I officially started training for this race on November 11th and ran it on April 26th. That's five and a half months of training for a five and a half hour race. I can't believe it's over.
That being said, I ran/walked/moved my body for five and a half hours and I have no idea where to start. So I guess I'll just start.
One of the main reasons I picked this race is so that my family could be there. Olathe is just 30-40 minutes from where I live, 20 from where big sister lives, and about three hours from where my parents and little sister live. So, while I know people who do their first marathon in exotic or fun locations, I wanted to be close to home and have my loved ones here. Also, after my 20 mile training run, I was STARVING, so I hoped to have someone to hand me some food along the route at some point.
In the week(s) leading up to the race, though, I thought that might not happen. The route went into a nature trail thing at about 15 miles and didn't come out again until 21 miles, which would make it difficult to see me more than once or just at the finish line. My family had to day trip, which meant they were spending 6-7 hours in the car just to see me run by and be sweaty a couple of times. I told my mom it probably wasn't worth it.
She didn't take it well.
The night before the race, Pat and I drove over to my sister's apartment to be closer to the start line. Emily couldn't be there for the race, but she took care of us the night before. She made some kind of yummy meaty thing for her and her bf and Pat to eat and I ate my traditional pre-race mac and cheese and we played games and I pretended I wasn't about to run a marathon the next day.
In the morning, I woke up before 5 am, ate, and took a shower. Pat drove me over to Garmin Headquarters, where the race started, and I cussed a lot because the parking situation was really scary and I wasn't sure I would make it on time.
I kept telling Pat, "It's just a run."
We parked and made our way to the start line. I took a selfie of us, then walked up to someone I thought was random to take our picture, but it ended up being a girl who lived in my residence hall freshman year. What are the odds?
I told Pat again, "It's just a run."
I cried a little.
And then we started.
I started out at the very beginning with the 5:30 pacer. If you are a competitive person, I'm sure you will not believe this, but I totally didn't have a time goal. Really, I swear. But I had estimated, based on training times, that I could feasibly finish around 5:30. So I started with the group of pro-runners who said they would finish at 5:30.
But they started out so dang slow. I couldn't handle it. So then I made it my goal to stay between 5:15 and 5:30. I could easily keep up with the 5:15 at the beginning, but I knew I would slow down eventually in the later miles. So I decided to try to stay between them.
The first miles FLEW by. Seriously. There were bands of supporters here and there through the whole course, which was great. I was listening to Cinder on audio, which was awesome. It went really fast. A mile or two in, the half marathoners split off from those of us doing the full, and it got waaay less crowded. That's maybe when I realized I was actually running a marathon.
Around mile three, I started noticing some awfully dark clouds behind me. The forecast had been a 30% chance of rain for several of the hours I'd be running, but I hadn't worried too much, because that was a 70% chance of NOT storms.
But the clouds were pretty scary. And then, I started seeing lightning. And then, it started raining. I was wearing long sleeves, so I tucked my iPhone armband under my sleeve and I kept going. Obviously.
The only thing I was thinking was "I hope they don't cancel the race." Over and over, that's all I thought. I started thinking about what other marathon was soon, how far I would drive to run somewhere else, how much the registration would cost to register a week before the race...
A runner dressed as the Tin Man was near me at this point, and she kept pointing out all the houses with tornado shelters. I finally asked her if she was from the area, and she said no. I told her if she was from Kansas she would have been chasing the tornados, not hiding from them. (there was no real threat of tornadoes, btw. She was clearly not from the midwest or she would have known.)
I think it rained from about mile three through mile 11. I was running with the 5:15 pacer pretty much that whole time, which was nice, because my headphones kept slipping from my ears. Eventually, I stopped my book and just ran for a while with my headphones tucked in my shirt. I never run without listening to something, so I was really lucky that I was with the 5:15 pacer at that point, because we chatted and it kept going by really fast.
I need to take a minute to talk about the rain, though. YOU GUYS. It started out as the lightest sprinkle of rain you can imagine, with the sun still out. Then it turned into real rain. Then, it was raining sideways at us and my entire body was soaked, including my feet and my shoes and my socks. I could hear the puddles in my shoes with each step. Then we turned and ran into the rain uphill. It was pretty rough.
Around mile 11 (I think), though, we saw some blue sky through the clouds, and the rain started to let up.
Around that same point, I slowed down a bit. I let the 5:15 guys get ahead of me and decided to take it a little easier.
The next thing I really remember is hearing a lady say, "That poor thing is soaked through." Well, yes ma'am. I sure was.
At 13 miles I saw Pat. PAT!!!! I was so happy to see him. He offered me water and snacks and I stopped for a minute to walk with him, then kept going.
Up to this point, almost all of the course had been city roads. Olathe did an AMAZING job making this race safe for us! Most of the time, there was a full lane sectioned off for the runners, and there were volunteers EVERYWHERE.
At mile 15, I went into the woods. I had already stopped for a bathroom break at this point (sorry, non-runners, if that's TMI. there might be runners who care, though). (Here's some more TMI: When you're running, you feel like you'll explode and you have to stop. And then you do. And then your body has NO IDEA WHAT TO DO. So you're sitting in a porta potty and nothing is happening, and then you're like, well, I guess I might as well keep running. Annoying.) (or maybe that's just me.)
The woods were good? I don't remember too much. There was an awesome aid station where people were dressed up as the full cast of the Wizard of Oz and you could take pictures with them, but it is super difficult to get my phone in and out of my armband, so I just kept going.
It was pretty muddy through the trail part of the course. Most people had mud kicked up all over the back of their legs. I don't remember that happening, but I know I did have mud. I mostly tried not to fall.
I cried again in the woods part twice. First, when I saw a sign that said "Trust your training." (Oh god, I might cry again now...) And then again when I saw the mile 20 sign.
I started walking now and then through the woods, but I stayed ahead of the 5:30 pacer until I took my second bathroom break and got passed while my body was trying to decide what to do with itself.
When I was coming around a corner around mile 21, I saw my dad. And I started crying again.
The rest of the race was pretty rough. I walked a lot, and the people around me walked a lot. I was so sore already. There's probably a few reasons I was walking so much:
- I hadn't eaten enough. I was distracted by the rain, which also made all my food packaging really slippery and difficult to manage <--- Most likely culprit, as fueling was the huge difference between an awful training run (18 miles of hell) and a fun training run (20 miles of not-quite-bliss-but-at-least-pleasant).
- I went out too fast with the 5:15 pacers <--- Probably what pro runners would tell me, but this was the pace I ran for my 20 mile run. So probably a factor, but I think the fueling made the biggest difference.
- The rain really took all my energy. <-- Another likely culprit.
Still, finish I did. I wish I'd been with it enough to raise my arms and get a good picture, but really, ALL I WANTED IN THE WORLD was to cross that finish line and find somewhere to lay down.
My family was lined up at the finish because, real talk, there weren't that many people still running at this point so they had a pretty clear path. The announcer guy called out my name and said my mom and some other people waiting for me and they had flowers and I must be a really nice person.
After I crossed the finish, I walked until I found some grass, laid down, and cried.
So, if you've failed to keep track:
- I cried at the start
- I cried at a sign that said "Trust your training."
- I cried at mile 20
- I cried when I saw my family
- I cried when I finished
- And I might cry before I finish writing this post.
We took lots of pictures after I finished, in some of which I look embarrassingly happy. I took my shoes off. Pat was super sweet and bought me a shirt that I don't have a picture of but I'm sure you'll see it eventually. My lovely friend Jenna came to see me cross the finish line, and she brought me beautiful flowers and hugged my gross sweaty self.
I finished in 5:39:56.85.
And then I went home and tried to move as little as possible.
EDITED BECAUSE I FORGOT AN IMPORTANT THING: After the race, Pat told me he'd seen race organizers rounding up buses to pick us all up. Meaning they were thisclose to cancelling the race. But they didn't!!!
For those of you who made it this far in the post, please enjoy a picture of me looking embarrassing levels of happy.
Thank you all so much for all your support through my training and my race! Love you all. (For real.)