally (And smartly) adjusted as needed rather than push myself into misery.
I went into this marathon with no expectation of really running a 2nd marathon, thus the pressure on this first one. I basically still feel the same way. It was a great race and I had a great time. But the training is long going and being out on the course for 5 plus hours goes past how long I truly enjoy being out there running. At this point, I will stick to my pre-race plan of working on my half marathon timing. I will not say I will NEVER run another marathon, but my bucket list item has been checked off and would need different motivation (and getting a better time isn't motivation enough for this) in order to run another one. Maybe if a friend needed company on one. It would have been nice to have someone to join me, but I think it'd very hard to find a person who runs a similar pace and employs an enjoyable run/walk ratio.
Last thoughts on the marathon as a whole:
1) The Newport marathon was a great first marathon- decent support and a good number of sign holders. My favorites: "This is the worst parade ever!" and "You've training for this longer than Kim Kardashian's marriage lasted" . My least fave: "Smile if you peed a little".
2) I dislike groups of people that run together - the ones on this course weren't being cognizant of the fact they were taking up quite a bit of the width. When you run/walk, this is especially an issue when you go past people and then they pass you. This is even worse when the group is doing run/walk as well.
3) I really like Nuun better than gatorade
4) People who do the Disney Dopey challenge (a 5k one day, a 10k the next, 13.1 miles the next day, followed by a marathon the 4th day) are special kind of crazy
5) I need to practice running with sunglasses on because that would have come in handy this race
6) I didn't expect to sleep and want sleep so much (And still today) after a marathon!
7) Post race injuries? I am a bit stiff and I have one tiny blister that doesn't hurt at all on the tip of my long 2nd toe. No IT band issues the entire run! Yay for foam rollers!
8) I am returning my New Balance GPS watch and hoping a Garmin will prove more correct, although I think I have heard most GPS watches can show a level of inaccuracy at any given time.
9) I accomplished my marathon by 40th birthday goal I set last year
10) I am proud of myself to the point I don't need to prove it again! That's truly a job well done!