I Did It!! My First Marathon Race Recap.

You guys, I did it!  On Sunday I ran my first marathon!  I thought I’d share my pre to post race experience.  Hopefully it’s somewhat coherent.  It’s all such a blur!  I’ve been holding off posting until I could fit everything in, but if that happens, I’ll never get done.  Forgive me if this post is even more stream-of-consciousness than usual.  Feel free to skip ahead to the pictures.  {Sorry in advance for the picture of my feet!}

I signed up for the race in October, but I was keeping quiet just in case I didn’t finish.  Because I was already putting an absurd amount of stress and pressure on myself, I didn’t want to add any to the mix.  I trained on and off for several months, and the last few weeks were all-consumed by the Marathon.

When I was home for Christmas, I picked up new running shoes, and realized I really should try some sort of fancy sporty food for the run.  I bought some GU, but only bought two packets in case I didn’t like it.  And then of course I loved it {the Peanut Butter GU has actual peanut butter in it.  It’s amazing.}, and it is impossible to get in Spain.  Especially on Mallorca.  Yada yada yada… especially after a failed battle with Spanish Customs, I was thrilled to find GU at a sports store in Paris last week.  Just another example of how being in a big city makes a difference.

Obviously I’d never been to a pre-race expo before, and picking up my race kit helped me get in the marathon mood.  I was expecting lots of vendors pushing things on me that I’d never need, but that wasn’t the case.  I picked up my race bib, timing chip, and goody bag.  I love the T-shirt, and there were some other neat things tucked inside.  There weren’t at all any crazy vendors.  Just a few shoe/clothing people, a woman representing the Istanbul Marathon, and someone who could have me stand on a mat and take a picture of my feet, I guess to tell me how to make them happier.  At this point, two days before the race, my feet weren’t going to get any better, so I didn’t see the point in finding out what was wrong with them.  The best part, though, was the area where you could get a free manicure on the spot, and then have your hair braided, also free.  I skipped the braids, but it was really nice to get the mani!!

I didn’t participate in any of the free race activities, and parts of the itinerary and goody-bag made me a little crazy.  There was a pre-run run on Saturday, the day before the race.  I hadn’t planned on doing a pre-run.  Was I supposed to?  The goody bag included a free blister pad sample.  But it was for blisters on your heel.  I had a blood blister on the ball of my foot.  Was I doing it wrong since my blister was in the wrong spot?  Was I supposed to have a blister on my heel?  All some of my pre-run jitters.  A quick email to my support system solved that.  I had the green light to carb load and relax until race day.

Carbohydrate-loading isn’t as easy as it sounds.  I thought it would be fun.  Who doesn’t like carbs?  I love pasta!  And bread!  Except, of course, it’s hard to eat just carbs.  You can’t have the pasta without the sauce.  And the meatballs.  Trying to get all of the grams of carbs I was supposed to and not eat a trillion calories seemed impossible.  By the time Saturday night rolled around, I had to give up on the pasta and do yogurt and granola.  I had pasta burnout.  In retrospect, I’m so glad I ate every carb I did.  I wouldn’t worry about the calories the second time around.  You really will need all of that fuel during the run.

I thought the morning of the race would be colder than it was.  I ended up cutting a whole in a huge Corte Ingles bag that I could throw away whenever, feeling really clever.  But then it wasn’t that cold and no one else was wearing a garbage bag.  I think by Mile 1 I tossed it.  There was a woman wearing a tutu and flamingo glasses, so I didn’t even win best dressed.

Miles 0-5 were kind of entertaining.  Everyone had really good energy, and there were lots of 10k runners that made the race feel less sparse.  There were under 100 actual marathoners, I want to say around 70, so it got kind of lonely after a while.  The space did give me the ability to sing out loud to motivate myself, but I only had the breath and energy to sing just about every fifth word, so it went something like, “Oohhh… halfway… there… oohhh… living… prayer.  Take… hand… make… swear… oooh… prayer!”  For people who are familiar with Palma, the race started at the Cathedral, ran though S’Arenal, and turned around.  From the Cathedral we ran to Porto Pi and back thrice.  It was long, and as I was finishing my second lap a lot of people were finishing.

I am thankful for the random drum band that showed up and played in different spots around the course.  It was really nice to have cheerleaders, especially since I didn’t have a posse.  I am super thankful to the people who came and watched, and for the photos they took.  There were tons of photographers along the route, but by the time I finished, they had left and no one from the run was there to record me momentously crossing the finish line.  Which is kind of a bummer.  Everyone was supposed to be there for 6 hours, from the 9 o’clock start until the 3 o’clock cutoff.  But towards the end, the water stations were already packing up.  They had already zambonied the last station when I passed by.  And the foot doctors had left for the day when I was done.  Which was a shame, since the blood blister I had started with had mushroomed into something easily the size of an American Nickel that stuck out about a third of an inch from my foot.  It was so big I named it.

Which is a good point to point out that I’m thankful to my supervisor and his wife for convincing me to see a foot doctor the day after the race, who convinced me that I was being ridiculous and it should really be drained.  Which is when Herman became Herman Munster, because he was dead but not really gone.  Don’t worry.  I won’t show you foot pictures.  I just know that if I ever doubted my running ability, my feet now confirm that I am a runner.

I started counting down around Mile 10.  I’m so glad I had my Nike running app.  The random people who cheered me on were the best.  To the asshats who decided to wait until I was 10 feet away and then cross the road in front of me when no one was behind me for a quarter mile, not cool.  Ditto to the dude who stood there staring while he ate a foot-long hot dog in front of me around Mile 18.  And all the people that littered.  I think throwing your water bottle/cup on the ground in the space adjacent to a water station is fine.  Throwing your GU wrapper on the ground in the middle of nowhere is not cool.  No one is going to clean that up, and some animal could eat it and die.  It takes two seconds to find a garbage can 2 feet off the course.  Not even.  The one time I couldn’t find a garbage I gave my GU-wrapper to a policeman to throw out.  He wasn’t thrilled, but I wasn’t going to litter.  Except the bananas.

They had the worst bananas.  There’s two good days to eat a banana, and these were not one of those days.  The bananas were all green.  And they cut them in half.  It’s impossible to peel half a green banana with your hands.  I just think that they could have ordered better bananas.  It’s not like it was a surprise that they would need them.  I know it sounds silly, but good bananas are important.

Miles 22-26 weren’t fun.  My app wasn’t synchronized with the course, and I was a good 3/4 mile ahead on my phone.  Also, the race markers were not clear.  The route was a loop, so I don’t know how they could have done it better, but all of the markers were mixed in together.  You had to keep track and figure out if you were really at 25km or just at 18km.  Part of it could be that I don’t do km, but the last bit of the race was definitely a struggle.

At the finish, I was met by the reason for the race, Kathrine Switzer.  She was super-gracious and hugged all the finishers.  She even signed my bib, and I’m sure she could run faster than me even now.  It’s definitely easy to take for granted that women can run in whatever race they want, and I can’t imagine having to break through when you’re just as capable as a man.  I really struggled with how to respond to one of my students this week when they said they thought a marathon is too far to run for a woman.  I know that different cultures are different and see situations differently, but it all comes back to women’s rights being human rights.  All of the wonderful athletes {women and a few men} that showed up to run just show that we aren’t going to be stopped because of a piece of missing anatomy.  Also, it’s 2015.  If you really still have a problem with women doing everything men can do, wake up.  I don’t know how to help you.

I won’t bore you with a play by play of every mile.  I was really pleased with how I ran Miles 1-4.  All faster than in practice, but not so fast that I was emptying my tank too soon.  I stayed strong most of the way.  Oddly, Mile 14 was my fastest, at 11’18”.  Mile 23 I crawled at 15’04”.  In between I stayed mostly in the slow-11s to fast-13min/miles, and came in strong at 14’47”.  Official race time was 5:49:16.  I wasn’t even last.  All of which I’m calling a win.  And honestly, if I was last, I would be just as thrilled.  As long as you cross the starting line and the finish line, I think you’re a winner.

Thank you thank you to my parents and family and friends for listening to me talk about the marathon non-stop for months, for supporting me, and not judging me for being a hermit pre-race.  A special huge thanks to one of my favorite people, the best trainer and friend I could ask for, for guiding me through the scary and confusing first marathon process.  Like so many other fitness milestones, from the Negative Net Descent Run {read, uphill} to playing college tennis on a team that went to Nationals, I could not have done it without you.

IMG_3200Mar 6, 2015

Pre-race nails, courtesy of the race!!

IMG_3232Mar 8, 2015

I can see it!

IMG_3231Mar 8, 2015

Almost there!

IMG_3229Mar 8, 2015

I did it!

IMG_3223Mar 9, 2015

Ok I lied. Of all the things I’m most proud of about this race, though, it’s that I battled through 26.2 miles with this guy. Neither one of us gave up.

IMG_3335Mar 14, 2015

Here’s our route. Oceanfront 90% of the way.

IMG_2755Feb 25, 2015

These pictures aren’t from race day, but I thought you’d like to see what I was looking at. Not bad.

IMG_2758Feb 25, 2015

Pretty good for a first marathon view 🙂