Holy cow, that was a rough race!! But let me start from the very beginning…. (to share with you all, as well as for me to have a record of how it all went down for next time… if there is a next time.)
The week leading up to the marathon was filled with mixed emotions. As soon as Sunday’s weather was posted (high in the mid-70’s), I started to panic. That is super warm. I spent all day Monday and Tuesday dreading the race. Tuesday night calmed my nerves, as I discussed my anxiety with my fellow pace group friends. I concluded that the DRC half was equally warm and I set a new PR for my half marathon, so I could manage. Wednesday and Thursday I was feeling calm. Friday I was ready to get the race underway. Saturday was much the same. I wasn’t feeling the butterflies that I expected to feel, but I was eager to get the race started.
Upon my request, we ordered all-meat pizza for dinner on Saturday night. I reasoned that it is high in protein, high in sodium, high in carbs, and high in calories; all around, a good pre-race meal if you ask me. We ordered pizza the night before one of my best races and so I figured it might be a good-luck meal. I headed to bed at a reasonable hour, about 10:00 PM and had a pretty good night’s sleep given the fact that I’d be running my first marathon in the morning. My alarm went off at 4:21 AM and I got dressed and ready to go. I made my usual pre-long run breakfast: a whole wheat English muffin with peanut butter and apple butter (I normally use some sort of jam, but we were freshly out of jam and there was an opened jar of apple butter so I used that instead). Nick got up to take a few pictures of me before I headed out.
I headed out around 5:15 AM (realizing as I was driving that I didn’t really need to leave until 5:45 AM) and walked into 65 degree temperatures and 90% humidity. I didn’t let it phase me, though. I stayed calm and hopped in my car. Of all the early morning runs I’ve had, this was the first morning that de-fogging my windshield was truly necessary… a tell-tale sign. Despite leaving a half an hour earlier than I needed to, I’m glad I did because there was a horrific accident on the highway that would have REALLY slowed me down if I’d waited much longer. I made it to Mockingbird station just past 5:45 AM and I hopped on the train (which was packed full of runners) and headed downtown. Alyson from my pace group was nice enough to let all of us into her office building before we headed over to the corrals for one last non-port-o-pottie bathroom break. It was great connecting with everyone before the race too. We even got a group picture by the office building’s Christmas tree.
Before long, it was time to head out. We made our way to Corral B and hung out for a while before we split up into different sections. Most of my pace group was aiming for a 5 hour race. I had my intentions set at 4:30 (I had a dream earlier in the week that I finished at 4:26 so that was my true hope). A few others move up with me and the four of us stuck together for quite a while. The next thing I knew the “gun was shot” and we were inching our way across the start line. There were red, white, and blue streamers everywhere. I expected to feel really anxious as I got to the start line, but I was totally calm. We were off! Michael, Rebecca, Vicky, and I (my three pace group peeps who I stuck with for the first part of the race) decided to run DRC style, 2 x 2. Haha. After 20 weeks of running 2 x 2, we couldn’t break the habit!
Initially I’d been dreading the first part of the race because I wasn’t too excited about the location (Oak Cliff, Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, and the Design District) I did a race here before and there wasn’t a ton of support then so I figured it would be just as dead, but to my surprise there was a TON of people out cheering the runners on. We took Mile 1 nice and slow. It was super crowded so we eased into it. It was SOOOOOO humid out too. I was dripping by the first half a mile. By mile 2 we were getting closer to our race pace of 10’18”. The miles were flying by initially. Every time I looked up, I saw another mile marker and my watch buzzed. I knew early on that this was going to be a rough day with the weather. I looked down at one point and I was sweating so much, it looked like I peed my pants (or shorts, rather). Runners in humid climates, I know you know what I’m talking about! Despite the extreme humidity, I seemed to be feeling fine. At mile 5 I started to fuel up with two Shot Bloks. I normally don’t eat this early, but I had a long way to go, and I decided it was better to eat something now than wait until I was already feeling the drag. I’d planned my fuel out the day before: Mile 5 was 3 Shot Bloks (I could only eat 2 at the time), Mile 10 was peanut butter pretzel sandwiches, Mile 15 was zucchini bread with peanut butter, Mile 20 was a Snickers bar, and Mile 25 was chocolate covered almonds. Plenty of food to keep me going through the race, right!? Well, my fuel plan didn’t work out quite as I planned. So like I said, I was able to down 2 of the 3 Shot Bloks at mile 5. Early on, I decided I WAS NOT stopping for Gatorade until after the half and full split up. It was way too crowded at the water stops before the split.
Somewhere near Mile 5 we climbed the hill up by the Scottish Rite Hospital (the race beneficiary). There was a lot of hype leading up to race day about this hill being a tough one, but I’m happy to say I trained on worse hills, so I was beyond prepared for it. Rebecca got a side stitch at this point and she fell back. Michael, Vicky, and I kept going. Mile 6 and 7 were through Turtle Creek and the half and full split was coming up!! I turned around somewhere during mile 6 and Michael started to fall back. The humidity was getting the best of him. Vicky and I kept going and we made our way through Highland Park, across Highway 75, and into the M-Streets. I started to feel the drag here. As soon as there was an opportunity to get Gatorade, I took it. Shortly after mile 10, I saw a friend, Chali, who I wasn’t expecting to see! Thanks for coming out and supporting the runners, Chali! It’s always a boost to see a familiar face along the course! Somewhere between mile 11 and 12, I fell back and Vicky kept going. The humidity was getting the best of me. I was feeling spent.
Next thing I knew, we were turning out of the M-Streets and heading onto Mockingbird. I wasn’t particularly looking forward to this stretch because it is hilly and not much to see. But it passed by. Somewhere in this mile, I took the last of the three Shot Bloks even though I wasn’t hungry at all. I was starting to really feel the pain in my legs, but I kept going, tackling each hill as they came, again, one right after the other. It was still extremely humid and I was eager to get to the lake, where I figured there would be a decent breeze. I saw the Mile 14 flag up around the corner, leading into the stretch along the lake and I was relieved to be in a part of the race that I knew like the back of my hand. Sure enough, there was a great breeze! But the sun was finally peeking out at this point, so it was still pretty warm. Right around this point, I had an emotional moment and almost started to cry. First, I was feeling proud of doing this and second, I was feeling like people go through so much worse than this and don’t have a choice, which got me teary as well.
I hit the Mile 16 water stop and took more Gatorade. I tried to ditch the peanut butter pretzel sandwiches to lighten my load, but they were shoved in my fuel belt pretty well, so I wasn’t able to free them before I passed the last trash can. Shortly after the water stop, I ran into Ganesh, a fellow 4:30 pace group-er who moved up to the 4:10 pace group in the middle of the season. He was walking when I came up to him but he started to run once I said “Hey Ganesh!”. He suggested we finish together. I agreed. I needed support to keep me going. My butt was so sore at this point, I didn’t know how many more steps I could take on my own. We passed by a runner throwing up on the side of the road, which made me a little nauseous. Ganesh got a twinge of pain in his legs shortly after we passed the puking runner and began walking again and told me to keep going. I kept going and somewhere between mile 16 and 17 Jeannette from my pace group passed me. She is one of those super strong runners who comes up from behind and destroys the race! She did the same thing with the DRC half marathon.
At this point, I was breaking the race down into very small chunks. Once I got to mile 17, then it’s just a few more miles to mile 20, and then just a little bit more to mile 22, and a little bit more to mile 24, and a little bit more to mile 26, and then it’s the home stretch! I also was telling myself, 9 more miles, that’s just a loop around the lake. Piece of cake. Ugh. The mile 17 water stop came up, which happened to be the DRC water stop. I saw my friend, Jenny, who was volunteering, and I gave her a big sweaty hug! (Sorry for the sweaty hug, Jenny!) Oh, it was much-needed!!! She told me, “go, go go!!” and I was off with another Gatorade and a bite of a banana (thought the potassium might help with the pain).
The mile 18 water stop came up and I took some more Gatorade. Shortly after, I decided that I ought to eat something to keep me going. I took out a piece of the Snickers that I cut up, took one bite of it, and threw the rest on the ground. Ugh, it was not appetizing at all. And that was the last thing I ate during the entire run. I normally get super hungry during our long runs but the humidity was killing my appetite. Also at this point, I could feel the sun on me. I decided not to wear sunscreen for the race (I know, I know, the sun is damaging) primarily because I hadn’t trained with sunscreen. Our early morning runs were more in the dark than they were in the light, so I never wore sunscreen and I didn’t want to take a chance on race day. What if the sunscreen sweat into my eyes and it burned so badly, I couldn’t see? At mile 18 I knew I’d be coming home with a nice little sun burn. Next season I will train with sunscreen, I promise! Mile 18 also brought the beginning of the chafing. I Body Glided myself up pretty well before leaving the house in the morning, but I didn’t touch my arm pits (other than with deodorant). I’d been having very sensitive arm pits all season and the second I felt the irritation, I knew they’d be rubbed raw by the end of the race. (And indeed they were!)
We left the lake and I had another emotional moment that got me teary again… thinking about the same things. Mile 19 was the Clif/Hooters water stop. There was also a sprinkler which I took advantage of and ran right through. Once again, I took more Gatorade. I never, ever drink this much Gatorade. I think I’ve had Gatorade twice the whole season and those two times were on really humid days. But I was concerned about needing electrolytes because it was so humid out. Between mile 19 and mile 20 were the “infamous” Dolly Parton hills. Hopefully you get the idea…. Two big hills, one right after another. Again, there was a lot of hype about these hills coming into the race, but I didn’t think they were so bad.
I skipped the mile 20 water stop but somewhere between mile 20 and 21 I hit a wall. I had to walk. I couldn’t run anymore without a short break. I saw a parked car ahead and I told myself, okay you can walk to that car but as soon as you get to it, start running again. The pain was so bad. I could feel it through my hip flexors. Sure enough starting to run again was more painful than had I just kept running. At this point in the race, people were shouting “It’s just 6 more miles” or “It’s just 5 more miles” or whatever the distance was. Ugh, that was the worse thing to hear at that point. I didn’t care close the end was, it wasn’t past me yet.
It’s getting a little foggy at this point, but I think I stopped for more Gatorade at mile 21 and 22 and took a few more walking breaks. Each time was so painful to start running again, but each time I told myself, you can walk to X point but then you have to run again. We eventually hit Swiss Avenue between mile 22 and 23, I think. I did several training runs on Swiss Avenue, except those training runs were in the opposite direction, running up the long, gradual hill. The race, thankfully, had us going downhill. In the middle of the Swiss Avenue stretch, I spotted my former boss, Brian, out cheering with his wife and kids. I waved and waved! Of course they saw me coming. Brian had a GU for me, but I refused it. I was on a liquid diet at this point! He shouted out, “Just 3.5 miles to go!” I shouted back “That’s 3.5 miles too far!” Swiss Avenue came to an end with mile 24 and another water stop, which of course, I grabbed a Gatorade.
We made a few more turns, at which point I was irritated. The end should be straight ahead. No more turns. I don’t want to see anybody else out cheering. I just want the damn finish line!!!! I am NEVER, EVER doing this again. All thoughts going through my head. Again, it’s a little hazy, but I think I grabbed one last Gatorade at Mile 25. We were blocks away from crossing over to downtown and my stomach was getting upset. I needed one last walking break. I couple that I’d been back and forth with for the past 12 miles started to pass me again and the guy told me to keep going, we were so close, so I started to run with them. I made it a few steps and felt this panicked feeling of, oh crap, I need a port-o-pottie RIGHT NOW!!! Of course, being less than a mile to go, there weren’t any in sight. I had to walk. I was going to poop my pants if I ran any more. (Sorry, too much information.) The feeling sort of subsided and once I crossed into downtown, I started to hobble along again. The end seemed to take FOREVER, but I saw the barricades to keep the path clear so I knew the end was so close. I just had to turn one last corner and I’d be yards away from the finish line (still way farther than I wanted to run). A huge gust of wind blew as I was about to turn the corner and I thought to myself, really, I’m this close to the end and now you are going to make me fight this hard wind!
I turned the corner, tried as hard as I could to pick up my speed and got myself across the finish line. 4:44:30. Not what I hoped for but I finished, and ultimately, that was my primary goal for my first marathon.
I had a medal instantly around my neck and a thermal race space blanket around me (although I was so freaking hot) and for a second I almost burst into tears for being done, but then I remembered…. port-o-pottie. Must go to the port-o-pottie!
I ran into Enrique, my pace leader’s husband, who was waiting for Carrie, my pace leader, to finish. Once I realized no bathrooms were around, sitting by him sounded pretty good as we waited for Carrie and others in my pace group to finish. Enrique and I were talking. He’s done several other marathons before and he said this was an awful race. The weather conditions were horrible. He said he did terrible. He’s a pretty quick runner and the pace leader for the 3:40 DRC training group, so when I found out he finished two minutes before me, I realized given the circumstances, I did really well. Although it is still bitter-sweet. Time ticked by. A friend of Enrique’s who was in the 4:00 pace group crossed the finish line at 5:00. Some of my 4:30 pace group friends began to cross the finish line. It was about 5:30 at this point. I was going to wait it out with Enrique, but I was getting so cold, I decided to go in with the few that just finished and get my pull-over that I checked.
Once inside, I was told my lips were purple. Yup. I went from being SOOOO incredibly hot to SOOOO cold that I was chattering and had purple lips. I’m weird like that. I hung our for a little while and got a photo with those in my pace group who were done.
I hitched a ride back to Mockingbird station. A bunch of people were getting burgers but I wasn’t interested. My stomach wasn’t feeling so great and I wanted to get home and shower. Plus, every ounce of my body hurt. I think the biggest difference between the half and the full is how sore my core got from this race. My abs and back are in so much pain (on top of every other inch of my body).
I managed to “comfortably” drive home and within 10 minutes of getting home, I was sick to my stomach. Looking back now, I’m thinking it was all the Gatorade. Like I said, I normally don’t drink much Gatorade at all and that was the only thing different that I consumed. Once I got as much out of my system as I could, I hopped in the shower and cleaned up, followed immediately by lying in bed. A couple of hours later, I was finally hungry and we ordered Thai. But even then, I was surprised at how tense my stomach was. I ate my normal amount of Thai food (which is a lot), but it was almost as though I was forcing it down. Immediately after dinner I hopped in bed (at 7:50 PM), took 2 Aleve, shoved a pillow under my legs to prop them up, and I was out.
Now that it is said and done, will I run another marathon? Maybe. Probably. This race was not a good race to be a first one, or so I’ve heard from everyone who’s ran marathons before. The conditions were awful and people we dropping out left and right or having really bad races. I, like a lot of my fellow pace group friends, am feeling lack-luster about this race. While our first goal was to finish, we all had other hopes about how the race would go and just about everyone didn’t accomplish those hopes. So, it is really hard to judge a future marathon based on these bad circumstances, but if anything, I am proud that I can say I am a marathoner now! And perhaps it is good to experience bad running conditions for a first marathon, because the next one will likely be better!
Oh, and here are my splits according to my Garmin, if you were curious:
Mile 1- 11’01”
Mile 2- 10’45”
Mile 3- 10’18”
Mile 4- 10’10”
Mile 5- 10’23”
Mile 6- 10’20”
Mile 7- 9’58”
Mile 8- 10’21”
Mile 9- 10’13”
Mile 10- 10’33”
Mile 11- 10’13”
Mile 12- 10’19”
Mile 13- 10’24”
Mile 14- 10’26”
Mile 16- 10’48”
Mile 17- 11’05”
Mile 18- 10’50”
Mile 19- 10’56”
Mile 20- 11’24”
Mile 21- 12’12”
Mile 22- 10’57”
Mile 23- 10’29”
Mile 24- 11’50”
Mile 25- 11’11”
Mile 26- 11’42”
Mile 26.51- 9’52” (Apparently I ran wide around all the turns, hence the extra 0.32 miles.)
Garmin Time: 4:44:33
Garmin Average Pace: 10’44”
Official Time: 4:44:30
Official Average Pace: 10’51”