Monday, December 9, 2013

First (and last) Marathon

I finished a marathon yesterday.  26.2 miles on foot.  And I learned one main lesson: I am NOT a marathoner.  Mostly, I just don't enjoy running.  It's boring to me, so I didn't train like I should have.  I went into this race perfectly prepared to do a half-marathon.  Unfortunately, that is not what I signed up for.  Between not enjoying training and having to take a month off for my wisdom teeth (and even when I started back, they still hurt with every foot strike), I was woefully unprepared.  I had completed two sprint triathlons in the 5 months beforehand, so I wasn't completely out of shape or anything, but I hadn't done the prep work that I should have to cover that many miles purely on foot.

To make matters more interesting, we had a record breaking cold snap this week.  Last year's race had to have an extended time limit because it was so hot and humid.  This year we started out below freezing and only warmed up about 5 degrees and it was overcast with not a hint of sunshine the whole time. 

We made a trip to the store a few days before the race to buy a few "disposable" layers.  We figured we would warm up and shed these things as time went on, but that never happened. 
I was particularly glad I thought to wear a neck warmer at the last minute because it was great to cover my face or pull down as needed throughout the race.  I made Josh one the night before the race that he wore the whole time too. 

The biggest thing that got me through this race was having Josh run with me.  Because of the kids, we trained separately and he trained better and also runs faster than me anyway.  When we picked up our packets the day before the race, and he realized how few people were signed up for the full marathon, he said it sounded awfully lonely and he might just run with me part of the way.  He ended up sticking with me the whole time and definitely made the difference.  I have no doubt I would have logged a DNF without him there to literally hold my hand when I needed it.

Despite the cold, the beginning of the race was great.  The first 10 miles were smooth sailing.  I made a comment somewhere between miles 10 and 11 that I was glad I didn't sign up for the half because I would've felt too good at the end and wondered if I should've done the full.  Miles 11 to 14 were tougher, but still totally fine.  Miles 15 and 16 were my wall.  With the prospect of 10 more miles ahead of me, I would have quit there.  I said I wanted to quit and Josh said I could keep going.  At one point he had equated a marathon to giving birth and somewhere just before the end of mile 16, I whined that I didn't even get a snuggly baby after all this work.  The marker for the end of the 16th mile was across the street from the 20th mile marker.  Santa was there and I decided I couldn't quit before I got to Santa.  So 17 to 21 were a long slog.  One foot in front of the other, repeat.  It was very reminiscent of when we climbed the backside of HalfDome together and the 3rd class slabs near the top just seem to go on forever because the "top" is an optical illusion for a very long time. Around 21 I got tylenol from the medical team.  From then on, I wanted to quit with every step and only didn't because I didn't want that much misery to be for nothing.  Mile 24 was an apparent second wind that I think may have actually been mild hypothermia.  I suddenly felt hot all over, but did not take off any of my layers because it just didn't seem right, I had been cold to the point of having numb thighs through the entire race and the weather had not changed at all.  We knew we were nearing the 6:30:00 time limit (based on the clock, we had started about 10 minutes after the clock started because we were at the back of the pack) and we didn't know how strictly they were going to enforce it, so we picked up the pace a little bit.  As we turned down the last stretch for the final 0.2 miles, we realized we only had 02:30 left until the time limit.  I told Josh to go ahead and we both started running (or stumbling?).  I nearly stopped just before the finish line, but plenty of spectators/volunteers were there and shouting to keep going.  I was the last person to cross the line before the time limit.  A kid from the local Down Syndrome Association put my medal around my neck with a giant smile that clearly said she thought I was a rock star even though I was last.  I got a high five and "Congratulations, Kimberly" from the race director.  Best of all, the people behind us didn't get cut off after all.  Even though the time limit passed, they were still announcing, "here comes marathoner ____________".  And I found out later that the race director even met the very last person at mile 26 and ran in with him.  Makes me happy just thinking about it. 

I will be sticking to half-marathons from here on out though.  It's a distance I can perform well at and enjoy much more. 

The day before the race, in even colder weather, the girls participated in the kid's run.  Thankfully this was only a mile because they insisted on doing it, but the short distance made it possible to bundle them up in snow gear and send them out.  We even still had a 3T snowsuit from Montana that we could put Secora in.

 When Sierra passed me at the half way point, she just said, "you do NOT want to run in this weather tomorrow!" (I probably should've listened to her)

 Sedona was Sedona, gleefully running along

They were both really proud of the medals they got at the end and had a fun time doing it.  Maybe we can have a bit more temperate weather next year.

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