I’ll start this blog off with this…
I did finish the marathon. Although there for a while I didn’t think I was going to. Let’s recap the day, shall we?
I arrived downtown around 7:15 just enough time to get in line at a real bathroom and get into my position at the starting line. While I was in line for the real bathroom, a race volunteer came around and told the line of 30 ish women that there were porta potties upstairs with no lines if we wanted to use those. Not a single person moved. We all knew waiting in line to use a real bathroom was worth it. I got a quick chat with Eric in, found my place at the starting line and waited.
This was before things got crazy. I haven’t heard the official numbers yet but I know they were looking at having over 10,000 people at this race. It was huge. And freezing. After what felt like forever waiting, my pace group (4:10) finally made it to the starting line. I warmed up around mile 2. Miles 3-7 were hilly but absolutely stunning. Running through some of the most lavish parts of Des Moines on what was basically a perfect fall day was awesome. Part of me is kicking myself for not snapping a few pics. By the time I hit the 10k mark, I knew something was off about my pace. I only now realized that I never chatted with the 4:10 pacer to see what his game plan was for the race. I just assumed that if I stayed in front of him I should be good. However, all my splits were crappy. I’m guessing they were starting out slower and building speed. Whereas I tend to start out faster and well, lose speed, but the starting out faster kind of equals itself out, in my mind. Regardless, I crossed the 10k mark right exactly at 1:00:00. By mile 7 I was out of the hills and mostly cruising through flat terrain. I started hurting and could feel it the most in my hips which was weird because my hips haven’t been bothering me at all during my entire training. One of the biggest highlights for me during this race was getting to run a lap at Drake Stadium where the Drake Relays are held. I’ve never been on their blue track before but I have seen many times. It was actually really awesome to get to run a race lap on their track.
My splits were still slow but I was still in front of my pace group. This is me at mile 15. I was still feeling good and trucking along. We were going through some gorgeous scenery and there were tons of supporters along the course. I purposely wore my UNI tshirt because I knew there would be UNI alums, fans, students, employees, etc. along the course and just seeing a UNI shirt would spur them to yell something supportive. I was right. I even told my mom this before the race and she said that whenever she saw someone wearing a UNI shirt, she would cheer for them. Ok, so everything seems to be going well, right? Still ahead of my pace group, still feeling good, still running. Something happens at mile 18 and I mentally just break. And almost immediately as I mentally break, my pace group passes me. I try to keep up but within 30 seconds they are out of range. My mile times are over 10 minutes, over 11 minutes and I’m just breaking.
This is me around the 20 mile mark. At this point I’m 10000% ready to be done. Not only has my 4:10 group passed me but the 4:25 group breezed past me as well. My goal (4:10-4:20) is completely shot. The only thing keeping me going is my stubbornness and refusal to give up and quit. I started walking a bit. I would only allow myself to walk for 30-40 seconds and tried to only do it once per mile, twice tops, As we left Water Tower Park and got into Grey’s Lake, I felt the end was near but still so far away. I used to run Grey’s Lake all the time when I worked at the airport so I knew the route and the terrain. Leaving Grey’s Lake there is a itty bitty teeny tiny hill but I got to it was like “NOPE NO NO NO I’M NOT RUNNING UP ANY MORE HILLS!” So I walked up that hill and that was the last time I walked. Because soon I saw Mile 25 and I refused to walk again. My mile time was dragging. Over a 12 minute mile. But I kept trucking. I kept running. Then I saw Mile 26 and I could see the finish line. It took all I had and I started “sprinting” towards the finish line trying to hold back the tears. I got really emotional. Because at Mile 18 when I mentally broke, I broke bad and went to some dark places. The fact that I was even able to keep pushing after that and get to the finish line…felt incredible. I crossed the finish line and service members from the Army were giving out medals. I felt horrible b/c I could even muster a thank you and thank you for your service. I could barely speak. I called Eric right after and I just I finished and then basically hung up. I completely forgot to stop my watch and it kept going for 10 minutes after I finished.
I finished in 4:33:41 (10:26 pace). There are a number of things that I could “blame” my time on, wind being the first thing that comes to mind but the past month I dealt with serious foot issues that hindered my training greatly. The week before the marathon I was massively sick (so sick that I puked orange powerade through my nose…and can never drink orange powerade again). So all in all, it wasn’t a total failure but it wasn’t the race that I had imagined. The course itself was gorgeous. The weather was nearly perfect (sans the wind). The volunteers were amazing and the City of Des Moines was fantastic. I honestly highly recommend this race. The half-marathon course is completely flat. But it was so amazing to be around so many athletes, be in a city that is so supportive of this race, and to be running a race that is this well put together. From having plenty of aid stations, to having boxes of tissues and Vaseline and Biofreeze ON THE COURSE! It was awesome.
I felt pretty good after the race, just some soreness in my legs. I made the decision to drive 4 hours home after the race that day instead of waiting and man alive am I glad I did that. My problem foot is a problem and my whole body is sore. I’m glad I got the long drive done yesterday instead of waiting. So I’m home sweet home. And what is next for me? Another marathon? Likely not. I went into this marathon thinking ok, this is either a check it off the bucket list thing or it is something that I will find out I enjoy and want to do more of. For me, the pain is not really worth it. I’m content saying I have finished a marathon. I want to concentrate on shorter distances now (5k, 10ks, and half marathons) and see if I can get a bit more competitive in my age group with those. But for this week, I’m going to take a few days off and recover and hit the gym again. I’m going to be starting a new lifting program specifically designed for runners and starting a new running plan. I love running, the marathon didn’t take that away from me, but I think I love running shorter distances.