Ahhh...it feels great to say that. It's hard to believe it's all over. All those months of training, and anticipation, and it's over in a matter of hours.
It was great day, and perfect for running. It started out cool. It was only 33 degrees at the start of the race. I was really concerned about how to dress for this, because I really haven't run in cold temps yet. All my training started in June, so it was never really cool. I wore some old sweatpants and sweatshirt just to keep warm while we hung out before the race got started. Thank goodness I did that. It was REALLY cold. We went inside one of the downtown buildings to stay warm for about 15 minutes before the race started, and that helped, but it was really chilly.
We started near the back of the pack. We weren't all the way back, but probably back further than we should have been because it we were weaving in and out of walkers for the first mile. It took us 18 minutes to even GET to the starting line! But in all reality, it didn't matter, since our time started getting clocked once we crossed the start line.
It was Kathy, Jeff and I running the first half together. Jeff was running the half marathon, and would turn off at the 13 mile mark towards the finish line. The first half of the race was great. All the excitement and all the people really made it so much fun. I loved having the music every half mile or so. We kept a pretty good pace for the first half. My goal was to have us maintain a 5 mile in an hour pace throughout, and we were just short of that in the first half. Jeff has some issues with shin splints, so that was kind of holding us back a little.
After Jeff took off near the finish line, Kathy and I moved on. We ran up high street, through the short north, towards campus. I was really surprised by the sudden drop off in support at that point. Really, hardly anyone around. At the same time, it was a cold sunday morning, so I don't blame people for not being out! I was most surprised going down 15th avenue on campus, which is fraternity and sorority row, and there was not a sole supporter out there! Definitely not like you hear about in the Boston marathon!
Things were going well until about the 19 mile mark. For some reason, I just really started to struggle at that point. I think part of it was that I needed my inhaler, and thank god I brought it along. I ended up using it twice in the second half of the run and both times it seemed to help pull me through. But at the 19 mile mark, I couldn't tell if the problem was my breathing, or if I needed more fuel. Hard to tell. I didn't feel like I had hit a "wall", but I was just struggling. But by mile 22 I seemed to pull through it okay. But for whatever reason, miles 19-21 were really tough for me, even tougher than the last couple miles. We still ran, but our walk breaks were longer.
I really enjoyed the run down Neil Avenue in Victorian Village. It was just really pretty. I love the houses there, and it was nice to run through my old stomping grounds, since I lived down there for 5.5 years. We passed an older runner who was basically be carried by a spectator. Their picture was in the local paper today. The runner was a 75 year old chaplain from a nearby air force base, and he collapsed in the last 5 miles. That spectator was there to cheer someone else on, but he carried that 75 year old the last 5 miles across the finish line! I'm telling you, those are the things that just make me love this sport. I feel like running brings out the best in people.
As we approached the finish line, I began getting chills. It was hard to believe it was all coming to an end. All those months of training, all those long runs on the weekends, etc. It was an incredible feeling. Kathy grabbed my hand as we started down the stretch to the finish line. What an awesome feeling! It was the best! And in spite of all the nutritious food they had available at the end, the first thing I ate was a krispy kreme donut! I figured this was the one time I really didn't need to have any guilt about eating one! lol!
We didn't stay long after the marathon. There wasn't really a reason to, as the activities were winding down at that point, and there was really nobody around to celebrate with that we knew. I really wanted to get home to get in an ice bath too.
Once home, I took my ice bath, and then laid down in bed for about 1.5 hours. The longer I laid there, the more sore I was feeling. I couldn't sleep, but remember laying in bed thinking "i'm so sore...I should be in the hospital where someone can care for me". LOL! That should give you an idea of how sore I really was feeling (and maybe how mentally drained I was feeling too!). I think part of the problem was that I couldn't eat. I was so exhausted that the thought of eating made me feel sick. Once I was finally able to eat, I started to feel much better.
I managed to get up at my usual 5 a.m. wake up time and make it into work. I worry about tomorrow, because typically I'm more sore two days after a long run than the day after. We'll see how it goes. My quads and inner thighs are still very sore (thank goodness for handicap stalls in the bathrooms!). I'm taking ibuprofin right on schedule through tomorrow, to keep the muscle soreness at bay. But I know I'll be fine.
Several people have asked me if I'll do another full. Kathy and I were discussing our next full marathon at mile 25, so that's a good thing. Of course, today, I'm not feeling quite so confident! I know that the half marathons are great. They are challenging (although seem easy at this particular moment in comparison to what I just did), but the halfs are just the right length I think.
I totally do not want to stop running. I get something from running that I've never gotten from any other type of exercise that I've done. I can't even really explain it, but it helps me in many ways. I feel like I can think better, relieve stress unlike any other type of exercise allows me to do, I sleep better, and I feel like I really accomplish something when I finish a run.
The only thing I need to work on is not being disappointed in my running speed. I will never win a race, and will never be fast. Our marathon time was 5:27:57, which I'm THRILLED with. But when I look at the stats, I see how close I was to finishing so far behind thousands of others, and how slow in my age group, division, etc. I need to work on that, because I really DID run a marathon, and that is quite an accomplishment in and of itself.
Running this marathon has proven to me that if I set a goal, and follow a reasonable plan to achieve that goal, that I certainly can do it. I suppose you can say that it really put some faith into myself that I really can achieve something if I really set my mind to it, and work hard for it.
So where do I go from here? I'm moving into maintenance mode with the running. My plan is to run 4 miles twice a week during the week, and on the weekends maybe do a 6 mile run or so. I need to shift my focus to strength training three times a week. I've only gained a pound or two since training for this marathon, but I'm up a half to a full size in my clothes. I need to shed the fat, and back off of the carbs now. I decided that I need to attack my desire to lose weight/inches with the same dedication that I put forth in training for the marathon. So that is my plan for the next couple of months.
Kathy and I are looking at the various schedules for fulls and half marathons for the spring, and will probably pick something to work towards. I need to have races as goals, because they are just great ways for me to stick to a plan and stay motivated. I think training for a half would be best for the spring. We'll see. Kathy and I also talked about getting involved in our running group and seeing if we can rope more people into training to run halfs or fulls, people who have not run before. We'll see how that goes. Maybe we'll talk to the running group coordinators about it at the post race party that is next week.
And last but not least, I just have to say how much I love my husband! He's been the greatest throughout all this training, and has been so supportive. On top of it all, because Kathy had conflicts for two of the half marathons during our training that we had signed up for, Jeff jumped in and took her place so I didn't have to go it alone. He walked the first one and ended up with horrible blisters, and couldn't walk for a week. He ran the second one, and did GREAT! Since then, he has continued running, and he ran the first half of the marathon with Kathy and I. I'm just so proud of him for getting into this with me. And although his reasons for running differ from mine, I love having him beside me doing something that I love to do. He'll never read this blog, but I just have to say how wonderful of a husband he is. I'm really, really blessed.