My first race recap post! Are you ready?
Overall: 10,352 out of 23,529 (top 50%!!)
Females: 3,370 out of 10,004
Age group (20-24): 290 out of 711
Having never run a race before (not even spectated!), I had absolutely NO idea what to expect. It was like my first day of school. I was completely clueless. I felt like a fish outta water. Where do I pin my bib? What’s the proper etiquette for water stations?
Though you can read all about race day online and in books/magazines, there’s nothing quite like the real deal.
For a first time marathoner, my goal was simply to get my tush to the finish line.
Of course, deep down, I had ballpark time goals too. I wanted to finish under 5 hours. Ideally, I wanted to beat my parents’ time (4:45 ish I think?). If all went well, I wanted to come in around 4 hours and 30 minutes, a reasonable and attainable goal given my regular running pace.
The alarm went off at 3:50 AM and I went through my usual pre-run routine. 2 cups of coffee. Pumpkin French toast (using waffles and cinnamon raisin bread) stuffed with sunflower seed butter and banana slices. Elaborate, yes, but it was what I had been eating for breakfast before my runs all month long.
We needed to be out of the door by 5:15 AM, so I packed a Clif Bar and some almonds to eat in the car and before the start. I hadn’t practiced with Clif Bars before runs, but I knew it probably wouldn’t be a problem.
My stomach has come a long way! One reason I hadn’t raced before was because a) they’re so stinkin’ early and b) my stomach used to be super sensitive and I couldn’t eat anything within 3-4 hours of running. I’ve trained my stomach this past year and I can now handle running with quite a bit of food in there. Wahoo!
Note: I did not successfully use the loo before leaving the house. The one thing I was most nervous about. Rats!
I was a nervous wreck waiting for the metro…
The walk from the metro station to the start line was omgSOlong. Peter kept telling me to look at it as a warm up. Isn’t that was miles 1-3 are for?!
At this point, it was hard distinguishing hunger from nerves, so I just kept munching on my Cliff Bar until 30 min. before the start.
I perked up as the sun started to rise and felt a lot better after I got all my race gear strapped on and ready to go.
Things they don’t tell you #1:Practice peeing in the woods! I went once on the way from the metro and again while running along the course (I KNOW I KNOW, but everyone was doing it…? For real.). No shame. Okay, a little.
At this point, I started to get super emotional. I was even tearing up a little. I think it was a combination of nerves and finally setting out to accomplish something for which I had trained so hard. It didn’t help that I had a slow, sappy song playing on my iPod.
I got into the line rather late because the guy in front of me in the porta potty got lucky (jealous!) and took forever. I was in the way back of the crowd and didn’t cross the start line until 20+ minutes after the gun went off.
Ready, Set, Go!
I didn’t have a hard time keeping my pace relatively slow because I was listening to a slow song and it was pretty congested for the first couple miles. I had to do quite a bit of swerving because there were people going fairly slowly (and some walking).
In fact, I did quite a bit of swerving throughout the entire race. I kept getting stuck behind people, which made it hard to settle in and get into a groove.
Things they don’t tell you #2: When you’re 5′ 2″, you end up getting nearly socked in the jaw 800 times by the elbows of the people in front of you!
Fuel Me Up Buttercup!
I took in my first Gu at mile 6, before I thought I needed it. <–key! The strawberry banana flavor is the bomb! I wanted to bathe in it. I gravitate towards the chocolate flavors because I am a chocoholic, but straw-nana is my new favorite.
This was gel #1. By gel #4 I was so sick of sweet/sugar (and I have the biggest sweet tooth ever).
Things they don’t tell you #3 (actually they did, but I didn’t listen): Figure out what they’re serving at the race and practice eating/drinking it on the run.
Mile 2: Gatorade (definitely didn’t practice that one…oops)
Mile 6: Gel #1
Mile 11.5: Gel #2
Mile 14.5: Gel #3
Mile 18: 2 Gu Chomps (first time ever trying those…oops again…loved them more than Gels!)
Mile 20: Gel #4
Mile 22: Jelly Belly Sport Beans (first time ever trying those…oops again)
Mile 24 Dunkin’ Donuts Munchkin. I didn’t really need the donut and definitely didn’t practice eating donuts on the run, but I figured why not?
Luckily, I had zero stomach problems. A little ache after gel #1, but that was expected.
26.2 Miles (err 26.77 miles!)
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but the race passed by really quickly for me. I kept having to remind myself to run in the moment! Once I hit mile 20, I tried to FOCUS on the run and my surroundings because I knew it was going to be over soon.
The miles ticked by a lot faster than in my training runs. I always hear about the last 6 miles being miserable and requiring a lot of mental strength to get through, but that wasn’t the case for me. I expected to hit the wall and want to die, but I actually started picking up the pace at mile 17 and sprinted the last 4 miles.
Things they don’t tell you #4: Practice running on smashed water cups, banana peels and orange rinds.
Okay, seriously? Banana peels?! Who’s bright idea was that?! I was terrified I was gonna faceplant and get trampled…like in The Lion King!
I tried to take it a little slower in the beginning because I wanted to avoid having to waddle the last few miles. I ended up having to weave around people (who were either running super slow or walking), which made it hard to conserve energy and settle in.
It didn’t help that at one point, I was literally 4 inches away from stepping on roadkill. I jumped and screamed “OH MY GAH”…so embarrassing!
I finally settled in and got comfy. I started singing out loud and a lady cheering on the sidelines said to me “Sing it, girl, you sing it!!” Bahaha!
And this is when Sandy started to work against us. Fierce winds! I was overjoyed that it wasn’t raining, so I embraced the wind and hoped it would work in our favor later.
Pain in my buttocks started. I had to dig deep to take my mind off my derriere.
I stopped to use the loo when I found one with no line. I did not get lucky. Blerg!! Stopping for a few minutes actually made the pain in my butt go away completely…for a few miles.
I saw my parents at mile 17 and got a boost from that.
I was flying! All the sugar I consumed kicked in and I was rockin’ it.
Running among the monuments was exhilarating and I started to pick up the pace. Probably 1:00 min/mile on average faster than I had been running.
The pain in my butt (literally) came back. This time it was accompanied with a dull pain in my knee. Nothing serious, but not pleasant and it made zoning out difficult.
At mile 21, I was alternating “owww” and “effffff.” I missed a water station somewhere here and I remember thinking I was so thirsty! I stopped at a table where spectators set up food/drinks and all they had was Coke. I was so thirsty, I grabbed a cup of the HFCS and chugged it. Definitely didn’t practice that one either.
Mile 22 was new territory for me since my longest training run was 22 miles. This is when I started giving it my ALL. As in, I started SPRINTING. That’s what it felt like at least. Fortunately, I managed to maintain my pace all the way until the finish (and not get burned out). Hey, it’s a race right?
I remember thinking…
1) The faster I run, the sooner I’ll be done and the sooner my butt can get some relief
2) I NEED TO BEAT OPRAH!!
Oprah ran MCM in 1994 and finished in 4:29. I made it my mission to beat her. It wasn’t so much HER that pushed me, but the thought of coming in/around 4 hours and 30 minutes.
I was passing people left and right. At this point so many people were walking and I was busting my ass trying to beat Oprah.
At one point I looked down at my Garmin and saw a 7:52 avg pace. Whoa nelly!
SPRINT SPRINT SPRINT.
OW OW OW. EFF EFF EFF. You can do this, Allie. You can do anything for 10 minutes.
The more my butt hurt, the faster I ran. I even tried to sprint up the notorious SUPER steep up hill right near the finish.
…and then I saw the finish line and realized I was about to become a marathoner. It was so surreal.
I missed Oprah by 5 stinkin’ minutes. Womp womp. I definitely could’ve run 5 minutes faster. I wasted time at water stations and getting stuck behind walkers. Since it was my first race, I didn’t want to focus on pace too much and just get to the finish line.
I’ll take this as a sign that I ran a good race and I’ll know what to do next time. Yes, next time! I’m already thinking of my next marathon. To be honest, I was thinking of my next one before I even started MCM, but I wanted to finish first before I said it out loud. I definitely need a break from training though, which has been hard on my body. I need to gain some weight back and then maybe in several months to a year from now I can think of training for another one (Thank you in advance for keeping your comments about my weight to yourself. I’ve lost weight while training. I’m trying hard to gain it back. In lieu of comments, which won’t actually help me but put on the pounds, you can bake me some cookies!).
The 20 minutes after crossing the finish line was a blur. I wanted to line up to take my finisher photo with the memorial…I needed water/food, but there was none…I couldn’t find anybody…my butt hurt! Finally, Kat Lobes and her mom spotted me and we walked a loooong way to the finish festival.
Post-race sweet potato/regular fries from Ray’s Hell Burger. Salt!
I was VERY hesitant to register for this race because I feared the unknown. What if I can’t finish? What if training is too difficult? Could I really run a marathon?!
(It’s fun to look back and read my race announcement post)
This may sound strange, but I didn’t really consider myself a runner (and still don’t to some degree). I don’t know much about running besides that I really enjoy it. I don’t do structured running workouts. Before last week, I had never run a race. In years past, my shin splints had me taking months off at a time. I didn’t sign up for races or even do short fun runs because I wasn’t confident I could finish.
I’m not saying you need to do the above to be a runner (not at all!), but in my mind, I just never thought of myself as one. I’ve learned a lot the past few months throughout training. A lot about myself, the sport of running, and overcoming challenges.
I put my mind to something, I set a goal, I accomplished it…
…and it feels damn good.