The best part of the race is always the expo. Kidding… sort of. The expo was big, elaborate, flashy, full of free food, and awesome. As H and I walked in we were directed to finish filling out our confirmation sheets and pick up our bib numbers. Once we had our bibs, we picked up our shirts. They are St. Pete High green! I really like the shirts. The color is nice, the design is simple and the shirts aren’t covered in advertisements. After the shirts, we picked up goody bags, which were quite lame. Oh well. The expo freebies made up for the lame goody bags.
H and I wandered around the merchandise area for a while. The official race gear didn’t meet the Nike Women’s Marathon standards, but that didn’t stop us from buying a couple shirts and jackets. I ended up with a new sweatshirt. It’ll come in handy here in Washington since even in the summer it gets cold! I also bought a tech shirt that will work for both running and as everyday attire.
The rest of the expo had all sorts of vendor booths offering food samples and selling clothes, running gear – the usual. H and I filled up on granola parfaits, fage greek yogurt, gels samples, etc. I found an organic, vegan, low glycemic index gel that tastes like chocolate! I took one before the race and it was delish. I do think it helped, but I didn’t feel a radical difference in energy. I’m hoping to buy some when I check out the running stores in Seattle. I also bought a new running belt. The one I bought for Nike was more fannypack-like and H ran with a spibelt during part of her training and it didn’t move around. I found a water resistant belt, very similar to a spibelt, but with two pouches. I think the double pouches will be overkill on a regular long run, but for the marathon we needed it to hold a camera, phone, and many gels.
All in all, the expo lived up to my expectations and I was in a runner’s heaven for a couple hours.
After the expo, the parents picked H and I up. We ate lunch in downtown Seattle and headed to Fremont. Fremont is the artsy, funky area of Seattle. We wandered around there for a while, but I was worried about tiring out my legs being walking around the city before the race. So we found a place to sit and eat dinner, Kylie’s Chicago Pizza, and carbo-loaded on awesome pizza.
Post-dinner the family headed back to the hotel to get settled in for the night. Except as soon as we dropped off our luggage, we decided that we had to have cupcakes and pick up some nutritious food for breakfast. We got back to the hotel, laid out our running clothes, gear, race numbers, garmins, camera, etc. and went to bed about 9:30pm.
When the alarm went off at 5am I was filled with this feeling of dread and regret. At what point had running 26.2 miles seemed like a good idea? Suddenly I was not excited about the race. Instead I wanted to back out. WHY WAS I DOING THIS? I had no idea. Had I trained enough? Would my shoes give me blisters? What if the SAG wagon and Sweepers picked us up? What if I ended up dragging H down because I couldn’t do it? Would adrenaline really get me through the last 6.2 miles? I had so many questions, doubts, and fears.
As far as getting to the start line, we opted to have the parents drop us off and they’d figure out how to get to the finish area. When we were about two miles from our supposed destination, there was a long line of cars waiting to get to wherever. We sat in the line for about 30 minutes before finally decided to just jump out and walk to the start line. I think we probably walked over a mile to the start, eating a pack of GU chomps along the way. When we finally got to the start, we found corral 26, a bag of salt packets and positioned ourselves in the corral. The race had great music blaring on the speakers, which really helped pump me up.
Also H and I made the decision to twitter every mile of the race. H did it during Gasparilla and we liked the idea. We had a lot of people back home wanting updates on our progress, along with our parents who were aiming to meet up with us on the course. So we figured it’d be a good way to remember the race and keep people updated on our status.
A few minutes before the race we took the organic gel, a couple pre-race pictures, and tweeted. The gun went off at 7:00am, but we didn’t actually cross the start line till 7:40am. Yikes.
[twitters are in italics]
We are at the start line, 5 mins till the gun! Taking our chocolate Gus!
Mile 1. 52 minutes later we make the one mile mark….
Mile 2. Leaving tukwila!
Mile 3. I think we are slowly running up hill, and we passed a train!
Overall, I barely noticed the hills. At least, they didn’t stand out in my memory and just running 26.2 miles was enough to put me in pain. It’d be interesting to run a flat course in the future.
Mile 4. There are so many people behind you is such a comforting thing to hear!
Mile 5. 21 more miles to go, about to cross the lake !
Running the stretch of miles along Lake Washington was probably the best and most beautiful section of the course. It reminded me of parts of the Nike course as well.
Mile 6. Lake Washington and beautifully manicured lawns!
Mile 7. Where are the Gus?
Mile 8. Lost each other for a second at the salt station!
They were giving out GUs at mile 8 and I veered off to grab one, followed by some cytomax and I lost H. I panicked for a bit. I had her phone and no way to find her. Thankfully, I kept running past the water station and saw her off to the side. Crisis averted!
Mile 9. First SPlit off !
At mile 9 we came across the first split off for the course. The full marathoners went over the Lake Washington bridge towards Mercer Island. The crowd suddenly thinned out and things became much more desolate.
Mile 10. Officially in the double digits 16.2 to go!
This was a very scary thought. We were only at mile 10 and we had already been running for about two hours.
Mile 11. How could this possibly be summer?!
The weather was in the low 60s, overcast, and nothing like a Florida summer. H was definitely confused by the lack of summer in Seattle. I ended up wearing my sweatshirt and long-sleeve Gasparilla shirt the entire race. While there were moments when I was pretty hot, it seemed like a few minutes later I ended up cold again and appreciated the double-layers. I did end up with a weird tan on the back of my legs from my faux running tights. I sort of wish I had worn less clothes, but being warm was more important than a possible tan.
Mile 12. We want a port o potty! The tunnel is tripoy!
After the bridge we went through a tunnel, which I loved. There was a music station IN the tunnel so the entire tunnel was vibrating with sound. By this point, both of us were also in desperate need of a bathroom!
Mile 13. Ohh were halfway there! Livin on a prayer!
Mile 14. Where is the next water stop?
Despite the tweet, I was really impressed with the water stations. There was a station with both cytomax and water for nearly every mile.
Mile 15. Would it help if I told you that you were almost there? No!
This was my biggest pet peeve. Quit telling me that I’m almost there when I have 11 more miles to run! The only time I want to hear that I’m almost there is when I have less than a mile to go.
Mile 16. We got interviewed by the Seattle PI as we were on a stretch break!
During one of our stretch breaks (H was getting really tight) a reporter came up to us and asked us for our names and some questions. It was exciting, but I don’t think we were interesting enough to merit making it into the paper. Oh well.
Mile 17. I think this is the big hill! you think the cheer teams are getting tired?
The cheer teams, bands, and water stations volunteers definitely need a big THANK YOU. I was so thankful that they were there and constantly encouraging us. I also ended up with a monstrous headache around mile 17. H told me to just go over to the medic table and see if they could do anything. I usually take ibuprofen, which is a big no-no during a race, but they were willing to give me Tylenol. I think it helped, but the last 9 miles were definitely miserable.
Mile 18. We are having some serious cravings for mint hot chocolate, chocolate milk, Chinese food, and breakfast!!
Mile 19. Watch out for that wall!
I asked H to take a picture. Then I asked her to show me how she really felt.
Mile 20. Legs hurt? Try running backwards! It really helps! They werent kidding!
Around mile 2 we saw a poster that said the above. We thought it was the most ridiculous suggestion. Then during mile 20, we saw a woman power walking backwards. H got curious and tried it… then I did. It actually felt good. Although I’m pretty sure anything would have felt good at that point. We also saw a woman carrying her shoes and running barefoot. She said it felt great. Hah.
Mile 21. Why are you going so fast? Because I wanna finish!
H kept yelling at me for running too fast, but I just wanted to finish!
Mile 22. Every single thing hurts.
No offense to half-marathoners, because I’ve definitely been there, but running a full marathon is totally different than a half. I came to the conclusion that half-marathons are for wimps. Running 26.2 miles is such a different, more grueling experience from running 13.1. I had no idea.
Mile 23. Are we there yet?!
We reached a certain point where stopping to walk seemed like the worst idea ever… if we had any hope of finishing we just had to keep running, no walking, no stopping. This made our decision to tweet each mile rough, since a walk break was required to tweet. Ugh.
Mile 24. Nothing about this seems like a good idea right now!
I think I hit the wall at this point. I was miserable, unhappy, and had no idea why we were doing this. If there was any point when I was going to throw in the towel, it would have been right about here. We actually ran past the finish line and had to do another out and back loop and I seriously considered cutting the course to get to the finish line early. … Okay not really, but it was a really tempting idea.
Mile 25. Yes we did just walk this past mile, but we are going to run the rest of it and our next tweet will be after the finish line!
H decided that we should walk the last mile, so that we would have enough energy to run the entire last 1.2 miles. I think the idea worked. Although when we started running again, she yelled at me for running too fast… but I JUST WANTED TO FINISH!
Mile 26.2!!!!!!!!!!!! We freaking finished a freaking marathon! We did it!!! We are gonna cry!
Finished. Done. We did it. I wanted to cry so badly. My eyes were filled with tears and I was overcome with so many strange emotions. It was such as weird feeling. As we crossed the finish line, we finally saw our parents. That made the emotional rush even more intense.
At the finish line H and I reunited with the parents, grabbed water and cytomax, a bland bagel, and a space blanket. The finishing village was kind of lame. The parents bought each of us a t-shirt and then we headed home.
Driving home from Seattle to Ellensburg probably wasn’t the best idea, but we really had no other option. After we got home H and I laid around for the rest of the day. We requested cupcakes and chocolate milk and the parents happy obliged.
As far as pain – today, Tuesday, is the first day I’ve been relatively pain-free. We went for a 4 mile walk on Sunday and then yesterday the family hiked around Mt. Rainier in thick snow. I’m not sure either of those decisions were wise, but I think staying active post-race has helped. I want to get THE STICK. I would have loved to massaged my legs after the race.
I still can’t believe I ran 26.2 miles. It blows my mind. It felt surreal almost as soon as it was over. People have already asked me if I’ll do it again and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t already looking at potential future races. I’d really like to do Disney or maybe the 26.2 with Donna in Jax beach… Although I decided that I’m not sure I could do a race without H. We really kept each other going. When she was at her low points, I was feeling okay and when I was at my low moments, she was keeping me going.
The race experience is so exhilarating. It’s such a high. Since I’m not sure when I’ll get to do another race I want to work on my 5k time for the moment. Our chip time was about 6:10 (ugh!), but my garmin said 5:37. I think our walk/twitter breaks hurt us a lot . Also the couple stretch breaks we took didn’t help. I’d love to do a marathon finishing between 5:00 and 5:20. One other thing, since we didn’t cross the start line till 7:40, I think next time I’d lie and say I was going to finish slightly faster than my predicted time to get into a lower corral.
In the meantime I’ve decided to focus on my 5k/overall running time, adding in speed, tempo, and hill workouts. I also want to add strength training to my regime and some yoga. I desperately need to strengthen my core. My back hurt so much during and after the race that it became very apparent my core is WEAK.
All in all, I am so glad that I ran a marathon. It seems like such an accomplishment to say that I actually ran a full marathon. Now I just need to run some other marathons, so I can keep the title. 🙂