That one time I ran a Marathon
When I look back at Sunday, I still can’t get over the fact that I accomplished a huge goal..one that I never thought I would have the guts or determination to make happen. I only started running 3.5 years ago, and I’ll be honest, I thought people who ran full marathons were absolutely nuts. I was happy with just running 3 miles at the time. But as I pushed myself to run farther (still working on that faster part) and I accomplished running half marathons, I knew that running a marathon one day was a goal of mine. And boy, am I glad as ever that I made that decision.
I didn’t have the best night of sleep the night before the race. Nerves and excitement were getting to me, plus that 2 hour time difference was still effecting me. I woke up at 5:30 am to the sounds of announcements on a PA speaker. We stayed one block from where the race started in Union Square so I could already hear people outside, even from our 26th floor room!
My husband put it best when we left the room..”Let’s do this!”
I finally rolled out of bed at 5:30 am and got dressed, ate my usual pre-race breakfast of a bagel and peanut butter and started to stretch a little. It still didn’t seem real to me that I would be running for 5+ hours.
Once we got outside, I only had to walk one block to get to the start line. I said see ya later to my husband and we went our ways. When I signed up for the race, I had purchased him a spectator shuttle ticket that would take him to viewing spots around the course and ultimately end at the finish line where he’d wait for me.
Nike gave out pace bracelets with your time and what street you were to line up on. I had an 8-8:59 pace bracelet, although that is not the pace I kept up with on the race. I only waited in the corral for about 15 minutes before we were off and running. While we waited, I chatted it up with a girl next to me who was on her 19th marathon! Holy cow! What an inspiration that was. She gave me some words of advice before we started too which got me a bit more pepped up and ready to go.
At promptly 6:30 am, the gun went off, fireworks shot into the sky and we were off!
It took me about 2 mins and 30 seconds to get to the start line and as my feet hit the mats, I turned start on my Garmin and I was off! I kept reminding myself to take it slow. I had 26 miles to go and didn’t want to burn myself out early on like I have before. I get so excited for the start of a race that I ran WAY WAY WAY faster than I should and tire myself out early on.
As I started to run, it never occurred to me that I was going to be running for 26 miles. I took it easy the first mile. It was quite dark in downtown San Francisco still. Lots of racers were running pretty fast and as I looked around, I noticed an awful lot of half marathon bibs and not so many marathon bibs. It stayed this way until halfway through the race. I later learned that out of the 30,000 runners, only 4300 ran the full marathon. WOW!
Mile 1: 10:46
After the first mile, when I looked down at my Garmin and saw my pace, I figured I was in good shape for the rest of the race with my 10:46 mile. Right after mile 1, we hit the Fisherman’s Wharf and ran another mile down the road. At about mile 1.5, my knee started to hurt, real bad. I started to panic thinking if this is going to hurt the rest of the race, then I’m in trouble.
Mile 2: 12:38
I slowed my pace down due to my knee acting up. But I’m glad I slowed down because the pain started to go away after a little bit of a small walking break. At the end of Fisherman’s Wharf, around mile 2.5, we started to hit some hills. We hit 2 before we made a turn onto a straight away.
Mile 3: 11:36
At mile 3.7 was the first spectator point. I told my husband to go down to mile 11 to wait for me instead of going here. Right after I passed the 3.7 mark, I looked down at my phone and he had texted me that he was there waiting to see me. I’m not sure if he was there and missed me or what, but I never did see him there. I texted him back and told him to meet me at 11 instead.
Mile 4: 11:16
We were running on a straight, flat road and the daybreak started to come up. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate and it stayed foggy, damp and cold the whole race. At mile 4.5ish, Neutrogena was handing out face wipes which was nice to wipe off that cold, damp, sweaty feeling on your face.
Mile 5: 11:14
Mile 5 was where we hit the first big hill. We were just passing Crissy Field by the Golden Gate Bridge (which was completely covered by the fog) and there was a BIG, HUGE, STEEP hill. Many people were still running up it, but again, I reminded myself to take it easy since I still had 21 miles to go. The hill went up for awhile, then leveled off, then went up again.
Mile 6: 11:55
What goes up must come down right? A little bit into mile 6, we had a HUGE downhill after that last hill. It felt so nice!
Mile 7: 13:33
Mile 8: 11:23
Around mile 8, I realized I was in such a groove that I had not had any fuel yet. I opened a pack of my Jelly Belly sport chews and started to feel a little more energized.
Mile 9: 13:21
We hit another hill at mile 9 and when I saw what was coming, I decided to take a quick bathroom break in the nearest porta potty. I did stop my Garmin while I went to the bathroom..I’m not sure if that helped or hurt my time on my Garmin. When I stopped in the porta potty, that was the first time I realized how stiff my legs were as I tried to do sit down.
Mile 10: 10:15
My husband told me he was waiting at mile 11 at the entrance to the park so I was getting excited to see him. One more mile is what I kept telling myself at this point.
Mile 11: 11:41
Right before we hit mile 11, we hit a huge crowd of spectators as we entered Golden Gate Park. I looked everywhere for my husband but never saw him. He said he was by a windmill, which I never saw. He said he was going to head off to another mile marker to see me. I have to admit, I was a little sad knowing I still hadn’t seen my husband.
At mile 11.5, we also split off from the half marathoners. Since there were so little half marathoners, the crowd got small, very fast which was nice.
Mile 12: 13:01
We continued our way up and around the park in the fog. At this point, we hit the marathoners who were on the other side of the road running the other way and all I could think of was, where is this turn around point?!
Mile 13: 12:21
I couldn’t believe I was already at the halfway point. I didn’t feel like I still had over 2 hours left ahead of me. I just was taking the race one mile at a time.
Mile 14: 12:52
Mile 14 was another point when I realized how sore I would be. When I reached down to itch my leg, oh boy did my back hurt! I was looking forward to getting past this mile because my husband said he was at mile 15.
Mile 15: 13:25
YAY! I finally got to see my husband! I was in the groove of running so I had time for a quick kiss and hug before I was back on my way. At this point, the half marathoners caught back up with us and we ran with them for almost another mile.
Mile 16: 11:55
This was where I most definitely hit my wall. At this point, we turned off from the half marathoners and were heading down a straight, flat road next to the beach. It hit me here that I still have 10 miles left and was frustrated from seeing those half marathoners turn off to make their way to the finish. On top of that, the breeze from the ocean plus the fog made it really cold..so cold that my hands started to freeze and the hair on my arms stood up. I was glad I still had my long sleeve t-shirt with me.
It was also a hard mile because on the other side of the median on the highway were the first half of the marathoners. This was the point where we ran, then turned around to come back, but I didn’t realize we would see the other runners. It got a bit depressing knowing they were almost done and I wasn’t.
I also started to get really tired at this point and my legs had just about had it. My feet were throbbing, knees hurting, hips in pain and my calves felt tight.
Mile 17: 14:59
I made another potty break at mile 17. After some fuel and hydration, I told myself to quit the pitty party and keep going. I was over halfway done and I made it this far so there was no stopping me now.
Mile 18: 15:19
Now that I look at this mile time, I didn’t feel that slow. Oh well.
Mile 19: 13:02
We’re still running straight ahead and I keep thinking, when in the world do we turn around? We also started to hit some small, rolling hills at this point as well which were a little rough.
Mile 20: 13:17
Yep, still running straight. Does this road ever end?!
Mile 21: 12:44
FINALLY! The turn around. I told myself this was it, we’re in the final stretch!
Mile 22: 12:24
One last potty stop to finish out the rest of the race. To the woman who looked at me and cheered “You’re almost home!”..thanks, I really needed that at that point to keep me going.
Mile 23: 15:05
This is where we turned to go back onto the highway. One small hill was in front of me and then it was straight the rest of the way home. At this point, my toe nails started to really hurt and throb. I started to dread taking my shoes and socks off at the end for fear of finding some nasty, bloody toe nails.
Mile 24: 12:49
I started to run with all that I had left in me. I couldn’t believe I was almost done!
Mile 25: 13:46
My husband said he was just before the mile 26 mark so I was trying as hard as I could to get there fast!
Mile 26: 13.25
Still smiling and being cheesy after 26 miles.
I had time for a quick high 5 to him because right after I saw him, I spotted the finish line.
Off I go! I ran as fast as I possibly could. Right after that stoplight in the photo, the spectators made the runners chute and everyone was cheering. I ran so hard and I couldn’t wrap my mind around the fact that I just ran 26.2 miles for 5.5 hours straight. I was feeling pretty bad ass at that point. Once I was within reach of the finish line, I put my hands up the rest of the way as I made my way onto the red carpet.
On the other side of that finish line, this was waiting for me…
I was so stinking excited to get that necklace! After making my way through and getting my necklace, finisher’s t-shirt, heat wrap and bag full of fuel, I was so anxious to find my husband. After navigating through the crowds, he came running towards me and gave me the biggest hug ever telling me how proud he is of me. I’m so lucky to have him. I can’t thank him enough for all of his support that he gives me when I set crazy goals for myself.
We walked around as I ate my fuel and re-hydrated and bought me another sweatshirt, we headed back to the shuttle buses to make our way back to the hotel. Once we got back to Union Square and I had to stand up, ohhhhhh I really felt the pain in my legs! After wobbling back to the hotel, I showered, we ate lunch and then laid in bed the rest of the day.
So what’s it like to be a marathoner? It’s absolutely freaking amazing. I still can’t believe I did it. Everyone we encountered the rest of the day and all day Monday congratulated me which meant a lot. These folks in San Francisco definitely know how to treat runners well. Looking down at that Tiffany necklace I earned keeps reminding me that I’m stronger than I think I am. And I can’t wait to give myself a new challenge and goal to work towards.
How did I feel after the race? While I started to feel the soreness throughout the race, it didn’t really hit me how sore I would be until after I crossed the finish line. I limped my way towards getting my necklace because I really started to feel the pain in my knees. We took the shuttle bus back to Union Square, and standing up after sitting for a half hour was quite the challenge. My lower half was totally stiff. The rest of the day, standing up was my biggest pain. I could walk and I felt some tightness in my legs, but nothing that hurt more than any half marathon I’ve ever run.
I thought I would sleep like a baby that night, but that did not happen. I think I had too much adrenaline going through me still. I didn’t fall asleep till about 1 am and was up most of the night. I probably got around 3 hours of sleep. Multiple bathroom breaks (lots of hydrating throughout the race) and my legs/toes throbbing throughout the night did not help my sleeping ability. Throughout the night as well, I started to swell up a bit. Once morning rolled around, it was still a struggle to first stand up. However, lots of walking throughout the day really helped to flush out my muscles.
On Tuesday, the only pain I had was in my hips when I walked and yesterday when I got up, absolutely no pain or soreness, anywhere! I can tell my muscles are very tight just from small movements I do throughout the day, but I’m going to try to start to focus on more stretching these next few weeks.
So, what’s next? For now, I’m taking it easy. Although I’m not sore at all anymore (which I was completely shocked by), I know my body needs to rest and recover. I decided to take a full month off from running- I read that for every mile you run, you need that many days off. So, I’ll be enjoying some added strength training and cross training for the next month until I hit the pavement running again.
Overall, I am so glad I decided to challenge myself and do a marathon. Nike put on a fantastic race and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience for my first marathon. I didn’t think I would catch the 26.2 mile bug after running. My intention was to run one marathon and check that off my bucket list. But, it’s true what they say, you’ll want to do another one!
I have lots of races in the back of mind that I’d love to do in the next few years. But for now, I’m still enjoying that post race afterglow.
And I can’t wait till my next race when I get to do this all over again…..