Wednesday, March 28, 2012

4. Complete a marathon. Check!

30 weeks of training for the LA Marathon and it's all over. My first marathon is complete and it all seems like a blur. A painful, emotional blur.

I never would have made it to this point if it wasn't for my sister, her crazy goal and her amazing support. As much as I thought I was joining this group for her, to keep her motivated and to provide her with support and company, I realized at early on that she was there just as much for me too. I would not have made it through 30 full weeks of training including early Saturday morning runs, spending money on running gear and races and sore muscles after long runs without her right there next to me. The one constant thing was having someone there to talk to and laugh with along the way, someone to make the time go by just a little bit faster.

For pushing me to join my first 5K two years ago to including me for the 10K Mud Run (including my first pair of knee high socks) to completing our first half marathon and now to be proud finishers of a full marathon I owe everything involving running to my sister. I will always be grateful to her for sparking my interest and in keeping me going when I wanted to stop. Through injuries and tears we crossed the finish line together and I couldn't be more proud of us. I just want to say thank you to her before I talk about race day. So for everything Rachel, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.

The 10 day weather report showed rain for March 18th, race day. My first thought was, "It can't possibly rain on race day two years in a row." My second thought was, "We never had a training run in the rain, how are we possibly going to do this." My third thought was, "No one is going to be at the finish line to celebrate with us and take our picture as we cross the finish line." My fourth thought was, "I'm not running this race for anyone else, I'm running it for me and no matter what happens that day, it's going to be great." I made peace with the weather, then changed my mentality to positive thoughts to get me through the 26 miles.

Friday night (2 days before the marathon) was filled with carbs. Yummy delicious Olive Garden pasta and breadstick carbs. I love carbs...

Saturday (the day before the marathon) was the expo at Dodger Stadium where Rachel and I picked up our race shirts and bibs. It rained almost all day, including a downpour in the morning. However, as soon as we made it to the expo it stopped, and it didn't start again until we left. I think my favorite things about the expo included seeing our names on the lead cars and seeing the medals from the Disney races, including the three medals you can earn after completing The Goofy Challenge.

I spent the night at my sisters house in order to be up and ready to leave by 3:40am. I was concerned that I wouldn't be able to fall asleep for multiple reasons, including pre-race excitement and spending a night away from Patrick for the first time since moving in together. I fell asleep rather quickly and when the alarm went off at 3am I was up and ready to go.

In order to stay warm we sat in Dodger Stadium with trash bags on. It was rather cold, but there was no rain and as time passed the sun began to rise. The wheel chairs and hand bikes started, followed by the elite female runners. The National Anthem was sung (quite beautifully) and the race began. By the time we passed the starting line we had heard Randy Newman "I Love LA" four times. We started our GPS watches as we crossed the start line, a whole 13 minutes after the race officially began and in quite perfect weather considering what we were expecting.

Rachel in Dodger Stadium

Me in Dodger Stadium

Rachel and me waiting for the race to begin

I'm not going to give a mile by mile break down, because well my memory of 6+ hours of running is not that great. I will say that out of everything that happened on the course, my favorite thing is the amazing support from all of the volunteers and spectators. Without them, it would have been extremely difficult to finish.

A sea of runners


There were a few emotional moments on the course. The first was an overwhelming sense of accomplishment, and we were only at mile 6. I just couldn't believe that we were out there actually doing what we set out to do. Since we had registered for the race early, we were lucky enough to have our names printed on our bibs. It really does help to hear complete strangers shout out "Way to go Tracy! You're doing great! Keep it up!"

Downtown LA 
Hollywood Tower Hotel
Chateau Marmont 

Hollywood & Vine 
El Capitan 
Laugh Factory
Rodeo Drive
Santa Monica Pier
Mile 17 was another water work moment. The marathon provided family members a place to send messages and videos which would show up on this big screen as you ran over a mat at miles 6 and 17. We didn't receive any at 6 (I think we were in a group of too many people) but my sisters message to me appeared as we crossed the mat at mile 17. It was a picture of us from our most recent half marathon (The Rose Bowl Half) and a message. I immediately side hugged her and told her that there was no one I would rather be running with.

Around mile 19/20 we started walking a lot more than running. At one walk break I got this really weird, really painful twinge from my right hip down to my knee. It happened twice and thankfully went away, but at that moment I got a quick flash of doubt that I wouldn't be able to finish. I'm stubborn though and just kept on putting one foot in front of the other.

We started to get a little frustrated at the mileage we had on our GPS watches compared to the race markers. Rachel's GPS was .25 miles ahead of mine and my GPS was .25 ahead of the marker. It's frustrating to think you're at mile 26 when you're still .25-.50 miles away.

We turned on to Ocean Avenue right before mile 26 and it was a stretch of road filled with tears, relief and 50 mph wind. We were almost done and I can't even describe the feelings that come along with completing something like this. It's a very emotionally and physically draining event and I absolutely cannot wait to do another one.

Crossing the finish line

After receiving our medals

Our practice run of 26.2 miles, which we completed 3 weeks before race day was at the beach on a fairly flat course. We completed this in 6 hours 25 minutes, 5 minutes under our original goal of 6 hours 30 minutes for race day. They say you're not supposed to have a time goal for your first marathon, but Rachel and I planned on doing better than consistent 15 minute miles, so we were confident in our goal. Once we beat our original goal by 5 minutes on our practice run we changed our time goal to be under 6 hours 25 minutes so that we could beat our practice time and "PR". We crossed the finish line and stopped our watches with a finishing time of 6 hours 15 minutes 11 seconds. We passed our original time goal by 15 minutes!

The support that we received from our training group and our family and friends is almost as overwhelming as completing the race itself. Without each and every one of them, we would not have been mentally prepared to do this, so I want to say thank you to them. You know who you are, the pace group leaders who were up on those early mornings running the distances with us, the parents who were willing to watch children while we were out running, the husband and fiance who were patient with the amount of time we spent away as well as being patient with us while we spent money on races, gear, etc., the children who are learning to love to run and signing up for races (can't wait to see you cross the finish line Emma on your first 5K!), and to everyone else who provided positive encouragement.

My dad tells my sister and I that it's not the 26 miles that will get you, it's the .2... In all honesty, it's the walk back to the car that hurts the most.

Onto the next one!

1 comment:

  1. It IS the walk back to the car that hurts the most! I have finally gotten my boyfriend to actually think before he parks the car, because I've learned that his version of "not far away" and my version of it after a marathon are totalllllyyy different. Congratulations on your first marathon! Addicting, aren't they?