Warning…. this will probably be long. I’ll go ahead and spoil it for you: I finished my first marathon in 3:59:57!!! I honestly didn’t think breaking 4 hours was a possibility going into this race, but now I’ll give you the run down of how we (me and my dad) made it happen.
Thomas and I took off work on Friday to drive to Richmond and got to the expo around 3:00. We walked around picked up my bib and my dad’s and then I had to do a double take when I saw Bart Yasso just standing there. I introduced myself and took a quick picture with him and then told him how this was my first marathon and how nervous I was. He told me to run steady and smart and that I would be fine.
After the expo we waited on my dad to get to the hotel and then went out to an Italian place for dinner. Dad and I both got pizza. I don’t eat pasta a lot so I went with a thin crust white pizza (basically dough and cheese) and showed some real restraint while Thomas and my dad drank their beers. I was being really good about my hydration all day, so I wasn’t about to give in and drink anything but water or gatorade. We went to bed around 9:30/10ish and I slept pretty good Friday night.
My alarm went off at 5:45. We did a quick check of the weather – 40 degrees and clear skies. I ate half a bagel, some coffee and gatorade. I wore a tank top, shorts, Tiux compression socks, and my fuel belt. I bought some throwaway clothes from Walmart – a fleece jacket, gloves, and a headband for my ears. Let me just say, Walmart has seriously stepped up their activewear game. They had some pretty good stuff in there! But I went with the $8.99 fleece because I knew I was going to throw it away.
Thomas dropped us off near the start and then went back to the hotel for a while. I made a quick porta potty stop and then we found a good place near the start to finish stretching and warming up. I was technically supposed to be in Wave 2, but I snuck into Wave 1 so I could start towards the front. I hate getting caught up in crowds and tripping over people.
This meant we started way ahead of the 4:00 pace group, which I’ll come back to later.
There were about 6,000 in the marathon and over 10,000 running the half marathon. The half started somewhere else at 7:30, so we didn’t run into them at all. Before we knew it we were off! I was soooooo excited and nervous at this point, but as soon as we started I saw my pal Bart Yasso again and ran over to him to give him a high five. He said “RUN SMART AND RUN STRONG” and I decided I was going to take his advice.
We were running a really steady 9:00 pace and staying ahead of the 4 hour pace group. I loved running in a new place where I had no idea where I was. The crowds were awesome and there was a lot of support throughout the whole race. Also, there were TONS of puppies! I loved seeing so many dogs wagging their cute little tails. My dad and I both had to take a quick bathroom break right after the mile 4 mark, but it only took us about 30 seconds. I may have overdone it with the liquids that morning.
I got to read a lot of sweet texts from friends and they helped me a lot! I took my first Gu around mile 6 and drank water/powerade every two miles at the water stops.
Splits: 9:04, 9:03, 8:55, 8:58, 9:40 (bathroom break), 8:57, 8:48, 8:56, 8:55, 8:56
I still felt really good through the halfway point. I knew I would see Thomas at mile 16 so I just kept going. I think I took another gel right before mile 16. This was my reaction when I saw Thomas.. I was really excited.
We stopped for a few seconds so my dad could change his shirt and I got a good luck kiss. We passed by more puppies, free Jim Beam shots and a table of Miller Lite in little paper cups. I was tempted, but I knew I would throw up. Spectators were handing out donuts and candy but I didn’t have any of that either. I put my headphones in somewhere around mile 18 and listened to music for a few miles. Then I took them out around 21 because I wanted to take in those last 5 miles
Splits: 8:54, 8:54, 9:05, 8:49, 9:02, 9:12, 9:38 (Thomas), 9:15, 9:08, 9:13
This is where it got kind of tough. I had been feeling really good. My legs felt strong and healthy and my breathing was fine. I slowed down through every water stop to drink some powerade and took one more gel around mile 21 for some energy. My body was just getting tired. But then I looked around and thought to myself EVERYONE is tired. No one feels good right now. They are all still running so you can keep running too.
I knew the last mile was downhill, so I just kept telling myself to make it to mile 25 and then you’re done. I think mile 23 was the hardest. Once I passed mile 25 I just took off. We passed the 4 hour pace group, but then we remembered that they started way behind us, so we had to beat them by about a minute. At this point I knew I had to break 4 hours… I trained hard and came all this way and I wasn’t going to accept anything less. I saw Thomas right at the top of the hill near the finish and he took a quick picture. Game face.
I was sprinting FAST down the last quarter mile stretch (which is a pretty steep downhill). I knew my legs would pay for it later but I didn’t care. Everyone I passed was yelling at me to go faster and I heard Thomas cheering, so I just sprinted harder and harder. I crossed the finish line and immediately paused my watch and looked down – 3:59:56!!! I could not believe it. I knew there was a chance my watch was off so I looked up my official time before even grabbing my medal. 3:59:57. I was so happy.
Splits: 9:14, 9:16, 9:25, 9:12, 9:14, 8:12
After the race we got fleece blankets and hats with our medals and headed straight for the pizza and beer. Pizza has never tasted so good.
I could not have done this without these two guys. I’m so lucky to have a husband who will give up his weekend and wake up at 6 am on a Saturday to watch his crazy wife run for 4 hours. I’m also so lucky to have a dad who enjoys running as much as I do.
Oh and of course I have to thank my other training partner. Dixie spent the weekend with my mom and Greta. She gave me LOTS of good luck kisses and was very excited to see us on Sunday when we got home. She obviously loved the fleece blanket.
I feel like I’m forgetting a lot of details but I don’t want to make this a novel, so that’s it! For the first time in my life I’m really contemplating buying race photos.
Anyone else race this past weekend? How did you do?
Have you ever bought your race photos?