That night, we went out to an Italian place in Metairie, LA for dinner and I had a GREAT fettucini alfredo and fried chicken dish (gotta love the South). It was a nice opportunity to catch up with some friends and relax before the big run. At dinner, Chrisy informed me that two of our friends had gotten t-shirts made in memory of Thomas for our group of buddies to wear at the Rock 'n' Roll. Matt and I picked up our shirts (which were actually tank tops) and I thought it would be great motivation for me to wear during my marathon debut.
I didn't sleep much. Jimmy had scored us a room at the Ritz Carlton on Canal (there was a massive leak at the hotel he had actually booked) but I was so nervous and anxious (and sad) that I may not have slept at all... a rough start! At 6:30 we left our hotel and walked to the start at Poydras and Camp St. I was worried at first that I wouldn't be able to navigate us there but there were TONS of people to follow!!! It was amazing. Even more amazing than the size of the crowd was that I ran into my favorite spin instructor amidst the chaos! It was nice to see a friendly face because, of course, I had already gotten lost and separated from my group. I felt nervous about not having pooped yet (I used to get the same way before rugby games) so I got in one of the incredibly long porta-potty lines and waited it out. The gun fired and there were still probably a dozen people ahead of me in line. You can imagine what it looked like when I finally made it to the throne. Why the fuck couldn't I have pooped at the Ritz Carlton?! Anyway, after that horrific ordeal, I hopped into one of the corrals and actually ran into ANOTHER person that I knew. Kay was shooting for a 4:30 finish and I told her I'd hang on for as long as I could. I stuck with her for maybe 2 miles. Haha.
Okay I could give you the turn-by-turn but I'm already bored with that idea.
I finished in 4:50:39, which is a pace of 11:06. I think I feel the right mix of happiness and... I don't know... hopefulness, with that being my first marathon. I'm happy that I was able to finish it and I know there are a handful of things I can do differently next time to improve myself. The first tweak I think I ought to make to my training is incorporating more strength work. My quads and glutes were tired pretty much the entire time, but I never found myself breathing hard. This tells me that it probably was not necessary for me to supplement my cardio work with spin classes as often as I did. I think I would have had a more comfortable marathon if my legs were stronger. The second tweak that I (hope I) will make is incorporating more long runs, even if it means starting my training a few weeks earlier. Having a 20-mile run under my belt was invaluable, but I think my body would have been happier if it was more used to the impact. Exhibit A is my left heel/ankle which I am currently treating with alternating hot/cold packs.
The best part about my run is that I never really found myself hitting a wall. My pace was pretty consistent and manageable and it helped that there were water stations every 1.5-2 miles because I allowed myself to walk for a few seconds at each of them. I expected my mental state to deteriorate at mile 18 or 19, but it never really did. When the miles started to feel longer and longer, I just thought about the tank top I was wearing and how important it was to honor Thomas' memory by finishing well. My pace picked up significantly when I saw all my friends cheering me on in the home stretch. I had taken so long (most of my friends ran the 1/2M and my friend who ran the full with me finished it in 3:20) that I halfway expected them to have already left for the bars. But they were there in their tank tops! I sprinted to the finish and got my medal and snacks and hugged my friends. Side note: I am so lucky to have such great people in my life.
Running my first marathon was a great experience. Here's hoping my second marathon will be even more awesome! Guess what I signed up for today...
October 28, 2012!
I wondered if it was a bad idea for me to sign up for the Marine Corps Marathon this afternoon, as I gingerly hobbled across my living room to retrieve my credit card. I think the timing will be good though. I will have wrapped up my last long bike ride 2 months prior to the MCM, so I should be in good shape and I'll probably be anxious to switch my focus from cycling to running. I think it'll work out well.
Anyway, that was my marathon experience! I was somewhat consistent with my training, dropped off the face of the running planet for most of the month of February, ate awful food, slept very little (taking three classes this semester was SOOOOO stupid), and I still survived it. Great success!