Race Recap – Towpath Marathon – Cleveland, Ohio October 9, 2016
A cool and sunny day with a light breeze. The perfect weather for a marathon. For several days leading up to this race I was apprehensive and getting more nervous. This was my first marathon. A million questions swarmed in my head – What if I bonk? Get dehydrated? Have to go to the bathroom? Get over hydrated? Have serious GI issues? What if? What if? What if? I was not prepared for the level of insecurity that I had before my first marathon.
Three days prior to the race I drank more water, went to the chiropractor, increased my intake of carbohydrates and took more time to rest. Less than a day before I ran an easy 1.5 miles to keep my legs moving and limber.
The night before the race all my gear was prepared and I tucked myself into bed at 8:00 PM with an alarm set for 4:30AM. The race was 30 minutes from my home in Cleveland. However, last year when I ran the half marathon at the same location the traffic was awful and I was certain the roads would be closed down before I could find a parking spot and get to the start line. This year I was committed to making sure I was there early and had plenty of time to prepare – organize my drop bag, warm up, etc. It worked out perfect this time and there was time to spare.
The race began 4/10 of a mile from the parking area. There were approximately 1000 half marathoners and 400 full marathoners. The race began at 8 and everyone shot down the small hill. This course is very flat and is a Boston Qualifier so there were many fast runners. I was immediately at the back of the pack. My strategy was to keep a 11:30 pace and this went fine for several miles. This pace is by no means fast but I had missed a handful of my training runs for a variety of reasons and did not want to go out to fast and hit the wall sooner or injury myself.
For the first 4 miles I was on the same pace as another runner, Mike. He is a radiologist and also crews for 100 mile runners. He had great stories to tell and the first few miles clicked by. I remember thinking, “This was going to be an awesome time, I know will be tough spots but I will get through them”.
Up until Mile 10 things were holding steady – physically and mentally – then the negative thoughts started to shove the positive ones aside as pain introduced itself between 10 and 11. Smart marathons are accurate when they say running a marathon is 80% mental. My training program moving forward will definitely incorporated a stronger mental strength element.
Here is the breakdown by mile of the mental gremlins that invaded my headspace as the marathon progressed:
Mile 10 – If I signed up for a half I would be almost be done and would be feeling awesome. I could eat, relax, go home, cut the grass but nope I have 15.2 more miles to run – but that’s ok I can do this. All of the those people who have shown support are counting on me along with the students in Nicaragua.
Mile 11 – No porta-potty in sight – I have needed one for MILES! The awesome thing about being a back of thepackers being able to pee in the woods unnoticed. WOW – Here come the elite runners at the turnaround – WHAT?? How can anyone run that fast – AMAZING. I feel like such a slug and hope no one saw me peeing in the by the tree.
Mile 13-14 – The contributors to my project are keeping the momentum alive. I’m doing this for all of the awesome people in my life and for my project. Feeling tired but I can definitely do this. Wait – why am I doing this??? Oh yeah – supporters and students.
Mile 15 – This is pretty tough but I can’t wait to see my children, Zach and Gabby, at the mile 17 marker. It is so important to have support at a marathon. The random spectators really help out too! Thank you random people.
Mile 17 – YAY!! – Stop for a selfie with the kids and bite of a vegan bean burrito
Selfie at Mile 17
Mile 17.2 – I’m going to puke – the one bite I had of the bean burrito feels like a lead weight bouncing in my stomach up into my esophagus. Oh and yeah here are the quad cramps people talk about. Isn’t Coke supposed to help with cramps and nausea – where is the coca cola – where is anyone? I’m out here alone.
Mile 20.1 – New territory – none of my long runs have taken me farther than 20. This is awesome! I feel no pain and in the zone. Whoo – Hoo!
Mile 21 – My feet feel like someone is hitting them with sledgehammers and my toenails must be falling off because they hurt so bad. Why did all of my cushion in my shoe disappear when I need it the most? Where is the wall? Is it around the corner? I can’t imagine bonking on top of the foot pain.
Mile 22-26 – WHERE is the endorphin kick everyone talks about after mile 21? Waiting for it, waiting, waiting, waiting….
Mile 26.1 – There IT is. I’m going to finish this and I’m NEVER doing another one of these again. – EVER – Run fast, fast, faster – almost there – this isn’t so bad anymore.
Mile 26.2 – FINISH LINE – YES! I don’t even care the announcer mispronounced my name – Just SMILE for the photographer.
An interesting thing happened after I crossed the finish line – I had just ran/walked for 26.2 miles and now my legs didn’t want to do any more work. I hobbled to my son’s car as I ate my subway vegetarian sandwich and drank a Noona organic electrolyte replacement drink offered at the finish line. For the rest of the day I could barely move. Twenty-four hours later I was ready to run again. However, I am going to use smart recovery and wait a few more days to give my body the time it needs to recover. Even though I was slower than I anticipated, 5 hours, 54 minutes – with 6 minutes to spare until the cutoff – it was one of the best experiences of my life.
The marathon taught me a lot about nutrition, hydration, pacing, mental strength, and the importance of support. Training and running in a marathon is a personal journey that I would highly recommend to anyone willing to go the distance. And of course I signed up for another marathon – The Big Five Marathon in South Africa – June 2017!
Generation UCAN – 20 minutes prior to start
Nuun Electrolyte Replacement – 3 tablets dissolved in Nathan water bottle during the race
CLIF Organic Energy Food – 4 packets of beet and banana
Nooma Organic Electrolyte Replacement Drink – 1 berry flavored bottle immediately after the race
Vegan Bean Burritos – 2 within an hour of finishing
6 inch Subway – Vegetarian Sub Sandwich – immediately after race
RUNNING GEAR –
Altra Lone Peak 3.0
Nathan Quickdraw Hydration Water Bottle – Refilled five times at aid stations with water
Garmin Forerunner 220 Watch
Nike Featherlight Visor
Injinji Socks Zero blisters !
Moving Comfort Sports Bra
Ladies Underarmour Short Sleeve
Flip Belt – Initially I thought this was not going to work but it has been AMAZING. The FlipBelt held my phone, 4 packets of fuel, car key, ID, cash, and body glide.
Body Glide – no chafing at all!