My first marathon began. . . .
The first mile is pretty much downhill. I took what the speakers said in mind, and what I read on many many blogs, to not start out fast, especially on this downhill. I kept the pace sign in my sights. A red sign bobbing with a horde of people around it, about 20 feet in front of me. Down we went and at mile 1 or so we cut right where it got crowded on the tangent, slowed down as we hit our first hill of a gazillion.
It was so freaking cold out there. I remember hearing on the bus that it was 22 degrees out. I literally could barely feel my feet, verging on numb. My fingers in my $25 Nike gloves were pretty much frozen. There was frost all over the side of the road and I worried we might hit some black ice on the pavement. But where ever there was ice, there was a volunteer or a helpful spectator warning and guiding runners around it.
Besides the lack of feeling in my extremities, I was feeling pretty good. My hamstring was quiet as was my right foot and my legs wanted to go faster. I kept stern though, staying by the pacer until I finally decided to pull ahead somewhere around mile 3. I figured if I just kept just a head of them, I’ll be okay. If I felt myself tiring out, I’d pull back and join them again. I didn’t see them for the rest of the race.
At mile 4 or so I dropped one half of my glove when I went to grab my fuel (grabbing fuel with a gloved hand resulted in lost fuel). I realized it, leapt to the side and saw my glove a little ways back. I ran back and got it, firmly kept my glove on and continued running. I also texted my family to let them know what mile I was at.
We ran up. We ran down. Up and then down. Stretch of flat, incline and down. When they said rollers, they meant rollers. I didn’t charge the hills with gusto, but ran them no less. The hill work in my neighborhood greatly prepared me for this course. I was feeling pretty damn good, though I was grumbling to myself at this point wondering were the next turn was.
M1: 10:35 M2: 10:21 M3: 9:53 M4: 9:46 M5L 9:39 *pace times based on my RunKeeper app
Around Mile 5.5 or so I heard some one call my name and turned to see Rachel and her friends running along. They looked strong and happy. They had shed whatever layers they kept me from seeing them at the start and were in their bright peach gear. We chatted a bit through to the 10k mark and Rachel dropped back to join her friends. It was great seeing a friendly face out on the course.
To be honest, up until that point, I was a little bummed that I may not see any friends or family along the course. My family was heading directly to the finish. I knew my grandpainlaw was going to try and see me along the course, but hadn’t seen anyone I knew until then.
I continued along tackling the ever climbing inclines, laughing at spectator signs and keeping an eye out for anyone else I knew. I grabbed some Honeystinger gel from my pocket and worked on it for a good mile and a half. At some point between mile 8 and 9, my Garmin accidently paused and I didn’t notice until after Mile 9. My entire time was messed up and I didn’t know my distance. I planned to reset it at the half mark, keeping an eye on my pace.
I started feeling an ache in my left foot and noticed my shoe was pretty loose. Apparently I didn’t tie it tight enough before the race. It would bug me for quite a while.
We went through a nice little old town of Fair Oaks and just after Mile 10 I accidentally spilled more of my fuel. I saw three little honeystingers bounce to the ground and I wanted to kick myself. I kept going and we crossed Sunrise Blvd when were were met with one of the biggest hills of the course. I got up halfway before I had to walk and grabbed an orange slice out of a box that several spectators were offering.
It was the first time I walked all run. It would be the beginning of many but that’s okay. The orange was heavenly (even though it wasn’t sweet) and I told myself to grab more if more were offered.
M6: 9:49 M7: 9:44 M8: 9:55 M9: 9:46 M10: 9:57
Soon enough we were coming up on the halfway point and small part of me wished I was done. I crossed the mat when the clock read 2:16:xx and reset my Garmin. It was very crowded here because of the relay exchange point and the massive amount of spectators.
I kept an eye out for Marv, and thought I saw him but the man didn’t react when I called his name. We rounded another bend and hit the “industrial” stretch of the marathon. I was feeling tired and my damn foot was aching. I figured tightening the laces might help so I moved to the side and fumbled with my shoelace for what seemed like forever. My damn fingers were cold. I had taken my gloves off for good at this point and they were safely tucked in my pocket.
Laces fixed, I continued on, focusing on running to certain points, then walking. There wasn’t much going on here. I pretty much zoned out on this stretch. Just more running and focusing and wondering where the next hill was going to be. It was pretty much flat through here with very minute bumps. I kept my mind busy by enjoying the spectators, all the dogs and even a goat.
M11: 10:06 M12: 10:05 M13: 9:59 M14: 10:11 M15: 10:02
Around Mile 16, I heard my name called again and glanced behind me to see Alisa, the girl I met on the bus. We chatted a moment before going our separate ways, pace pulling us apart. The rollers began again and I my calves were beginning to ache. I was feeling very alone. Even with the spectators and crowd support and people calling out ‘bunny!’ ‘go rabbit go!’ I was losing my motivation and mojo. I was getting cold again and my fingers were losing feeling.
We were running through a neighborhood and I fought my way up another hill and focused on getting myself through the light and the approaching intersection. It was between mile 17 and 18 I crossed through and heard someone yell for me. I turned and saw my older sister Maria on the median shouting her head off and waving a green sign that said “Eye of the Tyger” [running joke in my family]
Seeing her immediately gave me the boost I needed and I was screaming back and waving as I ran by. I started tearing up, knowing she was out there supporting me. I refound the fire and pushed onward.
I focused on getting to Mile 20. Running and walking my way. Hiding behind signs at the Blue Wall were two people dressed in costumes of death. I chuckled at that. I texted my family again on the mile, grabbing some Gu at one of the aid stations here for just in case. I had just enough solid fuel to get me to the finish, but the Gu was in case I needed more along the way.
M16: 10: 17 M17: 10:25 M18: 9:45 M19: 10:29 M20: 10:18
Miles 21 to 25
There was another large crowd just after Mile 20. Relay exchange and loads of spectators. I was chugging along and again I heard my name called. I looked to the right ahead of me and saw both my sisters screaming and hollering and waving signs. I yelled back to them, waving and laughing (my sister signs were so much fun) and happily continued along, my heart full with love.
Just around Mile 21 I heard my name and Rabbit being yelled and looked ahead to my left and saw my parents!! They were standing on the median, cheering me on! I waved and squealed like a happy fool, I kept running, my calves beginning to ache even worse now, but felt lighter and happier on the course.
Just before Mile 22 the last “big” incline of the course happened. A bridge crossing over the American River. It might as well been freaking Everest. My calves throbbing, I walked up and across, a spectator lady encouraging me to continue. I crossed the 22 marker and my mind immediately went to the thought that each step I took after would be the furthest distance I had done, that I was already accomplishing something big in my personal world.
Just after the river another residential neighborhood started, spotted with small business and comfortable and crowded bars, restaurants and café’s. Also the block countdown began. From 58th street to 8th street was the goal and it was painfully slow for me, watching the blocks wind down.
I stuck to my plan of run/walking, my calves feeling like they were going to explode with each step. Other than my calves, I felt great, happy, a little tired, and sooooo looking forward to the end. The closer we got towards the finish, the louder the crowds became (not that they were quiet anywhere on the course. the spectator support was literally non stop from the start line). Another turn, then down to L street, turn down that way and a push towards 8th street.
M21: 10:34 M22: 10:158 M23: 10:28 M24: 10:24 M25: 10:59
Miles 26 and .2
I saw 15th street and said no more walking. My calves protested but the rest of my legs found their strength and pushed. 13. 12. 11. 10. Dodging people crossing the street. Seeing marathon finishers wrapped in their space capes and medals around their neck. The 26 mile marker. 9th street . Almost there! Two more turns to go!
Left on 8th. I nearly collided into a woman and her children choosing that exact damn moment to cross the street. (Seriously!?). I dug deep, wondering where the next and final left turn would be.
The final left turn. The finish chute. The finish line straight ahead. I squeaked, choking back a sob. My mind was whirl of emotions. This was it. I was going to finish. My legs picked up speed as much as they could. I heard my husbands voice to the side and there he was with my grandfatherinlaw, cheering and holding more signs.
I saw the clock overhead reading 2:34:xx . I laughed. I cried. I raised my hands over my head, distantly hearing the announcer mention a bunny hopping across the finish line. And it was done.
M26: 10:47 M.4: 9:49
- UNOFFICIAL -
Since my Garmin was thrown out of whack, I didn’t really have a sense of what my time was throughout the race. All I knew is that I crossed the half with 2:16:xx on the clock and tried to add the time when I reset my watch. Seeing the overhead clock at the finish like read 4:34:xx made me so happy.
I came in in my miracles do happen goal. 4:30, just under. I am in complete awe of how that happened.
I stopped my Garmin and after some fumbling stopped the app on my phone. In a shaky daze I got my medal, got the chip clipped off my shoe and followed the crowd to the picture line. Several volunteers asked if I was okay, and in all honesty I was. Except for my calves. Those were painful. They felt like they wanted to burst.
I met up with my family. Victoria gave me a leg massage, focusing on my calves and I wandered around a little. A couple photos and then done. I hobbled my way to the car, several blocks away and and hit up a brewery in Davis where I enjoyed beer.
I don’t know why I grabbed a Coke at the finish (they were handing them out with water), and I rarely drink soda, but it was like liquid Heaven.
My entourage and support team:
Victoria had driven down from her home in Humboldt County and it took her six hours to get to the 1/2 way point between her house and my parents. The usual drive total is 6 hours. She got stuck due to the snow on 101. She got down safely though.
Maria was terribly sick on Friday but she managed to make these signs up for me on Saturday and got up insanely early on Sunday in order to get to Sacramento to watch me on the course. Seeing her for the first time on that course, made me soo sooo sooooo happy. I kept thinking ‘my sister came to cheer me on! my sister!’
Eric was sick and even got up early to make the drive to watch me and take me home Dad is hiding behind Maria and mom is taking the picture. Marvin, my grandpainlaw, said hello and congrats after I met up with them and he had to take off.
A long sleeve tech shirt that fits me a little snug. I had gotten the medium, so next time I would go with a size larger. To be honest, I haven’t taken the shirt off since Monday. Except to shower and sleep in PJs of course.
The medal. That baby is going on my Yuletide tree. I wish I could wear that sucker all week, but it gets in the way of my duties at work. I have it in my purse to bust out and show for those that ask Yes, I am gloating and bursting with pride. I can do so for a week publicly and then will silently adore my medal and call it “my precious”.
CIM is known as a “fast” course. Net downhill with profile.
But take a close look and you will see the rollers on this course. When they say rolling, they MEAN rolling. There are some relatively flat areas like Mile 14 through 16ish and then flat as pancake after Mile 22. Training in my neighborhood prepared me for this race, that’s for sure. Now I jus got to run up more hills and try not to walk. I think it’s definitely doable to run the entire course and not walk a portion like I did. I mean, that’s how all those speedsters get their BQs right?
It does feel fast in many sections, but then it feels like it takes forever in another parts. The counting down the blocks was painful, though.
As for the spectators, wow. There was never a stretch of road that didn’t have at least one person there cheering you on. Literally from the start line on there was crowd support, cowbells galore, people handing out water, orange slices, banana slices. I even heard from my sisters that one guy was handing out beer! I didn’t see him.
Soooooo many people out there. Cheering for every single person running. I had never seen so much support from spectators. It was amazing. For them alone I HIGHLY recommend the course. And the race volunteers, equally as helpful, uplifting and supportive. They made sure we didn’t hit the ice, they braced the freezing temps standing at their stations. I give so much thanks and love to them.
I honestly don’t know what else to say. I challenged myself to do something I never thought I would ever do, and I accomplished it. I still have feelings of amazement of what my body and my crazy mind could do. It makes me wonder what else I can do. What other physical and mental challenges can I push myself through.
I’m not sad that the marathon is over. I’m happy. But I’m happier knowing that I can do it. Another marathon will be in my future. I don’t know when and where, but it will be.
For now, I will continue to take care of my legs, recover and then taper back into training. This race didn’t make me want to stop running. It only fueled the fire to want to do more. And more I will do.
Thank you all for reading through the long post and a BIG THANKS for all your kinds words, well wishes and encouragement. I thought of many of you out there. Thank you <3 And another special thanks to the bloggers whose previous CIM recaps I managed to read over and over and over again. They helped. <3
For other bloggers who did CIM 2013, check out their pages below:
Tell me. . .
Have you ever run a marathon before? How was your first one? I would love to read your race recaps, link away!
How did you feel after? I’m walking around like the Tin Man and C3PO, but it’s getting better. Monday was the worst.
Did you immediately sign up for another marathon or decided to wait?