I want to start today’s recap with a reminder of where I started as a runner/athlete. There are some people who decide they want to start running and go out for a 3 mile run. That was NOT me. I worked up to 3 miles over 12 weeks and ran/walked my first 5K in over 42 minutes. I finished my first marathon with a time of 6:45. Why am I telling you this? So that as you read this race report, you keep in mind that no matter where you are today as a runner, you CAN go farther and faster.
I am not the type of person who likes to get to races early. In fact, if I could time it so the races started 2 minutes after I arrived, that would be perfect. I have all my gear laid out and ready to go the night before, so getting dressed is the easy part. I also assembled my “B12 Blast” power breakfast and munched on that while getting ready: bagel with peanut butter, marmite, nooch, and chia seeds. Yes, I know I’m weird, but it’s obviously awesome!! =)
We walked to the start, arriving around 6:30AM – plenty of time for few pictures before the 7AM start. Stuft Mama’s Flat Kitty even had time to wish me luck!
I was in corral 6, so it didn’t take too long to cross the starting line. I wish I had paid more attention to the starting time, because as we passed the clocks at each mile along the course, I had no idea how far off from my time they were.
I break down a marathon into three sections: two 10 mile runs and one 6.2 mile run. It’s a mental game that works for me, so I’ll follow that format in my review of the race below.
The race began and I started my Garmin GPS. The biggest reason I race with a watch is typically to make sure I don’t start out to fast. I set a lower limit of 8:50s for myself, any faster and I had to slow down. The watch was struggling a bit to capture the right pace and I had to run by feel more than I would have liked for the first mile (unless I really was running a 6-7 minute mile, but I doubt it!).
It seemed to find the signal after that first mile and I started focusing on the average pace per mile to settle into the right pace. That was the main focus for these first 10 miles – breathe easy, don’t go too fast, and enjoy the race. As we came through the French Quarter, this giant blowup arch was crossing the road. I pulled out my phone and did my best to capture a quick photo for you while I ran:
A lot of people made comments about my “No Meat Athlete” shirt throughout the day – almost all of them encouraging and it was fun to chat and pass the time. It was fun to meet other veg athletes this way on the course and hopefully encouraged a few moments of thought for anyone who still things you need meat to be a successful athlete.
On the way out of the Quarter, we passed the 10 mile mark – yipee!! – the first section of the race was complete! When I realized we were headed down a road near our hotel, I scooted over to the left side of the street and looked for Kirk. I pulled my arm warmers and gloves out of my fuelbelt and threw them in his direction (it was a terrible throw – I can’t throw well and run at the same time!)
The road started to get a little rougher now, so I spent more time watching my footing to be sure I didn’t trip. I also noticed my right pinkie toe (on the top) was starting to hurt. What that heck – that’s a new one? I followed my plan and ignored the pain as much as possible, trying to wiggle my foot and adjust things to minimize the pain. Around this time my Garmin decided it was done with the race and turned itself off. I messed with it for a few miles before giving up. The rest of the race was run mostly by feel.
Between mile 14 and 15, the pain in my pinkie toe was too much and I moved to the side of the road and sat down to take off my shoe. I couldn’t feel anything rubbing in my foot, but the joint at the base of my pinkie toe was pretty swollen…great. I ended up turning my socks inside out - something I did on a training run last year when dust was rubbing against my foot – I figured it was worth a shot. It actually did help somewhat, although it still hurt, and I knew there was really all I could do – no more stopping, time to suck it up.
Lakeshore Drive was a hard stretch (miles 16.5 – 22). It was getting warm, there was a strong wind in one direction, and there was no shade. I just wanted to get off the levee and run under some trees! At mile 18 I saw Kirk again – yay! It’s always a mental boost to see a familiar face (especially him!) on the course and I smiled for the camera. He asked how I was doing and I told him weird things were hurting. He told me “Ok – just keep running”, which was what I needed to hear.
While running by the water, I realized how different my approach to races has become. If you looked around on the course, it was very scenic — we ran through the garden district, the French Quarter, and by the water –but I realized that I really didn’t look around much. I was focused on running, pacing, and maintaining a good mental attitude that I really didn’t look around as much as you’d think. The bands every mile were a nice distraction, but they came and went so fast. A scenic location is not my top priority for marathons.
Passing mile 20 was awesome – only 6 miles to go!! Yes, you read that right, only 6 miles to go. The 50K really did help me here, since passing the 20 mile mark a month ago meant I had 11 miles left – 6 sounds a lot better! At 22 miles, I was so happy to turn back onto the tree-lined street and get some shade. I do not like running in warm weather.
Kirk appeared again around 23 miles and ran along side the course until mile 24. I remember that he was getting text messages from the race with my progress, so I asked him if he knew what pace I was running. When he said I was still on pace for a 3:55, I was shocked! I had walked through a few water stops stations to refill bottles and felt like my pace had slowed, I assumed the 3:55 goal had been lost a few miles ago.
Time to dig deeper and keep pushing– how bad do you want 3:55?!
The last 2 miles went on FOREVER. I wanted to stop, to lay down, to do anything but keep running. Whenever I felt myself slowing to walk, I shifted focus and allowed myself to just run slower – “You can do this”, I kept telling myself.
With a mile to go, we entered City Park and I ran the longest mile of my life. Where is the finish line? We looped around City Park and you couldn’t see the finish line until it was right in front of you. Coming down the shoot, I could see the clock, but I didn’t know what that meant for my time.
I crossed the finish line and looked for Kirk. When I found him through the fence I asked about my time.
WHAT?! Seriously? YES!! Oh my gosh, I can’t believe it, seriously? You’re sure? That’s so freakin awesome!! I really want to lie down now.. Ok, after one more picture!
It was a hard day, but I loved it! The weather could have been cooler, I would have loved it if my toe/foot wouldn’t have hurt for at least 10 miles, the sky could have been overcast…but you know, there’s rarely a perfect race. My stomach never bothered me (that’s a first), my hydration was perfect, my nutrition was perfect, and I made good decisions throughout the race.
I’m learning (finally) that you just need to know it’s not going to all go well, but you can prepare for dealing with whatever comes up.
In case you missed Part 1, click here to read about my Pre-Race Adventures.